Lawsuit filed over AT&T boxes in San Francisco

Community groups in San Francisco filed a lawsuit Wednesday to top AT & T from installing 726 4-foot by 4-foot utility boxes.

The telecommunication company plans to install the boxes throughout San Francisco as it has done in other California cities to establish its new technology known as U-Verse, which would bring competition to cable provider Comcast.

The plan was approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but now there is the backlash from the community groups, which are being led by San Francisco Beautiful, a nonprofit group fighting to preserve The City’s natural beauty.

The lawsuit argues AT & T must undergo an environmental review before installing the boxes. The Board of Supervisors had voted last month that the company did not have to do the study before moving forward.  Such a study is required under a state law known as the California Environmental Quality Act if a project is thought to have a significant impact on the environment. It would assess the impacts and recommend ways to mitigate them.

The lawsuit also requests that the court prevent AT & T from installing any utility boxes while the case is in the courts.

“We really don’t want to sue, but we are left no choice when the City refuses to uphold its own environmental codes and is about to give away our sidewalks for the benefit of a private company without any objective review,” Milo Hanke, past President of San Francisco Beautiful, said in a statement. “We are confident that an Environmental Impact Report will advance commonsense mitigation methods, such as placing the equipment on private property.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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