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Planning Commission and schools

Here is a letter you can personalize and send to the Elk Grove Planning Commission for its meeting of Tuesday,, February 9 2021. Send it to the Planning Commission Secretary at and please copy me on it. You have my email address from my newsletter. Such written comments received by 4:00 p.m. on the day of the Commission meeting will be provided to the full Commission and staff, and posted on the City website.

Dear Ms. Kyles,

This message is for the Planning Commissioners and staff for the meeting tomorrow.

Thank you.

Dear Planning Commissioners and staff,

My name is [your name] and I have lived in Elk Grove for ____ years. [Describe what you want and don’t want for the City in terms of cell antenna policy, if you want to.]

Deny permit application for Evergreen Springs – TMobile

The permit application for proposed Evergreen Springs – TMobile project for 9 new cell antennas on top of the events center at 8280 Elk Grove Blvd. (agenda item 5.3) is incomplete. Missing are items necessary to support Findings #2, #3 and #5. The applicant’s gap analysis, alternative site analysis, propagation map and radio frequency emissions analysis are all flawed and incomplete. Therefore the Commission cannot adopt the resolution that contains the 5 findings or issue the permit. Please deny that application, either for good or until the City receives a complete application.

Also, the City should require all applicants for cell antenna permits to file drive test data to prove that there is a significant gap in their cell phone coverage. Currently both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) require this.

Keeping cell antennas away from schools

One of the biggest challenges teachers face in the classroom is cell phones. Every high school and middle school student has one and they tend to use them while in school, even during class. Student cell phones distract students, taking their minds and attention away from their teachers and classes, limiting their ability to focus on their studies. Anything that increases student cell phone use at school distracts students, etc. Such as when the City issues a permit for a cell antenna near a school (within 1,500′).  

This is an “educational effect” of cell antennas and cell towers.  The City’s power to regulate to prevent education effects is preserved by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  

There is only one reason the carriers are seeking to place cell antennas near schools – the students.  One high school contains about 2,000 potential life long customers.  By providing faster and better service at school the carriers want to wrap those customers up. 

This is of course a complex problem and there is shared responsibility by: 

the students, who can choose to use or not to use their phones during class;
the parents, who could train their students not to use their phones during class;
the teachers, who can make rules prohibiting students from using phones during class (hard to enforce);
the school district, which can prohibit the use of phones during class; 
the carriers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) who can choose not to seek permits for cell antennas near schools; and
the City, which can amend the Municipal Code to prohibit new cell antennas near schools.

We are asking the City to do its part.  The City can control one part of this problem that no other person or persons can.  When the City continues to issue permits for cell antennas near schools the City is sending a message to students loud and clear,  “Go ahead, use your phones at school.  Use them during class.  We don’t care.  It’s no skin off of our back.”  And it’s not.  The City doesn’t suffer from their permitting decisions but students, teachers, and the education of the students all suffer. Yes, students already use cell phones during class. By allowing new cell antennas near schools the City will make the problem bigger and worse. The City can prevent this.

The Commission should place on its agenda an item for an amendment to the Municipal Code, section 23.94.050, saying that the City will not issue a permit for a new cell antenna within 1,500’* of a public or private school. The purpose is to prevent the harm to education that I described earlier.

Making a more organized permit review process

The City should be able to know and say to the carriers what information is required for each analysis and for the insurance policy and staff should be able to easily check to see if the carriers have provided it and make a written record of their permit application review.

The City can streamline and standardize the application review process by adopting a standard
template that identifies what information the applicant must include and by adopting a review
checklist to guide staff’s review of each item. I recommend that the Commission place that on
the agenda of a future Commission meeting and seek public comment on it.

Please deny the permit application, put a proposed zoning code amendment on the agenda to keep cell antennas away from schools, adopt the template for applications and the checklist for staff’s review, and place this comment in the file for today’s Planning Commission meeting.

Thank you and best wishes,

[Your name and address]

_ ________________________________________________________________

That is the end of the draft letter. This is FYI.

According to the Commission’s “Notice of Adjournment” (they adjourned their meeting from February 4 to 9 because the City’s website was not working):

“Members of the public who wish to provide public comment, either for matters not on the agenda or on a particular matter, are encouraged to submit those comments in writing prior to the meeting by emailing the Planning Commission Secretary at Such written comments must be received by 4:00 p.m. the day of the Planning Commission meeting to ensure that the written comments are provided to the Planning Commission. Such written comments received by 4:00 p.m. on the day of the Commission meeting will be provided to the full Commission and staff, and posted on the City website.”