Carmel Valley board approves new ‘monopine’ cell structure

A rendering of the monopine at Grace Point Church.
(Karen Billing)

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board approved the design of a new “monopine”, a cell site made to look like a towering pine tree, in a 6-2 vote at its Aug. 25 board meeting. The new 60-foot-tall monopine will be located toward the back of Carmel Valley’s Grace Point Church campus on Hayford Way.

The new antennas are part of the carrier’s 5G buildout in the San Diego area. A 25-year lease will bring revenue for the church and the hope is to be through the city’s zoning and permitting process by the end of the year. Neighbor input will be part of the city process once the design is finalized, according to Mercedes Thatcher, representing Dish Wireless.

In April, the board recommended Dish Wireless explore alternatives and conduct outreach to neighbors to the north as well as Congregation Beth Am next-door. At the meeting, they weighed the options of a monopine versus a single pole. The tree provides more opportunity for the co-location of additional antennas in the future while the pole does not.

Board member Vic Wintriss said for the slight aesthetic difference he preferred going for the tree as it gives flexibility without the proliferation of other wireless facilities.

“We’re going to benefit from the bandwidths that they have and I think we’re going to want to help them improve so we can improve our reception,” Wintriss said. “It allows them to provide the best service to the public.”

Board Chair Frisco White voted against the monopine as he said he has a strong dislike for monopines because they are very fake looking; board member Jeff Heden was also opposed.

Board Vice Chair Barry Schultz said he voted in favor not because he likes monopines but because it was a better option.

“I don’t like the single pole and the idea that we’re going to have three or four in the future makes it even worse so I’m in favor of the fake tree,” Schultz said.