Verizon’s Wireless Telecommunications Tower In Eastvale

By Valerie Gutierrez

Eastvale– Many Eastvale residents gathered at Rosa Parks Elementary on July 13 to voice their concerns about a future installation of a new 50-foot-high wireless telecommunications tower behind the Grapewin residential neighborhood.

The Verizon 50-foot wireless telecommunication tower, disguised as a “monopalm,” with ancillary equipment in a 17-foot by 19-foot lease area at 8306 Grapewin Street with an access easement on the adjacent parcel to the north of the project site has many Eastvale residents excite and others unhappy.

The applicant, Courtney Stenridge, from Verizon, provided a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting and discussed the benefits to the community, need of customers, and the elements of the site selection.

Bill Frescas, engineer from Verizon, discussed coverage areas that would be improved by the new tower and discussed the Radio Frequency Study performed by Hammett and Edison, an independent third party. Eastvale residents had their own comments regarding this study.

The proposed “monopalm” would be equipped with 12 panel antennas and one microwave dish Ground-mounted equipment at the base of the monopalm consisting of two equipment cabinets, one generator, and apparatus surrounded by a 6-foot-high block wall. The tower and the attached antennas will be designed to look like a palm tree. All ground-level equipment will be installed within the boundary of the lease area and screened behind a 6-foot-high split-face wall.

When the project was first presented on May 18, 2016, the Planning Commission considered the project for future development and voted 3-0 to continue the project discussion so that the entire Commission could be present to hear testimony and take part in the decision-making process. A month later, on June 15, 2016, Verizon came back to the Planning Commission with a new and developed project after in-depth research was done. However, the Planning Commission voted 3-1 to deny the project that they presented.

According to Planning Director, Eric Norris, Eastvale’s Planning Commission instructed Verizon to revise the plan that was denied and re-present it during the next meeting on August 24, 2016. The Planning Commission “Did not feel [that the City of Eastvale] would gain enough benefit from the [proposed] project,” said Norris.

Eastvale residents surrounding Grapewin Street have mixed reviews regarding the proposed project. Some are excited to finally get good coverage as they say they hardly have any cell phone signal/reception in that area. However, the majority of the residents expressed their worry about their family’s health concerns as well as their current view overlooking the Santa Ana River. After residents learned that Verizon had looked at seven other sites for a new cell phone tower, four which were on residential properties, they burst claiming that the tower was in their “residential backyard.”

During the meeting on July 13, Verizon explained that no material visuals impacts would be a problem considering that the area already consists of mature trees. The 50-foot monopalm would blend in with the existing trees, creating a site where the tower would not be visual. Verizon also claimed that the project site is 144 feet away from the nearest residents and that compared to other telecommunications towers that are approximately 75 to 90 feet high, this Grapewin tower will only be 50-feet high, taking residents’ concerns serious.

“About 50 to 60 residents showed up to cast their concerns,” said Norris. Many of those were well organized and prepared to make their voices heard.

Maintenance personnel will visit the site every four to six weeks to ensure the equipment is functioning properly and to perform regular and emergency maintenance via the access easement on the adjacent parcel to the north. Maintenance could occur at any time of the day or night. Among several of the many concerns pointed out by residents were as followed:

  • Visual nuisance with privacy of the 50-foot-high telecommunications tower.
  • Maintenance’s team on tower with bedroom views is unacceptable.
  • Verizon having 24 hours access to the tower glaring lights in the middle of the night.
  • Noises from generators as they maintain and service the tower.

Residents also came prepare to speak health concerns revealing that cell phone towers emit Radio Frequency radiation (RF). The cell phone industry’s stance is that RF that is in the non-heating range of the EMF spectrum. Eastvale residents explained to Council Members and Verizon that science had concluded that even low-level of exposure to RF is linked to many illnesses. Symptoms and illnesses include: headaches, memory and concentration issues, blood brain barrier leakage problems, heart problems, increase heart rates, increase stress hormone levels, nosebleeds, and increase in seizures among others.

Approximately more than two hours were spent on the night of July 13 discussing Verizon’s “monopalm” tower. Though no final decision has been made, Eastvale residents and city members urge local residents to attend the “August 24 meeting where the 50-foot-high plan will be presented back to the city council