Plans move forward for treelike phone tower in Los Osos

A cell phone tower disguised as a fake tree will be added to the Sea Pines Golf Resort in Los Osos as planned, despite the objections of a local woman.

Linde Owen had appealed the county Planning Commission’s approval of the facility — a 75-foot faux pine tree known as a monopine, and ground-mounted equipment — at the resort.

The installation, proposed by Verizon Wireless and PSR Partnerships, would make it easier for Los Osos residents to use cell phones. The Los Osos Community Advisory Council signed off on the proposal with an 8-1 vote.

Owen, however, warned that the towers would be a visual blight. She added that the county’s analysis did not address possible adverse effects of high radio frequency emissions on bat colonies, bees, Monarch butterflies and trees.

Owen said it is every resident’s right to be “an uninformed citizen” about the effects of radiation, but wildlife has nobody to speak for it. “Electromagnetic pollution is extremely growing and extremely unregulated,” she told the county Board of Supervisors last week.

County planners replied that the site “lacks suitable habitat for bats, bees and butterflies,” and the project would be “unlikely to affect these species during migration.”

As to the visual blight, the staff wrote that the monopine is “designed to seamlessly blend” with adjacent trees, and the proposed antennae would be covered by “antenna socks” of “the highest available foliage density.”

Several residents said the need for added cell phone reception exists, and the staff agreed. Currently, there are no wireless facilities within the Los Osos area, according to a staff report.

Supervisors unanimously denied Owen’s appeal last week and gave the project the go-ahead.

Owen will have 10 days to appeal the board’s decision after the Coastal Commission receives its Notice of Final Action from the county. That generally takes a couple of weeks, a county planner said.