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July 19
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]


Imagine Kobe Bryant is the Los Angeles County Government dribbling down the basketball court.

The shot clock is ticking down, 3…2…1…

The Clippers’ Blake Griffen, symbolizing the Federal Communications Commission, steps up to block Kobe’s drive to the basket. Bryant readjusts but before he can shoot a jumper the buzzer sounds.

Turnover.

Now imagine, Supervisor Michael Antonovich playing the role of Laker Head Coach Mike Brown. From the bench Antonovich calls time and cries foul.

“This power grab by the FCC further erodes the land use authority of counties and cities and limits the public’s ability to protect the character of their community by rushing through projects before they are studied and mitigated,” said Antonovich.

No, this isn’t about basketball, but it is about shot clocks.  And wireless towers.

“The FCC shot clock is actually an interpretation of the Congressional Act the Telecom Act of ’96, which sets time limits for processing of wireless site applications,” said Jonathan Kramer, Principal Attorney Kramer Telecom Law Firm (photo at left).

The original Telecom Act of 1996 stated that local governments had a reasonable amount of time to make a decision on a cell tower application. Wireless companies considered those decisions to be taking too long.

“At the request of the wireless industry the FCC stepped in and actually defined what Congress meant by reasonable time to mean 90 days in the case of a collocation, which means there’s an existing site and somebody else wants to get on there, they have 90 days, the local government has 90 days to review the project and come to a determination about it and for new projects it’s 150 days,” said Kramer.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FCC’s decision.

Edel Vizcarra, Antonovich’s Planning Deputy, echos the Fifth District Supervisor that this is a power grab by the Federal government.

“Aside from the overall idea that now the Feds and the FCC can regulate land use, which has been a local zoning issue — has always been left to the local municipalities –we think that is a big problem,” said Vizcarra.

Although the FCC ruling only sets the parameters of a timeline for approval, Vizcarra sees this as a continuation of the Federal government taking more and more control of local issues. He says planning commissions are already told what they can or cannot use as a basis for denying a cell phone tower installation.

“For example, we can base our denial on aesthetic reasons but we can’t base it on health impacts. So if we have a group of community members who are upset because a new cell tower is coming to their neighborhood, you have to figure out a way if you want to deny it, why it’s going to impact the neighborhood visually even if you have concerns with the radio frequencies,” said Vizcarra.

Kramer says there’s “a natural tension” that’s caused by the introduction of new wireless projects and the FCC did not take in the countervailing arguments from the local governments when they established the relatively short “Shot Clocks.”

“The FCC has set some very difficult time limits for a lot of governments to process applications, because governments get in applications not just for wireless projects, but for swimming pools, new homes, construction of shopping centers, and the FCC’s move pushes all those wireless projects way ahead in the queue,” said Kramer.

The County is expecting to appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to representing local governments on shot clock issues, site project reviews for technical and safety compliance, Kramer also tries to address the aesthetics of cell tower contruction (faux cactus cell tower at right).

Kramer has over 1,500 photographs detailing the Good, the Bad and the Silly when it comes to cell tower design. National Geographic chose some of his favorites and you can view them by clicking here.

For Kramer’s discussion of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, click here.

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY HEADLINES
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone vote opposing a motion to place a measure on the November ballot which seeks to increase property taxes on residential and commercial properties to generate approximately $300 million a year to fund additional stormwater projects.
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move forward with a comprehensive plan to increase local water supply and improve water quality.
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
The county of Los Angeles and community partners are working hand-in-hand to combat homelessness, which has decreased for the first time in four years.
Monday, Jul 16, 2018
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District confirmed West Nile virus in a sample of mosquitoes collected from Panorama City (zip code 91402), the first confirmation of WNV activity in the district’s service area this year.
Friday, Jul 13, 2018
Los Angeles County voters may soon be asked to vote on a new "parcel" tax to be levied on private property owners' "impenetrable areas" -- everything from rooftops to driveways -- to help pay for the capture of recyclable stormwater runoff.

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