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  1. #1

    Talking AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    About a year and a half ago, At&t built a "uverse" eutility cabinet on a public easement which is on our property. We went back and forth with at&t and the city of san jose. It was tough even getting a hold of someone at the city. And even then they still do not admit that this is built illegally. I would like some help from the members on this board in order to guide me through the correct routes for legal action. As this structure is unpermitted, and a noise nuisance.


    I had sent a letter to the city of san jose with photos and excerpts from the zoning ordinance to prove my point: [http://www.sanjoseca.gov/planning/pdf/zoning_code.pdf]

    20.30.700 "The sound pressure level generated by any use or combination of uses on a property shall not exceed the decibel levels indicated in table 20-85 at any property line" [55dbA]

    20.80.1820-A7 "A 300 foot seperation shall be maintained between all utility structures located on land zoned R-1 or used for single family residential purposes"

    20.80.1820-A6 "Utility structures must serve the immediate residential area in which it is located"

    I just received a letter from the director of planning, building, and code enforcement joseph horwedel and it did not say much the main wording was as such

    "the purpose of public service easements is precisely for the installation of the kind of public utility cabinet that has been placed on your property. We have determined that the utility cabinet has been placed in the most ideal location. the city attempts to put these utility structures in places that are not noticeable. In this case, the location behind the sidewalk with an upslope behind it allows the cabinet to be hidden much better than a traditional location between the sidewalk and the curb. The zoning ordinance applies in this case as the utility structure is locted on private land. The size of the cabinet conforms to the zoning ordinance criteria and no public hearing is required.
    We are still investigating your concern with the noise level. we have requested that at&t provide us with a noise analysis of the abinet, which will determine whether or not the noise emitted from the cabinet is acceptable per the city's zoning code. AT&T has agreed to provide the necessary data. Since the cabinet is located on your parcel, we will be accessing hte noise on an equivalent manner to a cabinet located on the other side of your property line to ensure that the noise exposure that you experience is no greater than if it was located in the public right of way and facing your property. As the cabinet is located on your property, i do not see other options of how to assess the noise in a reasonable manner."

    Reference:
    1)The utility structure is over 4' tall and there is another at&t cabinet[older] located less than 5 feet away that is also 4' tall [a utility structure as defined by the zoning code is a structure 4' tall and above]
    2)The noise emitted by the cabinet on the property line is over 55dbA
    3) We cannot get the Uverse service at our home! which is where the cabinet is located!
    4)Utility administrative permit (a non discretionary permit)
    [http://www.sanjoseca.gov/planning/ap...ap_us_app.pdf]



    I have tried to be thorough in my post and would appreciate any help i can get from this board as i believe a civil case and government claim against the city would be the only way to go. i would also like to inquire about the statue of limitations for these types of issues!

    thank you!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    Although this is not an area of law I am involved with and can't help you directly, I do know that there have been a number of legal battles in various cities over these boxes. One city even made them move hundreds of boxes. You need to research the case law on this as it is a far bigger issue than just your property or city. Even if the case law is from other jurisdictions, your local courts will look to it for guidance and are not likely to issue opposing judgments.

    These boxes are huge and ugly. The huge power supplies and other parts resonate creating significant noise. Many people hate them.

    It is especially ironic you can't even get the service when the distribution box sits next to your house.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    your links don't work.

    One thing I would like to know is; what is making noise in a telephone cabinet?


    I am having difficulty understanding this:

    20.80.1820-A7 "A 300 foot seperation shall be maintained between all utility structures located on land zoned R-1 or used for single family residential purposes
    300 foot separation from what? It speaks to utility structures ON residential land so it surely can't be from the private property. There must be more to the section of ordinance.

    20.80.1820-A6 "Utility structures must serve the immediate residential area in which it is located"
    3) We cannot get the Uverse service at our home! which is where the cabinet is located!
    what is the closest to your home that the service is available? any idea as to why it is not available to you?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    It is not a telephone cabinet really. It is a AT&T uVerse cabinet which is for a type of cable television. They have massive power supplies and other electronics, that all needs to be cooled, and they make considerable noise. It is not your standard utility cabinet. But AT&T does not consider it cable TV, so there have been fights over the cabinets, their placement, franchise fees and other things all over the country.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    I had attempted to get Uverse at my home. The junction 'box' was located 2,000 ft from my home. The connection from the box to the house can be no more, as was explained to me, than 4,120 feet. It was also noted that these lines did not run 'as the crow flies'.

    That being the case, the line from the 'box' to my home exceeded the max by over 500' as they snaked around the neighborhood; thus no service.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    but the box is in this guys front yard.

  7. #7

    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    your links don't work.

    One thing I would like to know is; what is making noise in a telephone cabinet?



    I am having difficulty understanding this:

    300 foot separation from what? It speaks to utility structures ON residential land so it surely can't be from the private property. There must be more to the section of ordinance.




    what is the closest to your home that the service is available? any idea as to why it is not available to you?


    The telephone cabinet has a fan inside, that is on 24/7 and is above city zoning ordinance, however the city continues to disregard this! By wanting to take measurements 5 feet away!

    This 300foot seperation is between utility structures on land zoned for residential purposes


    I am not sure about this, i had contacted at&t about this and the last i heard was "we'll check on this" The city seems to diregard this as stating immediate doesnt mean "immediate"

    I would really like some help in getting a legal issue started as at&t did damage my property during construction [encroachment while construction without a conditional use permit as well] and i have photographs of everything. I also have the cities verification that the irrigation system was damaged as well as the current retaining wall

  8. #8
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    =illegalattcabinet;379404]The telephone cabinet has a fan inside, that is on 24/7 and is above city zoning ordinance, however the city continues to disregard this! By wanting to take measurements 5 feet away!
    and what are the sound levels at 5 feet away?

    This 300foot seperation is between utility structures on land zoned for residential purposes
    if this is on an easement on your property, it is impossible for the structure to be 300 feet from land zoned residential. It is ON land zoned residential. I am missing the point of the ordinance as you have posted it.


    I am not sure about this, i had contacted at&t about this and the last i heard was "we'll check on this" The city seems to diregard this as stating immediate doesnt mean "immediate"
    immediate is a somewhat ambiguous term in the manner they use it. Since there is a limitation of 4120 feet (per mikey but is does sound reasonable), there is no purpose for the cabinet for anything other than use for the immediate area. Why you can't get it is quite odd but it obviously has to be for the immediate area simple because of it being where it is.

    btw: if the just placed this cabinet, they may not have completed the installation yet. They have to bring a fiber cable to the box and the have to transfer all of the copper wire fed to the other box to this one. They often wait until they have all the dslams in a given area complete before they pull cables to them and then there is still the tech to do all the terminations. It isn't as simple as "they have a box there why can't I get the service" when they are in the middle of an installation.

    I would really like some help in getting a legal issue started as at&t did damage my property during construction [encroachment while construction without a conditional use permit as well] and i have photographs of everything. I also have the cities verification that the irrigation system was damaged as well as the current retaining wall
    for the damages you call up AT&T and ask them who you send a claim for the damages to. It isn't like this is the first time something like this has happened and they have people and departments in place to deal with damages they have to pay for. Getting them to pay for the damages shouldn't be a big issue...unless the damaged items were within the easement. If that is the case, they may not actually owe you anything as you generally are not allowed to place anything in an easement such as this and if you do, not only are they not liable for the damages but if your installation caused them a problem, (read: expend money they would not have had to had your installation not been in the way), they can often demand payment from you for those additional costs.

    to the rest of it: search the internet for AT&T, dslam, 52B, uverse and many other things and you will see that you are not alone in your struggle. There are thousands of complaints and actually some suits out there against at&t concerning situations similar to yours. Maybe you can find some others in your area so you can make a concerted effort to argue your common grievances. It is not easy to sue a government and it is difficult to sue a large corporation, and be successful in either. It helps to have a large group on your side.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    Quote Quoting illegalattcabinet
    View Post
    "A 300 foot seperation shall be maintained between all utility structures located on land zoned R-1 or used for single family residential purposes"
    I don't think this refers to the distance to residential structures but between the utility structures themselves. See the section that I highlighted above. Probably designed to prevent the poorest resident of the neighborhood getting 15 boxes on their property while the more affluent folks get none.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: AT&T Installed Unpermitted Structure on Easement Violating City Zoning Ordinance

    but a standard AT&T install will generally have at least 2 boxes grouped together and depending on where in the system it is and how large of an area that node feeds, there could be 3 or 4 boxes and they are all part of the same system. AT$T will not consider placing them 300 feet apart simply to abide by some regulation such as that ordinance directs. It is just not practical for them.

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