Palo Alto Approves Setback Near Public Schools

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Last week, the Palo Alto City Council created a 300-foot setback requirement for small cells being installed on poles near public schools, after residents voiced concerns over health impacts and aesthetics, reported Palo Alto Online.

The resolution passed by the council also included a provision for placing wireless equipment on second-story windows. The provision specified that wireless equipment on multistory buildings not be placed in a “horizontal plane,” which is defined as a “45-degree angle extending 50 feet from the center point of upper story windows, doors, balconies and other openings.”

Resident Jerry Fan, whose house is next to wireless equipment and whose children attend a school next to an antenna site, has concerns over his kids, “spending 24 hours a day next to a radiation-beaming cell tower.”

On the flip side, resident Jeff Saunders questioned the scientific assumptions of those opposing the new equipment. More cell towers, he said, means, “less overall radiation.”

“If you have a higher density of cell antennas, each of those antennas radiates at a lower power and, more importantly, this radiates at a lower power,” Saunders said.

Council members chose to avoid the health impact issue and focus on aesthetics instead. Councilman Tom DuBois noted, “I’d really like to see an aesthetic preference to choose poles near property lines, not in the middle of someone’s front yard.”

The new rules will not apply to pending applications or to previously approved projects, according to the staff report. The city has already approved dozens of wireless antennas and has more than 100 in the pipeline, reported Palo Alto Online.

June 24, 2019

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