SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A plan to upgrade AT&T’s network in San Francisco was again delayed by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday over concerns about the boxes that would be installed around the city to house the technology.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said at Tuesday afternoon’s board meeting that AT&T asked for a five-week delay on the vote so it can propose a scaled-back version of the plan.

AT&T’s proposal had included the installation up to 726 boxes to house its “Lightspeed” high-speed data transmission technology that will improve its U-verse Internet, cable and landline phone service in the city.

San Francisco’s Planning Department in February gave the project an exemption from the usually lengthy environmental review process, but opponents appealed the exemption to the board, saying the 4-foot-tall boxes would impede pedestrian traffic, inconvenience property owners, and reduce the aesthetic appeal of the city.

AT&T spokesman Lane Kasselman said AT&T does not want the plan to undergo an environmental impact report because “an EIR delays the process well beyond our bill plan. Everyone knows it can take two or three years, and our plan is to roll it out in the next year.”

But opponents of the plan, including the groups San Francisco Beautiful and the Planning Association of the Richmond, have argued that the cumulative impact of the hundreds of boxes is enough to warrant the environmental review.

When the issue first came in front of the board at its April 26 meeting, AT&T officials pointed out that the company would still have to get a permit from the city’s Department of Public Works for each individual box, and would work around neighborhoods that did not want the boxes.

Supervisors at that meeting voted to delay a vote on the project for four weeks, and after Tuesday’s delay, the item will not come in front of the board again until June 28.

Kasselman said the company will use that time to “work with the various supervisors, work with the residents in their neighborhoods, and work with the community groups to figure out where the cabinets should go.”

He said the new proposal would likely include a “significant decrease” in the number of boxes since “there are definitely some supervisors who have made it clear that they’re not interested in having it in their neighborhoods.”

Nevertheless, he said, “We are glad the supervisors are willing to work with us … to finally bring U-verse to people who want it.”

When Wiener announced the delay of the vote, he said, “I hope (AT&T) will think outside the box, literally and figuratively, and come up with something we can live with.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (12)
  1. Christopher Miller says:

    I hope every neighborhood in San Francisco joins in solidarity against AT&T installing ANY of their new hardware ANYWHERE in the City until a FULL environmental impact report is made, including radiation emissions, and is made public so the residents can make up their own minds as to what is installed in their city.

    1. Christopher Miller says:

      P.S. That is not my hyperlink on my comment’s word “hardware”. I do not endorse nor am affiliated with whatever advertisement or place it takes you!

    2. dan says:

      You’re a nutjob.

    3. Warren F says:

      I own my home in San Francisco, pay property tax here, pay most of my sales tax here, work here, eat here and play here. I also donate time and money to several worthwhile causes. I live in on of the most historic neighborhoods in the city and I wish they had installed the boxes months ago. The boxes are no different than the newspaper boxes, letterboxes, utility boxes, bus stops and many other items that are found on city streets. SF is a CITY. Cities change, and should adapt as times and technology changes.
      Honestly the NIMBY reactionary attitude you display that so pervades this city makes a mockery of our perceived status of a city on the edge of technology, open mindedness new ways of thinking.

  2. cybernicco says:

    This is the type of ridiculous demand made by the lunatic fringe that keeps America from ever getting anywhere anymore.

    Our data networks are beginning to fall behind many others in the developed world, while we wail and gnash our teeth over the aesthetics of some utility boxes.

  3. cmd says:

    if u vote to keep the boxes out, in the future, dont start complaining about how “it’s not fair we cant get faster Internet” these upgrades are necessary if u want the extra speed, digital channels, etc. as an at&t tech, i hear it all the time…”It’s just not right, it’s 2011 and I cant get faster than 3MB or 1.5MB Internet service?” Well, that’s because your neighborhood/city didn’t want our trucks/employees working in their alleys/easements to do the necessary upgrades. or they didn’t want the “eyesore” of a tan “trashcan” sized box installed in their area.

    1. Just sayin' says:

      Get off the computer; turn off the tv, open the door, go outside, and maybe have actual contact with an actual human being! Faster internet for what? Faster Farmville? Quicker hook-ups on dating sites? Enhanced e-bay? You’re absolutely right: none of that is worth the “eyesore” of a “trashcan” sized grafitti magnet utility box in my area. Wean yourself off the virtual life; go outside and try out a real one!

  4. justin says:

    nutjobs protesting are an eyesore

  5. observesf says:

    Thank you Scott Weiner. This is a quality of life issue for San Franciscans. ATT needs to use it’s vast technological resources to find a solution that meets their corporate needs without forcing their “urban blight” on the citizens of this once beautiful city.

  6. Francis Koy Disolve Basada says:

    Some places in SF don’t even have U-Verse!!!! i believe its only in the downtown areas or NORTH side of SF…….. and an AT&T rep said it is unlikely those neighborhoods WILL EVER get U-Verse in the CITY…….. SO why SUPPORT something some people will never have…. A friend who works at AT&T said unless they break apart almost every street in the city and TUCK the wires underground YOU won’t have it……… and yes they are EYESOREs….. why kant they just put/strap it UP on the telephone poles…… PUT the LADDERS to use…………

    1. cmd says:

      Francis Koy Disolve Basada, your friend obviously does not know what he/she is talking about. u-verse does not require any additional “wire tucking”. the only addition to the existing infrastructure is the installation of a u-verse vrad box. and no, it cannot be placed UP on a pole, especially in neighborhoods that do not have poles. your neighborhood is not the only one in the World. drive around, many newer neighborhoods and many old ones have telephone, electric, and cable facilities underground. and you are incorrect in your assumption/information that most will never get uverse. read the article, the installation of the boxes in your neighborhoods is to “bring” uverse to your neighborhood. that’s like saying, lets vote no to a new car dealership because they wont sell cars to us, only people from other areas will be able to buy them there.

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