Residents Appeal Wireless Antenna Approval

As a group of residents appeal the City's approval of eight ExteNet applications, the wireless antenna debate keeps on going.

Although the Burlingame City Council in January, the conflict continues as Action Burlingame—a group of about 300 residents—appeals approval of antenna proposals from ExteNet.

Burlingame City officials approved eight ExteNet applications for attaching wireless telecommunications facility boxes to existing utility poles in town in order to address a gap in wireless service.

Action Burlingame members argued there is no gap in service, as demonstrated by a test of cell phone use they conducted in areas ExteNet claim need more coverage. They filed an appeal written by Douglas Luftman and Mark Wilson April 9.

While City officials hear the concerns of residents, some say that federal law prohibits them from doing all that Action Burlingame members ask.

In the April 5 BurlingameNews, a weekly electronic newsletter, this issue was addressed.

“Under federal law, city regulatory authority for placement of wireless communications facilities is limited,” said the newsletter, saying that although cities have some control based on aesthetics of wireless facilities, these concerns cannot prevent a company from providing service. “If the company demonstrates that there is a need for the facility and that there is no other location which is equally effective and less intrusive, then federal law prohibits the city from denying the company placement of its facility.”

However, residents say ExteNet failed to prove this need and are asking the City Council to reverse application approval.

“Does the City Council have the political will to support the interests of its residents, who elected them to ensure that their significant concerns are addressed, by rejecting these applications as incomplete and failing to satisfy ExteNet’s substantive burden to the City?” asked Luftman and Wilson in the appeal brief.

Wireless antennas became an issue when ExteNet, along with T-Mobile, applied to install cell towers in Burlingame more than a year ago. At the time, Burlingame had no ordinance governing such structures and placed a until an ordinance could be drafted.

at the time for retroactively placing its existing applications under its moratorium. That case is still being worked out.

The Burlingame City Council meets at 7 p.m. in City Hall, where it will hear the appeal.


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