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New AT&T Application for Cell Phone Antennas on San Pablo Avenue

After its previous cell phone antenna application was rebuffed by the City of Albany, and after suing the city over the issue in a case still pending, AT&T has filed a new antennas application to be considered by the Planning & Zoning Commissi

AT&T Mobility has returned with a new application to install cell phone antennas and radio units on top of the same San Pablo Avenue building in Albany for which a previous application was rejected last year by the city.

The new AT&T proposal goes before the city's Planning & Zoning Commission Thursday night. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at Albany City Hall.

City staff recommends approval of the application, according to a staff report prepared for the meeting by City Planner Anne Hersch. (The report is attached.)

The building already has a Sprint wireless facility, installed in 1997 before Albany adopted its wireless facility regulations.

AT&T proposes to add nine "panel antennas" and 21 "remote radio units" on top of a three-story office building at 1023 San Pablo Ave., the staff report says.

The antennas will be concealed behind two plastic structures on the roof, while the radio units will be hidden behind the building's parapet, according to the AT&T application. The installation's equipment room, including a power plant with battery rack, would be placed inside the building on the first floor, the application says. (The application is attached to this article.)

A previous application filed in 2008 by AT&T  to put antennas on the building was denied last spring by the planning commission. Staff had recommended approval. The denial was appealed to the City Council, which voted 3-2 in July to uphold the commission's decision based on findings that the proposal violated city regulations and code requirements. 

AT&T sued the city over the denial in federal court in August, alleging that the city improperly applied its regulations and that the decision improperly considered health concerns.

The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 "specifically prevents a jurisdiction from denying the application request as a result of radio frequency or health concerns," the staff report notes.

AT&T and supporters of the antennas argued that Albany's AT&T service suffers because the company does not have any cellphone antennas in the city. The nearest ones are two-thirds of a mile away at 1255 Eastshore Freeway in Berkeley and 1.2 miles away at El Cerrito Plaza, according to the staff report.

Opponents expressed fears about placing the antennas in an area where many families live and urged that the company pick a different location further away from residents.

Opposition to cellphone antennas in a number of communities has been grounded in large part in health fears but waged around issues that are contestable under the law.

The commission had ruled that the AT&T plan would have violated city rules on structures on rooftops.

One issue was the allowable square footage on the roof, given the existence of a "penthouse" structure already on top of the building. The current AT&T proposal would largely demolish the penthouse structure, which "will eliminate roof-top coverage issues," according to the staff report.

City staff also asked AT&T if it would agree to a pause in the federal court lawsuit pending the outcome of the new application. But AT&T declined the city's request "and both parties are proceeding with litigation," the staff report says. 

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See past Albany Patch coverage of cell phone antenna issues. 

Dover January 20, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Too late, cranky pants. http://albany.patch.com/articles/at-t-cell-phone-antennas-approved :-)
David Sanger January 20, 2013 at 06:13 AM
Robert I wouldn't be too worried about that. There really isn't a way to "suspend" a lawsuit. Attorneys for both parties went before Judge Gonzales Rogers on December 3rd and agreed that since the new application was pending and the hearing was scheduled for early January that it made sense to wait until the application was decided by P&Z (including a possible appeal) so they rescheduled another case management conference with the judge on March 25th. In effect this means there wil be no action at all on the lawsuit until the current application is resolved. Also of course the City does not have the option to not deal with the application.
David Sanger January 20, 2013 at 07:37 AM
Well Bill let's take these in turn: ATT as a "good" corporate citizen: There's nothing in the City Charter that gives the City the right to decide who is and is not a "good" citizen, or to decide whom they want to deal with. All applicants for use permits must be treated equally. Lawsuit: There is a good chance that the City violated Federal law in denying the 2008 application. AT&T has a complete right to seek redress in the court system and the judge can decide whether or not the City is in the wrong, if it ever comes to that Why "cluster" antennas on one site? because our wireless code specifically states collocation is preferred Greedy corporation? All they want to do is provide service to their customers. That's their business and they have every right to do so. The word implies seeking more than is fair and that's not the case here. Other providers: the City cannot favor one carrier over another. That's Federal law.
Brian Parsley January 21, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Monty when did you begin to be so anti corporation? Was it after your worked for Bechtel or the government contractor SRI International?
montymarket January 29, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Are the UC police running background checks on commenters on Patch now? Don't you work for the UC police? Well, we all have to work to put food on our families. For the inner East Bay, the biggest employers back in the day would include Bechtel (a privately-owned company) and Stanford Research Institute (a not-for-profit company). The previous chairman, SD Bechtel, funds one of the foundations listed in support of The NewsHour, and his workers built the Bay Bridge, Hoover Dam, Hong Kong airport (they sadly moved all but the corporate offices to Bethesda/Houston. SRI does premier research and development in science, drug development, etc., (it is a long haul everyday from here to Menlo Park). Then there's Bio-Rad that moved from Richmond to Hercules and expanded 100 times over since. Teknekron and Cyclotron both spun-off from UC, but rather than growing were shrunk down and bought out. The corporations we have a problem with are those hiding behind Citizens United that extended to corporations the same rights previously exclusive to breathing people, while retaining the corporate limits on their own personal liability -- getting the rights but not the responsibility. Such corporations spend buckets of money on public relations, lobbying, and contributing. So why is it that commenters in the 99% feel compelled to defend them?

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