Torrance, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles, is a small community within a sprawling urban area. Like many populous areas, there is a need for digital connectivity, but differing opinions on where to place the cell tower poles. As the Rafu Shimpo reports, residents in Torrance are pushing back on what they believe are improper and invasive sitings of cell tower equipment.
The alarm was sounded by 92-year-old Yoshiko Morohoshi when she learned that plans were afoot to place a cell tower in her backyard. Morohoshi, an avid gardener, was dismayed to discover that the pole was scheduled to be set a mere 10 feet from her garden. After reviewing the site, the planning commission conceded that the proposed unit was too close to residences. It was moved to a distance 140 feet away, next to a children’s dental office. She has said that since the tower was erected, a local bee colony has disappeared and she has had trouble sleeping. She said she now suffers from debilitating headaches.
Led by 89-year-old Grace Mayeda, a number of residents have pooled their resources to pay the $750 needed to appeal the matter with the Torrance Planning Commission. Calling themselves the North Torrance ACTION (Against Cell Towers in Our Neighborhood) Coalition, the group drafted a letter to council members to plead their case. The residents directed much of their animosity towards Crown Castle, whom they believe has not treated their community with respect. It is their hope the local government can be persuaded to rein in the telecom and hold it more accountable to the residents.
“The blight and obstruction this cell tower will cause to our small business community, which is doing its best to stay afloat, is absolutely unfair and unjust,” states the letter to the council. “It not only blocks their only plaza signage and takes away their only greenscape (which again, goes against our General Provisions in Article 39 Ordinance), it also puts their employees at constant risk on a daily basis for potential exposure, especially since Crown Castle has historically not maintained their towers. The community is alarmed for their safety. We ask that you protect us now. Maybe one day the bees will return.”
The Rafu Shimpo, a local publication geared toward the area’s Japanese community, alleges that Crown Castle built a cell tower in 2020, two years before it had obtained official permits to do so. In the letter to the council, resident Chuck Choi commented that, “The bees don’t come anymore since they put that thing up.”
While the North Torrance ACTION Coalition hopes that the city government will hear their emotional plea, Torrance has previously dealt with legal challenges from Crown Castle complaining that the city has violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996.