Commentary: Downtown cell tower needs to be stopped
by Rachel Wooster
Sep 12, 2013 | 12556 views | 27 27 comments | 446 446 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Until it happens to your town, this sort of news seems like another distant struggle. When we — residents of Boulder Creek — discovered that a 50-foot cell tower had been proposed smack in the heart of their historic downtown, we were shattered. We are currently in a battle with Verizon over the location of a proposed cell tower. We are asking the county of Santa Cruz to uphold the county code and deny this application. The third hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at the county building, 701 Ocean Street, 5th floor in Santa Cruz.

Based on strong public opposition, the property owners want it moved to a different site, but Verizon still plans to build a 50-foot cell tower at 13260 Big Basin Highway (across from Mountain Mechanics and behind Johnnie's Market). Verizon said at the first hearing their main objective for this cell tower is to accommodate for potential future data growth, not to improve service for Boulder Creek or patch a service gap in Brookdale as stated in their application. All of Boulder Creeks’ downtown, the only elementary school, two daycares, the fire department, library, recreation and park district including Junction Park, a dentist office and medical offices will all be within 1000 feet of the cell tower.

At the first hearing 26 people spoke, at the second 25 people spoke many of them new speakers. Both times it was unanimously against the cell tower and it's currently proposed location. Santa Cruz planning department, Bruce McPherson's office, and the property owners have received numerous communications opposed.

Our petition currently has 250-plus signatures, almost all of them paper signatures. We just started the online petition on September 7. Our arguments are based on county code, our town plan, case law, and analysis of Verizon's simulation photos which misrepresent the real visual impact. In two of the images they provided, the cell tower is not 50 feet tall, it is well below the 40 foot mark. In addition, real estate values and the historic quality of our beloved town will be reduced if the proposed cell tower is approved. For more information on our group: www.facebook.com/StopBoulderCreekCellTower.

 

How you can help:

- Sign the petition goo.gl/A8SUcc

- Contact Frank Barron at the County Planning Department at 454-2530 or pln782@co.santa-cruz.ca.us

- Contact Supervisor Bruce McPherson at 454-2200 or bruce.mcpherson@co.santa-cruz.ca.us

- Most importantly, attend the hearing.

 

- Rachel Wooster is a resident of Boulder Creek.

Comments
(27)
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Lizzie Fenton
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September 24, 2013
Thank you to the Press Banner for publishing such an important news story for the residents and visitors of Santa Cruz county. I am a business owner in Boulder Creek and I can say that people who both live here and who travel from out of the area to come to our downtown businesses have all been extremely concerned about the outcome of the zoning for a cell tower. It has been a topic discussed daily for months now. The biggest upset is that the tower is being put too close to town because while there is no concrete proof that cell towers cause health problems, there is also no proof that they do not. People do not want to give their consent to such an unknown. They would rather avoid exposure whenever and wherever they can. This presents a problem for me as that may mean that people who are uncomfortable with the unknown dangers of spending time near a cell tower will limit their time in places that put them there, thereby reducing patronage of downtown businesses. If the planning department and Mcpherson's office approve the zoning in downtown Boulder Creek, local businesses will all pay the price. I don't know if this matters to the politicians of our district (their campaign messages say they are concerned about small business.) I just know that locals frequently thank me for creating a business that serves their community. I know they are fiercely loyal about "shopping local". These people are signing petitions and becoming informed because they care and they don't want to see their downtown businesses to have to struggle more than they already do and they don't want to worry about being exposed to unknown dangers of cell towers in order to "shop local." Again, thank you to the press banner for helping keep citizens informed. And to Rachel for creating multiple ways for everyone to participate in whatever way they can.
Brionna Becker
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September 24, 2013
Thank you Lizzie for having the courage, as a Boulder Creek business owner, to speak up. Opinions from all sides are valid and it is discouraging when otherwise rational-seeming adults get all fanatic and freak out.

Especially when they are friends with the guy who stands to make a LOT of money by leasing his land out to Verizon Wireless Corporation.
bummer...
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October 04, 2013
Thank you Lizzie for having the courage to stand in front of Chris Currier's home and curse him for his involvement in this. Thank you for calling his house and badgering his wife over the phone at all hours of the day and night. classy act.
Mark Spencer
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September 21, 2013
Wow the personal aggression towards someone who is informing the town of Verizon's plan to plant a tower in the center of town. I've seen the list of signatures. Most of them are from Boulder Creek. All from Santa Cruz County. I've attended the hearings and I can say these are not "Crazy" "Whacko" "Smart Meter" people. Yes there are about three or four women who have been attending hearings, Supervisor meetings etc. who are devoted to speaking out against all forms of radiation but I can tell you that these hearing for the Boulder Creek tower have essentially been town meetings. I met with many of our business owners, contractors, pilots, doctors, dentists, teachers, and even a World War II Veteran who landed on the beaches of Normandy. These are the faces of our town. Good hard-working devoted residents of BOULDER CREEK. 25 years ,30 years, even born and raised in the town they were all there, taking time off work or having people sit in for them at their businesses to take the time to voice their concerns. To write them off as wackos is really unfair to people who's views differ to your own.

Most concerns were relating to the location of the tower, NOT the placement of a tower. So arguing that certain residents of Boulder Creek are denying the town connectivity is an inaccurate at the least. Verizon's own engineer stated at the first hearing that this was not about improving voice service so arguments about no service in times of auto accidents along HWY 9, although a very valid argument for a need of improved service, is not something that stands to benefit here. Verizon is building a Data Billboard on a very accessible lot (the other 9 towers are all mounted on the ridges above town) They intend to sublet to other carriers and reap profits from Boulder Creek. The town in return will not receive revenues from those subleases but will most likely receive more towers as current county code for WCT's requires co-locating before building new sites. So if you tour the other sites provided by Verizon prior to the last hearing you will notice that they started with one tower and now have several towers on the same site. The Curriers' lot is zoned for up to 87 feet and expanding on the proposed tower will not require further planning review. So in short approval of this tower will establish our town as the hub for Cell Phone towers. It really is hard to believe that with so much available land surrounding the town of Boulder Creek where a tower could be tucked away in, that anyone who truely loves and believes in the town would argue so dilligently to have them placed in the middle of town.

Just because the proposed site is a mess at the moment... any of you who have been attending the Town Plan meetings with Bruce McPherson would know that we are trying to create a town plaza and or park, Chris' lot was a consideration but he had already signed the contract with Verizon. Which brings me to another point, the current Town Plan for BC was drafted over years starting in 1980 and finally put into place in 1992.. before Cell towers existed.. However, in the town plan it specifies that any Satellite Receivers and utility equipment must be hidden from street view. This (had the towers existed) would have included cell tower technologies. The intent was always there. Town Plan supercedes any inconsistencies with County Zoning Codes by California State law. To say, that the proposed lot is a mess anyway so to hell with it is such an asinine attitude. Do we say "Unemployement is high, stocks are low and housing values tanked, so to hell with the US?" Really?

Those of you who didn't attend the last hearing should know that any discussions about Aptos or Seacliff were naturally a part of Friday as those two towns had people speaking about items 2 and 3 on the agenda, pole mounted cell towers in their towns. So that would explain the comments or involvement from people of Aptos on Friday.

I think discussions can be made on this topic without further insult to residents no matter how long they've lived here. Keep it respectful.
Sue Beary
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September 21, 2013
Wow. Rational, thoughtful. Just like Rachel's letter. Thank you for offering one of the few voices of reason.

Am I for it or against it? Not sure, but I do appreciate an opportunity to consider it one way or another without being called names just because someone disagrees.
Rachel Wooster
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September 21, 2013
Thank you Sue Beary, I am glad that you like being informed by the article that was my whole intent of this article. It should be noted that we are not anti cell towers, we have supplied Verizon with 9 alternative locations to the proposed location. Also many other residences have offered alternative locations. We just don't want the cell tower in such a central and visible location, as well as so close to the elementary school.
wrongo
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September 26, 2013
you haven't seen the list if you say it has mostly BC folks on it. we've seen it and its a who's who of people from the valley and county but not a majority of the town.
Rachel Wooster
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September 27, 2013
To Christina / wrongo, the current count on the petition is 536 signatures.

312 are Boulder Creek citizens

33 are Brookdale & Ben Lomond citizens

350 are paper signatures

198 are online signatures

We started the online petition 9/7/2013, before then 80 % were Boulder Creek citizens.
no way
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October 04, 2013
On line signatures don't count. Its like Yelp. ANYONE can sign those things.
Rational Person
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September 20, 2013
Why, oh why, do absolute nutcases who've not even lived in our community for long feel the need to dictate what "should be" in our town. And sorry, 340 signatures? We have over 5K residents ---not even counting those in outlying areas--- so really, touting the fact that 340 people (who've probably not even seen the site or just are part of the whackos who sign anything--think the crazy Obama person near the gas station who has signatures)....wow, I'm dismayed and frightened by people like this Wooster person who wants to dictate what people can do with private property and SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN HARMLESS cell towers. I'm betting she has a cell phone. THAT will give you more danger than a cell tower.

Yellow journalism--maybe not...but really why is she so vocal about something that really barely concerns her?

This is a stranger who is harassing long time residents who have contributed to our town. Go back to wherever you came from, Wooster.
Sarah Zurik
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September 20, 2013
@Rational Person, why all the name calling. Nutcases? Whackos? Crazy? Harassing? Go back where you came from?

Just because you disagree with her?

Sorry, "Rational Person" you do not sound rational at all.
oh boy....
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September 20, 2013
I would be concerned about this Wooster character. She seems to want to control the media in the area. she's part of several different media sources, posting on Bouldercreekinsider, the BC Bulletin and now apparently is also "working" for the press banter. can you say "Yellow journalism?"
Not in my name
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September 16, 2013
Ms. Wooster has lived in Boulder Creek since February 2013. The people who started with the picketing of personal residences and stirring up discord between neighbors are from Aptos.

I'm sorry, none of you speak for me. I'd like you to last through at least one really gnarly winter in Boulder Creek and offer more than your opinion (which doesn't count as serving your community) before you portend to represent me and my community.
Rachel Wooster
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September 16, 2013
Regarding who started what, this whole thing was started by a long time local resident who was part of our community garden.

Our petition currently has 370 signatures, 276 of them are Boulder Creek residents, nearly 75%. 29 are residents of Brookdale and Ben Lomond, bring the local number up to 82%. Many of the other signatures are from Felton. Also 308 of the signatures are paper signatures. For Aptos we only have 2 signatures.

Regarding smart meters, I believe we only have 2 or 3 of their signatures and I personally have not met with any of them. This is about a cell tower in our downtown, very much a local issue, hence the article in a local paper.

What bearing does the winter weather have on what the county code and our town plan says? How does rain somehow require the tower to be in our downtown? I grew up back east in Tornado Alley in a town of less than 1000 people where having the power go out for weeks at a time is common. How does my winter experiences in any way affect the validity of the hundreds of Boulder Creek residents who have signed our petition?

And yes, many of us are taking off work or closing our businesses for the Friday hearing. It would be nice if the planning department would hold the meeting in the evening, we have requested this and our requests have been denied.

Potato potato
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September 17, 2013
The town plan was adopted in 1992, twenty one years ago, before smartphones or even basic cell phones were owned by the majority of the population, so it's kind of manipulative to cite the town plan when cell technology was not considered by the community at the time it was being drafted.

Since 1992, the only thing the town plan has been used for is for people opposed to this or that project to wave around hysterically and claim it doesn't fit in the town plan. I am certain that was not the intent of creating a town plan.
Grammar Martha
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September 17, 2013
That's an incorrect use of the word "portend". You meant "presume".
Rachel Wooster
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September 17, 2013
The town plan is currently in the process of being updated. But regarding dates the telecommunications act is from 1996 and has not been updated to reflect current technologies or research. So I guess it also has no baring on the matter, unfortunately that is not how the law works, it very much still has baring and is the law.
Old but not wrong
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September 17, 2013
Portend is from the Latin portendere, to indicate or foretell. As a verb, to portend can also be used in place of indicate. In this context the writer appears to be saying "you must do xyz before you can indicate you represent me and my community"
Grammar Martha
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September 17, 2013
Sorry, portend is not the correct usage here.
Me neither
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September 20, 2013
The community garden that is built on top of a former gas station plot of land that's polluted from gas and oil spills? I hope you're not selling any of that stuff at the farmer's market....

Ya gotta love those who recently moved here and all of a sudden think they know what is best for our community. Seriously, not even a year she's been here and she's already telling us how to live? Geeze.
I don't agree
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September 20, 2013
Rachel, you still have NOT addressed how it is you think this antenna will be an eyesore in a dirt lot with a bunch of cars, storage containers, aluminum shades and a chain link fence! Your assertion is just simply absurd! As much as we want to believe our little town is historic and beautiful, it needs A LOT more work to get there. How about you focus on our street lighting initiative? parking issues? Loitering people? Drug and alcohol problems? Facelifts for store fronts? Rebuilding of vacant lots from restaurants that burned down long ago? Focus your energy on things we REALLY need help on, not a tower that will look like a tree in front of a bunch of other trees in a parking lot.
Long time resident
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September 20, 2013
OK, Rachel, not that I want to see how you feel it has no "BARING" on the matter....but seriously, go back where you came from. Apparently you are not above bothering people who actually live here and stirring up stupid stuff.

If you say it has "NO BARING" on the matter and then in the same sentence say it HAS "BARING" on the matter....OMG. Do not speak for any semi-intelligent BC resident. Please.
whoa....
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September 16, 2013
you don't speak for me. you don't have a list of those who don't oppose this antenna....
me too
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September 16, 2013
Yes! There are many of us who work for a living and cannot make it to a meeting in Santa Cruz on a weekday!
Christina Wise
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September 13, 2013
Rachel, you write this as though you speak for all of Boulder Creek. You do not. You write this as though the entire town was in an uproar against the proposal. It was not. You are but one person in a group of vocal opponents to the proposed tower. There are others who stand in favor of the tower but are hesitant to voice their stance for fear that they will be treated in the same poor manner that Chris and Nancy Currier were. Still others are unable to speak their mind due to their positions in local politics. It is my hope that technology and advancement will win out over unfounded claims. Our town deserves to remain technologically aligned with the rest of our progressive state.

Rachel Wooster
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September 13, 2013
Christina I don't speak just for myself, I speak for over 340 signatures, most of them Boulder Creek Residents. Also I think the people who have shown up at the hearing and spoke at both hearings speaks for itself. Regarding those who are unable to speak, you are right there are many unable to speak and many of them are opposed to the cell tower but because of their position in our wonderful town are not able to say anything.

I encourage you to read our documents, they are a collaborative effort.

Our case presented at 8/23/2013 Hearing:

Main Document - Opposition to application 131042

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23.pdf

Attachment A - Mockup Pole & Notice of Proposed Development signs

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23_A_Signs.pdf

Attachment B - Analysis of Verizon's pictures

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23_B_AnalysisVerizonsPictures.pdf

Attachment C - article by Napa Vally Register called "Cell towers - the new money tree"

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23_C_ArticleNewMoneyTree.pdf

Attachment D - No service gap per Verizon's website

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23_D_coverage.pdf

Attachment E - article by SFGate called "Court ruling allows regulation of cell towers"

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23_E_CourtRuling2008.pdf

Transcript of the 1st hearing with questions and arguments inserted in red

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-231stHearingTranscript.pdf

Petition

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-08-23_Petition.pdf

Rebuttal to documents provided by Aaron DeLao at 8/23/2013 Hearing:

Main Document

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-09-20.pdf

Attachment A – Monopine Locations Analysis

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-09-20_A_MonopineLocationsAnalysis.pdf

Attachment B – Coverage Maps, clarification requested

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/CellTower_2013-09-20_B_CoverageMaps.pdf

Verizon’s Document – request for continuance

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/Verizon_2013-08-21_RequestContinuance131042.pdf

Verizon’s Document – Answer Wanda Williams’ question 1, Monopine Locations

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/Verizon_2013-08-23_Q1_MonopineLocations.pdf

Verizon’s Document – Answer to Wanda Williams’ question 2, Disqualified Sites

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/Verizon_2013-08-23_Q2_DisqualifiedSites.pdf

Verizon’s Document – Answer to Wanda Williams’ question 4, Generator Noise

https://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/Verizon_2013-08-23_Q4_GeneratorNoise.pdf

Verizon’s Document – Statement of Need

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uc-temp/Verizon_2013-08-23_StatementOfNeed.pdf

I don't agree
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September 16, 2013
I disagree with several of Rachel's points.

I have seen the petition and it includes a BUNCH of people who don't even life in Boulder Creek, including a faction that is against PG&E smart meters.

To state that this would be an eyesore is absurd. Apparently Ms Wooster hasn't really taken much of a look at that former gas station lot; it has cargo containers, cars and a pile of dirt on it. it is fenced on three sides with a chain link fence. To state that this antenna would cause property values to drop is a pathetic attempt at reaching out to the only way they can actually try and fight this thing since they can't contest the (non) health hazard aspect.


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