We are concerned that the Sebastopol City Council members may be under the impression that they can simply write restrictions into the KOWS lease and thereby prevent any future telecommunications towers or antennas at the Pleasant Hill Reservoir.
But new FCC regulations have made it much more difficult for cities to deny the requests of telecommunications companies to collocate on existing structures.
The FCC states in these regulations that existing towers can be strengthened by virtue of being extended in height and width, to support additional telecommunications equipment.
Such allowances make Planning Director Kenyon Webster’s statement, that the KOWS tower is “on the lightweight side”, and could not handle any additional structures, completely irrelevant. The tower could clearly be significantly reinforced under these new regulations. Furthermore, wireless antennas are compact and lightweight, and can be installed at relatively low levels on a tower with no effect on a broadcast signal.
The majority of commissioners expressed concern about collocation at the Planning Commission meeting in February:
Paul Fritz: “If we approve this tower, there is nothing to stop someone from bringing another application forward, and we will have set a precedent for putting towers on properties like this, and I do have some concerns about possible future proliferation.”
Zachary Douch: “Collocation is my biggest concern…“
Evert Fernandez: “Based on a historical perspective, I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to absolutely assure that no further changes, that this audience won’t be back here in another ten years. Administrations change…”
Linda Kelley: “I… have an issue with collocation. I don’t know if we could condition this to where in the future there wouldn’t be another applicant, because it sways in the political arena…“
The proposed KOWS antenna tower, classified as a Major Telecommunications Facility in the City of Sebastopol’s Planning Commission Staff Report, would absolutely become a magnet for AT&T, Verizon, and other cellular companies who may have shied away from the reservoir site after the 1994 battle neighbors carried out with GTE MobilNet.
According to the independent analytics firm RootMetrics, central Sonoma County, including Sebastopol, ranked in the bottom 4 metro areas for mobile network performance. The top eight companies are going to be actively seeking to enhance their coverage.
Lease agreements from these top tier tenants can generate substantial income, up to $50,000 per year per collocation tenant.
Writing restrictions into a KOWS lease will not stop future cell towers at the Pleasant Hill Reservoir. Any restrictions could simply and easily be erased by a future City Council needing to generate income. The FCC’s collocation regulations would facilitate the process, and provide a convenient buffer against neighborhood opposition.
Once the door is opened for the first antenna tower, the City of Sebastopol puts the Pleasant Hill Reservoir property at high risk of becoming an Antenna Farm. SHARP doesn’t believe that this is what the City of Sebastopol really wants for its county neighbors.
To understand more about the problems the City of Sebastopol would face by allowing a new antenna tower to be erected on the reservoir’s city island site, we recommend that you see this link.