Organizing to Stop the Proliferation of Cell Towers in Residential Neighborhoods

 Stated goal of our new Carmel ordinances is to influence the installation of wireless facilities
to the greatest extent allowed under federal law and to ensure the utmost protection
of the unique aesthetic character of Carmel-by-the-Sea.   

Oct 2 - City Council - Second Reading was Approved 

Here is the YouTube of this Session. Here is the agenda packet.  Next/final step is to receive approval from Coastal Commission - TBD. 

Special recognition and appreciation goes to CRA Members and Community Leaders
          Christy Hollenbeck, Bob Kavner and Tasha Witt,
who have invested unending passion, time and dollars to allign with fellow residents and experts to influence the content of this draft ordinance to best assure local controls over the impact, approval and placement of Cell/Telecom Towers in the residential areas of our Village.   Thank you, for your efforts on all of our behalf. 

Sept 13 - City Council - First Reading

The August Drafts, as previously approved at Planning Commission in August, were approved at City Council with their first reading.  City Staff Report is HERE.  YouTube Video is HERE.  Next steps include second reading at October 2 City Council, then on to the Coastal Commission date TBD. 

Aug 30 - Breifly covered at the Strategic Priorities half yearly review

View this YouTube at time stamp 46 minutes. Recognized as a Strategic Prioritiy.  The next step is reviewing with City Council on September 12 for first reading.  Upon second reading, this will need to receive final approval at the Coastal Commission. 

Also see the Aug CRA Survey Results - beginning on page 15 for Membership feedback on this topic.

Draft Wireless Ordinance APROVED at  August 23rd Planning Commission Special Meeting

Yes, this Draft, with changes, was approved by the Planning Commission Aug 23rd. The next steps require 1 or 2 reviews will be at City Council to finalize this Ordinance.  The Aug 23rd in Council Chambers meeting agenda and staff report, can be found HERE.  And the YouTube of this meeting is HERE.


Draft Ordinance Review - March 29th in City Council Chambers -

SPECIAL Planning Commission Meeting

HERE is the document prepared by the SCTCN team identifying fixes, gaps and suggestions on fixes to the drafts prepared by the City staff. Here is their summary community flyer.  Please reach out to [email protected] for more information and feedback to their materials. 

HERE is the City Meeting Announcement. HERE is the YouTube from this meeting. 

The drafts provided were discussed by the Planning Commission and citizens.  The citizen funded attorney Andrew Campanelli presented at the beginning of this public comment period, focusing in on the critical items needing updating on the drafts provided - including the requirement for probative evidence of need for new Cell sites.  Following Campanelli multiple citizens added to this feedback, throughout this public special meeting. 

Wireless Ordinance

Federal and State laws are increasingly limiting local land-use discretion over wireless communications facilities. Under the Telecommunications Act, local governments retain their authority to regulate wireless facilities as long as the regulations: 1) Do not prohibit or “effectively prohibit” wireless communications facilities; 2) Do not unreasonably discriminate between communications service providers; or, 3) Do not regulate based on potential environmental impacts associated with radio frequency (RF) emissions.  The City is updating its Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance to create the strongest set of regulations that protect the unique character of the Village while remaining in compliance with applicable Federal and State Laws.  

Draft Wireless Ordinance Package for March 15th Planning Commission Workshop:

1 - Reader's Guide (START HERE)
2 -Draft Ordinance Amending Zoning Code Chapter 17.46 (March 2023 Workshop)
3 -Draft Wireless Application Form (March 2023 Workshop)
4 - Draft Wireless Application Checklist for Type I through IV Facilities (March 2023 Workshop)
5 - Draft Wireless Application Checklist for Type V Facilities (March 2023 Workshop)
6 - Draft Detailed Wireless Facility Design Guidelines (March 2023 Workshop)
7 - Draft Required Standard Conditions of Approval for Wireless Facilities (MARCH 2023 Workshop)

Update Dec 2, 2022

As covered in today's Carmel Pine Cone, page 9 here, the litigation between the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Verizon has gone into mediation, per guidance of the Ninth Circuit. 

“This case shall be held in abeyance. The clerk is directed to temporarily close this court’s docket for administrative purposes until June 1, 2023,” the order signed by court mediator Steven Saltiel states. “This administrative closure is not a decision on the merits and no mandate will issue in connection with this order. At any time, any party may request that this appeal be reopened by contacting the circuit mediator.” Attorneys on both sides are required to email updates to Saltiel on or before May 25, 2023".  

This article goes on to clarify that the target date for public review & comment on the new draft ordinances is targeted for the Planning Commission Feb 8th.  

Update Nov 2022 - clipped from the Friday Letter Nov 10 (the full Friday Letter can be viewed here)

Verizon litigation and wireless telecommunications ordinance
We have mentioned in our previous Letters that the City was successful in its Motion to dismiss the lawsuit that Verizon filed challenging the City Council’s decision to deny the Verizon application to install cell facilities at 9th and Carmelo and that Verizon filed an appeal from that court ruling. We expect the Court will be issuing an Administrative Order in that case which will defer the need for filing of appellate briefs by the parties for six months. 
We also want to update you on the status of the City’s work on a draft telecommunication ordinance to update the City’s Municipal Code.  Brandon Swanson (Director of Community Development) and Gail Karish (special counsel for the City) have contacted Andrew Campanelli who is an attorney retained by a group of residents to provide input on a draft telecommunications ordinance.  In addition, the City intends to seek input from stakeholders and residents in the community who are interested in expressing their views about a draft telecommunications ordinance.  We will publish a draft calendar for the ordinance in the near future.
Update Sept 2022
The originally scheduled 9/14 Planning Commission Workshop to review the draft ordinances is postponed to a future date. The links are provided below. The "future date" will support clarifying and reworking these first versions based on the significant quantity of community input received since their release. 
Here are the first DRAFT Ordinances - HOWEVER these are planned to be reworked and republished
17.45 - Covers applications for wireless facilities on private property (both commercial and residential)  HERE
17.46 - Covers applications for wireless facilities within the City's Right-of-Way (ROW) HERE
17.47 - Covers applications for wireless facilities that fall under the "Existing Facilities Request" regulations HERE
And here are the first checklist drafts used by the Carrier applicants as well:

Updates Aug 1 2022 

Stop Cell Towers in Carmel Neighborhoods understands that Verizon has filed an appeal at the 9th Circuit District Court. We are diligently assessing what it means. We believe this highlights the importance of why we need a strong wireless ordinance to protect our village from cell tower proliferation. 

The City will be releasing its draft ordinances prior to the September 14 Planning Commission meeting. The citizen funded attorney, Andrew Campanelli, is planned to speak at this meeting.   
(UPDATE 9/6/2022: This Planning Commission Workshop on the Wireless Ordinance is postponed to a future Month (Oct or Nov), to be announced.)

It is important for as many residents as possible attend the upcoming meeting by zoom or call in, write letters and turn in postcards send to you by the resident group Stop Cell Towers in Carmel Neighborhoods in order to make sure we have the strongest ordinance possible that puts us in control of where cell towers are placed and their aesthetics.

Update July 24 2022

The City's first draft of the updated Telecom ordinance will be made available in the coming weeks, well in advance of the routine Planning Commission meeting September 14th, where this will be the first agenda item.  This initial draft will highlight where the City's draft has leveraged directly or indirectly this Citizen Funded recommendations contributed by their Attorney Andrew Campanelli. Watch for this draft City Ordinance, and we will also post it here, as soon as it's posted.   And to participate with your comments on this draft, write in to the City Staff and/or speak live at this upcoming September 14th Planning Commision meeting.   Thank you for your support.

Update June 30 2022 -

Good news that the recent Verizon cell tower placement request for the 8th and Carmelo location - was contested by Verizon and went through the courts to be officially declined, as updated in the the July 1st Friday Letter
"On June 30, 2022, the Court issued an Order granting the City's Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissing the lawsuit filed by Verizon. The lawsuit had sought to overturn the decision of the City Council on December 7, 2021, denying the Verizon application to install cell facilities on a telephone pole located on Carmelo Street, just west of the LaPlaya hotel. A copy of the Court Order is posted on the City's website and available by clicking on the button below. The City will continue to provide updates as they become available."   
This summary judgement document is available on the City Website Here.  But this doesn't stop the efforts of this effort.  An undated ordinance for our Village remains the focus of this team, to minimize the impacts of cell tower placements in residential areas.   Please read on to learn more and to contribute through $'s and your voice as the development of a revised ordinance continues. 

....Read on for more background on this initiative!

The “STOP Cell Towers in Carmel Neighborhoods” is a resident’s group that favors good cellular service but opposes locating cell tower installations in ALL 93921 residential zones.

As residents we are asking city officials to update the ordinance to protect our homes and residential neighborhoods from cell tower installations.  The industrial nature of cell towers is out-of-character and out-of-scale with our residential neighborhoods, and much more.

This group is advocating to have our homes and neighborhoods protected from: the visual blight of cell tower proliferation, the unpleasant, incessant noise of cell tower antennas and battery cooling fans, the increased danger from the fall zone and fires, the negative impacts on our view sheds, the corresponding property devaluation, and the overall aesthetic degradation of our neighborhoods ultimately destroying the scenic beauty and charm of our unique village.

Although not a part of their public position, the telecom companies seek to install a network of 5G cellular towers (as close as 100 feet apart) throughout our neighborhoods --- to shift higher capacity entertainment services to their increased capacity Cell Towers; not for the sole purpose of traditional text and phone cellular service as they claim.  Residents already have cable series into our homes for high-capacity entertainment services and also use Wi-Fi for cell service when in range. 

Alternatively, we argue that the telecom companies can upgrade their equipment onto the existing macro cell towers located on our mountain tops, to provide all the infrastructure needed to provide cellular service to our entire one-square-mile village.

Please consider contributing to the Legal Expenses

The STOP group has hired expert telecom attorney, Andrew Campanelli, to address the residents needs for our wireless ordinance and work with the city on the ordinance.  We’ve engaged Mr. Campanelli to write the most protective ordinance allowed under the new guidelines.  Given his deep experience he knows there is plenty we can do to address our concerns and protect our needs.  Mr. Campanelli is considered by many to be the best, most experienced telecom attorney in the country. 

To learn more about Campanelli’s expertise on ordinances: 

  • View this video HERE  
  • And his work on this exactly this issue on his web site HERE
  • NEW - Campanelli's DRAFT Ordinance - May 2022 HERE

Our group has paid the initial retainer to secure his services. This fundraiser is to cover the remainder of his full fee and legal fees throughout the wireless ordinance update process. While we cannot guarantee that the city will agree to adopt the ordinance and legal approach developed by Mr. Campanelli, we feel compelled to present this legal position to the city in hopes that they will be convinced. We feel this telecom attorney is our best chance to educate our city officials, city representatives and community to craft the strongest wireless ordinance for Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Our collective donations will make our best efforts possible. For information on making a donation or with your questions please email address:  [email protected]

As they say, “It takes a village”…

Thank you for your support,

Christy Hollenbeck
Tasha Witt
Bob Kavner