Some Westlake Revelations readers have asked again about whether the City of Westlake Village can vote no on the proposed T-Mobile cell antenna, and have cited several cities and legal cases.

In looking at the examples given, most of the law suits where the cities prevailed were on cell towers that were 100-150 feet tall, and more importantly, above the tops of the existing ridge or tree line (i.e., tree canopy). Others were won when the provider asked for more sites than necessary (e.g., an application for 4 antenna locations when 3 would provide similar coverage).

In each case won by a city, there was clear and obvious reasons — such as an aesthetic issue where a tower would stand 100 feet higher than anything else around it. Or a tower was completely uncamouflaged.

When cities were sued for a small antenna on top of an existing water tower, attempted to exclude a provider, or control a situation unreasonably, they ultimately lost the suit (sometimes on appeal) and the antenna went in.

We have not seen a single example of a city that ultimately won in a case where the antenna was camouflaged and height was similar to the surrounding buildings and trees (as is proposed in Three Springs). And, the HOA’s survey would make a aesthetic challenge by the City difficult (if not impossible) to defend when 62% of Three Springs households stated they believed a 25′ tree antenna at the proposed location would be “not noticed”.

In addition, the City cannot unreasonably discriminate against providers offering similar services. So, the recommendation by the Three Springs HOA to not support this T-Mobile application due to a small installed base of T-Mobile customers is specifically spoken about within and against the federal law. Furthermore, there is already case law supporting that (i.e., it’s been tested in court).

So, if the City cannot legally deny the permit, what can the City control? The City is able to affect three things:

* mitigation of aesthetics (e.g., coloring, tree vs. tower, standalone vs. building mounted, screening)
* how it’s built (e.g., types of construction, materials used)
* location (this is within the limits of providing similar levels of service, and the city’s own wireless consultants identified the proposed location as clearly optimum)

Westlake Revelations readers have asked what they can do if the City cannot deny the permit. There are some things there.

* the antenna can be 25′ instead of 45′
* the city may be able to make coloring requests (e.g., tree color)
* the antenna can possibly be moved closer to the park (this would likely make it more visible as people drive up Three Springs)
* the city could ask for a traditional antenna on the building rooftop (this would be more difficult to camouflage however)
* the city can provision for more carriers (e.g., AT&T and Verizon, although this doesn’t guarantee their participation)

The City Council meeting to discuss, and likely vote on, the cell antenna permit is at 6:30pm. Those that would like to speak for up to 3 minutes, can fill out a speaker card and give it to the City Clerk at the meeting.