PUPUKEA (August 3, 2018) — North Shore community members have become embroiled in a controversy recently regarding a proposed T-Mobile cell phone tower installation in the lush residential community up Pupukea Road near Waimea Bay. The proposed 100’ tower would be disguised as a tree and is meant to improve cell phone service to certain providers further up the hill behind Foodland, where the four towers at the bottom of the hill cannot reach. Eddie Black, a neighbor to the resident who is apparently working with T-Mobile to install the pole on his property, spoke to Hawaii News Now about why he and other members of the North Shore community oppose the tower, citing health concerns from electromagnetic waves, noise pollution from a generator to operate the tower, and obstruction of views.
T-Mobile and community members who would like to see the tower installed say their biggest concern is an inability to call 911 from most cell phones in the event of an emergency up Pupukea, citing a federal law known as E911 (“Enhanced 911”) mandating mobile service providers make 911 calls possible. Black told HNN that Cingular cell phone service is quite good up Pupukea, and that many residents would forego the cell phone access to 911 over the installation of another tower in the area. According to HNN, Black has already garnered 365 signatures from Pupukea residents on a petition opposing the tower, and he says over 100 additional residents of the North Shore have promised to sign in an ongoing effort to Keep the Country Country.
Both the North Shore Community Board and the Sunset Community Association have voted against the tower installation, but T-Mobile is still legally allowed to apply for a permit with the building department in Honolulu despite community outcry. However, one city council member, Donovan Dela Cruz, is already fighting on behalf of the North Shore community to both the Building Department and the Mayor’s Office, which oversees the department. Additionally, a head spokesperson for T-Mobile in Seattle said the company is already considering alternative solutions due to the uproar.
The next community meeting regarding the proposed cell tower will be held on August 20 at 7:30 pm at the Sunset Beach Recreation Center.