Last week, the Irvine City Council voted to lift the city’s moratorium on new cell towers, citing a recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that legitimized Irvine’s previously struck-down wireless-regulation ordinance. The court case dealt with a San Diego wireless controversy, but a lower court last month said that it effectively reverses a court decision last year invalidating Irvine’s wireless ordinance, which specified that the city could make its tower-approval decisions partly on the basis of aesthetics. That ordinance was challenged during a contentious fight in the Turtle Rock neighborhood of Irvine in 2006 over whether to allow a tower into the community.

Joe Thompson, T-Mobile’s Southern California zoning and governmental-affairs manager, represented the wireless company at last week’s meetings in both Huntington Beach and Irvine. After Ferraro spoke at Woodbridge, Thompson fielded questions from residents. He tried to point out that reputable organizations say cell towers are safe. He claimed that he has lived with a cell tower behind his house for 15 years with no ill effects on his family. He noted that most of the people complaining about towers rely on cell phones. But the crowd was tough; at one point, a woman in Uggs and a man in a track suit began chanting, “Shame on you!”

“I’m here to provide information,” Thompson responded. “I’m not going to hide anything. If we don’t get the cell site, we don’t get the cell site.” Then he paused. “We’ll build somewhere else.”

Joshua Peters / LunchboxUnlimited

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