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Larchmont Charter gears up for fight over nearby cell phone tower

Mike Szymanski | December 2, 2015

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Parents, teachers and school administrators from Larchmont Charter School in West Hollywood are protesting a cell phone tower proposed for a church bell tower next to the campus, with a large turnout expected at a public hearing at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the West Hollywood Library.

The independent charter school is overseen by LAUSD but is not on LA Unified property. The district has had a policy against installing cell phone towers on school property since 2009.

“LAUSD can’t help us, but we are concerned for our children’s safety,” said Daisy Gardner. “Most of the civilized world bans cell phone towers and the science shows that it can harm children. Do we want to have less safety standards than Russia?”

Gardner said she is concerned for her 7-year-old going to the school and her 4-year-old, who is about to start the charter school, which has four different campuses. The Fairfax campus in West Hollywood is next door to St. Ambrose Catholic Church, where Verizon wants to add a cell phone tower to help with reception. It is also where the youngest students of Larchmont Charter attend.

Gardner lives in Studio City, where the community fought cell towers at Beeman Park last year, causing the company to back away from installing them around the playing fields. Although some studies about the dangers of cell phone radiation are mixed, parents are concerned particularly about the younger children who have softer and more vulnerable skulls.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles issued a statement saying that no final decision has been made about the tower. It says, “The proposal is in preliminary stages and has yet to be finalized or approved. The public hearing process will start soon and provide a forum for community members to share their opinion.”

Last night, the Larchmont Charter school voted for the first time to oppose the cell tower. Parents and administrators plan to make statements at the public hearing.

LA Unified addressed its concerns in 2009 but in 2013 reevaluated the wireless Internet connectivity being installed at the schools to see if they were violating their own board policies and exposing children to excessive radiation. The report concluded with a requirement for a lower emission limit.

The parents and neighbors of Larchmont Charter have an online petition with more than 700 names. Many of the signers echoed comments made by Natasha Ulrich, who lives in the neighborhood and said, “I’m a mother with two small children under the age of 5 years old. I live less then a block away and absolutely this tower should not be near us nor on the same lot as the school due to health risks.”

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