West Covina, CA denied a proposal by T-Mobile and Crown Castle to add five small cells in residential areas despite the project’s approval by the Planning Commission in August, reported the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Crown Castle cited a lack of sufficient bandwidth for T-Mobile customers in the proposed areas. On Tuesday, the City Council voted down the project after residents appealed the earlier decision.
Residents, several Councilmembers, and Mayor Pro Tem Tony Wu agreed that aesthetics are an issue, and Crown Castle should submit design specs for approval. “My concern is that after it’s all deployed and the glitches are worked out, you always find better, faster, more modern sleeker small cells, and then we’re stuck with these,” said Councilmember Letty Lopez-Viado.
According to Robert Jystad, government relations manager for Crown Castle, several design options were available, and the City Council could have approved the proposal with the stipulation that West Covina’s planning staff wielded the final design approval. However, Mayor Lloyd Johnson said he was not comfortable with ceding responsibility for design approval to city staff, per the Valley Tribune.
Some Council members were concerned that if aesthetic guidelines for small cells were not established, whatever Crown Castle decided to install would become the precedent for future 5G infrastructure. “We want to make sure we don’t make a mistake,” Wu said. “We want something designed that can be accepted by most residents.”
As a next step, West Covina Planning Director Jeff Anderson said Crown Castle could submit the same application again in either six months or a year based on stipulations in the city code. However, Deputy City Attorney Baron Bettenhausen said the City Council still can determine the, “time, place and manner of installation” as well as the aesthetics of small cells.
October 9, 2019