As Westlake Revelations wrote a couple of months ago, in December, the City of Agoura Hills lost its court battle with T-Mobile to prevent the cell antenna at Lindero Canyon Middle School from being put in. By Federal law, cities are only able to have impact on the location and the look of antennas — but this is not absolute control, it’s more of an “influence” and based on whether there are reasonable alternatives that would allow the cell phone company to fill an established “coverage gap.”
In some cases, cities are able to deny a permit for a cell antenna, but the situations are very specific such as: the location being on private property, there not being a clear coverage gap for the specific carrier, or the solution being more than what is necessary to cover the established coverage gap. Today, in comparison to the quantities of cell phone antennas applied for, it’s fairly rare for a site to have a set of circumstances that would allow for a city to deny a permit.
In the case of Agoura Hills, as expected, the court found that none of these circumstances applied. Some people believe that the City’s fight was what was required to try and uphold the will of the people people (or at least those who were concerned and vocalized opposition). Others believe that there was broad support or apathy and that given the expected outcome, it was a waste of public funds. Whichever you believe, the total fees and cost of attempting to deny the permit was $77,285.45, and at this time, no damages have been awarded to T-Mobile. Multiple legal and government experts have told Westlake Revelations that this cost is low for this type of fight.
T-Mobile’s installation at LCMS is under review at California’s Division of the State Architect (DSA) which provides design and construction oversight for K?12 schools, community colleges, and various other state-owned and leased facilities. In the end, the antenna will be mounted on top of a flag pole that will be installed on LCMS’ field. While some “pre-installation” work may happen while LCMS has open trenches for other construction projects, the T-Mobile antenna construction itself is anticipated for the summer.
LCMS’s T-Mobile installation will be the 8th cell antenna installation on an LVUSD site. The others are: four at Agoura High School, two at Calabasas High School, and one soon to be completed within the LVUSD maintenance yard. LVUSD began installing cell antennas several years ago after parents asked the District to help fill coverage gaps (after the shootings at Columbine). The antennas have also been a source of revenue to the District bringing in approximately $30,000 each per year. With this being the first antenna within LVUSD that has had any vocal opposition, the LVUSD Board of Education has modified it’s procedures for future cell installations (if there are any) to more input from the community prior to contracts being executed.