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T-Mobile agrees to public meeting

Group against cell antenna starts website, says a win would include alternative options.

December 17, 2008|By Jason Wells

NORTH GLENDALE — T-Mobile representatives said Tuesday that they planned to attend a Jan. 7 City Council meeting to defend a planned cellular antenna in Cumberland Heights.

Until then, the telecommunications company has agreed to postpone any construction on the so-called “micro-cell” site, city officials said.

The city attorney’s office is tentatively scheduled to present a formal report at the Jan. 7 meeting on legal options available to the city in regulating cellular antenna applications, which fall under the purview of federal and state agencies.

Residents who live near the 500 block of Cumberland Road, where the T-Mobile antenna is proposed to be constructed inside a lamppost on the city’s right-of-way, formed an action group against the project two weeks ago called Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers, or GO ACT.

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Since then, they have moved into the next phase of their campaign, establishing a website with an online opposition petition, a program offering free iPhones to those who drop their T-Mobile contracts and a growing mass media campaign to draw attention to their cause.

John McMahon, one of the group’s organizers, appeared on a KFI-AM talk show Tuesday to discuss their campaign, and organizers said they had to order 50 additional lawn signs opposing the antenna after they ran out last week.

News of the Jan. 7 City Council meeting — agreed upon during a meeting between T-Mobile representatives and city officials Monday — was greeted with some cynicism Tuesday by McMahon and other neighborhood residents, who said placing the project in abeyance was not enough.

“It’s like winning the battle, but not the war,” said Marguerite Lincoln, another organizer for Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers.

More than 200 people have already signed the group’s petition opposing the T-Mobile antenna, shirts have been printed and representatives continue to appeal for help at City Council meetings.

“Victory to us, at a minimum, would be a reasonable study of alternative sites to put [the antenna],” McMahon said.

Even with growing support for their cause among City Council members, organizers acknowledge that the track records set by communities entrenched in similar fights aren’t promising.

La Cañada Flintridge lost a legal battle opposing a cell antenna there several years ago, while other communities in Woodland Hills, Pasadena and Hollywood are in varying stages of their own fights against T-Mobile or Sprint-Nextel.

Telecommunications companies have cited increased demand among homeowners for better service, particularly in hillside neighborhoods, for the proliferation of the micro-cell sites.

And T-Mobile representatives have repeatedly expressed their willingness to follow local guidelines when placing or constructing the antennas during the now monthlong campaign in Cumberland Heights.

“We’re always willing to cooperate with the city, and so we look forward to attending the meeting and explaining our point of view,” T-Mobile spokesman Rod Delarosa said of the planned Jan. 7 meeting.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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