By Karen Billing
Despite the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s strong message to Sprint last week that they did not want antennas on schools in the community, the city’s development services staff approved a wireless communication facility on a building at Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) on July 2.
At its June 28 meeting, the board denied the 12 antennas hidden on a campus building because board members felt that the school parents weren’t properly notified and the location was not acceptable.
“Prudent avoidance dictates they diligently explore other sites off the school,” said board member Laura Copic.
In April, the board wanted assurance from Sprint representative Becky Siskowski that Canyon Crest Academy parents were notified of the potential installation and also asked her to consider alternative sites off the campus buildings.
Siskowski said they held a meeting on the topic on June 1 at CCA but only three people attended, all CCA students and no parents. She was told the district made the meeting known through its website.
Copic said she is on the CCA website often and receives the newsletter and never saw any notice.
As far as considering other alternatives, Siskowski said there weren’t any suitable options.
“The San Dieguito Union High School District and the city planner consider this option the only option,” Siskowski said.
Sprint looked at co-locating on a nearby AT&T tower but it was too short, as were the 27-foot tall light standards in the parking lot.
Siskowski said they also approached the Pacific Highlands Ranch Homeowners Association who were not interested and they asked about placing antennas on the parking lot solar panels, but the solar company said “no.”
“I don’t think we know enough to put antennas that close to where our children are going to be for an extended period of time,” CV planning board member Christian Clews said. “We’ve never had a cell tower this close to kids at a school. You will never get my vote to put it in that wall.”
Last year the board also voted to deny a cell site location at Sage Canyon Park for the same concerns about the proximity to children.
The deadline to appeal the city development services staff’s decision is July 18. Appeal procedure information is available at sandiego.gov/development-services. Appeals can also be made in person at the development services department at 1222 First Avenue, 3rd Floor.
The matter will eventually go to the city’s Planning Commission for final approval.
Residents can also contact Karen Lynch-Ashcraft, development project manager at the city in charge of these permits, at (619) 446-5351 or e-mail: KLynchAsh@sandiego.gov. Alex Hemton, the city’s associate planner mentioned on the department of development service’s notice of decision, can be reached at (619-446-5349 or firstname.lastname@example.org