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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Neighborhood involvement

We checked in with the outraged neighbors at their protest of the new wireless antenna installation at Fremont and 37th in Portland this evening. There were three dozen or so people, mostly kids, standing out in the rain, holding signs and selling home-baked goods to try to scratch together attorney's fees to mount a legal challenge. Lots of horn honks from passing drivers, presumably of support.

Probably the strongest argument that the opponents will have is that the Fremont location does not comply with the city's siting standards for such equipment. The city's new system is supposed to maximize placement of these antennas on poles along streets designated as "priority" on the city's official map for the purpose. The Fremont right-of-way is priority 4 -- the lowest priority -- with the priority 2 venue of 33rd Avenue just four blocks away.

As best we can tell, while the city's map sounds good in theory, for the cell companies the key is finding an adjacent private property owner who is willing to have the ground equipment for the antennas located on his or her lot. At 37th and Fremont, the willing owner was the Wilshire Market, which is suffering a boycott now for having gotten in bed with Clearwire. At 23rd and Stanton, the owner is Qwest, which has a huge modern switching station tucked inside a historic building there. They'll presumably house the Clearwire equipment and collect rent for the privilege. But without a nearby landowner to go along, all the priority maps won't do the cell people any good at all.

But they'll probably get their way. The city criteria for siting are vague indeed, with the cell phone devils' "coverage needs" given as a sort of sick touchstone. It will likely be an uphill battle for the opponents, no matter how many cookies were sold.

Meanwhile, a couple of commenters on previous posts wondered how tall the poles at the new locations would be. Just to get some idea, we cruised down to NE 26th south of Fremont to view this AT&T installation. Having been slapped up with no notice to nearby residents before the new rules took effect, it is a large part of what has the northeast neighbors upset. We had to tilt our camera to get the whole thing into the frame:

Is that 60 feet? We're told that the 37th and Fremont pole will be about 60 feet tall, and that at 23rd and Stanton, they're talking 90 feet, because the signal needs to clear some of the neighborhood's grand century-old trees. What is becoming of our neighborhoods under the Adams "administration"? With one insult after another, it's gotten pretty shameful. As Portland's businesses head for happier climes, people looking for livability may not be far behind.

Comments (8)

One nit:
The Clearwire rep said that their tower had a cylindrical cover at the top and the picture he showed was a lot less diameter than in your photo. The tower allegedly will be brown to look like wood with the top portion, perhaps, half again to double the diameter of the nearby pole.

The higher height will reduce ground level RF levels since it puts the source further away from (ie: above) nearby houses. Especially since the energy is focused away from the nearby ground which is, presumably, off axis.

Once you start looking at the top of poles, you find that there is already a lot of unsightly junk up there: transformers, capacitors, lots of wires.


Adams knows about this activity, and approves of it (and has approved of it in the past).

Poor Sam...he's lost, and doesn't even know it. Where's the "sustainability" in this one, Mayor?

Clearwire also wants to add some of its equipment to the bell tower of the Rose City Park United Methodist Church at 58th and Alameda. Although I'm not a part of that congregation, if it's like other old, declining churches around town that I have visited, I'm sure they could really use the money.

And that's all the companies have to do, peel off one landowner who's really hurting for cash. It would suck to have all your neighbors hate you for installing a tower in your yard, but it would suck even more to not be able to afford food and heat. Or if you're an absentee landlord, it's a nice extra bump in rent for your property and who gives a f**k what the neighbors think?

And for the record, the sellout housing the ground equipment for the antenna pole pictured on NE26th, is Fremont United Methodist Church. Fine neighbors indeed.

So if you have a Methodist church in your neighborhood, discretely inquire as to the state of its finances, and if the response is troubling, post a lookout in the parking lot to pelt the Clearwire truck with eggs when it shows up.

Where's the outraged neighbors re: the property on 1890 house they're going to demolish on 15th and Hancock? 49 condos coming to a 10,000 square foot lot near you.

One of the tricks the city plays so well is directing many problems at us. This keeps people so busy on one or two, simply difficult to have time or energy for more. . . but if we could unite . . .

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
Source: (Ethiopian)

And I am sure that every one of you protesting this has a cell phone in your pocket, how the hell do you think those things work? Also, good luck treating the brain tumor that ensues from having that thing glued to the side of your head.

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