• Cell Towers Need Permits; Meeting Set for October 23


    by Mitch Lehman

    Verizon Wireless must receive a retroactive condition use permit, or CUP, from the City of San Marino for a cell phone tower that was constructed in December, 2005 at the maintenance yard near Valentine Elementary and Huntington Middle Schools but never received proper certification.

    The CUP hearing will be held in the Barth Community Room at the Crowell Public Library on Wednesday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m.

    An advisory committee created by the San Marino Unified School District – comprised of community members, district staff and two school board liaisons – found the towers to be out of compliance due to the absence of a CUP from the City of San Marino. According to Dave Saldaña, the director of planning and building, Verizon was initially told they did not need a permit since the tower would be located on school property.

    Verizon also contacted the Department of the State Architect, or DSA, which must approve all construction on school properties. Since the tower was to be located in the maintenance yard adjacent to the two schools, Verizon was told their project did not need DSA approval. It was later determined that State approval is needed if the tower could land on school property if it fell or was knocked over. The tower at Huntington and Valentine could land on school property if it were to fall or be knocked to the ground and will need retroactive DSA approval.

    Both towers must also receive DSA approval due to their vicinity to earthquake faults. The San Marino High School tower sits atop the Raymond Fault and the Huntington-Valentine tower is located near another zone.

    The cell towers have been a point of contention since their construction and came to a head last year, when a local parent group challenged the district to have the towers removed. A public forum to hear expert opinions on the danger of cell towers brought no significant conclusions – about cell towers. Data was, however, conclusive that cell phones present a significant danger to users. At that time, The Tribune called for the school board to ban the use of cell phones on all district property.

    A school board member said yesterday the idea was “casually mentioned” but never put before a vote.

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