Neighborhood Action

Outer Sunset

Neighbors Convince Property Owner to Break Contract with Wireless Carrier

In early 2002, a wireless carrier applied for a Conditional Use Permit to install 12 cellular phone panel antennas, a Global Positioning Satellite antenna, and ten associated equipment cabinets on a mixed-use apartment building at Noriega Street and 38th Avenue. The proposed antenna site, located in a neighborhood of predominantly single family residences and a block from the A.P. Giannini Middle School and Sunset Elementary School, was considered a "Preference 6" location under the City’s Wireless Telecommunications Services (WTS) Facilities Siting Guidelines. ("Preference 7" is the lowest preference or "disfavored" category.) Despite this low preference, community members had every reason to believe that, had this application gone before the City Planning Commission for a hearing, it would have been approved.

As soon as neighbors within 300 ft. of the proposed site received notice of the proposal, they immediately began contacting the Planning Department and Supervisor Leland Yee’s office to express their opposition. At the community meeting the carrier was required to hold under the WTS Guidelines, over 100 neighbors attended to voice their concerted opposition to the proposal. Residents came with their questions and demanded that representatives from the carrier address the health concerns neighbors had related to cellular phone antennas and explain why the proposed facility was necessary. The owner of the apartment building and hardware store who had signed an agreement with the carrier to permit the antennas on his property also attended this meeting, and stated that if enough neighbors voiced their opposition, he would withdraw from his contract.

A group of neighbors held a second neighborhood meeting that focused on organizing a petition and letter campaign addressed to the Planning Department, Supervisor Yee’s office, and the owner of the building. Various committees were established, some to focus on convincing the building owner, in as non-threatening a way as possible, to withdraw from the contract with the carrier; others to document phone calls by cellular phone customers in the neighborhood to establish proof that coverage was adequate in the area and that it was unnecessary to build the facility at the proposed site.

In early March 2002, after neighbors had gathered over 300 signatures and letters in opposition, residents of the apartment building and proposed antenna site were pleasantly surprised to find a letter posted by the building owner. The letter read:

"Over the past few weeks, I have spoken with many people concerning the proposed antenna site. Many of the people whom I have spoken with are my close neighbors who I have been doing business with for many years. When the people that are close to me have a deep concern over a neighborhood issue, I listen. As I promised at the first community meeting if enough people express to me their opposition to this project, I would take action. . . . I would like to thank everyone who voiced his or her opinion and concern regarding this neighborhood issue. A close neighborhood group benefits us all and surpasses any benefit, which. . .any wireless service provider could have offered me or its customers."

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