GPA Meeting: AT&T Boxes coming to a corner near you?

by Murray Schneider

Glen Park News

More than 20 Glen Park residents attended the April 14th scheduled informational meeting of the Glen Park Association, held in the Glen Canyon Park Recreation Center.

Calling the meeting to order, Michael Rice, GPA association president, laid the ground rules for the two-hour meeting to learn about the possible placement of 11 AT&T U-verse fiber optic boxes at various Glen Park locations.

AT&T surface mounted cabinets, 48 inches tall, 51.7 inches wide and 28 inches deep, when situated within 300 feet of existing AT&T boxes, will allow AT&T to compete with other communication companies such as Comcast in providing faster high speed internet service, clearer telephone service and enhanced cable television service.

Marc Blakeman, an AT&T regional vice president, began the program with an eight-minute presentation, informing those in attendance that the 11 fiber optic boxes are only a small percentage of the 726 similar cabinets that eventually will be situated throughout San Francisco.

Blakeman then listed 11 Glen Park houses, locations that already have existing above ground boxes near them that are used for telephone service. The houses are located at:

194 Randall

98 Randall

100 Fairmont

189 Whitney

100 Miguel

509 Laidley

447 Arlington

2799 Diamond

53 Lippard

1 Joost

538 Congo

The houses are plotted on the following map:

http://gmaps.kaeding.name/saved/glenparkuverse

While already green-lighted by state as well as city and county regulatory agencies, the placement of the 11 cabinets, Blakeman indicated, must now go through a lengthy and detailed planning process. This includes a April 26th Board of Supervisors meeting where the public is invited to express its concerns at 4 p.m, as well as mandatory public notification on street light poles within 300 feet of the cabinets and U.S. Mail notification within 500 feet of the cabinets. Blakeman said that while the new fiber optic boxes would ideally be placed adjacent to existing telephone boxes, it is an option to place them within 300 feet of the boxes. If neighbors vehemently oppose the fiber optic boxes, the area can be exempted from the upgrade.

AT&T is obligated to contact property owners and determine if, for a fee, residents are willing to house the cabinets on their private property. Blakeman noted that cabinets could be placed in underground “vaults,” but that the cost for unlimited maintenance access to such “vaults” makes this option monetarily and practically unfeasible.

Michael Rice introduced John Kwong, Manager of the Department of Public Works Division of Street-Use Permits. Kwong detailed the lengthy City public review and appeals process that is scheduled for the ensuing months. This process will identify and evaluate locations for cabinets (they cannot be placed next to bus stops or adjacent to historic buildings), solicit public comment and engage in final Board of Appeals process, if necessary.

Finally, Rice introduced Gary Weiss, president of Corbett Heights Neighbors, and Jonathan Goldberg, representing San Francisco Beautiful, both of whom surfaced objections to AT&T’s proposal on ascetic grounds. Weiss noted the boxes are targets for graffiti and vandalism and have the “hum of an electric tooth brush.” Blakeman countered this by saying AT&T will provide an 800-telephone number that can be used for immediate removal of graffiti.

Rice moderated a brief Q & A portion of the meeting. Questions about safety were asked: did the boxes emit dangerous radiation?. Blakeman told the audience there was no danger from radiation. Other questions included telephone company rate increases, compensation to private property owners, and AT&T’s payment to the city and county of San Francisco for “doing business” within its borders.

Over all the meeting was very cordial, all agreed.

The meeting was adjourned at 9 P.M. Those residents interested in learning more about the process or asking additional questions can contact John Kwong at john.kwong@sfdpw.org or 415-554-5810. In addition, AT&T has FAQ at http://ipnetwork4sf.att.com/our-plan/, including photographs of existing and proposed boxes. There is a link in the right column where concerned residents can join a mailing list to keep informed about current news.

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