Board of Supervisors OK's AT&T utility boxes

July 19, 2011 7:49:18 PM PDT
There was a major victory for AT&T in San Francisco Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors approved in a 6-5 vote the utility's plan to install hundreds of four-foot tall utility boxes throughout the city. Opponents had complained the boxes are eyesores. It will be the biggest upgrade for the utility in almost 100 years.

Do you want faster Internet speed, better phone service and improved cable? AT&&T says the answer lies with the utility boxes needed for its U-verse system. After a three year battle , the company will be allowed to place hundreds of the boxes on city sidewalks and public spaces.

"We have a number of applications already in the hopper if you will, so, including one cabinet that was already been built and was waiting to turn on, so we go the go-ahead today so we'll be looking to bring this out beginning very quickly to San Francisco residents and building it out over the next couple of years" AT&T spokesperson Marc Blakeman said.

The Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday that AT&T does not need an environmental impact review to upgrade its telecommunications network. So AT&T will begin with an initial rollout of 495 boxes and building to more than 700.

That is obscene for opponents, including neighborhood groups and environmental organizations that say the boxes are a blight that will clutter the landscape and become magnets for graffiti.

"It is going to put the blight of 726 utility boxes on our streets," San Francisco Beautiful spokesperson Milo Hanke said. "Utility boxes from AT&T that are ugly and in most instances we still believe they are unnecessary; they should be on private property."

Hanke says a lawsuit is not on the agenda, though opponents hope to come up with more compromises from AT&T. The company has said if a supervisor or a neighborhood adamantly opposes the installation, the boxes will not go in, but work will begin immediately in some areas.

Opponents say they may take the issue to the ballot.