We need a plan for cell tower, cell facilities deployment in South Lake Tahoe (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

We need a plan for cell tower, cell facilities deployment in South Lake Tahoe (Opinion)

David Jinkins, MPA
Guest column
A cell tower on a sunny day.
Getty images

Most of us who live in South Lake Tahoe realize that we need improved cell service from our telecommunication providers.

We understand that in order to do so, new cell towers and other facilities will need to be installed in strategic areas inside the city limits.

However, telecommunications providers who serve our mountainous area need to have a plan for the installation of facilities that is publicly vetted and ultimately approved by the City Council, not on a case by case basis by city staff without environmental review or a plan to follow.

The willy-nilly deployment that results in 112-foot-plus cell towers in residential areas and “mini” facilities in people’s front yards has to stop. In their defense, city staff has no guidance from the city council on this matter, because there is no cell tower or telecommunications ordinance like other California cities have.

There are plenty of public lands within the city limits owned by the U.S. Forest Service, California Tahoe Conservancy, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, South Tahoe Public Utilities District and the city that could serve as sites for these facilities with proper review and evaluation.

We pride ourselves in South Lake Tahoe as being good stewards of the environment and the people who live here.

Adopting a cell tower/facilities ordinance now protects our residential areas and gives certainty to telecommunication providers where they can install these facilities without community uproar.

My hope is that the city council will adopt an urgency ordinance now and put some rules in place for city staff while they work on their comprehensive cell tower ordinance that will take months to prepare.

In the end, it is the people and voters who live in the city limits who should count the most to our elected leaders.

David Jinkens, MPA, is a local resident and retired city manager of South Lake Tahoe.