Neighbors Successfully Appeal Planning Commission Approval to Board of Supervisors
by Madeline Camisa
Thanks to the sustained efforts of the Committee for an Antenna-Free Marina, on Monday, June 17, 2002 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to overturn the Planning Commission's conditional use authorization to permit a new local wireless carrier to expand their initial infrastructure into the heart of the Marina and place what would have been a second cellular antenna on the Pierce Street Garage. Supported primarily by property and business owners, employees, and residents in the Marina, the appeal ended an almost four-month battle with the new carrier over the garage's transformation into an antenna farm - and the exploitation of one of our most valuable Marina assets.
The Committee was led by Marina property owner and co-appellant Madeline Camisa and co appellant/resident Scott Dykes, along with residents Mark Martini, Walter Dickhaut and Denise Beatty, with the consistently strong support of neighborhood association presidents Gloria Fontanello, Patricia Vaughey and Bod David, and many business owners, including Ezio Rastelli of E'Angelo and Charles Bain of Judy's Restaurant. Also assisting were Richmond District residents Megan Sullivan and Bob Blum, appellants in a similar antenna appeal - and victory - on the same day; Laura Dobb, a former Canadian community volunteer; and representatives of SNAFU. Together with their supporters, the appellants presented cogent, technical arguments and market research contesting the necessity, desirability and compatibility of a highly visible, ugly, industrial cell site for this small-scale, commercial/residential NC-2 neighborhood.
Most compelling were petitions with 658 signatures; property owners' signatures comprising 53% of the land area within a 300-ft. radius of the proposed antenna facility; 60 letters in opposition; 83 completed questionnaires by Marina residents and employees proving the already high satisfaction rate of cell phone users in the Marina (90%) and the non-issue of affordability for non-cell phone users (6%); and an April 10th letter faxed by the City's Dept. of Real Estate to the carrier's agent one day prior to the Planning Commission hearing holding the new carrier's lease in abeyance because of "significant opposition" to the proposed antennas. The letter was never provided to the Planning Commission by the carrier, a situation which appellants felt was a clear breach of faith with the Marina community.
Led in this instance by Marina District Supervisor Gavin Newsom, the Board voted unanimously to support the residents, employees and business and property owners in their appeal.