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Submitted Content
2:56 pm PST February 23, 2021

Regarding agenda item 4B on the March 1 Malibu Planning Commission meeting:

I am very concerned about the lack of fire and electrical safety requirements for small cell tower installations in Malibu. Without strong and specific language in the requirements of design, application content and of course inspection requirements, Malibu residents will be left exposed to greater risk of fire than if these small cell towers were not installed.

Nobody supports that. Planning Commission, along with the City Council, is tasked with the job of keeping Malibu safe. We cannot rely on the Electric Code to cover us for safety because it exempts public utilities so adopting that will not help us. So how can Planning Commission resolve this and keep Malibu residents safe from the increased risk of fires originating from small cell towers

Suggestions have been put forward by Susan Foster; these fire safety requirements are essential for a town like Malibu which is unlike most other towns in the U.S. — its uniqueness puts us all at far greater fire risk and therefore demands far greater fire safety requirements. Malibu's unique qualities that put us all at greater risk are 1) sea air is corrosive 2) high winds dislodge equipment and spread fires 3) dry brush provides fuel for fire.

This confluence of characteristics means that Malibu needs greater fire safety regulations than most other town in the U.S. This is why each town is permitted to regulate installations in a way that keeps their own town safe according to their specific environment. We can all agree that an approach to safety that works for one town will not necessarily work for all towns.

Given Malibu's specific environmental hazards, I can't see why the Planning Commission, the City Council or any telecom company would ever contemplate not agreeing to safety requirements designed specifically for the town's geography and hazard profile. 

We are told that telecom companies can sue the city of Malibu if the application process is deemed too rigorous. However, the suggestions being put forward are exactly the same as all other safety requirements for other electrical equipment installations in Malibu. If other companies can manage it, so can the telecom industry. And, the city wouldn't want to be seen to be lowering our safety standards for one industry over another — that could be a slippery slope to lesser standards overall or the appearance of favoritism.

Jessica Isles