Tue, Aug

Kim Made Permanent GM at DONE; Cell Tower Report

NEIGHBORHOODS - The Mayor’s Office is happy to reappoint Mr. BongHwan (BH) Kim as the permanent General Manager of Neighborhood Empowerment.  We look forward to the continued collaborative leadership that Mr. Kim, the Department, and Neighborhood Councils across Los Angeles bring to the work of involving our diverse residents in civic participation, and advising city officials in the creation of an ever better L.A.

Our office became impressed with BongHwan (BH) Kim during his work on the Neighborhood Council Review Commission.  

In the national search for a new General Manager, both Carol Baker-Tharp and BongHwan (BH) Kim emerged as the top two contenders as determined by the selection committee which included multiple Neighborhood Council representatives.  

Ms. Baker-Tharp was appointed General Manager, and Mr. Kim was appointed Assistant General Manager in March 2007.  With Ms. Baker-Tharp’s passing, Mr. Kim was made Interim and then appointed permanent General Manager in May 2008.  With the consolidation proposed with the Community Development Department, BongHwan (BH) Kim became the Interim General Manager at Neighborhood Empowerment in July 2010. (Read the rest of the announcement (here)
CELL TOWERS-The proliferation of cell towers in Los Angeles neighborhoods has been a hot-button issue for months. Following the June 15 Public Works Committee meeting, supporters of an ordinance controlling the growth … and other cell tower issues … appear hopeful that that light at the end of the tunnel is for real.  Here is Chris Spitz’ detailed account of the hearing.

Councilman Huizar (Chair) was present but other members (Smith, Alarcon) absent (unexplained).  At least 50 people in attendance, including many community leaders and residents, several public officials and telecom industry representatives (roughly 30 or so people ended up speaking during public comment; see below).  

Huizar spoke initially about many concerns he is hearing from residents of his district about aesthetics and also about RF emissions/health issues.  He heard first from C.A. Ted Jordan who gave, in my view, an excellent analysis of the law.  Jordan generally explained what the City can and cannot do in terms of more extensive regulation of cell towers in the public right of way.  He outlined the basis for the 3 recommended changes (again, eliminating the utility pole exemption; expanding notice; enhancing aesthetic provisions), but he also went a little farther in explaining what other cities are doing (including requiring RF emissions certification/periodic review and discouraging residential siting, both of which Jordan indicated could be explored for enactment in L.A. as well, depending on what direction the Council ultimately gives to the C.A.).

Public speakers included many residents and community leaders, only one telecom industry representative (AT&T) and one Council office representative (CD11).  The AT&T speaker (Kevin Tamaki) did not expressly oppose the suggested changes but basically urged caution and stressed that the industry requires more cell installations to keep up with smartphone demand (again, no other industry representative spoke).  The CD11 speaker (Norman Kulla, sr. counsel to Councilman Rosendahl) stated that Rosendahl supports the C.A. report's recommendations for changes in the current regulations; a letter to this effect was submitted to Huizar/the PWC.  (Note:  I later learned that Councilman Smith also sent a similar letter to Huizar/the PWC).

The speakers (from residents' groups and neighborhood/community councils) unanimously supported the C.A.'s recommendations, and many requested additional specific provisions such as those requested by the WTF Working Group.  Since we were limited to one minute each it was difficult for individual speakers get in all the points we wanted to make, but everyone did a great job and I believe collectively all the major arguments were made (e.g., concerns about health effects and aesthetics; negative impact on property values; lack of adequate notice or regulation regarding utility pole installations in particular; need to look at other cities' ordinance, such as Glendale's, as a guide; need & legal basis for a temporary moratorium and the like; I also stressed that the WTF Working Group wishes to work reasonably with public officials and to be included as the process moves forward, so that this will be a win-win for everyone).  Since my memory may be faulty I don't want to list names for fear of leaving someone out, but speakers came from all over the city, including from Sherman Oaks, Tarzana, Granada Hills, Sunland-Tujunga, Encino, Westwood, Mar Vista, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and the entire Westside (represented by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils).  I thank everyone for their terrific presentations -- and of course I thank those who couldn't attend but who have contacted their councilmembers and/or written letters to try and move this forward!   

Councilman Huizar stated that he will be discussing this with Councilman Reyes as chair of PLUM and will urge that a joint meeting of both committees take place as soon as possible to address this matter (since cross-over issues involving zoning are within PLUM's purview).  Some speakers had also stressed that a comprehensive new ordinance setting uniform standards on both private property as well as the public right of way should be enacted (a position of the WTF Working Group in addition to numerous councils and HOAs which filed motions in this matter); a joint meeting with PLUM will be an opportunity to raise this argument again.  

Assuming the proposed PLUM/PWC meeting takes place in the relatively near future, I am guardedly optimistic that we are finally moving in the right direction towards necessary regulatory reforms.  I hope that even more organizations and residents who support better regulation of such facilities in our residential areas will be able to attend and speak out -- if and when the next meeting is scheduled.  Stay tuned . . .  

(Chris Spitz is a member of the LA WTF Working Group. She can be reached at [email protected])

Vol 9 Issue 49
Pub: June 21, 2011