Carmel Valley planners voice opposition to school board regarding antenna at Canyon Crest

By Claire Harlin

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board voted unanimously on July 26 to send a letter to the San Dieguito Union High School District expressing grave concern about the proposed installation of a wireless communication facility atop a building at Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) in Carmel Valley.

The antenna facility was approved by the city on July 2, and the school board was docketed to discuss the installation on July 26, but postponed the item until the school board’s Aug. 16 meeting.

“They didn’t want to consider it at the same time as a bond measure,” said planning board member Laura Copic. “I want to get this letter approved so they have it in their hands at the time they consider this project.”

The letter outlines a number of concerns, such as lack of communication with the parents, teachers and students of CCA. There was a meeting held July 1 at CCA on the topic, but only three people (all students) attended. Many people say they were unaware of the meeting.

CCA science teacher Ariel Haas said he was on site during this meeting and had no idea it was even taking place. He said he was distraught at the lack of notification.

“I understand I am speaking against my district’s wishes, which is not to my benefit, but I feel strongly that kids should not be exposed to such things,” Haas said.

The letter also states that in order to notify the school community about the project, “it is our understanding that the school district chose to post a notice in the North County Times – a newspaper with little circulation among the Canyon Crest Academy community. We were unable to find this notification in the newspaper archives so we cannot speak to its contents.”

The planning board also believes that due diligence and prudent avoidance were not exercised in the selection of the antenna’s location.

“The scientific community and most health officials agree that more research is needed to provide a definitive answer as to the effects of extremely low frequency electromagnetic and radio-frequency radiation on our health and recommend the prudent avoidance of placing such equipment in close proximity to children and adults for long periods of time,” state’s the letter. “As a result, in 2009, the Los Angeles Unified School District passed a resolution calling for criteria to establish cell tower setbacks from schools.”

The CV planning board also pointed out that nearby Cathedral Catholic High School doesn’t allow such facilities on its campus.

Board members also expressed concern about potential collocation of antennas atop CCA. Collocation refers to the collection of multiple antennas in one location, and the Federal Communications Commission has released statements encouraging collocation where feasible to reduce the need for new tower construction.

“We’re concerned that over time all these multiple carriers might be stuck on the side of a building,” Haas said.

Copic said a number of parents have contacted her to find out how they can get involved in opposing the antenna project.

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