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Group pickets T-Mobile store

On the day before elections, residents want voters to defeat Measure Q so two cell towers won't be built in parks.

November 02, 2010|Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com
(BRITNEY BARNES )

Cars horns blared in support as about a dozen residents in yellow T-shirts Monday afternoon waved signs denouncing T-Mobile in front of one of their Huntington Beach stores.

The Committee for No on Measure Q supporters picketed a T-Mobile store at 8112 Talbert Ave., brandishing signs that said "Shame on T-Mobile" and "T-Mobile stop suing our kids," to urge residents to vote down two cell towers in two Huntington Beach parks.

"They've been honking all day long," said long-time resident John Morrison.

The ballot measure asks residents if they want a cell tower in Harbour View Park, which is adjacent to Harbour View Elementary School, and Bolsa View Park.

The vote is only an advisory tool for the city to gauge how residents feel, but parents of Harbour View students and neighbors of the two parks have been trying to bring the issue to light with bright yellow signs, a rally and now picketing T-Mobile the day before the election.

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"We're not against cell towers, but we don't want them in the parks and we don't want them in the schools," said Mary Busche, who has grandchildren at the elementary school.

The latest campaign event was in response to "robo" calls and mailers that have recently gone out informing residents that not building the towers could create a public safety issue, said Jeff Busche, a spokesman for the committee.

"They did this eleventh hour push and put a lot of deceptive information out there," he said.

One of the mailers, provided to the Independent, states that public safety officials are backing the measure, because it will make the area safer.

According to the mailer, by the California Wireless Assn., the cell towers will improve coverage which will in turn boost emergency service responses, allow first responders to more easily identify the location of a 911 caller and make the city safer.

Huntington Beach Firefighters Assn. President Darrin Witt said they do not see the ballot measure as a public safety issue and are not taking a stance on the issue.

Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn. President Kreg Muller said cell phone coverage is important for public safety, but he is under the impression that a lack of coverage isn't an issue in the area. The association is not taking a position on the ballot measure either.

T-Mobile officials have declined to comment on the ballot measure because of pending litigation surrounding the two cell towers.

T-Mobile was originally slated to build a 55-foot-high tower at Harbour View Park and a nearly 52-foot-high tower at Bolsa View after gaining administrative approval in 2007.

The company voluntarily halted construction in April 2009 after neighbors and parents rallied against them and the City Council voted to revoke the company's wireless permits Aug. 30.

T-Mobile sued the city in May 2009 and a trial date is on the books for Nov. 9.

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