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Wireless facilities under review

Residents join city officials to talk about updating an out-of-date ordinance.

December 04, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

With a draft ordinance planned for early next year, city planning and transportation officials met with residents Wednesday night to discuss possible changes to rules for wireless communications equipment.

The original ordinance was intermittently updated in September after remaining unchanged for 14 years to reflect current technology.

A more comprehensive review of the ordinance was originally to be done before the end of the year, but is now expected to come before the City Council early next year, officials said.

The interim ordinance requires a conditional-use permit for wireless facilities in residential zones.

A small group of residents attended the community meeting Thursday — a far cry from the activist showing seen elsewhere, including Glendale, where homeowners opposed micro-wireless cellular equipment in the public right-of-way because they said it degrades property values and could present health hazards.

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"This is not a project-driven review," said assistant city planner Amanda Klotzsche. "It's difficult to keep people involved."

But since interest in the results has remained constant, officials will post a draft of the proposed ordinance on the city's website before bringing it to the Planning Board and eventually the City Council.

"We are continuing to do outreach to both the residents and industry," Klotzsche said. "We want to make sure that everyone's concerns are addressed."

Those at the meeting — almost all of them involved with the local Burbank Against Cell Towers In Our Neighborhood organization — focused on right-of-way concerns and proximity to homes, parks, schools, day-care centers and nursing homes.

Michelle Safarian, a lifelong Burbank resident and member of the group, said he hopes residents express their concerns and help prevent antenna towers rather than finding out after the fact.

"The companies are breeding on money for profit," Safarian said. "And these towers are really popping up like mushrooms."

Klotzsche has received minimal feedback from industry representatives outside of requests to remain involved in the ordinance review process, a response echoed when the interim ordinance was passed nearly three months ago, she said.

T-Mobile and AT&T, among other telecommunication companies, have argued that the cell sites are an important part of meeting the demand of consumers who continue to ditch their land lines in favor of newer smart phones that require more data bandwidth.

"Most are using a wait-and-see approach," Klotzsche said."They have all asked for the opportunity to give input."

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