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.
“I don’t want to set a precedent where schools are an easy target for these,” she said.
The planning board will be sending a representative to the Aug. 16 school board meeting, which will be begin at 6:30 p.m. and take place in the district’s Board Room 101 at 710 Encinitas Blvd.
The entire letter sent by the Carmel Valley planning board to the school district is below:
Dear Superintendent Noah and SDUHSD School Board:
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board represents the residents, property owners, business owners and workers in the communities of Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch.
The board also is the acting planning board designated by the City of San Diego Planning Commission and City Council to make recommendations to those bodies on land use issues in the North City Future Urbanizing Area Subarea II.
At its meeting of June 28, 2012 the CVCPB voted unanimously to recommend that the City of San Diego not approve the plan for wireless communications facilities on and adjacent to Canyon Crest Academy buildings F&G referenced above. At the Planning Boardʼs subsequent meeting on July 26, 2012 following the Cityʼs approval of the project on July 2, 2012 the Carmel Valley
Community Planning Board voted to submit this letter to you clarifying the rationale for our objections in the hope that you will consider the communityʼs concerns before entering into this agreement.
communication by the school or School District to the impacted parents, teachers
and students of Canyon Crest Academy regarding the proposed facilities and their
exercised in the selection of classroom buildings and well-trafficked parts of the
school for the siting of the antennae and the adjacent telecommunications
communication by the School District to the impacted parents, teachers and students of
Canyon Crest Academy regarding the proposed facilities and their location.
In order to notify the school community about this 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. We understand that the School District also posted a paper notice somewhere on the school grounds during finals. The School District and school have multiple newsletters, websites, all call capabilities and e-mail utilities at their disposal to notice such a project and any meetings about it to parents, teachers and students. It is our understanding that none of them were used. We could find no notice of the meeting in the schoolʼs daily bulletins, newsletters, e-mails or other calendar sites. As a result, a meeting was held and not one parent or teacher was in attendance and few, if any, were even aware of the meeting or the project.
It was not until the Carmel Valley News and Rancho Santa Fe Review reported on the boardʼs vote to deny, and the Cityʼs subsequent decision to approve, the application that the broader school community even became aware of the project. As a result, we donʼt feel the schoolʼs duty to notify impacted parents, teachers and students was fulfilled and now that school is no longer in session for the summer, there is little community members can do to oppose the Cityʼs decision or get more information from the School District.
exercised in the selection of classroom buildings and well-trafficked parts of the school
for the siting of the antennae and the adjacent telecommunications equipment.
We want to clarify that, in this situation; the Planning Board prefers the siting of antennae in places away from heavily trafficked school buildings even if it results in the erection of [aesthetically designed] towers out in the school athletic fields. There are many new ways to camouflage these utilities and we feel they are worth the effort. In fact, we understand that the school has plans to upgrade its field facilities and perhaps even include night time light standards, score-boards, a concession building and/or rest rooms. We feel that these less frequently trafficked amenities would be more appropriate locations for wireless facilities (and could be partially financed by them) and donʼt feel that the School District adequately considered this as an option.
We understand that “The Telecommunication Act of 1996 preempts local governments from regulating the “placement, construction and modification of wireless communication facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of Radio Frequency (RF) emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Federal Communication Commissionʼs (FCC) standards for such emissions.” However, the school district is not prohibited from using good judgment in the prudent placement of these facilities on their own property.
In fact, to paraphrase the LA Unified School Districtʼs 2000 and 2006 resolutions, “there continues to be considerable debate and uncertainty within the scientific community as to the potential health effects to individuals, especially children, from exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic and radio-frequency radiation…a number of epidemiological and biological studies are inconclusive with regard to the carcinogenic potential of exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields,…Recent studies suggest there is evidence that radio-frequency radiation may produce “health effects” at “very low field” intensities…”
In short, 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
of placing such equipment in close proximity to children and adults for long periods of time. As a result, in 2009, the Los Angeles Unified School District passed a resolution calling for criteria to establish cell tower setbacks from schools.
We know that the perceived and real health and safety of students and employees are of the utmost importance to the School District, and that many parents have expressed their concern.
We wanted to assure the School District that the Planning Board supports and encourages the School Districtʼs right to explore other options for siting these antennae away from classroom buildings and well trafficked parts of the school where students and teachers might encounter long-term low level exposure.
Since the Planning Boardʼs deliberation and vote were discussed in the Carmel Valley News, we have heard from several concerned CCA parents thanking the board for their decision and asking how they can get involved. Since the City has already approved the project and there is no longer an option to appeal this decision, the School District is their only recourse for information and support. We hope the School District will make every effort to gather and consider this input and diligently evaluate a more prudent location for these wireless communications facilities.
Carmel Valley Community Planning Board,
Vice-Chair & Pacific Highlands Ranch District 12 Representative
Laura Copic, N10 Representative