La Jolla community planners revert to original vote on Cliffridge Park cell tower

Dirk Smith with the city’s Public Utilities Department explains a plan to install solar panels at Bayview Reservoir, just north of Kate Sessions Park. Pat Sherman photos
Dirk Smith with the city’s Public Utilities Department explains a plan to install solar panels at Bayview Reservoir, just north of Kate Sessions Park. Pat Sherman photos
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Torrey Pines elementary School parent Mary King (pictured with her son) speaks in favor of the la Jolla Community Planning Association upholding its original vote to deny a third cell phone tower at Cliffridge Park. Pat Sherman

By Pat Sherman

The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) has righted what many in the community felt was a wrong course of action on AT&T’s proposed cell tower in Cliffridge Park.

During the LJCPA’s June 5 meeting, more than 40 people (mostly parents of Torrey Pines Elementary School students) raised their hands to express opposition to an AT&T cell tower going in near the school, which would be the third at Cliffridge.

In April, LJCPA trustees initially voted 7-6-1 to reject the cell tower, with the meeting’s acting president, Patrick Ahern, abstaining from the vote. However, during an ensuing debate about Robert’s Rules of Order, trustees and attendees discussed whether the parliamentary guidelines require a board president to vote when it would result in a tie (in this case, resulting in the loss of ma- jority support, and a failed motion). Follow- ing that discussion, and the introduction of a clarified motion, the group voted again. By that time, trustee Bob Collins, who voted against the project, had left the meeting, creating a tie that was broken when Ahern voted in favor of the project.

LJCPA’s new board president, Joe LaCava, although absent from the group’s April meeting, said he listened to a recording of the meeting and found problems with the way the votes were conducted.

LJCPA trustee Fran Zimmerman, who made the original motion to deny the cell tower, said “all subsequent maneuvers on this subject” during the April meeting were “improper and beyond the pale of expectations for fairness” to which the LJCPA is bound.

Parents concerned about the health effects of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) levels from cell towers — which the Federal Communications Commission prevents local governments from arguing against — also weren’t happy with the vote. Many said they hadn’t been adequately notified about the LJCPA’s April meeting or the project itself.

“We believe anything other than your original vote against AT&T’s proposed tower next to our school is both unreasonable and potentially illegal,” parent Catherine Carron said. “You held a vote and the vote was clear, legitimate and proper ... against AT&T.”

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Angela Landsberg of DecoBike.

Asked whether attendees wanted a new public hearing on the project during the LJCPA’s July 3 meeting, several attendees said the date would be inconvenient, given its proximity to the July 4 holiday weekend. (LaCava said the AT&T representative wasn’t available to attend the June meeting.)

Although several trustees preferred the full hearing in July, in the end the board voted 11-4-2 to revise the minutes from its April meeting to uphold trustees’ original vote to deny the project.

The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (whose members are appointed by the mayor, and which is the only other group in La Jolla with a voice on this project officially recognized by the city) will discuss the matter during its next public meeting, 9 a.m. June 17 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

In other LJCPA news

Shared burden:

When it comes to the city’s new bike-sharing program — to be implemented this summer — it’s clear La Jollans aren’t merely going along for the ride.During a presentation on the program, a partnership between the City of San Diego and the DecoBike company, LJCPA trustees and attendees expressed further discontent with aspects of the program, which involves installation of 14 solar-powered bicycle kiosks in La Jolla, and 180 citywide.

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