Wireless communications provider T-Mobile has canceled its plans to install a cellular tower in a Westside residential neighborhood following the intervention by Rep Maxine Waters (D-Westchester) and a united opposition against the proposal.
The Argonaut reported on Aug. 12 a proposal by the wireless company to install a 43-foot cell tower outside the Westchester home of Jeffrey and Candace Yip, who promptly rallied their friends and neighbors in an effort to force T-Mobile to abandon its plans for the tower.
T-Mobile issued its decision late Monday afternoon, Aug. 16 to Waters’ office regarding its change of heart on erecting the cell tower.
“Due to neighborhood opposition, we are backing away from our proposed site in Westchester and, thus, will not be building the T-Mobile cell site,” Joseph Thompson, a T-Mobile spokesman, wrote.
Waters credited the Yips for their diligence and persistence in thwarting T-Mobile.
“They did a fantastic job of organizing,” the congresswoman, who met with the homeowners on Aug. 16, told The Argonaut the following day. “I was very impressed with how organized they were and how well-researched their presentation was.”
The Yips, who have lived on El Manor Avenue for more than 30 years, expressed gratitude to their friends and neighbors for their unity in battling the wireless company. They also thanked Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Waters, who called them personally to tell them the news that T-Mobile had backed away from erecting the tower.
“I’m very appreciative that (Waters) called us. That was very nice of her,” Jeffrey Yip said.
Waters, a former community organizer, was also struck by the way that the opposition came together so quickly and the intensity of the neighborhood campaign that was mobilized against T-Mobile. Her Los Angeles office received a multitude of calls from concerned neighbors and over 700 signatures were collected on a petition against having them install a cell tower near any Westchester home.
“The kind of resistance that occurred is the kind that you wish you would see in every community that is faced with adversity,” she said.
Jeff LeDou, a management analyst II with the city Bureau of Engineering, said it was rare that city officials would deny awarding a permit to a cell company.
“As long as it conforms with our ordinance, we typically approve them,” LeDou said. “I have never seen (a permit) denied.”
The Yips and several of their neighbors spoke before the land use and planning committee of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa the evening after they learned that T-Mobile was canceling its plans to erect its pole for cellular usage.
“What we have to do is get new regulations on the books,” Jeffrey Yip said. “Local government feels that it doesn’t have the right to stop these towers from being put in here. They feel that they’re going to get sued, so they’re going to rubberstamp these approvals.”
Waters said she would be looking into the effects of federal legislation that does not allow homeowners or government entities to halt the installation of a cell tower due to health concerns.
“Rest assured, I will have my staff examine and look further into this issue of protecting residents from this type of incursion and we will inform the community of our results,” the congresswoman told the audience of approximately 125. “You got me started and I look forward to the opportunity to be of service.”
Representatives of T-Mobile were scheduled to make a presentation before the committee, but informed Nate Kaplan, Rosendahl’s Westchester field deputy, that they would not be able to attend late Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 17.
Despite Waters’ objection to erecting the tower in a residential neighborhood, T-Mobile expressed hope that the congresswoman would endorse their efforts to build more towers.
“Due to the popularity of cell phones, President (Barack Obama) recently spoke of the need to expand broadband in the United States and his intention to offer increased radio spectrum to wireless companies so they can keep up with demand,” Thompson wrote. “We hope Rep. Waters agrees and will help us in this effort.”
The congresswoman said she does not support T-Mobile’s efforts to further penetrate local residential neighborhoods.
“I am not prepared to assist them in any way, shape or fashion to install more residential towers,” Waters asserted. “Broadband is needed more in rural communities, not in urban settings.”
Waters reiterated how impressed she was with the Yips and their dedication to protecting their neighborhood.
“Every community needs a Yip family,” she concluded.