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No New Cell Tower Locations Proposed During AT&T Workshop

Some residents were discouraged the new options for the controversial 302 Mount Holyoke Ave. cell tower proposal in Pacific Palisades were only slightly altered.

Nearly 20 residents attended the community workshop Tuesday night at the Palisades Branch Library with AT&T about its proposed cell tower at 302 Mount Holyoke Avenue.

Officials outlined three slightly different options to the original controversial proposal at the same location, while realtors stood by to discuss the relationship of cell towers to real estate markets, and an engineering firm spokeswoman described residential cell towers and the relation to radio frequency.

AT&T spokesman Lane Kesselman said they still have not submitted their plans for permitting and will report back their next steps following Tuesday testimony from residents.

"We prefer to go with the site most supported by the community," he said.

The first two options shown place the cell tower at the 302 Mount Holyoke site, with the second option having a new wooden pole installed, including panel antennas and ground equipment. The third and fourth options place the cell tower closer to 313 Mount Holyoke Avenue, with the third option being an expansion of the existing utility pole with an additional panel antenna. The fourth option installed a different utility pole. 

AT&T's desires vs. the neighborhood's desires

Kesselman reiterated they're required to fulfill an obligation to fulfill voice and data needs, noting that the current towers handle roughly two megabytes per second of data, efficient for flip phones, whereas increased smart phone usages brought upgraded cell towers today with data speeds of 10 to 100 megabytes per second.

However residents Katia Riquelme and Jane Hepburn, who live right where the cell tower is proposed at the intersection of Mount Holyoke Avenue and Via De Las Olas, both wondered why the community meeting was held at all since they do not want the cell tower at that location. They have the signed the petition opposing the cell tower as part of the group "Stop AT&T From Putting Cell Towers in Palisades Parks."

"Based on our campaign, the decision is still for what the demand is and not for how it affects the neighborhood," Riquelme said, disappointed in the workshop. "I thought it was going to be a different location. It's just a wrong spot. The new plan still puts it outside our houses.

Resident Karen Dawn said the third and fourth options place AT&T's tower closer to her home.

She said it seems "wildly unfair" for a company like AT&T to put their mandate to carry greater cell phone coverage onto the lives of a few families living immediately adjacent to the proposed tower.

To date, the Pacific Palisades Community Council has opposed the proposal, including language in their resolution calling for better advanced notification on future proposals. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has also opposed AT&T's proposal.

Property values should not be affected

Eric LoVecchio, realtor for Pacific West, said they do property value consulting for various cell phone carriers during their antenna project proposals. He said he has yet to see a study that shows home value depreciation from cell tower installations.

At LoVecchio's table during the workshop, he provided three local comparative market analyses of similar properties with installed cell towers where home values were not negatively affected: 16701 Marquez Terrace, Pacific Palisades, 14340 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades and 373 North Kenter Ave., Brentwood. LoVecchio said he's done at least 10 of these studies for AT&T and they have not shown home depreciation.

"It absolutely does not affect property value," he said, reiterating that you have to compare similar markets, saying it's usually based on the price per square foot as well as age and condition.

"Any community with high speed internet and the best technologies drive homebuyers," LoVecchio added. "I'm encouraging others to do their research. I'm just a strong supporter of wireless technology and in most communities, there is overwhelming support for good technology."

LeVecchio urged residents to use antennasearch.com to find local cell towers in the area.

Radio frequency level within safe limits

Lynn M. Bruno, spokeswoman for Hammett & Edison, Inc., an engineering consulting firm for broadcast and wireless, said they are a third party that reviews proposed cell tower projects for carriers, and apply their full body standard to calculate where a proposal falls into place. She added their studies are peer reviewed and have to be replicated, in order to get the same results.

If approved, she said the Mount Holyoke cell tower proposal projects a maximum 11 percent exposure, in accordance to milliwatts per centimeters squared.

"It's going to be well below its limit, if approved," Bruno said. "Health concerns have been decided at the federal level. Cities can't set radio frequency standards."

Bruno noted that in its 60 years studying radio frequency from cell towers, they have not found one instance of harm to human health.

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