Commentary: BC Cell tower protest only the beginning
by Rachel Wooster
Dec 19, 2013 | 7288 views | 1 1 comments | 356 356 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several Sundays ago, eight Boulder Creek residents protested in front of Verizon’s store in downtown Santa Cruz. Why did we do this? Haven’t we already won (“Cell tower application all but dead in downtown BC,” Dec. 13, page 4)? Well no actually, we have not. The application has been shelved but Verizon can come back at any time and have another hearing and get it approved. So why are we so concerned about this application? It all boils down to location.

We aren’t anti-cell tower, just anti-location. We have even given Verizon an extensive list of alternative locations such as the water tank complex off of Madrone and Big Basin Highway. This location, unlike the proposed one, would be out of sight and on higher ground, giving it greater coverage area.

Another location is at the existing cell tower site on Rebecca Drive which Verizon didn’t even know existed. It just shows how hard they really were looking for a good location that would serve the citizens of Boulder Creek.

There are other concerns including the county codes that are being waived for this location. They include a 300-foot setback for residential zoned parcels (this includes five parcels), scenic corridor protections, and requirements for co-location. Then there is the parts of our town plan that are being ignored. Our town plan says service equipment including satellite dishes shall be located away from streets and screened from view. That no commercial impacts “spill over” to the residential areas. That maximum height from commercial is 25 feet. Last, but not least, noise levels from commercial activity may not exceed 45 decibels at the property perimeter. The proposed cell tower with its generator would be 64 decibels at the property perimeter which is right next to our dentist office.

So why hasn’t the county just denied this application? Why has it been dragged out for four hearings and then shelved? It’s because two of those hearings were continued because Verizon requested so per their lawyers.

Yes, Verizon has already gotten their lawyers involved. So who do you think has more money, Verizon or Santa Cruz County?

If you even have to think about that you have not been paying attention. Corporations have been flaunting their power like crazy lately and even declared themselves people per our Supreme Court.

So instead of denying the application, our county, along with many others, are waiting for Verizon to withdraw the application or move on. But what is the big deal if Verizon has a few denied applications? Why do they care if it is denied anyway? That’s where the lawyers come in. In court, cases are decided on precedence. If this application is denied, the denial could be used in other court cases that are currently pending all over the country by other citizens, school boards, and counties. Verizon’s goal in bullying Santa Cruz and many other counties is to control both sides of the argument in court so they have the winning hand.

With this protest, we were delivering a message to Verizon that we are not going away. We are not going to be ignored, and if Verizon continues pushing the matter we are going to make noise. Protests done in the right way can get national attention and that is something Verizon does not want this application to get.

This application has not gotten national attention yet, but if it goes on long enough it will. Especially since the proposed location is at the gateway to Big Basin Redwood State Park, California’s first official state park. 

- Rachel Wooster is a Boulder Creek resident.

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Connie Troust
December 19, 2013
Queue up the haters in 3, 2, 1.....

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