Please note this website is under ongoing modification. Thanks for your patience.
Welcome to our website. 27 July 2005 Nextel Communications, before it was acquired by Sprint, received a Letter of Authorization from the City, allowing it to inspect the Sunset Reservoir grounds and begin the application process with the S.F. Planning Department to authorize construction of a wireless telecommunications transmission site, which included a 60-foot antenna tower, at the corner of the reservoir on 28th Ave. and Quintara St. Nearby residents were not notified of the Nextel (by then Sprint Nextel) plans until 9 months later, on 16 April 2006, and only if they lived within 500 feet of the site. The notice asked us to attend an April 28th informational meeting at Lincoln High School, held by Sprint's proxy. The notice also said this wireless project was already scheduled for a Planning Commission City Hall hearing, on 25 May 2006, less than a month after the informational meeting. Even more disheartening, the online Commission hearing notice showed the construction project was already labeled with a preliminary Commission recommendation to Approve With Conditions.
But, now, good news! At the 8 June 2006 hearing, the S.F. Planning Commission officially announced Sprint's withdrawal of its application for use of the Sunset Reservoir as a telecommunications facility site. Sprint told us last week that the reason was to re-evaluate objectives but admitted that heavy neighborhood opposition (over 1,100 petitioners) had played a part in its decision. The matter can still be found on the Commission's June 8th calendar, as Items #2A, #2B. About 40 of us showed up at this hearing. I took the opportunity to thank the Commission for its service (Commissioners work as non-paid volunteers) to the City and for hearing our case. I also told them that I'd submitted 283 petitions that morning in addition to the 870 we'd submitted before, and held up copies for them to see. I told the Commission that Mr. Michael Smith, Planner, had called me an hour before the hearing and told me that the withdrawal was NOT necessarily permanent, and Sprint or another company could submit new applications for use of the reservoir, and, because of this, on behalf of our group, I respectfully asked the Commission to do whatever was in its power to change the zoning or status so that the reservoir be permanently removed as a site for consideration. The temporary nature implied by all this is one reason much of the wording on this website will remain unchanged -- as if there were a permanent application pending. On the City Hall steps afterwards neighbor Phillip Chan and I were interviewed by Sing Tao Newspapers, Hong Kong's second largest Chinese newspaper, circulated in hundreds of cities worldwide, and another Chinese publication. Both covered our story in their Friday 9 June 2006 editions. The latter article appears in Page B05 of the 9 June 2006 edition. We thank them for this coverage. The Sunset Beacon also covered the tower matter in its June 2006 issue. We thank the S.F.P.U.C., Supervisor Fiona Ma, Legislative Aide Frances Hsieh, the Planning Commission, Eileen Boken (SPEAK), Doug Loranger (SNAFU), Michael E. Smith, the Cafe Bakery Coffee Shop, the Tennessee Grill, Great Wall Hardware, the Sunset Cafe, all businesses that let us leave our petitions, Mr. Nathan Fahrer and the other Land Use attorneys of Perkins Coe LLP, who initially offered us pro bono representation in this, and the editors-in-chief of the Sunset Beacon (Paul Kozakiewicz) and Asian Weekly newspapers (Samson Wong). Please join us in supporting our neighborhood businesses! And not enough can be said for the neighbors who helped, including Mr. Wu, Ms. Chow, Ms. Leong, Ms. Lee, and others. They and other concerned neighbors, mostly seniors, rallied behind this effort, and did the lion's share of the door-to-door work. To them we shall be forever grateful. We continue to ask the neighborhood to lobby the PUC, the City and other government bodies to permanently remove the Reservoir site from future consideration. In your entreaties please emphasize that we are not targeting Sprint or any one telecommunications vendor -- but we are against this type of construction by any entity. In addition to the 1,074 petition-signers, on the eve of the hearing, 63 more unvetted signatures were received from our neighbor, Mark Maerowitz, who started his own website and petition opposing the Sunset reservoir wireless facility. Unlike ours, his petition is based primarily on stated health effects of several types of radiation across a wide spectrum of electromagnetic energy -- a tack we intentionally avoided. But that's over 1,100 neighbors in opposition, despite our having stopped actively seeking petitions on our first hearing of Sprint's withdrawal. This website will continue to have updates and announce our plans as time permits. Thank you, everybody, for your support!
Sprint proposes a 60 foot Cellphone Antenna Tower
Since the Sprint Nextel application has been withdrawn we have discontinued petition drives and asked Mr. Garrett (Gary) Dowd, Director of Real Estate Services, PUC, to consider permanently removing from consideration the Sunset Reservoir as a possible telecommunications site, in this letter hand-delivered to his office on 12 June 2006. We notified Supervisor Fiona Ma's office about our request (and thanked her) in this letter.We objected to the Sprint cell tower siting because we felt it was unnecessary, incompatible, and undesirable within our neighborhood (for which we have provided and will continue to provide facts), and, as such, non-compliant with Planning Code, Article 3 - Zoning Procedures - Conditional Uses Sect. 303(c)(1); thus this and future similar sitings should not be granted authorizations for conditional use based on non-eligibility under that section. The Planning Commission, perhaps trumped by federal law, apparently does not give merit to fears of health risks associated with these transmitter sitings. Nevertheless the Sprint project is a source of fear and great concern to neighborhood residents. We present here a host of our (the neighborhood's) burning concerns and objections to the Planning Commission and local government and have listed some of these below.
OUR OBJECTIONS AND CONCERNS RELATIVE TO THE PROJECT
Sprint cites a need to improve cellphone coverage to us. We feel this is their need only, as 95% of over 200 residents we polled rated their existing Cellular coverage reception as Very Good to Excellent, without transmitters or antennas planted in our reservoir.
The Sprint site is NOT desired in this community. The numbers speak for themselves: documented in this public record file, #2005.0938CR, are a combined 1,200+ petitioners and letter-writers opposed to the Sprint site, while ONE AND ONLY ONE resident stated support of the site in writing.
Negative aesthetic visual impact on 34 acres of serene, idyllic park, with gently sloping hills, bordered by homes and schools
Undesired clutter and commercialization in a residential RH neighborhood -- our neighborhood is a half-mile from the nearest commercial areas on Noriega or Taraval Streets.
Concerns over Health risks associated with nearby electromagnetic emissions from the antennas (Lincoln High students and seniors in a 24th/Quintara Tai Chi class walk around the reservoir, within feet of the antenna site)
Possible declining property values from the perception of associated health risks, whether or not proven
Declining peace of mind and emotional well-being from the perception of associated health risks, whether or not proven
Worries about future scaling, since there are indications that this will be the plan. Approval of this site will likely make it a candidate for installing more antennas in the S.F. Department of Telecommunications and Information Services' plan to install city-wide Wireless internet access without leveraging fiber optic, Voice Over IP, Broadband over Powerline, SRI's peer-to-peer cellphone networks or other technology alternatives
Lack of timely information, documents and communications from Sprint or their proxies assuring that there is no plan for scaling, leasing, or sub-leasing space on their sites or tower
Possible liability of the City and ultimately taxpayers that may be associated with litigation, suits, or legal actions arising from this installation, whether the City be Petitioner or Respondent
A technical evaluation based on calculations of projections, made without the knowledge of the total number of antennas in this spectrum, that also fails to divulge the number of transmitters, their maximum powers levels, or data validating manufacturer claims about maximum in situ exposure levels. The overwhelming majority of questions, especially technical, have gone either unanswered or deflected to a Sacramento consulting firm
Zoning and land-use issues that categorize the reservoir grounds as a public-use structure, with no height limits. While neighbors see this site as a "Disfavored Site" by SF's 1996 Wireless Telecommunications Services Guidelines, the installation of ONE antenna here facilitates future antenna farms because it will add to the reservoir's status that of a Category 2 Preferred Location by those Guidelines
The possibility this telecommunications facility, whose spectrum has not been clearly divulged, may interfere with emergency and public safety radio services. Nextel has a history of interference to police and fire radio services.
Concerns of the mechanical integrity of 1. a 60-foot height structure of undisclosed bulk, shape, aerodynamics, 2. the soil and sand base it would be built on, and 3. its apparent location on the slope of hill directly over a pedestrian path, in the event of a disaster, natural or man-made
Deleterious environmental effects of construction and/or maintenance of the facility
Homeland Security issues with the easy access this will afford to outside contractors
Acoustic noise associated with this facility (transformers, air conditioning, equipment cooling/heating)
Possible impact on endangered species -- one neighbor cites one type each of owl and snake
Concerns by some that any of this may compromise the reservoir or its water
Lack of comportment to the spirit of local Planning Codes and Wireless Telecommunications Guidelines
Possible acoustic noise from this or any ancillary equipment
Undesirable backup generators that the transmitter may need, like noisy 600 gallon propane tanks -- Sprint's promise to put in writing their assertion to not use backup generation has not been received yet
Sprint assured us no trees would be cut down, and promised this in writing. This was never received. Its planning drawings' Compound Notes indicate, "EXISTING TREES WITHIN CONSTRUCTION FOOTPRINT SHALL BE REMOVED AND PROPERLY DISPOSED OF." The construction footprint is 1,900 square feet.
SPRINT-NEXTEL'S REASONS FOR THE PROJECT
It wants to expand its coverage to the community by installing a cell tower with a 1.5 mile propagation radius
It claims it are helping the community by providing an emergency communications channel
OUR REBUTTALS TO SPRINT-NEXTEL'S REASONS
The cellphone coverage is much more than adequate, with our research data from 200 nearby residents showing that 95% of us with cell phones have very good reception already
Too many communications channels in or near the Public Safety radio spectrum may actually degrade First Responder communications during emergencies, as Nextel's history has shown.
While we acknowledge Sprint's free market expectation to try to maximize revenues on spectrum investments we feel it should be done with an honest effort of working with the community to allay all concerns over public safety and environmental impact. This would entail truly objective technical research, associated market demographics studies to ascertain real need, and making reasonable, timely efforts to divulge such information to the public it purports to serve. The mandatory Outreach efforts by Sprint overall did not accomplish this.
DESCRIPTI0N OF THE PROPOSED TELECOMMUNICATIONS CELL ANTENNA/TRANSMITTER FACILITY
Sprint seeks to build transmitter house on the Sunset Reservoir grounds at 27th Avenue and Quintara, about 10 to 15 feet inside the gate, and immediately west of the existing access gate and driveway. The transmission line would run at about a 40 degree angle west-northwest, for about 100 feet, to just east of the fence on 28th Avenue. The base of antenna tower would be near the flat area at the top of the hill slope (392 feet Above Mean Sea Level), equivalent to the level of the 27th/Quintara sidewalks.
This would be near a grove of trees, visible to the right, as one walks around the reservoir by two park benches on the elevated sidewalk that cuts a diagonal across the southwest corner of the reservoir grounds. The antenna tower would rise about 60 feet above this elevation. Depending on which report one reads, it would initially have 3 to 12 antennas attached to it. Of concern to us is future scaling and installations by Sprint or the City sub-leasing space for more antennas and transmitters for wireless services here. Sprint did not state emissions levels or make measurements of the tower's radiation characteristics under conditions of dynamic adjustment to higher power levels necessary to compensate for 1. signal blockage from environmental factors like growing or moving tree branches, humidity, rain, wind, heat, or 2. longer signal paths to reach client cell phones at the outer edges of the tower's cell range.
Sprint had a consulting firm draw planning maps and drawings. The Compound Notes on Page 4 of these drawings, Sunset Reservoir Planning Maps, clearly indicate that trees will be removed. Please do not be fooled by inaccuracies or misrepresentations in the above plans. The 60 foot "treepole" will be VERY visible, as it would be 50% taller than surrounding trees, whose heights are less than 40 feet. The "cloud-looking" objects in in the plan sketches are not labeled and resemble clouds for a reason -- they don't exist, though the artist would have one believe that these are existing trees.And, unlike the "artist's conception" drawings, on P. 5, which are labeled Out Of Scale, the treepole location would NOT be on flat, ground, 396 feet above sea level. It would be on the slope, as can be seen from the elevation data on page 2 of the Planning drawings. The euphemistically labeled "equipment cabinet" in these drawings is a metal enclosure of multiple RF transmitters, RF power combiners, and auxiliary equipment. Never was even the existence of transmitters mentioned by Sprint or any of its documents. Nor were the necessary associated lines and services like electrical power sources, underground cables to its switching exchange network, water, gas, cooling, etc. The Sunset neighborhood requests that Sprint Nextel help preserve the beauty of the Sunset Reservoir enjoyed by all, by keeping its transmitters, its antennas and "treepoles" away. Interestingly, judging from our our talks with neighbors during the petition drive, Sprint already suffered from a bad public image, even before its project plans at this site were announced.
Sunset Reservoir - 28th Ave.
LINKS TO RELATED DOCUMENTS AND WEBSITES Please click on the "LINKS" tab above or HERE.
As an editorial note by the author of this website's content, it's interesting that Sprint Nextel seems to be the only carrier lobbying formally against the current California bill (SB1613), that would force drivers to use "hands-free" cell phone operation, for non-emergency calls. Sprint argues that it's the chatting itself that causes the problem. This bill was originated by Sen. Joe Simitian, Democrat - Palo Alto.