Alki antenna appeal: Neighbors seek support at Tuesday hearing


That’s the apartment building at 6609 Admiral Way (map), immediately west of Bar-S Playfield, whose fencing you can see on the left. Because of its spot high over Alki Point, this building’s roof has been home to cell-phone antennas for more than a decade (you can see part of the history on the site’s official city-permit webpage) – here’s a closer look at one group on the northeast section of the roof:


In April 2007, we told you about neighbors’ concern over a plan to add more antennas; this past June, we reported that the city had approved the plan to expand a group of Verizon antennas from 3 to 11. (You can read the decision here.) Neighbors challenged that decision, and after various delays, their case comes before the city Hearing Examiner on Tuesday morning, and they sent WSB a letter inviting anyone who shares their concern to show up and support them. Their major concerns are twofold — read on:

E-mailed to WSB by Karen Clegg:

At 9:00 AM, Tuesday, October 28th, neighbors from the small, single family neighborhood at the end of Admiral Way behind the Alki Point lighthouse, will appear before the Seattle Hearing Examiner to appeal the expansion of a cell phone antenna installation in their neighborhood. This will be the culmination of an effort that began early in 2007 when Verizon applied to increase their array from 3 to 11 antennas and AT&T their array from 2 to 6.

It’s unusual for cell antennas to be installed in a single-family neighborhood in the first place. The city has listed installations on non-arterial streets in single family neighborhoods as the least desirable of possible sites; the most desirable would be in an industrially zoned area. The antennas at the end of Admiral Way slipped through a crack in the siting process by being placed on the flat-roofed, non-conforming building next to the Bar-S Little League field.

Concerned neighbors feel the application process was flawed. The DPD waived the search for alternative sites required by city rules. The 17 foot square x 11 foot high screening around the 11 antenna array will add visually unacceptable bulk to a building that was slipped into the single-family neighborhood in 1959, when zoning was a lot looser.

The potential longterm effects of electromagnetic radiation is a wild card in this fight. While the federal government insists no studies have shown damage from cell phone radiation, many others, including prominent scientists, feel the jury is still out and insist more rigorous, large studies need to be done. The potential long-term effects are particularly important because of the Little League field next to the antennas and the neighbors whose homes on the hill are level with the antennas and will receive the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the antennas 24/7.

The neighborhood agrees with Mayor Nickels who, in 2003, said he feels cell antenna installations do not belong in single-family neighborhoods. (WSB note: Here’s a webpage about the proposal he made that year)

The appeal hearing will take place Tuesday, October 28th at 9:00 AM in the offices of the Seattle Hearing Examiner, in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue. Visitors are welcome.

Here’s a map to the Municipal Tower; the Hearing Examiner is on the 4th floor.

By the way, the 6609 Admiral apartment building is currently the site of a “stop-work order” posted by the city because of work on other antennas that DPD’s webpage says was being done without a permit.

ADDED 9:52 PM: Zoning map from the city webpage for this parcel, showing the apartment building’s location – with underlying zoning single-family 5000 (here’s an explanation of city zoning, by the way):


9 Replies to "Alki antenna appeal: Neighbors seek support at Tuesday hearing"

  • nimby nulu October 25, 2008 (4:00 pm)

    CELL PHONE FREE ALKI? – Where else can these antennas go? How many of the concerned neighbors do not have or use cell phones? Do they follow the same “jury is out” implications? The WSB photos undue a thousand words. It is a flat roof and the cell antennas have less of a profile than hvac or mechanical units on roof tops. I would like to see a picture with someone’s view that is blocked by these antennas. The ball field player safety argument is quite thin considering cell antennas operating on arterials would expose thousand folds more people. And “visually unacceptable bulk” to this particular nearly 50 year old building is a stretch.

  • WSB October 25, 2008 (4:48 pm)

    Data point, as described in one of the documents I linked above (the actual decision), the added antennas will be encased in something resembling a penthouse, or so it’s described.

  • Jo October 25, 2008 (6:38 pm)

    There are four encased cell tower ‘things’ atop the roof of the cedar-sided apartments on 62nd/Alki, kitty-corner from Sunfish.
    They DO block my view of a section of the Olympics.
    Also, the latest additions block my view totally of the ‘Eagle Tree.’ I used to be able to look out my front window, and almost always see an eagle perched in the large tree across from Cactus Restaurant. Not anymore.
    So, those antennas do block views.
    Hate ’em.

  • nimby nulu October 25, 2008 (7:24 pm)

    Hey Jo,
    Please send in the photo of the offending view blockage. A photo will do her claim justice. Does Jo use a cell phone? Or does she just “hate’em” when not using ’em?
    Either way, Jo’s example has nothing to do the site at issue. Just look at the WSB photo – no eagle tree, no view of the Olympics. Please remember that our building code does not protect views or the building Jo is complaining from would not be permitted – it is certainly blocking the view of adjacent structures. Maybe it is time to trot out the shadow casting argument.

  • cjboffoli October 25, 2008 (9:00 pm)

    Conjuring the dangers to the little league baseball players seems spurious at best. Modern terrestrial cellular telephone points emit radio frequency energy, not “electromagnetic radiation.” These things are not 1960’s era television transmitters. You get a much bigger dose of RF energy using a hair dryer for five minutes than you ever would playing baseball fifty feet from those transmitters. These folks should probably brush up on their science if they’re going to use it as a subterfuge for their NIMBY initiative.

  • WSB October 25, 2008 (9:41 pm)

    Re: the view. Another data point, if you are not familiar with the end of Admiral Way, there is an incline from the spot where I took the wide shot of the building, to the street end atop the knoll/hill. There are houses on a variety of sides. Looks like the weather is going to be nice tomorrow so perhaps we should attempt to add a couple angles of pix to this – I chose these angles for nothing more than to show the building in question and the antennas atop one visible corner.
    However, as anyone in a view corridor knows, it is indeed possible for something small to block a view. We have a small slice of water view from our house that is fully half-covered by the flag displayed by an across-the-street neighbor from a pole he placed in his streetfront hedge after 2001. I totally support his right to fly that flag and would never dream of complaining. He and the other neighbors across the street also have the right via zoning to add another story or two to their homes that would remove that slice of view anyway.
    However, in the apartment building case, there are issues of zoning. Looking at the area map in the city system, it really is underlying SF 5000 zoning – so theoretically, if this building were ever torn down, that’s what would/should replace it. (Kind of a reverse from the situation in The Junction, where many one- and two-story commercial buildings are sitting on land that is zoned for 6-story or higher development.) Just as a data point, I’m going to screengrab that map and add it to the bottom of the post above.
    Totally sidebar but I’ve always wondered what kind of compensation building owners get for “hosting” antennas. There’s a church down the hill from here that has a bunch on its roof.

  • swimcat October 26, 2008 (4:11 pm)

    I work in this field and the NIMBY’s always amaze me with their complaints about crappy cell coverage and then they won’t allow these things to go on nearby rooftops. These types of communications equipment are all over the place; you don’t need to look too hard to find them (rooftops, cell towers, water towers, etc..). Also, the building owners lease this space to whoever is putting up the antennas for their network. The rent varies and depends on a variety of factors. It’s an easy way for building owners to make some extra money though.

  • Jo October 26, 2008 (4:26 pm)

    Dear Nimby Nulu (?):
    When I said ‘I hate ’em,’ I didn’t mean I hated cell phones, but was referring to the ugly antenna houses on top of the cedar apartments on 61st.
    I also realize that my comments have nothing to do with the site at issue. I was just trying to make a point that these installations can block views. And I’m smart enough to know that building codes don’t protect views. Really, nimby nulu, I am.
    What is it with some people lately that they need to talk down to someone for stating their opinion?

  • NIMBY nulu October 26, 2008 (8:05 pm)

    Ok, what is Jo’s opinion of the cell antennas that are the subject of these posts? Jo’s posted opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the subject property’s specifics.
    Beyond that, a picture would certainly and easily prove me wrong regarding her claims of personal view blockage that she is referring to.
    Yeah, we hate the antennas, but love our cell phones.
    I cringe everytime I see another telephone pole being replaced. They far outnumber cell towers and mar far more of our views. And those wire services can be placed underground and out of sight.

Sorry, comment time is over.