RANCHO SANTA FE — Despite a passionate town hall meeting hosted by the Rancho Santa Fe Association regarding potential cell towers, Association manager Bill Overton set a welcoming tone, inviting all to lend their perspectives on an interesting exchange of ideas.
On Feb. 29 at the Garden Club, Covenant members were present to share their views and listen to a presentation from American Tower Company (ATC) on their multifaceted approach of constructing a total of 3, 95-foot faux eucalyptus tree cell towers in Rancho Santa Fe.
A map of the proposed locations was handed out which highlighted RSF Association owned properties at Via de Fortuna and Lago Lindo, and a San Diego County right-of-way location at La Glorieta.
Before opponents expressed their concerns, Overton said that he wanted to give everyone an opportunity to speak and share their opinions whether or not they agreed with the proposed project or not.
Overton said that on the previous week, a concerned group of Covenant members contacted him to ask if it was appropriate to get on the agenda.
He told the crowd that he thought it was an excellent idea because the Town Hall meeting was an opportunity to share an exchange of ideas for everyone.
“I understand there are passionate feelings about this and that’s okay,” he said. “But let’s have a really constructive and collegial neighborly meeting tonight regardless of the varying opinions.”
Before the presenters, Overton highlighted the cell service topic.
A few years before he became Association manager, he said, there was a survey conducted on what needed to be improved in the community.
The two top items were improving internet and cell phone services.
“The board set goals then, and tonight, we are having the first public meeting in how to improve cell service in the community,” he said, noting how the goal was to address current service inadequacies. “I hear a lot about safety issues in the form of poor 911 service and coverage in many areas.”
According to Overton, not everyone had to agree on all the points. However, the board listened to the feedback of the community and knew these issues needed improvement. They were responding to a community need.
“This has been a top priority since before I started,” he said, adding how in 2015-2016 a technology committee had been formed.
When meeting with various companies, Overton said that they unanimously heard from everyone that the Ranch faced challenges due to low density, grade, and topography issues.
After Overton set the collegial stage, one by one, everyone conveyed their concerns, wishes and suggestions.
The most resonating presentation was from the Concerned RSFA Members Group who had spoken to Overton the week before. They recommended that the Association not go into a contract with ATC, but instead, slow down and take a step back.
Overton described their presentation as excellent. The group outlined polished arguments against cell towers including Rancho Santa Fe’s historic designation, concerns about declining property values, an overview of land classifications, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), health impact, and more.
“Thank you very much for a very positive meeting on a very challenging issue and it speaks highly of this community,” Overton said.