P.G. sues school board, AT&T
over cell tower removal
Published: January 18, 2012
THE CITY of Pacific Grove has
filed a lawsuit against the Pacific Grove Unified School
District and AT&T to prevent them from shutting down a
cellular phone tower officials say is crucial for firefighters,
police and paramedics to respond quickly to emergencies.
For the past two years, the school district has had a contract
with AT&T to operate a cell tower at the P.G. adult school
on Lighthouse Avenue. But on Jan. 14, AT&T was set to turn
off the tower’s power after expiration of its contract with
Decommissioning the tower, the city contends in its complaint
filed Jan. 10 in Monterey County Superior Court, would be
dangerous for residents and public safety workers.
“City residents and visitors rely on the regular and emergency
phone coverage provided by the cell site,” according to the
city. “Without cellular 911 coverage provided by the cell site,
emergency response to fire, medical or criminal activity shall
In a declaration supporting the city’s claim, Monterey Fire
Chief Andrew Miller said the loss of the tower would be a threat
to the public and “directly restrict the ability of the fire
department to rapidly respond to 911-related emergency
In the suit, the city asked a judge to issue an injunction to
force the school district and AT&T — which the city said
jointly operated the tower — to keep it active.
However, city manager Tom Frutchey told The Pine Cone Wednesday
that a temporary agreement was reached before that could happen.
“The city’s sole interest in this matter,” Frutchey said, “is
to ensure uninterrupted cell phone coverage — especially 911
calls — for the areas of the city that fall within this tower’s
According to the deal, the district will continue operating the
tower at the adult school through Jan. 28. In exchange, AT&T
will pay the school district $9,984 in fees.
After Jan. 28, the tower will be relocated next to the
maintenance building at El Carmelo Cemetery.
The city also contended in its suit that decommissioning or removing the cell tower from the adult school would amount to a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act since removing it would constitute a “project” under CEQA law.
“PGUSD has failed to consider the environmental consequences of
this action,” according to the city.