Community Action Alert: Attend the June 5th City Council Meeting

5 Jun

Save Burbank Neighborhoods is alerting supporters to attend the City Council meeting this Tuesday, June 5th.

City Council members will vote on a resolution upholding the citizen appeal against construction of a wireless telecommunications facility at 1711 North Avon Street. 

City Council Chambers are located at Burbank City Hall, 275 Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91502.

Save Burbank Neighborhoods is inviting supporters to attend the City Council Meeting to witness the approval of the proposed resolution. On their website, they write:

This is also an excellent opportunity to formally express your gratitude and appreciation for the City Council’s courageous support of our community appeal.

Please wear white or your Fight the Tower t-shirt if you plan to attend the meeting.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m., and the agenda is a lengthy one.  Our resolution is item number 10 on the agenda.  It is unlikely that City Council will have a chance to approve the appeal before 7:30 p.m..

At the June 5th meeting, Save Burbank Neighborhoods will be presenting a statement during the second public comment portion of the meeting formally requesting that the city revisit the recently revised Wireless Telecommunications Facilities ordinance that allows for the placement of cell phone towers on institutional use properties in single-family R-1 residential neighborhoods…

The fight is not over!  As explained in Emily Gabel-Luddy’s recent letter to the Leader, the current Wireless Telecommunications Facilities ordinance requires that each neighborhood must fight the construction of every single cell phone tower on a case-by-case basis through the Conditional Use Permit process.  There are no zoning laws within the Burbank Municipal Code to protect residential communities or the public right of way!

Read more details and related documents on their website here.

Burbank residents filled City Council Chambers on May 22, 2012 to oppose and speak up against the proposed T-Mobile cell tower at the Little White Chapel. Photo by Kiku Iwata.

Attending the meeting Tuesday night is a follow-up action to the May 22, 2012 City Council public hearing when Council Members voted 5-0 to support appellants (residents) protesting the approval of the proposed T-mobile wireless facility atop the Little White Chapel Church.

The Church is located in an R-1 (single-family residential) neighborhood, near Bret Harte Elementary and Luther Middle School.

The appellants pointed out how the flawed project should have never been approved, and how the proposed facility didn’t fit the character of the residential neighborhood or the height of the surrounding homes.

They also revealed how they had no problem making calls with a T-Mobile phone near the proposed project site and neighborhood.

TV news crews streamed into the room to record and report on the hearing.

Residents, including children, who filled the City Council Chambers and overflowed into the City Hall lobby, provided Public Comment after Public Comment about how the proposed project was negatively affecting their quality of life, their health concerns about 24/7 wireless RF exposure, the negative effect the project would have on property values and their neighborhood, and how and why a commercial facility like a wireless facility didn’t belong in an R-1 zone and  near their schools.

City Council members asked Staff to come back with a resolution to approve the appeal (that they are scheduled to approve at this Tuesday’s meeting).

Many of the Council Members also told the public at that meeting that they wanted to revisit the city’s wireless ordinance section that allows wireless facilities in R-1 zones, and fix the problems it has created so this won’t happen again.

Rewind to December 2009, when the City began the process of updating its wireless ordinance, and stated that they wanted to protect the city’s “sensitive” areas after T-Mobile proposed a major cell tower project at Brace Canyon Park (in and R-1 zone near Horace Mann preschool and daycare, and St. Francis Xavier school and Church).

T-Mobile and Little White Chapel church members commented at the time how they wanted a wireless facility at the Little White Chapel and in R-1 zones.  City Staff responded by proposing changing our city’s ordinance to allow wireless facilities on institutional properties (private schools and churches) in R-1 zones.

Burbank residents, as you can imagine, advocated against adopting this change, and warned our local officials and staff that changing the ordinance to allow this would be divisive, pitting residents against church goers, city staff and city officials, as evidenced in other communities where wireless facilities were proposed at churches in R-1 zones.

However, the majority of our Planning Board and City Council supported and approved this ordinance change in September of 2011.

A few months later, as expected, T-Mobile’s proposed wireless facility project at the Little White Chapel produced a painful battle for both sides fighting it.  While unifying a neighborhood and bringing people together in some very positive ways, both sides of the battle spent lots of energy, time, resources, frustration, stress, sleepless days and nights, tears, sweat and emotions to organize and gather their arguments and support.

Some 200+ residents showed up to support appellants against the proposed T-Mobile wireless facility, and had to occupy City Hall’s lobby because there wasn’t enough room to accommodate them in the main City Council Chambers. Photo courtesy of Save Burbank Neighborhoods.

We saw the results at the May 22 public hearing in the well researched testimony presented by the brave resident appellants, as well as the heartfelt Public Comments of some 40+ residents, the 200+ residents who filled the chambers and City Hall lobby in support against the project, the 800+ who signed the petitions opposing the project, and the many media supporters reporting on this story and raising public awareness.

On the other side, you can also read the profound effects this battle had on the churchgoers who supported the project, as evidenced in the Tumblr account written by a member of the Little White Chapel with her entry, “Sickening, Absolutely Sickening.

Council Member Dr. David Gordon summed up the sentiments and the lessons we should all take away from this proposed cell tower project: no neighborhood in Burbank should have to be put through this again.

In Dec. 2009, our City Council told residents it was going to craft an updated wireless ordinance that would protect the “sensitive areas.”  As we saw with this project, that didn’t happen.  So let’s hope that our City Council Members make good on their May 22 affirmations to revisit the city’s wireless ordinance that has caused us so much pain and suffering, and remedy that.

You can also take action by writing City Council and asking and encouraging them to do so:

Kudos and thanks to all of those residents, and supporters in the media, who made the May 22, 2012, victory possible.  You can read below in the Burbank Leader May 23, 2012 story how residents and the Little White Chapel director are reaching out to each other to heal the rift.

Doug Loranger of CLOUTnow, which has been instrumental in helping resident groups across the state and nation with important information regarding cell tower siting, applauded what occurred in Burbank, and wrote:

“For those who are interested in seeing some real democracy in action, the entire appeal hearing is available for viewing at the following link (it begins approximately 1 hr. 48 min. into the hearing and runs for almost 5 hours):

http://burbank.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=4631

Congratulations to everyone in Burbank who made this outcome a reality.”

CLOUT is also working very hard to repeal the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that prohibits a local government from denying a wireless facility due to health or environmental concerns.  Please support CLOUT and concerned residents across the country by signing CLOUT’s Petition today.

If you would like to read reports in the media about the proposed wireless facility and city’s wireless facility ordinance problem, here are some helpful links:

OPINION PIECES:

2 Responses to “Community Action Alert: Attend the June 5th City Council Meeting”

  1. mobile wireless November 6, 2012 at 8:50 am #

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. City Council approves Resolution blocking T-Mobile wireless facility in Burbank neighborhood « Burbank ACTION - June 7, 2012

    […] The Resolution was a follow-up to the May 22, 2012 public hearing in which City Council voted 5-0 to approve the appeal by residents opposing the project, and asked its Staff to come back with a resolution that would support the approval. […]

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