Huntington Beach Cell Phone Towers in Parks Advisory Vote, Measure Q (November 2010)
The question on the ballot will ask voters what they think about the construction of cell phone towers in Harbour View and Bolsa View parks.
Cell towers were set to be built in the parks in 2009 by national cell phone provider T-Mobile. However, residents protested the planned construction and the city blocked the construction. T-Mobile then sued the City of Huntington Beach in federal court because the city had issued building permits for the towers.
Huntington Park blocked construction of the towers because of the language of Measure C, a ballot measure enacted by residents of the city in 1990. Measure C prohibits the construction of any structure in a city park that costs more than $100,000 unless voters pre-approve the construction by voting on it. Each of the planned towers would cost about $200,000.
Before the City of Huntington Beach blocked construction of the towers, it had issued building permits for them, under a contract with T-Mobile under which T-Mobile would pay the city about $2,500/month for 20 years for the privilege of constructing the towers on city park land.
On July 9, 2010, a federal judge ruled that Measure C cannot be applied to the question of whether or not it is allowable to build the towers in the parks because the Federal Telecommunications Act trumps Measure C. The judge said that if the city is now determined to prevent the towers from going up, it will have to find some other grounds than Measure C.
Subsequent to the July 9 ruling, the city decided to place an advisory vote on the November 2 ballot. The timing of that vote precedes another hearing on T-Mobile's federal lawsuit by 7 days. Some politicians in the city are under the impression that if voters say they don't want the towers on November 2, that this new information will sway the judge against T-Mobile. Others, however, doubt that this is the case.
Huntington Beach City Council member Don Hansen said, "I'm not supporting this advisory vote and the circus we are going to create to do that because I wouldn't feel comfortable denying somebody who's already done everything that they were supposed to do and backtrack. That opens so many cans of worms on any issue. All you need is a group of people to come down on any decision and you have chaos. That is not how it works."
- Orange County Register, "Huntington Beach to put cell towers on ballot", July 21, 2010
- Orange County Register, "Official: Cell tower violates H.B. rules protecting parks", May 21, 2009