San Francisco Groups Sue Over AT&T Utility Boxes

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A coalition of community groups has filed suit to stop AT&T from installing hundreds of utility boxes on sidewalks throughout San Francisco because they believe the boxes will compromise the beauty of the city.

The utility boxes are necessary for AT&T to bring its U-Verse technology, which will provide entertainment and high-speed DSL to San Francisco. However, critics have said that 726 utility boxes would be an eyesore on city sidewalks.

“The boxes themselves are each four feet high, four feet wide, and about two and a half feet thick,” said Milo Hanke with San Francisco Beautiful, one of the community groups suing to require AT&T to undergo an environmental review before installing the boxes. “These things from any angle, and at any color are ugly, and when you put 726 of them together, that’s a cumulative effect.”

Hanke said an environmental review can recommend ways to mitigate any effects the boxes have on streetscapes.

Tedi Vriheas with AT&T said the company already has been working with the city on this issue.

“We have done extensive outreach to the community, meeting with hundreds of community groups and organizations, and we’ve worked with the board, we’ve worked with the Department of Public Works and the Planning Department,” said Vriheas.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors did vote to exempt AT&T from conducting an environmental review.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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  • sfgiants

    These idiots need a life

  • Tom

    And why exactly was AT&T exempt from conducting an environmental review? Did someone pay someone enough money to be exempt?

  • Equal Wheels

    Let me get this straight, these people who obviously have more money than sense have chosen to spend this money (on lawyers) to tie up our legal system and all it’s associated costs to slow or stop the spread of technology in one of the most tech-savvy parts of the most tech savvy state in the US? Please, let us all sue over our self righteous perception of vanity and all things ethereal. These are the fools that equal the liberals counterpart to the foolish Tea Party extremists. I agree with “sfgiants” comment earlier, they need a life. Shame on them for wasting the ones they have on something so pointless. The ripples will find their way into laws or taxes that will affect all of us. They are selfish and self absorbed.

  • Sidnee

    The boxes will be covered with Tags, and other stupid graiffetee in no time. What if they become target of serial arsonist, like the porta potty piro? Why don’t they bury their boxes? We know that cell phones should not be plugged in and being charged near children because of cases of brain cancer resulting from such,…Can you imagine the strength of the concentration of energy emmisions near those ugly boxes? I don’t want them in my hood., … I don’t understand why they are exempt from environental impact study? Shame on YOU- Equal Weels- for your ignorant, disrespectfull comments about “San Francisco Beautiful”, a group dedicated to preserving the beauty and charm of our wonderful city.

    • Equal Wheels

      Really? A serial arsonist? Porta Potty? Death rays?? By the way it’s spelled “graffiti”.
      Any group that presumes to speak for a non-existent majority while simultaneously wasting my resources (in this case tax dollars to litigate this lunacy) either directly or indirectly deserves criticism.
      At this point I don’t see much difference between this group and those people who think Michele Bachmann would make a good president. Are your comments really representative of these groups agendas? Well, in retrospect the Tea Party is fueled by ignorance too so why shouldn’t liberals have a counterpart? Your comments simply illuminate rabid, entitled, ignorance masquerading as a righteous cause. The same kind of ignorance that led to the “don’t stand here” labels on the top of step ladders. Pure waste, in this case, of money. You’re not Erin Brockovich.

    • Matman

      I have one of these ugly cabinets in my neighborhood and it had graffiti on it within a month…..these cabinets are not only ugly they are also noisy…they have a cooling fan running 24/7 and when it’s hot out and you have your window open at night you can hear it from a block away…very annoying for a substandard service that has been already outpaced by the local cable company wiithout the ugly and noisy cabinets….

  • Jeff

    Why on earth would you give a private company the right to install its machinery – large, noisy machinery at that (these have big fans running inside) on public space? And this is already old technology – wireless is where the future lies (and is where SF tech jobs are focused). This is a sad right-of-way grab by AT&T to entrench their right forever to public spaces, and sets a precedent that will allow future competitors to also claim public space for their machinery. Every other utility has borne the costs of undergrounding their services; allowing this would set a terrible precedent.

  • Gia

    This is going on in my neighborhood here also in Alameda. I have begun to fight u verse/ AT&T. Please help me fight them too…..give me some leads, thanks, Gia in the east end
    Can eyewitness contact me as well, in Alameda?

  • rs

    these people need to get a life. i, for one, would like a choice other than comcast. it’s called competition and it helps lower our rates. maybe these people who are spending all this money on lawyers to sue AT&T can afford to pay whatever comcast chooses to make their rates but i’m on a budget. choice is always a good thing!

  • Equal Wheels

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Any cable company that is big enough to consider buying a TV network, in this case CBS, is way too big to not have competition. Ironically it was AT&T’s monopoly of the phone system that led to the creation of the baby bells decades ago.
    Your comment actually got me thinking, it wouldn’t be the first time a big company helped “fund” a small group of activists in order to obscure their corporate agenda. Isn’t that what the Koch brothers did for the Tea Party? Guess I’ll have to watch “Conspiracy Theory” again, just not on Comcast.

  • Calvin Chan

    Give me a break. Why don’t they do something about all of the homeless & shopping carts all over town. Sounds like a group paid and bought by Comcast an non union company that wants to keep their hold on the city. Get a Life People and stop going to court over stupid stuff. Probably the same folks that make it hard to get good cell phone signals in the city.

    • Equal Wheels

      I agree, it’s the same mentality as those people who think that throwing themselves on top of a BART train in “protest” is actually hurting anyone besides those of us who are just trying to get to work or back home. It’s nothing more than self-absorbed entitlement masquerading as a cause.

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    San Francisco Groups Sue Over AT&T Utility Boxes « CBS San Francisco

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