While stakeholders packed City Hall chambers last week when the regulations were first introduced, the vote occurred amid little fanfare Tuesday. It was a victory for the community group Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers, or GOACT, which lobbied against the T-Mobile antenna planned for the 500 block of Cumberland Road. The wireless company eventually withdrew the plans, but only after the City Council passed a moratorium on applications for cell towers in residential areas to draft a citywide policy.
“This ordinance and this whole process came about because basically one particular company acted less than respectfully to a neighborhood,” Councilwoman Laura Friedman said last week. “And because of that, as a city, it’s our responsibility to step in and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
But industry representatives have said Glendale’s regulations would be the strictest in the region and could hinder their ability to do business.
“We have to invest to keep up with demand,” Rick Roche, director of external affairs for AT&T, told the council last week. “The ordinance makes it hard to do that. There comes a point when companies such as mine won’t be able to comply.”
In response to lobbying from GOACT, officials tweaked the proposed regulations to include a provision that would make it harder for companies to place antennas in the public right-of-way near homes, much like the Cumberland Road application that started the controversy. A required public hearing for right-of-way applications was also added.
“The ordinance that has resulted from this whole process provides sensible guidelines for wireless installations,” said Elise Kalfayan, a member of GOACT.
In a public-right-of-way application, cell providers would have to adhere to buffer requirements unless they can prove a “significant gap in coverage” that can’t be met through another location. The front setbacks range from 15 to 25 feet in residential zones, while side setbacks range from 6 to 15 feet.
Council members acknowledged the ordinance could increase costs for cellular service providers, but said they did not believe the restrictions would hurt wireless reception for residents.
“We are the third-largest city in Los Angeles County,” Councilman John Drayman said when the ordinance was introduced. “I doubt seriously that because of this ordinance the wireless industry is going to bypass us. I don’t see this happening.”