The Tower Topplers Fight on



The battle for the ears and dollars of cell phone subscribers is well documented, not just in Pinole but throughout the country.
In Pinole, the Cell Tower wars were fought between the City, Verizon and the Tower Topplers.
But that did not deter Verizon from continuing its efforts to place a cell tower in Pinole Valley, albeit, not at the hotly contested site in Pinole Valley Park.
After a period of relative calm, what the Tower Topplers believed would happen, has happened.
Verizon has found a private party who is willing to place the cell tower on their private property.

Members of the “Tower Topplers”, have submitted the following letters to for posting.
The following comments, statements and opinions are attributable to those individuals only and not to Ivette Ricco.

Letter from Vanessa Wilke to the Pinole City Council.

I am writing to share my concerns re: the proposed cell tower in Pinole Valley to be located above the creek.

I understand the council will be meeting about this in November.

My first concern is the roads, Pinole Valley Rd, Wright Ave, Doidge..any other roads that equipment vehicles

will need to travel to haul material. These roads are not rated to support the weight of those vehicles, like drilling equipment.

The roads were designed for residential vehicles not a 5 axle truck. Any truck over the 3 ton P.V.R. limit (6,000 lbs.)

My second concern is the stability of the hill on which they want to put the tower. I live across the creek,

2325 Hoytt backyard is the hill above the creek. In 1998, the last Big El Nino, my family lost our backyard due to a broken City storm drain that runs from the front of our court, under our property and umps run-off into the creek. This was discovered in February 1998, the whole slide into the creek leaving our home within 2’of the slide, a 24′ drop off.  We had to fight the city to get them to accept responsibility for repairing

our yard before the next rains began. At this exact same time we were sliding away, directly across the creek,

not far from the Tower site, the Wilbur family backyard was also sliding badly “without” our storm drain problem.

Their back hill above the creek was also covered in plastic tarps as were several other homes along Pinole Creek

that winter from the terrible rain soaked unstable land above the creek, praying each day no more would drop off!

That August we had been told the City would NOT fund the repair…meeting in closed sessions to discuss other choices.

The city called FEMA who took the project because 1. our home was in eminent danger & 2. FEMA had paid for slide repair in the same area in 1986…we moved in in 1981. The city had to front the money as it was an Audited project & would get paid when it was done. Thank goodness FEMA stepped in or we would have “washed away”! Remember all this started in on the property / drain didn’t begin until Sept. 98′. Kind of amazing still all these years

later that it was a “city drain” that broke on our side of the creek causing all this damage, yet the “City” would not accept

responsibility immediately. Once the work by FEMA began they worked 7 days a week to beat the next rainy season.

How does this History Lesson have relevance re: the Tower?  I am worried that NO ONE, the City, Fish & Game, &

highly doubtful Verizon.. have any knowledge of the severe problems of land movement in the Valley, especially near

& above the creek.  Four years of drought..Do you think that means the creek is a bare empty creek-bed waiting to

fill up with rain?? Think again…The creek is terribly overgrown, the 17 year old Broken off approx.15 feet of storm drain

culvert from 1998 is still laying down the hill from our yard. The creek is very narrow behind the 2 story wood house on

P.V.Rd.(previous Bundy  property)…when the El Nino rains arrive that creek quickly becomes a Swollen, Raging, Rapid River measured in acre feet. Everything will be swept up in its unstoppable path. Uprooted trees / shrubs from the creek bed, the old culvert, all are prime to become lodged and cause the creek to back up and rise .Due to No preparation to clear the creek this could cause devastating problems that could impact all “creek side” families and, the hill above reserved for the cell tower.

You say, but the Tower will be up on the hill… yes, a hill whose Base, (what is ment to “hold up the hill”) is Part of the Creek!

I would appreciate the Council addressing these concerns and sharing the discussion with the Community. You

have been advised of possible serious complications in the next few months due to documented, serious problems along the creek from the valley to the bay, as well as serious flooding problems…

Don’t ignore the warning… Please..

Take Action…Help protect the citizens in the Valley along the Creek. Reconsider the location of a Giant Tower being allowed to be built on potentially seriously unstable land.

Thank you,   Vanessa Wilke

Dear Winston and Planning Commission members,

I am writing to express my public comment on this pending application.

I see this application as a proposed Commercial Operation in an R-1 zoning, Suburban Residential area. This project has a very narrow benefit to the residents of Pinole Valley. That being the business relationship between Verizon Wireless and their wireless customers. At the same time there is a broad negative exposure to everyone who lives in close proximity to this proposed tower, with no benefit. If Verizon Wireless can operate a Commercial Enterprise in R-1 zoning, it sets a precedent for other applicants to do the same. Perhaps the real issue here is the weakness of Pinole’s applicable Ordinance, covering cell towers.

For anyone who has lived in this area, especially those whose property borders Pinole Valley Creek, the prospect of mudslides, flooding and geological slippage is very real. A trip down Pinole Valley Rd with a look at the hillsides will confirm that fact. The hillsides have shown a dangerous propensity for sliding. Pinole Valley Creek has eaten away at its banks during high precipitation events and the cycle of El Nino. If you are aware, the prediction for the strongest El Nino ever, shall affect Northern California in 2015-2016. The efforts to protect the hillside under the proposed Cell tower can actually exacerbate and cause major slippage at the constuction site. Add the influence of heavy machinery, excavations, drilling, etc, etc and you have a recipe for disaster. This site borders Pinole Valley Creek and whatever falls on that hill has an excellent chance of blocking and spoiling the Creek. A recent award of a grant to reintroduce Steelhead Trout into the Pinole Creek Watershed is in imminent danger from earth movement and spoilage of the Creek.

The issue of Radiation and EMF danger has been swept under the rug, courtesy of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The science used in consideration of that Law is now 20 years old. There are new indications and investigations into the long term health effects of concentrated radiation on humans, especially more vulnerable humans, like children. Yes there will be cell towers, but they should be sited as far away as possible from dense residential areas. The European standard is one thousand (1000) ft. The Pinole standard is one hundred (100) ft. This is a regrettable error and may very well result in liability for the City of Pinole.

Letter to the City Planner and the Planning Commission

This application for a Verizon Cell Tower may be a separate issue in a technical sense, but to the residents who opposed a similar cell tower, recently and nearby, they are are linked. Verizon Tower #1 was an 85 ft monstrosity that sat nearer to the valley floor in the quiet forest of Pinole Valley Park. The opponents rejected that application due to concerns for radiation safety and the effect on property values. The fact that it was proposed to be sited in the Park was adding insult to injury. The use of parkland for commercial purposes was found to be a violation Federal Law and State Regulations. The resultant rejection of that application led to threats of litigation by Verizon against the City of Pinole. A “Tolling Agreement” resulted which had all legal remedies halted. That same Tolling Agreement was undone by a “Settlement” between Verizon and the City of Pinole earlier in 2015. Why did Verizon settle? It is obvious to me and many others that a deal was reached out of the Public purview in “Closed Session” to pave the way for a SLAM DUNK when the new cell tower application came before the city. That is where we are right now. A City Administration and City Council that is prepared to ignore the opposition and approve Verizon’s application without any respect for the people they represent. I respectfully ask that you reject this application. Take the time to rewrite the Cell Tower Ordinance and start over.

Respectfully submitted,   Sal Spataro

Sal Spataro

2450 Stokes Ave

Pinole, Ca 94564

Letter to the City Planner

City of Pinole Development Services Department

2131 Pear Street

Pinole, CA 94564


Dear Mr. Rhodes,

In my previous letter I broached the subject of non-ionizing radiation at low levels on the chicken population of Pinole Valley.  I wrote:

Similarly, the MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION nor the Environmental Review Document for the Verizon Cell Tower located at 2518 Pfeiffer Lane (APN 360-131-036) has failed to mention or account for the negative effects of radiation from the proposed Cell Tower on the chicken population of the surrounding residences that house this species.  As you very well know farm animals are codified in the City of Pinole Ordinances and many residences in the Valley have Chickens.   See the information on the Department of Interior for the deleterious effects on Chicken Embryos.

I have included said Department of the Interior Letter which points the inadequacy of the current legislation on the effects of non-ionizing radiation on the wildlife of Pinole Valley.  There is a strong need to mitigate for the adverse effects on the chicken population in close proximity to the proposed cell tower.  Once again the MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION, Environmental Review Document and the report provided by Live Oak Associates is inadequate with regards to the Chicken Population. 

Not only is it the Chicken population of Pinole Valley at risk with the proposed cell tower but also the native endangered bird populations are at risk due to possible collisions with the proposed water tower as well as due to the non-thermal effects of non-ionizing radiation.  The MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION and the Environmental Review Document fail to address either of these two mechanisms which are deleterious to the native endangered bird populations (See Enclosure A of the DOI Letter – attached.

I have included the Department of Interior (DOI) Letter which provides references to the scientific literature on the chicken studies, the collision risk for shorter towers on endangered species, as well as the failure to address non-thermal effects of cell towers in this addendum for your careful consideration and for a written response.

Best Regards,

Anthony Gutierrez

The Loss of a Special Man


Thursday, October 29, 2015
Classy move by the Hercules City Council and Mayor McCoy.
Tom Lochner reporting Phil’s passing.

It is with great sadness that I advise the community that Phil Green, community advocate, council member and friend has passed away after a battle with cancer.

Phil was always true to himself and unapologetic about his point of view.
Ole Blue eyes sang “I did it my way”, and Phil embodied those words.

My deepest condolences to his great wife and life partner, Phyllis, his daughter Jenny, son Todd, mother Geri, brother Dare and sister Debbie.
We have all lost a valiant and special man.


Pinole SK8 Park Opening Ceremony


The very long-awaited Pinole SK8 Park has become a reality.
After eight years of set-backs, debate, discussion and community input, Sandee Glanz, her son Max, his fellow skaters and the Pinole SK8 park Committee saw their hard work pay off.
Pinole Community TV created a short video (a much larger one is coming) memorializing Opening Day.

Needless to say those of us who supported the SK8 Park are thrilled to witness the project’s completion.