attbox.jpgThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider Tuesday whether to require AT&T to undergo an environmental review process for the company’s plan to upgrade its network in the city.

AT&T is proposing to install up to 726 boxes to house its “Lightspeed” high-speed data transmission technology that it would use to upgrade Internet, cable and landline phone service.

The company made a similar proposal in 2007 and received an exemption from the environmental review process by the city’s Planning Department a year later. However, AT&T withdrew the proposal after the exemption was appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

AT&T altered its plan–reducing the number of the 4-foot-tall boxes from 850 to 726 — and received another exemption from the Planning Department in February, but the proposal is again being appealed.

San Francisco Beautiful and the Planning Association of the Richmond are the two groups appealing the company’s environmental review exemption.

Among the issues opponents have with the project, the appeal states that “the large boxes will impede pedestrian traffic, inconvenience property owners, act as graffiti magnets, attract trash around and on top of them and detract from our efforts … to create a more attractive and pleasant environment.”

AT&T argues that the upgrades would not have enough of an impact to undergo the usually lengthy environmental review process required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

The company says CEQA exempts projects that only involve the installation of small, new equipment.

The Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, but the AT&T proposal will not be considered by the board before 4 p.m.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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