Report From OB Planning Board: Wireless at St. Peter’s Parking Lot, Update on Terminal 1, and Bylaw Changes

by on September 11, 2023 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The agenda item that generated the longest discussion at the Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting, Wednesday, September 6, illustrated that long-running concerns about wireless transmissions and health are still alive and kicking.

There was also an interesting update on San Diego Airport’s Terminal One construction progress. And, there was a discussion of by-laws changes that need to be made to have the OBPB “recognized” next year by the city as the planning group for OB.

DISH Wireless

DISH was seeking approval for a wireless project located in a parking lot of St. Peter’s by the sea Lutheran Church. The church sits on a large lot bounded by Point Loma Ave., Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Adair Street, and an alley on the east side. There is a parking lot across the alley next to the laundromat that belongs to the church.

The work involves placing two 30-foot-tall light standards with DISH equipment at the top in a “24 by 24” enclosure. The original design for a “48 x 48” enclosure was down-sized when the OBPB Project Review subcommittee criticized it by saying it looked like a refrigerator on a tall stick.

Antenna PL Ave.

The lights were designed to somewhat match two existing Verizon Wireless light standards on the south side of the same parking lot as can be seen in the upper corner of this picture.


DISH will locate the ground equipment across the alley within an enclosure on the church building lot.

According to the applicant, the church uses the lot to play basketball and the two additional light standards will light up the lot along with the two Verizon lights. Certainly, nearby residents will experience a light concentration from four light poles placed so closely to each other. This did not come up in the discussion.

The board members asked about community awareness and DISH replied that it sent out notices to every address within 300 feet. That radius does cover quite a bit of residential area. Apparently, that effort did not garner any opposition as no one showed up at the OBPB meeting to oppose or support the project.

When asked how far away the facility was from schools, DISH replied that there is preschool 100 feet away. The nearest residences are eighty feet away. These questions from board members illustrated the never-ending concern that wireless transmissions can be dangerous.

The applicant provided a “Radio-Frequency – Electromagnetic Energy (RF-EME) Report.” Its cheesy appearance did not inspire confidence. It was signed by a person with no attached title or credentials. EBI Consulting prepared the report specifically for DISH on this project. Not surprising that report concluded the site was safe.

The report stated:

As presented in the sections above, based on the FCC criteria, there are no modeled areas on any accessible rooftop or ground-level walking/working surface related to the proposed antennas that exceed the FCC’s occupational or general public exposure limits at this site.

The problem is, and always has been, that the favorable reports of these dangers are usually prepared by consultants working for the wireless industry. People who believe the emissions from these facilities are harmful often rely on reports from the opposition that can be equally suspect. It seems there is not a study out there that definitively settles this question.

The consultant report contains information about the emissions and contains two graphics showing how far away from the equipment the emissions go before dissipating. The two graphics have grids in the backgrounds but nothing showing the grid scale measurements.

The only value in the following Elevation Reference View graphic seems to be that it shows the harmful emissions will dissipate far above the ground. It doesn’t show how far.

Elevation Reference View2

The second graphic is intended to show the horizontal limits of the emissions, but it also contains no measurements.

Antenna Face Level Simulation

What the long discussion showed was that the report did not convince many people. A motion to deny the project passed 5 to 3. The reason for the denial was that the applicant did not provide a site investigation report.

This writer has seen many wireless projects come before planning boards. Some are controversial like the plan to install cellphone antennas at the Rock Church.

Other projects receive approval with hardly any questioning, if the wireless equipment is not near any homes or places where groups of people gather such as schools and churches.

What the planning board review process does is twofold. The process gives people a chance to voice their concerns and maybe to have those concerns assuaged with information. And, the reviews often result in better looking facilities, which is one area where the planning boards have had success.

This project may need to come back to the OBPB. But, things have changed regarding the need for planning group reviews since this project began development in 2022. It may be possible now to skip another visit.

All the documents for this project such as construction plans, review letters, and pictures can be seen here.

Terminal One Construction Update

A fellow named Matt Harris gave a presentation titled the New Terminal 1 Update.

The highlights:

  • The existing terminal was built in 1967.
  • They are expanding Terminal 1 capacity from the existing 19 gates to 30 gates. The original 19 will be replaced by late summer 2025. The balance of 11 gates will be open by early 2028.
  • This will be a seven-year construction project, with that clock starting November 1, 2021
  • Southwest Airlines will remain a tenant and share Terminal 1 with Delta moving over from Terminal 2
  • A huge parking structure with 5,221 spaces will be built first opening by late 2024
  • There will be the same double deck departure and arrival road structure as in Terminal 2
  • An internal airport road will move traffic off of Harbor Drive. An opening at Laural and Harbor will go directly onto airport property, paralleling Harbor Drive
  • A “transit station” will be built to tie into whatever transit access is provided by others such as the city or SANDAG.
  • There will be huge underground cisterns to catch and manage storm water
  • There will be a focus on EV charging infrastructure throughout and the airport is transitioning its own fleet to electric.
  • The design includes an outdoor seating terrace with a view of the bay and the city
  • Concession space will be expanded by 250% with an emphasis on local restaurants

The full presentation can be viewed here.

By-Laws Review for CPG Compliance

The OBPB discussed making the following possible changes to its by-laws in an on-going review designed to satisfy CPG compliance for the city.

1.       Combine all the existing OB districts into one. OB is unique in that it is divided into seven districts and candidates run only within those districts. There are also two at-large seats.

2.       Reduce the board membership from 16 to 12 members. The reduction is desirable because it is very difficult to fill 16 seats, OB currently only has 10 members. Five of the 12 seats to be reserved for two renters, two residential property owners, and one business owner.

3.       Create a non-voting youth (18-25) 13th board position to encourage youthful participation

4.       Increase the OB planning area. OB is a tiny area compared to the Peninsula Community Planning Board next door.

5.       Make permanent the candidate signature requirements – 10 for an appointed seat and 20 for a regular election

6.       Membership will be three-year terms with a nine-year, consecutive service maximum

7.       Change the meeting night from Wednesdays to another night to avoid the conflict with the OB Farmer’s Market crowd.

The board voted to accept all but numbers three and four in that list for now. Three and four are still up for discussion.

Non-Agenda Public Comment

There was only one comment but it is worth a mention. A lady representing community-owned power spoke on behalf of the non-profit The goal is to gain local control over San Diego’s power supply and run it as a non-profit, unlike SDG&E.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

lyle September 11, 2023 at 1:29 pm

The note on the bottom right of the emissions graphic states “10 foot grid size”. I could see no note defining “MPE” nor did a google search of “MPE” turn up anything useful.


kh September 11, 2023 at 6:08 pm

I believe that’s maximum permissible exposure, as deemed safe for the general public. Everything in the colored areas exceeds that.


Geoff Page September 12, 2023 at 6:43 pm

Thanks for that, I missed the grid note.

And, the correct term of what was missing is a “Site Justification Report.” Here is what the permitting process says about this:

N. Site Justification Report: Coordinate the information contained in this report with the Justification Map and Coverage Map. This report must justify the need or requirement for the proposed WCF location and design. Include justification that explains why the proposed site was selected, and why other potentially higher preference sites were not selected. Demonstrate in writing why the alternative sites did not meet the coverage objectives.

O. Justification Map: Identify zoning, coverage search ring, alternative sites, the selected site, and all existing and approved WCFs (include City site name) within a one-mile radius. Ensure that zones are easily identifiable and that a legend is provided. Be sure to coordinate the Justification Map with the Site Justification Report. Provide a scale and
north arrow. Identify major roads and landmarks.

P. Coverage Map: Provide maps that identify the existing and proposed coverage. Colors should be red=poor, yellow=fair, and green=good. Identify major streets and landmarks. Include a legend. Identify existing and approved WCFs by site name.

And, the picture with the boxes on the poles is of the original, larger size, the changed ones will be considerably smaller.

Thanks to Kevin Hastings, OBPB Vice Chair, for proving this additional information.


korla eaquinta September 11, 2023 at 2:05 pm

I bet they did not notice the preschool parents at St Peters. The Rock church debacle should give some indication about what parents want for their children.


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