AT&T gains approval for new boxes in San Francisco

Persistence paid off for AT&T on Tuesday after a plan to install hundreds of 4-foot-high boxes around The City was approved.

In 2008, the telecommunications company proposed installing 850 boxes in San Francisco to bring customers digital TV, high-speed Internet and digital home-phone service. But it abandoned its effort amid opposition. The company returned with a scaled-down proposal to install 726 boxes.

The group San Francisco Beautiful appealed the proposal to the Board of Supervisors, arguing it requires an environmental review. The group said the boxes do not belong on city sidewalks, will only serve as graffiti magnets and could impede sidewalk traffic.

The board has repeatedly postponed a vote on the proposal since April as talks about a compromise continued. In a 6-5 vote Tuesday, the board backed the proposal. AT&T had reduced its installation plan to 495 boxes and agreed to show “great deference” to supervisors’ opinions about where to locate the boxes.

Supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos, Mark Farrell, Malia Cohen, Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu supported AT&T. Board President David Chiu and supervisors Jane Kim, Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos and Eric Mar opposed the plan.

IN OTHER ACTION

  • In an 11-0 vote, Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed $6.8 billion budget was approved after Supervisor Carmen Chu, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, led the process in previous weeks to make about $17 million in funding changes.
  • In an 11-0 vote, $170 million in borrowing was approved for seismic upgrades and repairs to the War Memorial Veterans Building.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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