City Hall Considered for SMUSD Cell Towers

For more than two years, San Marino officials have searched for alternative sites for two controversial cellphone towers on school district property, one adjacent to Huntington Middle School and the other in the northwest reaches of San Marino High School’s campus.
Now a new solution is being explored: City Hall. And it could well accommodate both towers.
Aldo Cervantes, the city’s Planning and Building director, said that a consultant working for American Tower, the company that manages both towers for Verizon Wireless, is exploring whether both cell tower facilities could be relocated to the large parking lot at the rear of the City Hall property.
“If you look at a map, this site is in the center (between the existing towers),” Cervantes said. “Right now, they’re doing a [radio frequency] study to see if on a specific kind of pole, the carrier could fit here and still accomplish the same coverage, and not create any gaps in coverage.”
The San Marino Police and Fire departments also share the City Hall property. The city would receive revenue for leasing the wireless facilities.
The two cell towers have been a source of controversy for months. In both cases, they were constructed without the necessary permits, and without inspections and approvals by the Division of the State Architect, which governs construction projects on school grounds.
The tower on school district property next to Huntington Middle School has been of particular concern, because of its proximity to classrooms at HMS and Valentine Elementary School, and the hazard it poses for evacuation routes for both schools in the event of a major earthquake.
Potential alternative sites have included the Old Mill Road median at Huntington Drive, the “fishing derby” area on the west side of Lacy Park, the nearby Scout House, and sites in the commercial district of Huntington Drive, including the Colonial Kitchen and the Christian Science Church. All have stirred objections, either from residents or Verizon.
The question with the City Hall location is whether it would provide coverage far enough to the west.
As for the tower at San Marino High, evidence shows that it sits squarely astride an earthquake fault. Officials have been trying to relocate it in the commercial zone, perhaps atop a building along Huntington Drive.
Meanwhile, two other carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint, have abandoned the pole, according to local cell tower activist Raymond Quan, leaving Verizon as the only cell service provider on it.

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