Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Towering Echo Park

Whole lot of static in Echo Park this week. One neighborhood list is crackling with distress at the news that T-Mobile wants to build a tower on top of the Del Mor apartments, apparently with the consent of the building's owners.

The company is requesting a permit to install and operate "an unmanned wireless telecommunications facility consisting of 12 panel antennas and one GPS antenna" above Chango. They're talking 55 five feet 9 inches* high. Perhaps they just want to channel all of that surplus hipster vibe down at street level? Unused cool streaming to the people.

Either way, objections to such a structure fill a big pool. There's the aesthetic argument that a tower in the V of a residential canyon is ugly. There's the health worry of radiation­ but those concerns, say the powers that be, are not concerns because no one knows about the real dangers of cell tower emissions. So your car radio crackles when you drive by one? So what? Headaches? Whatever. That's essentially the argument for allowing towers close to residences. It hasn't been studied much.

According to neighborhood activists who know the codes, the only way to fight such a tower is on aesthetic grounds or by citing precedent.

Says one EP resident:

Please note: If you attend any public hearing (LA City) regarding cell towers you cannot address the issue of cellular radiation, you can address the tower as it relates to the community plan, zoning and aesthetics.

EP has always had wacky phone troubles. There's the radio interference at the tops of the hills, with some people getting radio reception in their iron bathtubs. There's the spotty cell phone reception all up and down the hills. But a tower on top of the Del Mor Apts? That's no solution. That's a brand new problem.

*Fifty-five feet exceeds the 45-foot max of the current zoning.

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