Opposition to Radio Tower Angered by County’s Response and What they Call One-sided News Coverage

tower.jpgTwo years ago, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors approved a permit that would allow the construction of a 365-foot radio tower in the Yolo County Central Landfill by Results Radio.

However, the tower at this point remains unbuilt and the issue will go back before the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Opponents of the project are complaining that a recent article in the local paper covered only one side of the story and omitted critical new information.

According to the article on Sunday, “The foundation of the tower has been constructed at the landfill, as has an accessory equipment building, but the tower itself remains unbuilt, the result of delays in the FCC permitting process as well as ongoing opposition from wildlife groups and nearby residents.”

Opponents of the tower believe that, due to its location in a narrow reach of the Pacific Flyway, “this radio tower will have significant impacts on the environment that have not yet been adequately addressed. The radio tower will kill many birds, including protected species.”

“The tower’s design and lighting will have a significant visual impact to the rural community where it will be developed,” they write.  “These impacts could be avoided by placing the tower outside of the Pacific Flyway or co-locating the antenna on an existing tower, or even combining two or three existing towers into one tower.”

Proponents of the tower, including representatives from KDVS, a UC Davis student-run radio station, argue that “time is running out for them.”

Neil Ruud, former general manager of KDVS, told supervisors at a meeting last month, “We have another deadline with the FCC in February.  We have to have antenna and transmitter up and running and submit tests to the FCC. We’re already pushing up against this deadline (and) we cannot push it back any further. If we get pushed back, our permit will expire and other stations will move in and we’ll be stuck broadcasting just in Davis.”

The article reported, “From the start, the project was opposed by environmentalists who feared the impact on birds as well as residents of north Davis, who believed the tower, with its blinking strobe lights, would be a visual blight for those living on the northern perimeter of the city.”

“Changes to the initial proposal intended to allay concerns included the removal of guy wires which were considered a particularly dangerous hazard to birds. After numerous public hearings, the board approved a one-year use permit for the tower in 2010.”

At a meeting last December, opponents voiced similar concerns about bird strikes and light pollution.

However, at the time the Board of Supervisors argued that there was no change in circumstances to warrant denial of the project.

The article quotes Supervisor Jim Provenza, “To approve a project and then go back (on it) would set a terrible precedent … It’s important when we approve a project that we send a message to businesses that they can rely on our decisions.”

The board at that time would deny the appeal by a 5-0 vote.

A lawsuit, however, was heard last month, and “the court sided with the county on zoning issues opponents raised, as well as on opponents’ claim that the county lacked authority to extend the use permit,” an extension that was granted in 2011.

“But the court found that in extending the use permit, the county did not properly consider whether there was previously unavailable new information or changed circumstances since the original permit was issued that might require additional environmental review.”

County staff is now reporting that there is no new information or changed circumstances.

“No changes have been made to the physical components or location of the (project) since its original approval in September 2010,” according to the staff report.

However, the opposition to the tower tell a different story – one that they believe was not conveyed in the article.

“Results Radio and the County are once again trying to employ procedural stunts to push through a 370-foot tall radio tower without public scrutiny or analysis of its environmental impacts. The County plans to reapprove this terrible project on November 13th without ever addressing important environmental and community concerns,” opponents of the project wrote in a flyer.

They argue that the court “threw out the County’s CEQA review for the radio tower’s use permit extension granted in December 2011. The Court found that the County’s evasion of environmental review violated CEQA.”

The county’s public position since the proceedings in 2011 remains unchanged, according to opponents of the project.

Many citizens and environmental protection groups, including Sierra Club Yolano Group, Yolo Audubon Society and Tuleyome, raised environmental issues that were inadequately analyzed, or ignored altogether, in the defective Mitigated Negative Declaration of the EIR that the county adopted in 2010.

“Rather than respond to the public’s concerns, County officials brushed them off,” the opposition argues.  “Ignoring their prior mistakes, Results Radio and the County are again attempting to avoid public scrutiny and environmental review of the radio tower. Instead of waiting until after the November 27th Court hearing the County plans to proceed with project re-approval at the November 13th Board of Supervisors meeting.”

The City of Davis has formally objected to the tower, which it found last December to violate the Pass-Through Agreement and the Greenline MOU.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton at that time wrote, “The City Council reviewed the project and approved a recommendation that the Board not support an extension of the permit to construct the tower based on the potential impacts to biological resources and the creation of aesthetic impacts associated with tower lighting.”

The city disagrees that improvements in the project have mitigated concerns.

“Despite improvements in the project design, the proposed project is inconsistent with the US Fish and Wildlife Services’ communication tower locational guidelines and will create a potential bird strike hazard due to the close proximity to wildlife habitat areas and bird migratory routes,” Mr. Pinkerton wrote

He added, “The tower will decrease nighttime visual quality in a dark part of Yolo County. Towers should be located in lit corridors.”

The city argued, “The Yolo County Board of Supervisors should not support an extension of the permit to construct the tower based on (1) the potential impacts to biological resources associated with its proposed location and (2) the creation of aesthetic impacts associated with tower lighting.”

Last year, however, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors chose to disregard  the city’s objections.

The opposition writes, “There is legitimate concern that the proposed tower is just the “camel’s nose under the tent” for what may become a larger antenna farm.”

The opposition believes that KDVS is being used by Results Radio in order to get that location, which will then enable them to sell slots to other users.

“The primary purpose of the proposed tower is to serve the Sacramento market – with Yolo County absorbing the blight and the wildlife impacts,” they write.

They add, “Results  Radio does not care about KDVS but wants this tower erected to make a lot of money to rent out slots to other users.  KDVS is being used for the benefit of Results Radio and the impacts would be devastating to the bird wildlife and to the residents of north Davis and rural neighbors for miles from the radio tower.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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26 thoughts on “Opposition to Radio Tower Angered by County’s Response and What they Call One-sided News Coverage”

  1. Anon

    “The article quotes Supervisor Jim Provenza, “To approve a project and then go back (on it) would set a terrible precedent … It’s important when we approve a project that we send a message to businesses that they can rely on our decisions.””

    It’s ironic that Jim Provenza chose to make a precedent argument when he voted in favor of the NE quadrant location.

    He was the champion of moving the tower from the original site south of El Macero to the landfill. Where was this concern for precedent when he chose to pander to his NIMBY political supporters in El Macero and shift the impacts to other homeowners in the north? Are the rural residents in this part of the county less worthy of protection that those south of town? Is the preservation of agricultural vistas for the residents for El Macero more important than the preservation of agricultural vistas for the residents of Wildhorse, Old East Davis, Lake Alhambra Estates, and Mace Ranch?

    And what about precedent when he chose a course of action that violates the Greenline MOU – an agreement between the City, County, and Woodland to exclude urban uses in this part of the county – as well as the spirit of the Pass Through Agreement.

    The vote to ignore the unanimous vote of the Davis City Council opposing this tower certainly sets bad precedent with respect to City-County relations.

    And speaking of bad precedent, what about rewarding an applicant that has engaged in procedural stunts and manipulation of process – at both the federal and county levels – to gain entitlements for a project that is bad for Yolo County.

    The only signal that the Board of Supervisors has sent to the business community is that they will make decisions that are adverse to their constituents and their prior environmental commitments in order to pander to the narrowest of interests groups.

    I sincerely hope that on Tuesday Jim Provenza and Don Saylor will withdraw their support for this misbegotten project. The “Provenza/Saylor Tower” is not the legacy that these two public servants should be remembered for in the City of Davis.

  2. Anon

    “Neil Ruud, former general manager of KDVS, told supervisors at a meeting last month …”

    According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Ruud is now part of Centaur Group (headed by Kemble Pope). For those who may not know, Centaur is a local marketing and political consulting group (that lists, for example, the Covell Village Partners and Tandem Properties among their client list).

    This raises the obvious question of whether or not Centaur has a relationship with Results Radio.

  3. Anon

    If my calculation is correct – the proposed tower will generate [b][u]63 million[/u][/b] strobe flashes per year!

    And maybe more if they have to add additional lights because of the girth of the massive structure (free standing, and taller than the Statue of Liberty).

  4. Anon

    David: Thank you for providing the other side of the story. The Enterprise did a great disservice to the opponents of this project (not to mention the entire City of Davis!) by not bothering to track down someone for the counter argument.

    I should point out that the photo you used at the top of the article is nothing like the proposed structure. It will be a massive free-standing tower with no guy wires – considerably wider at its base with thick structural members. Think old fashion oil derrick that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty – except with the addition of 63 million flash bulbs going off every year.

  5. Anon

    From a flyer that landed in my Inbox yesterday. I’ve bolded the most disturbing bullet.

    This bullet raises another obvious series of questions. Why is the County staff recommending YCBOS action prior to the scheduled court hearing on Nov 27th? Is this to give Results Radio a window of time to erect the tower before the Judge can issue a ruling on the environmental issues? If so, are the Supervisors going to go along with this subterfuge?

    At the very least, the Board should continue the public hearing (without action) until after the legal questions are fully settled. To do otherwise would “set a terrible precedent.”

    [b]Results Radio Tower Project – Summary of Key Information[/b]

    • Results Radio and the County are once again trying to employ procedural stunts to push through a 370-foot tall radio tower without public scrutiny or analysis of its environmental impacts. The County plans to reapprove this terrible project on November 13th without ever addressing important environmental and community concerns.

    • Last month, the Yolo County Superior Court threw out the County’s CEQA review for the radio tower’s use permit extension granted in December 2011. The Court found that the County’s evasion of environmental review violated CEQA.

    • The County’s public position since the proceedings in 2011 remains unchanged. Many citizens and environmental protection groups including, Sierra Club Yolano Group, Yolo Audubon Society and Tuleyome raised environmental issues that were inadequately analyzed, or ignored altogether, in the defective Mitigated Negative Declaration of the EIR that the County adopted in 2010. Rather than respond to the public’s concerns, County officials brushed them off.

    • A Court hearing is scheduled on November 27th to determine the appropriate administrative procedure that the County must follow to correct its violation of law.

    [b]• Ignoring their prior mistakes, Results Radio and the County are again attempting to avoid public scrutiny and environmental review of the radio tower. Instead of waiting until after the November 27th Court hearing the County plans to proceed with project re-approval at the November 13th Board of Supervisors meeting.[/b]

    • Due to its location in a narrow reach of the Pacific Flyway, this radio tower will have significant impacts on the environment that have not yet been adequately addressed. The radio tower will kill many birds, including protected species.

    • The tower’s design and lighting will have a significant visual impact to the rural community where it will be developed.

    • These impacts could be avoided by placing the tower outside of the Pacific Flyway or co-locating the antenna on an existing tower, or even combining two or three existing towers into one tower.

    • The City of Davis has formally objected to the tower, which violates the Pass-Through Agreement and the Greenline MOU. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors, so far, has elected to disregard the City’s objections.

    • There is legitimate concern that the proposed tower is just the “camel’s nose under the tent” for what may become a larger antenna farm.

    • The primary purpose of the proposed tower is to serve the Sacramento market – with Yolo County adsorbing the blight and the wildlife impacts.

  6. neilruud

    First, The Centaur Group has never had any relationship with Results Radio. (At least I know [i]someone[/i] is looking at my LinkedIn.)

    Second, I started volunteering at KDVS in 2008 before being hired as Webmaster in 2009 and then General Manager in 2010 where I took the lead on a 16-year-old project to move off of our temporary tower location at UC Davis (an FCC designation). I graduated in June 2012 and per our by laws had to hand the position down to an undergraduate student. I still cherish KDVS’s role in the community and am glad to do my part in ensuring that we can continue to support UC Davis, Davis, Yolo County and other free-form communities throughout the U.S. like KZAP. Free-form community supported radio is a dying breed in the United States as large corporations gobble up these community treasures and replace them with low-quality robo-stations. Let’s keep Davis unique and defend this bastion of community-run media.

    Third, while the Davis City Council opposed the tower, they agreed with City staff and the Open Space and Habitat commission that the construction of the tower would be consistent with the Pass-Through Agreement and the Greenline MOU.

    From what I understand, Tuesday’s meeting is going to address a procedural language error that had no effect on the overall project or content of any of the county staff’s work. I’m disappointed and insulted that as the opposition’s conjectural evidence has proven too thin, they have resorted to ad hominem attacks in what has been an otherwise respectful process.

    If you want a little more on KDVS’s responses to these issues from a year ago check out kdvs.org/backgroundtower.

    If you want to hear both sides’ testimony in last year’s Board of Supervisors meeting, you can view the video here (Jump to item 13): http://yolo.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=456&publish_id=&event_id=
    I especially recommend watching the Board’s comments starting at 03:20:00 (considering the overall length of the meeting).

    The issue here is whether or not anything has changed since the project’s original approval. The only changes that have ever been made to the project were made to mitigate concerns and were made prior to the initial approval of the tower at the cost of the applicant.

  7. Anon

    Asking an obvious question is hardly an ad hominem attack. Are you really that sensitive about your association with Centaur?

    I’m disappointed that you’ve resorted to misrepresentation of the position of the Open Space and Habitat Commission as well as the City Council.

  8. Anon

    Just so there’s no confusion, the fight is with Results Radio. KDVS has strong support among the opponents of the Radio Tower. It is most unfortunate that these young people have allowed themselves to become a tool of a corporate entity that represents many of the things Mr. Ruud complains about.

  9. Anon

    Mr. Toad: The County lost in Court. That’s new information.

    The judge has scheduled a hearing on Nov 27th to give the county direction regarding their violation of CEQA. The County staff is asking the Board to re-approve the project tomorrow in what appears to be a procedural stunt to try and dodge the environmental regulations.

  10. Anon

    This is a real laugh.

    From the County staff report …

    Strategic Plan Goal(s)
    Champion job creation and economic opportunities
    Collaborate to maximize success
    Preserve and support agriculture
    Protect open space and the environment

    1. Job creation. The tower will be built in Yolo County. The radio station jobs will be in Sacramento County.
    2. Collaborate to maximize success. The Davis City Council voted unanimously to oppose the tower. Is this the county’s idea of collaboration?
    3. Preserve and support agriculture. Are you kidding me? Maybe the staff will elaborate on this during the public hearing. I can’t wait.
    4. Open space and environmental protection. Are they talking about the bird kills? Degradation of the Pacific Flyway? Destruction of the dark skies in a pristine part of the county?

    Oh wait. Maybe these are the county strategic plan goals that are [u]violated[/u] by the project.

  11. Mr.Toad

    Its so bothersome when people engage in this type of evasive behavior but i’ll rephrase to capture the judges intent. Do you have any new information as to environmental impacts of the tower?

  12. Anon

    I don’t answer questions from people that accuse me of being evasive and bothersome. 🙂

    Here is the judge’s intent:
    [url]http://141.174.195.7/docs/2012/BOS/20121113_56/1278_10-17-12 Peremptory Writ of Mandate (00334074) (2).pdf[/url]

  13. Mr.Toad

    “Just so there’s no confusion, the fight is with Results Radio. KDVS has strong support among the opponents of the Radio Tower.”

    Oh really? So, how does that support manifest itself? Aside from doing everything you can to sabotage 15 years of work by KDVS have you ever done anything to support the station?

  14. Eileen Samitz

    Due to prior commitments today on the holiday, I am just getting to see the comments to the Vanguard article. I have been a supporter of KDVS and have donated money to them a number of times in the past. It is nice that we have a student- based station. That said, I am very disappointed to see KDVS being so obviously used as a ”tool” by Results Radio to support an enormous and detrimental 365 foot glaring radio tower. This imposing tower would flash at least 3 strobes 40 times a minute towards north-east Davis residences, and would be built DIRECTLY in the flight path of thousands and thousands of birds using the Pacific Flyway.

    We have invited birds from all over the world to use our wetlands in their long and arduous migrations. Yet now Results Radio wants to place this enormous 365 foot obstacle in their way which would cause bird kills colliding with it, not to mention bringing bright, glaring, strobes flashing constantly at many, many Davis and rural residences for miles.

    Results Radio is an out-of-town company which will bring plenty of impacts from this radio tower, but will not even be bringing their home offices to Yolo. This tower is to expand their signal to Sacramento and to make a lot of money off of renting slots on this tower to other ”users”. This sets the stage for an ugly antenna farm to develop just north of Davis. The result is Davis and rural Yolo get all the impacts, not Sacramento which is this company’s target. These serious impacts are not only imposed on our community, but also on the bird wildlife population living in the wetlands or migrating through in the Pacific Flyway.

    It is disappointing to see KDVS join in this effort by Results Radio that would be detrimental to the people of Davis and to the birds of the wetlands.

    This brings me to some misinformation that Neil Rudd has posted that needs to be corrected. The Open Space Commission and Habitat Commission DID NOT AGREE that the tower would be consistent with the Pass Through agreement and NEITHER DID the City Council. I was present and testified at all of these meetings and the resolutions passed by both the Commission and the Council DID NOT have language relating to Mr. Rudd’s incorrect statement.

    Both the Commission and the Council were VERY clear on opposing the tower The Commission went further in their recommendation to the Council to state that NO towers should be located ANYWHERE near the wetlands. This same policy has been stated by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services which states that towers “should not be sited in or near wetlands, other known bird concentration areas (e.g., State or Federal refuges, staging areas, rookeries), in known migratory or daily movement flyways, or in habitat of threatened or endangered species. Towers should not be sited in areas with a high incidence of fog, mist, and low ceilings.”

  15. neilruud

    I apologize, I misspoke on the Council’s resolution regarding the Pass-Through Agreement and MOU.

    “S. Souza moved, seconded by R. Swanson, as follows:
    1. Determine that the proposed project for the new radio tower is consistent
    with the rural nature of the agricultural buffer area between roads 27 and 29″

    but the motion was later amended by Sue Greenwald to remove that determination. Ultimately, the council did not resolve that the tower was inconsistent with the MOU and did not officially make an opinion on the matter. [b]That being said, there are numerous other towers already in that area so I fail to see how this tower could possible be inconsistent with the MOU or Pass-Through; why should KDVS be treated differently?[/b]

    There were a couple amendments and further provisions, the full minutes can be found here:
    http://archive.cityofdavis.org/meetings/council/CC_Minutes_12-06-11_Spc_&_CC_Mtg.pdf

    Unfortunately, I cannot find a copy of the of the Commission’s Meeting Minutes but I was at both meetings and made sure to double check my recollection of the vote as diligently as time permitted.

    For anyone concerned that KDVS is being used as a tool should be reminded that we are working with industry professionals, University attorneys, and other groups who have not raised any flags. I can see where such a fear comes from but this is a pretty common practice for small non-profit and small for-profit stations to join together to get a project like this through. Organizations like KDVS lack the funding to get these projects done on our own.

  16. Anon

    This is not about KDVS. Every effort should be made by UCD, the city, and the county to find them a co-location opportunity and then help fund the relocation.

    This is about very serious environmental impacts to wildlife and property owners in Davis and the county. Neil is doing a great disservice to KDVS and its brand by shilling for this application.

    The KDVS “give-to-get” by Results Radio is a nothing more than a transparent effort to buy political support for a noxious development project in the Green Zone.

  17. Mr.Toad

    “a noxious development project in the Green Zone.’

    Are you trying to give Matt Rexroad PTSD. This is about as much of a threat to the “Green Zone” as it would be if you were talking about the other Green Zone.

  18. Mr.Toad

    The Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of going forward and that no new information was significant enough to warrant a new environmental review. The opponents are wasting a lot of time and money for a lot of people. The Supervisors called the question without any discussion after the report from their counsel.

  19. Mr.Toad

    Jim Provenza has worked long and hard on this project getting it moved out of a more densely populated area and getting modifications to the tower to reduce its impact. On more important issues he has fought tirelessly to protect our water resources against the richest and most powerful interests in the state. So you don’t get everything you want and you are ready to “re-think”. Well re-think again because you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  20. Davis Progressive

    “Jim Provenza has worked long and hard on this project getting it moved out of a more densely populated area and getting modifications to the tower to reduce its impact. On more important issues he has fought tirelessly to protect our water resources against the richest and most powerful interests in the state. So you don’t get everything you want and you are ready to “re-think”. Well re-think again because you can’t see the forest for the trees.”

    who are you his campaign manager?

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