South Lake Tahoe Verizon customers on track for better service | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Lake Tahoe Verizon customers on track for better service

These images provided to the South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission show one of the proposed Verizon towers in South Lake Tahoe.

Verizon Wireless customers on the South Shore are one step closer to getting improved service.

The city's Planning Commission on Aug. 9 approved 12 out of 13 projects that would allow Verizon to attach a network of wireless communication facilities to existing utility poles and adjoining ground-mounted equipment throughout the city.

"We think these improvements are some of the most important … it's going to go a long way in improving communications," Mark Lobaugh, of Epic Wireless, told commissioners Kili Ongoy, Diana Madson and Jenna Palacio at the opening of the public hearing. Commissioners Craig Woodward and Judy Brown were absent.

Each selected utility pole will grow taller by an additional 10 to 15 feet and house all the equipment needed to augment Verizon's existing coverage.

The added height, health and environmental worries and the possible reduction of property value due to aesthetics were concerns expressed by residents who live within 300 feet of the chosen utility poles.

"Microwaves are what they are," resident Jenny Pierce said to the commissioners. "I don't agree with them going in. I think they're a health hazard. I also don't think it's good for the environment."

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"I have similar concerns," said resident Bill Johnson. "I'm on oxygen and from research I've done, it could be upgraded to 5G, and if you're within 1,000 feet, you could have health problems."

Lobaugh said that currently 5G would not be used.

In response, resident Robert Bush told commissioners he was skeptical of the claim coming from Lobaugh.

"If you are unaware of the health benefits, I would only hope before it's approved that they would not be accessible to be turned into 5G right above our homes."

Despite resident objections, the commission passed all motions unanimously, except for one. The commissioners also received several letters expressing concerns. They instructed city staff to respond with reasons why the projects were approved.

The location that went unapproved was at Needle Peak Road and Ski Run Boulevard where thousands of skiers and snowboarders annually make a left turn heading toward Heavenly Mountain Resort's California Lodge.

Commissioner Ongoy was concerned the view of Heavenly might be obstructed with added length to the utility pole. She suggested a pole right next to the chosen one that is in front of homes but blocked by trees.

The commissioners agreed to continue that discussion until the next meeting on Sept. 13. Lobaugh agreed to head back to the drawing board and see if there are any alternatives that may work and return for the next meeting with the results.

The approved locations include utility poles located adjacent to 3551 Ralph Drive, 1020 Wildwood Ave., 3857 Pentagon Road, 3565 Needle Peak Road, 1200 Wildwood, 791 Modesto Ave., 1091 Aspenwald Road, 3674 Woodbine Road, 783 Roger Ave., 2180 and 2470 Lake Tahoe Blvd., and 2265 Idaho Ave.