The Pinole Valley Cell Tower – To be or not to be

Friday, July 12, 2013
What started out in April as a review for and the approval of a  Conditional Use Permit for a Verizon Cell Tower at Pinole Valley Park, has evolved into a dramatic grass roots campaign by residents vs. a media campaign by behemoth Verizon.

Verizon customers, I am a Verizon subscriber, received this text message on their cell phones on Wednesday:
“Free message from Verizon: Reply YES to support improved Verizon Wireless service along Pinole Valley Road from a camouflaged treepole at the east end of Pinole Valley Park.
Email Support to convey your support to the Pinole City Council at their July 16 meeting or for more info.”

Shades of David and and Goliath.

The City Council voted 4-1 against the Cell Tower on June 18th. But Verizon has raised the stakes by threatening litigation, citing the fact that Belinda Espinosa, City Manager, signed the lease agreement in December of 2012.
But, the Council, led by Mayor Debbie Long, believes that the contract is unenforceable without Council approval.
The West County Times, reported today “Pinole Council to reconsider cell phone tower in park after Verizon threatens lawsuit” reports that Verizon believes it has met the terms of the contract and will take the case to court.

Mayor Long voted to reconsider the June 18 vote expressing safety concerns. There was talk that the Police department might be impeded due to “dead zones” in that part of Pinole Valley. However, at the most recent Financial Sub-Committee meeting the chief of Police assured Mayor Long that safety was not an issue.

The threat of litigation by Verizon in the face of the pending litigation by Fire Fighters Local 1230 is about as welcome news as another Great Recession.

In speaking to the residents who have fought the cell tower, successfully, in what now appears to be have been round one; they expressed their support of those council members who will not allow Verizon and its team of lawyers to intimidate them.

Matt Beilby, part of the group that has been fighting this tower stated, “We stand by the City Council and want them to stay strong on this issue. They voted this tower down once before and the will of the people on this issue has not changed. We feel this is a blatent attempt by Verizon to “bully” their way into our park and we hope the city council doesn’t give into their threats”.

Julie Maier sent this email to her contacts throughout the city.
“If you are a Verizon customer and received a text message today asking you to support a cell phone tower at Pinole Valley Park to improve your cell phone service, please be VERY WARY.

Verizon is trying to force and bully our City Council members into building a cell phone tower directly across the street from the residences on PV Rd. and Wright Ave. after they voted not to ratify building the tower in that location! They want to build it on park property even though dozens of local residents have worked hard for months to stop the construction due to unknown health risks, potential fire hazard ( a huge diesel fuel tank is attached to tower), and aesthetic concerns about a fake cell phone tree in the midst of our beautiful parkland. This cell phone tower should be built away from residences and certainly not in our pristine parkland. Please don’t cave in to this corporate bully and give them your support and if you really don’t want to see this cell tower built, then join Tony Guitterrez, me and many other Pinole Valley residents at the City Council meeting next Tuesday, July 16th and tell the City Council to stand by their June 18th vote and not let Verizon bully them. 
On June 18th after a very long City Council meeting, the Mayor and the rest of City Council listened to the very real concerns and wishes of about 18-20 residents who spoke against ratifying a lease to this site to Verizon. After listening to us for close to an hour, they voted 4-1 to NOT ratify the lease. A victory!!

Then on July 2nd after hearing that Verizon may force litigation, they decided to look at the decision again at the  July 16th meeting (next Tuesday).
I believe they feel threatened and bullied by Verizon’s litigation team. We need the Council to stay strong and show resolve and stick with their initial decision.
They need to hear from a lot more of us that we don’t want a cell tower built in a residential just 50 yds. off the road in a historic (site of an old Adobe in the valley) beautiful and vulnerable wooded area in PV Park. There are much more suitable locations up on ridgeline of the hills away from the park, ball fields, local school and residences.
It would be great to have a big turn out at this meeting. If you can’t make it, then please call or email the Council members before Tuesday to share your concerns. You can reach them at:”

Phil Green              cell      676-6172
Tim Banuelos         cell      872-9646
Pete Murray            home 222-1910
Roy Swearingen     home   758-4720
Debbie Long                     684-3080
If you want to find out more about the plans and why so many of us are opposing it, please call me or email me and I’d be happy to tell you my concerns. Thanks for listening and for any support you can offer–it is really appreciated! I’ll now step off my soap box.
Julie Maier


Let’s fill the Council Chambers on Tuesday to put Verizon on notice. We do not want an 80 foot faux tree cell tower in our beautiful park land.


3 thoughts on “The Pinole Valley Cell Tower – To be or not to be

  1. The Council showed their true colors the other night. The majority once again chose to protect city staff and their mistakes rather than protect their constituents. It is outrageous! They were elected to show leadership and integrity. Instead they backed down from the bullying Verizon lawyers and made excuses for the City Manager’s Espinosa’s incompetence or illegal actions and asked us to believe their hands were tied. This fight is not over yet–hope Verizon and the Council and staff are ready.

  2. Why is this tower considered to be done deal? Given enough opposition, what has been done can be undone. History has shown this to be true.

    • Hi Susan:

      The three council members who voted to ratify the lease had an opportunity at last night’s meeting to ask that the matter be reconsidered. They were not willing to do that. There are many ideas being considered as to how to undo this action by the large group of residents who are vowing to fight on.

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