What would you give up for better cell service? Maybe you’d be willing to pay a little extra a month, but what about sacrificing your neighborhood’s sidewalks?
A Houston city council member says that’s exactly what Houstonians are being forced to do after the passage of Senate Bill 1004.
“My issue with this whole situation is there doesn’t seem to be enough thought put into it,” said council member Brenda Stardig.
She says the law allowed the construction of several network nodes, which look like large utility poles, along Kempwood Drive in the Spring Branch area.
“I see a lot of things when I go to site visits. But I couldn’t believe what I saw when I saw this. In the middle of the sidewalk, this huge pole,” Stardig said.
Neighbor Shane Bouldin walks along Kempwood often and calls the poles “an eyesore.”
“They’re in the way. If you’re walking down the street, you either have to walk in the mud or you have to walk on the edge of the street to get to where you’re going,” Bouldin said.
Once installation is complete, the company that owns the node will pay the city to re-route pedestrians.
Stardig and neighbors worry that could be dangerous.
“We’re pushing foot traffic or wheelchair traffic or stroller traffic next to a busy street,” Stardig said.
The District A representative says the city anticipates 1,500 similar towers will be built in Houston. Stardig tweeted about the situation, even tagging Governor Greg Abbott. She hopes the legislature can re-evaluate the bill.
“This needs to be re-thought. It needs some further restrictions or guidelines put in place,” she said.
Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, says the issues along Kempwood can’t be attributed to the new law.
“It hasn’t even gone into effect yet, so whatever the issue is can’t possibly be because of Senate Bill 1004,” he said, adding, “This is a long-term beneficial thing for people using that network node, the taxpayers. We thought it was a good thing.”
Stardig’s staff say they are now trying to figure out which company owns the new towers and get answers about why they’re going up now.