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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

T-Mobile Cell Tower Installation Information & Update!

(The following was sent to us from Leslie Y.)
I thought I would apprise you of what I learned so far today regarding the T-Mobile cell tower installation on Albers/Bevis.

Pat Davenport of Councilman Krekorian's office came to the job site yesterday.  I was not there but the foreman from Link Construction (doing the tower install) showed me her card (2 p.m)..  She spoke w/a group of residents -
I also spoke with Jeff La Dou, Management Analyst II with the Bureau of Engineering, Dept of Public Works.   He had alot of info.  I will attempt to distill down what I learned from him, and why T-Mobile can build a cell tower on a City sidewalk.
  • T-Mobile is building on a public right-of-way because the State of California permits utilities/telecommunications companies to build there.
  • The telecom comanies pay the State of California franchise fees for the right to do this. (perhaps $125,000 per site, in the millions of $$ to the State, annually.)
  • The City of LA must OK all permit requests to build on public right-of-ways if the cellular facility has complied with the 2003 Municipal Code on this issue.
  • The Bureau of Engineering/Dept of Public Works need only inform a limited number of residents around the T-Mobile site.  In this case, the occupants of only the two lots near the right-of-way where the tower would be situated    (here one homeowner was actually across the street, because of an alley which was a public right of way).   There is no rule that residents within a 500 foot radius must be informed.
    The Bur. of Engineering also has to notify Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council and Council District #2 office, by regular mail.  (which La Dou said normally ignores these notices.).
  • There is a short appeal period, 14 days, which begins from when the letter was sent out.
    If there is no objection from residents/business owners --- and in this case there was none (because no one knew) --- the permit is automatically approved.
  • T-Mobile originally applied for this permit back in April or May, 2010.
  • The Bureau of Engineering granted T-Mobile and Link Construction with a "U Permit" to build "electric power meter cabinet", not for a cell tower.   See below as to why.
  • The regulating body for the cell tower itself is the Joint Pole Authority.  This is a private enterprise that regulates the proliferation of public utility and telecomm poles by co-joining or piggybacking services on existing poles.  There is no state oversight for this entity.   I do not know if the Joint Pole Authority issued a permit.  T-Mobile was able to get this through.
Suggestion from La Dou:
  • Make alot of noise with Krekorian's office, and the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.
  • He also stated that other resident groups have gotten the LA Times and other papers, radio involved.
  • We can also be writing to the entire LA City Council on this issue.