October 2020 update
During the zoning administrator hearing on May 28th, AT&T’s application for use permit was reviewed and denied. AT&T appealed the denial and the appeal was heard on September 28th during a planning commission public hearing. The planning board upheld the prior denial during that session. The county planners and the planning commission suggested the proposed tower structure was not congruous with the existing church architecture and thought the tower was not implemented to minimize adverse visual effects as required by Marin County Telecommunications Facilities Policy. In order to minimize adverse visual impacts, St. Luke and AT&T are exploring the potential to erect a mono-pine tower structure on the south side of the property among an existing grove of pine trees.
We will continue to update this site as the project as necessary as the progresses.
St. Luke Presbyterian Church is working with AT&T to add a cellular installation on the St. Luke campus to improve cell service in the immediate community. AT&T has applied to the county of Marin for a permit to operate the site.
AT&T is pursing the permit in order to fill a significant service coverage gap along the east Point San Pedro Road corridor. In addition the new service will provide FirstNet services (see FirstNet.gov for more information) dedicated capacity to support police, firefighters, paramedics and other first responder communications.
St. Luke realizes reliable cell service is a growing and ever more important critical need for the community. This was demonstrated during last year’s power outages when the area was left with virtually no land line phone or internet service, creating a serious public service issue. The new tower will be sustainable, with battery backup that will survive power outages and other potential disasters.
For leasing space on its property for the installation, St. Luke will receive financial consideration. The financial support will enable St. Luke to fulfill its mission and serve the numerous community organizations it supports.
What is being built?
The installation is being built in the form of a bell tower that will be integrated with the architecture of the Bayview Room, St. Luke’s community center. The facade will copy the look, feel and materials used in the existing construction. The tower will be approximately 30 feet high making it 11 feet higher than the Bayview Room.
The tower will utilize current 4G technologies.
Why the St. Luke Site?
AT&T investigated seven sites in the area in order to close its service gap. The St. Luke property was determined to be the best location to meet the technical requirements of the network with the least intrusive impact on the community.
Many church and school campuses across the country host cell sites. St. Luke’s property is zoned appropriately for a cell site.
Isn’t St. Luke concerned about the health impacts of cellular?
When the tower was first considered, St. Luke researched the health effects of a tower on its site. What we discovered was that many sites exist that are similar to the proposed site. Radio-frequency (RF) emissions at the ground level of a site such as that being proposed meet and exceed the FCC requirements for human safety and energy from cell towers decreases with distance. Additionally the American Cancer Society, World Health Organization and the FCC have all concluded that there are no known health concerns related to cell sites RF exposure.
A detailed radio-frequency emissions compliance report was done to evaluate the specific configuration of the proposed site. The study concluded that the proposed operation will not expose members of the general public to hazardous levels of RF energy on walkable surfaces at ground level or in adjacent buildings. The county concurred with this finding.
Won’t the installation be noisy?
A specific engineering study was done to evaluate whether the tower would meet noise standards. The study concluded under normal operation the tower would meet all noise level requirements. Under emergency operation, using backup generator power, the tower would meet daytime standards, but exceed nighttime standards when there is less ambient noise. Non-emergency noise standards do not apply to emergency use so the tower was ruled fully compliant.
What about the visual impacts?
The site was designed as a bell tower with all related equipment housed within the tower. As such there is no visual indication that the structure houses cell equipment. The limited height of the tower, along with tree cover and the property’s elevation, makes the tower almost undetectable from San Pedro Road and Beach Drive. From the north, tree cover conceals the tower from Bayview Drive, although the tower is visible from private homes and the exposure varies based on elevation. St. Luke is considering trimming trees on its property to offset any visual impact from the north.
We hope this answers any questions you may have. However, if you have further questions please email the church at and we will be happy to reply.
architectural rendering of the new St. Luke bell tower
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