Letter: Laguna deserves world-class cellular coverage

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This past Monday, I attended my last meeting as a member of the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee (EDPC). With the city council cutting back the size of the volunteer committees, I felt that after more than ten years, it was time to step aside and let some of the newer members continue the important work of keeping Laguna Beach safe. It has been a privilege to contribute to this important part of our community, and it was quite educational seeing how the city, state and federal government come together for public safety.

As a former telecommunications executive, I’ve been passionate about improving the city’s communications network. It will not surprise many that our local cellular network is lacking despite our worldwide reputation as a beautiful beach paradise. During more than a decade on the committee, I’ve attended dozens of city meetings to support better cellular coverage. Despite my efforts, our coverage is arguably worse than it was ten years ago. This impacts not just emergency services, but residents’ quality of life. It’s also costly since many residents will have to pay for expensive cable or fiber internet instead of utilizing cheaper wireless internet.

Watching projects get stalled has given me two ideas for how the city can prioritize cellular.

First, the city would benefit by assigning a staffer to oversee local wireless projects. Currently, community development distributes cellular projects to different team members on a case -by- case basis, like every other project, and there’s no central cellular project tracking. If a project is pushed back and the carriers or their reps are asked to provide additional information or perform additional testing, the city will not follow up. Everyone is very busy, and as a small city, Laguna Beach may not be top of mind for the carriers. An overseer focused just on cellular projects can proactively nudge the carriers, which will surely speed things up.

Secondly, the city should reconsider its Municipal Code restrictions for cell tower deployment. The code unnecessarily impedes local cellular development. For example, the ordinance blocks any equipment within 100 feet of a residential building and within 100 feet of a public park. This effectively blocks lower-powered small cells designed to fill small dead spots.

Years of stalled and failed communication upgrade projects have likely scared carriers away.  If the city adopts a more friendly approach to cellular projects, and lets the carriers know it’s “open for business,” we can start making progress towards giving residents the world class communications network they deserve.

Many thanks for the opportunity to influence change.

Tim Templeton, Laguna Beach

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1 COMMENT

  1. People who live here at Bluebird Canyon have serious problems about dead time on cells in Morningside Dr.

    How can we fix this so that it works?

    Nicholas Ross
    Cell:

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