Thursday, July 19, 2018

T-Mobile Pushes to Rezone Neighborhood

by Evan Como (writer), , October 13, 2007


There’s an entire residential neighborhood that T-Mobile wants to rezone. There isn’t enough room on the antenna array located at the southeastern corner of the Kenneth Hahn Park. So, instead of locating its antennas nearby on one of the local businesses or atop a billboard, T-Mobile has set its sights on the Baldwin Hills Estates.

Most motorists passing through the La Brea/Stocker interchange on the way towards Hollywood or to L.A.X. have no idea that there is a tidy Mid-century residential community tucked beyond the apartments and condos that are visible from La Brea. Homes in the area have recently sold for as much as $1.2 million.

During the cellular phone company’s initial courtship of the community’s Homeowers Association, the planned unmanned antenna array to be installed atop an apartment building morphed from unsightly to decorative. In the March 8, 2007 meeting with homeowners at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s community room, a representative from T-Mobile passed out Photoshop’d color prints of current and future views from several angles. Appealing to the lack of cellular reception in the neighborhood, maps featuring present and future service were distributed, as well. The installation of the antenna would, indeed, service not only the Baldwin Hills Estates, but would miraculously provide reception as far west as La Cienega, reaching South to Rodeo Road.

A map illustrating complete coverage through the installation of five strategically-placed antennas atop existing light poles was also included, but glossed over. The light pole method would serve to increase coverage in the Baldwin Hills Estates only. Rezoning would be unnecessary. An irate homeowner raised her hand and spoke plainly, “When we drive into the neighborhood, we lose reception. When we get home, we make our calls.” She was one of two T-Mobile customers in attendance.

Pointing at the nicely crafted photograph of the apartment building and seeing the true 'after', another resident stated, “You’re going to make your array nice so we’ll say ‘Yes’. But what happens when Verizon or Cingular put their antennas up? They won’t care what their antennas look like.” The homeowners voted “NO!” More concerned homeowners bombarded the Department of Planning with scores of petitions that helped to kill the original rezoning request. At least, temporarily.

But T-Mobile wants its way. That much is clear from the immediate appeal of the Zoning Administrator’s denial. The appeal opens their case to the broader scope of City politics, including Councilman Bernard Parks’ whose vote usually swings towards business rather than his constituents’ best interests. T-Mobile would never give a thought to placing cellular antennas on rooftops in the hills above Sunset Plaza. T-Mobile would probably never investigate placing cellular antennas above the rent-paying heads of Zev Yaraoslavsky’s Westsiders. That the Principals of T-Mobile would show less esteem for Baldwin Hills Estates homeowners’ property values and health isn’t surprising. It's disappointing, but not surprising.

About the Writer

Evan Como is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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