A new cell phone tower will be installed at the entrance to Crest Canyon on Del Mar Heights Road after the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board approved the plan on Aug. 13 with a 6-4 vote.
Another proposed location was in Chris and Alison Cooper's front yard at Del Mar Heights Road and Durango.
Board member Faye Detsky-Weil said the board's policy has always been to keep cell sites away from residents. She voted against a motion by Adam Gevanthor to place the site at the Coopers' home that failed 8-2 but also voted against the motion to place it at Crest Canyon.
Torrey Pines residents have long struggled with spotty cell phone coverage in the area.
Verizon Wireless proposed a solution, adding antennas to an existing light standard on the corner of Del Mar Heights and Durango, along with two 4-foot-tall equipment boxes.
The trouble was, the proposed site was the Coopers' front yard.
The Coopers bought their home two and a half years ago. Six months ago they got the notice about the proposed antennas and equipment in their yard.
"My first reaction was: 'Lucky us,'" Chris Cooper joked.
The Coopers went to work gathering 55 signatures from neighbors, prompting Verizon to find another site at Mar Scenic Drive and Del Mar Heights Road.
Shelly Kilborn, the Verizon representative, said that the alternative site at the south end of Crest Canyon provides about the same amount of coverage, although the site in front of the Cooper's home is preferred.
Verizon's alternative solution, approved by the board, mounts antennas on another light pole and places boxes on the corner of Scenic and Del Mar Heights Roads, the trailhead to Crest Canyon.
Gevanther, one of the two who voted to place the cell tower on the Coopers' property, said that the board has a responsibility to protect open space, canyons and view sheds.
"Once they disappear they are gone forever," Gevanther said. "They are the fabric of this community and we need to protect them for present and future generations."
The board approved the Crest Canyon site on the condition that the boxes are surrounded by native plants and properly maintained.