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Cell Towers Near Schools Deactivated

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
A cell tower located in a maintenance yard adjoining Valentine Elementary and Huntington Middle schools has been deactivated.

For the first time since 2004, residents of San Marino are without the services of two cell towers that were the source of controversy because of their placement on school district property.
One of the monopine towers, so named because they were designed to resemble pine trees, is located in a maintenance yard adjoining Valentine Elementary and Huntington Middle schools, and the other was at San Marino High School.
The towers were deactivated in November, according to Aldo Cervantes, San Marino’s director of community development. The 70-foot tower at SMHS has been removed altogether; it was owned by American Tower. The 60-foot Verizon tower at Valentine and Huntington is still standing, but all of its hardware has been removed and power has been disconnected, rendering it useless. Coverage from the tower formerly at SMHS will be handled by a new mast located in Los Angeles County, and the other tower was replaced with a new rooftop antenna at 2290 Huntington Drive.
The San Marino Unified School District was paid $1,000 per month for each tower,
The towers elicited opposition from dozens of residents. The station at the high school was located directly atop the Raymond Fault and never received proper permits. It was also within the fall radius of the gymnasium at SMHS. In 2018, a large sinkhole developed just a few yards away from the cell tower, causing the temporary closure of an access road that runs directly behind the gym.

The site of the cell tower at San Marino High School that has since been dismantled.

The tower at the Valentine and Huntington schools also has a fall radius that opponents believe is dangerous to students. A diesel-powered generator located near the tower that was to be activated to provide electricity to the cell tower in the case of a power failure had an emission stack that was located 17 feet from one air-conditioning intake unit and 11.2 feet away from another. Both units provided air conditioning to a portable classroom at Huntington Middle School.
Opposition to the towers reached such a fervor that a town hall meeting was held in 2012 to air grievances and the SMUSD seated the Cell Tower Advisory Committee to promote dialogue.
School board President Shelley Ryan confirmed that the towers have been deactivated and said that all remaining equipment will be removed by February.

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