Letter: When it comes to wireless facility expansions, greater transparency is needed

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Laguna Beach city ordinances have been implemented to maintain our city’s character and charm and protect residents’ rights. Recent and ongoing interpretations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines by city staff threaten to make those protections obsolete and the transparency they provide.

As city staff continue to give administrative approvals to wireless facility expansions, which they feel do not represent substantial changes, they approve increasing the height of buildings by as much as ten feet, even when it exceeds height ordinances. In other instances, city staff have considered expanding a wireless facility by as much as 400% to be less than substantial.

The result is that neighbors are not notified, staking does not take place, views are compromised, and the public is not made aware of any increased electromagnetic radiation exposure that can be expected from additional wireless equipment.

FCC has been clear that wireless facility modifications and expansions should remain subject to municipal and zoning codes set by local governments. By granting administrative approval, Laguna Beach city staff have played into the hands of wireless carriers and property owners who choose to lease their roof space to them. With every rubber-stamping of a wireless facility, our city staff circumvents and weakens the normal processes we rely on as a community.

Today, more wireless facilities are being expanded or built on the rooftops of existing structures. Some have even been approved on the roofs of personal residences. Until the city becomes more transparent in how it grants administrative approval to these, I believe that all residents should expect a free-for-all of wireless facility expansions that will rival some of the abuses with alternative dwelling units (ADUs). I encourage those concerned to reach out to our City Council members and let them know that they would like greater transparency around these administrative approvals.

Ryan Miller, Laguna Beach

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Ryan, for bringing this to our attention. The height limit was voted in for a reason and using the need for wireless is not a good enough excuse to block the views of those who live so close. This is so unfair to those who bought a home that they bought for the view, and they were enjoying that view without those ugly panels and poles. Only to come home from a long day of work to find their views blocked by those ugly panels and a pole. What was Public Works thinking? I don’t think they were thinking about the residents at all when they did this! This needs to stop!

  2. Thank you Ryan for pointing out yet one more instance where City staff is not looking out for residents but are on the side of business. This is like the ADU situation where residents are not notified when their views are in jeopardy because the staff just approves it with no noticing given. Everyone should be concerned – it could happen to them and as it stands now, they are powerless to do anything about it. We need a City Council that is proactively protecting established views from established residents. This definitely needs to be brought up before City Council.

  3. This wireless facility that Marc Wiener approved administratively without notifying residence, or staking the project is on the roof of the Radio station and Wine gallery building. Residence were shocked in December when this 18 x 18 x 6 foot high wireless facility was completed. This dish network 5G wireless facility is surrounded by black walls of antenna’s.
    According to LB wireless municipal code, this project should have gone before the planning commission. A 5G wireless T-Mobile facility currently sits on top of the roof. According to the dish wireless third-party report, the two facilities exceeded the FCC required safety regulations by a significant percentage. The city has no plans to notify business owners or residence surrounding the building.
    The facility increases the height of the building. It’s hard to even understand why Marc Wiener would’ve approved this given it exceeds the 36 foot height limit by 3 1/2 feet.

    City management, attorney and council are aware of this facility, however, are refusing to do anything about it. It’s up to residence to take the next step. Otherwise it’ll stay there.

  4. Wiener is out, and this began on his watch. Ryan, to me we continue to see federal and state laws, guidelines and local zoning code violated, ignored. The oversight here sits with the baton passers, Kempf and Whalen. Everyone on council with exception of CM Weiss gets behind Kempf and Whalen and supports what they move to do.

    Last week after Wiener was fired I saw the same behavior in the DRB meeting. Another invalid CEQA exemption approved. All of Laguna is ESHA Coastal Zone property. According to the CA Supreme Court, in Banning Ranch V. Newport Beach this city like all other coastal zones must study and do biology on project locations to determine CEQA status.

    Much like Sweetwater there is rmostly no initial and, or any fact base study to issue CEQA exemptions. The result, view and property equity damage. Damage and piecemealing the environment. Putting lives at risk in the name of what. MORE DEVELOPMENT? This city council and our city need self investigation. Until then many property owners are at risk. You may wake up tomorrow and see a 25ft tall ADU. in our face. You may find a lump in your chest from led poisoning from contamination. There is nothing charming, funny, or responsible about this city’s behavior. This is not irrational complaining. Its fact, its risk to us all.

  5. Ryan, thank you for a informational and intelligent letter. I have a question, “WHO IS STAFF”, why are no names mentioned, every time I see this wordage I ask myself that same question, yet “STAFF”, are the people making all these decisions. The decisions in my neighborhood which has undergone big changes, your neighborhood, the promenade, changes that in part was due to no restrictions with Weiner but now it’s a no name, just staff? Well, I have a great idea it is called ‘TERM LIMITS’, Lets get it on the ballot people!! pressure to this long time, embedded CC needs to be made!

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