Last week’s showdown between Verizon wireless, which wants to build a 70-foot high Glassell Park cell phone tower disguised as a fake pine tree, and residents who were pushing for alternative designs ended with a surprise result. After months of standing by its fake tree, or monopine, Verizon submitted a last-minute proposal before a city planning commission to disguise the antenna as a Streamline Moderne-style clock tower that would rise along the northbound 2 Freeway at the San Fernando Road exit. “It’s okay with me,” said Andrew Montealegre, who lead the fake-tree opponents and appealed a city zoning decision that backed Verizon’s monopine plan. “Now we are going to see if we can get a name placed on it.”
Montealegre said Verizon’s change of design was unexpected and a surprise to him, City Council staff and members of the East Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, which held a hearing last Wednesday to review the appeal Montealegre and two other Glassell Park residents had filed. Montealegre and others have pressed Verizon for more creative solutions, including a tower topped with abstract angels or shaped like glass tubes – similar to those at LAX – that would welcome motorists to Glassell Park. A video created in support of monopine alternative said having the tower double as a gateway sign for Glassell Park could help raise the neighborhood’s visibility and image.
Montealegre said the commissioners at last Wednesday’s hearing said they has just been notified of the new clock tower proposal themselves. As a result, the commissioners postponed a decision until April 25, Montealgre said. Meanwhile, on Thursday, March 22, Verizon officials are scheduled to attend a meeting of the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council’s land use committee to review the clock tower design. Montealegre and others would like the Glassell Park name to somehow be included on the structure but everyone involved have to figure out a way to do that without running afoul of the city’s sign and billboard ordinances.
“We will be entertaining ideas on not making it a ‘sign’ but calling it something else or making it an art piece,” said Montealegre, who sits on the land use committee . “I’m leaning to calling it a community marker.”