Walnut Creek Residents Protest AT&T Influence in Local Politics for Cell Tower Approvals

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Residents Raise Concerns about AT&T Director's Role in Local Business Organizations

On Tuesday, April 19, Walnut Creek residents will be at City Hall to protest AT&T’s involvement in local politics to influence the approval of cell tower applications. Ken Mintz, AT&T’s Area Manager for External Affairs, who has responsibility for cell tower approvals in the local county, is also the Chairman of the Board of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce, as well as on the Board of Directors of the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce. This has raised residents’ concerns about his involvement in local business organizations with close ties to the City Council that may influence approval of cell tower applications.

For the past year and a half, Walnut Creek residents have been opposing a proposed AT&T cell tower at St. Stephen Church that would be about 100 feet from nearby homes. Residents claim that they have experienced ongoing bias from City officials in the handling of this cell tower application. They cite Walnut Creek’s failure to follow up on evidence of false information that AT&T presented to the Planning Commission, as well as the Planning Department not following the City's own zoning ordinance when requested by citizens to hire an independent consultant to evaluate less intrusive solutions.

Residents are especially concerned about AT&T’s recent announcement to add 55 new cell sites in the San Francisco Bay area in 2011. “If cities do not require a rigorous, open and independent review of alternatives, there is the strong possibility of cell towers being installed in inappropriate locations,” said Mardi Veiluva, leader of the Walnut Creek Buena Vista Neighborhood Group. “We need a balanced and transparent approach by cities to ensure that cell towers are installed in the least intrusive locations in order to preserve and protect our residential neighborhoods.”

The protest will be held at Walnut Creek City Hall, 1666 N. Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA at 6:30 p.m. Contact Mardi Veiluva at 925-286-3636 for more information.

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