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If having a siren warning system was a priority for the city after the 2017 Tubbs Fire, why doesn’t Calistoga have them already?  

It is my understanding that, even though our fire department was pursuing options using wooden utility poles and sirens, our previous city manager gave Illumination Technologies California (ITC) the green light to pursue formulating a new proposal to the city. ITC’s proposal shows massive, fake “cypress trees” topped with a 400-pound siren, that would also serve as potential cell towers.

There is no guarantee that any cell provider would even want to inhabit these towers (two spaces per tower). If cell coverage is an issue, providers should improve upon the two existing towers at the Fairgrounds. 

Because the CEO of ITC is also our mayor, the locations of these towers are limited to areas not owned by the city. Some of the original locations that were suggested for towers, were on city property, but then had to be moved. 

Don’t you wish the city could put up a siren at the Fairgrounds they just bought? The city can’t let ITC put them in, but the city could put it in or another cell service company. 

The cell service would be 4G not 5G just more old technology that is ugly. I have unlimited data on my phone that is fast already. This is not an upgrade. 

Beware of free gifts. 

Again, why hasn’t the city put in the sirens already? Wooden poles and sirens, the fire department in Calistoga should finish this project they started. Use the public right of way or city property for the best location of these sirens. 

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I’m hoping the city council will expedite the sirens to the next agenda. Fire season is on its way.

Ivan J. Miller

Calistoga 

Editor's note: The City of Calistoga responded with the following:

After the Tubbs Fire, the City of Calistoga and Napa County began the process of identifying siren manufacturers and possible locations as part of a more robust emergency warning system. During this process, the city was approached by Illuminations Technology and presented with the possibility of working together wherein Illuminations Technology would provide and install the poles or towers at their expense, purchase and install the sirens and donate them to the city. Illuminations Technology indicated they would then seek out telecom carriers to place equipment on or within the poles or towers to improve wireless coverage and to recover their cost of initial investment.  The city felt this was, potentially, a mutually beneficial proposition and encouraged Illuminations Technology to pursue the necessary approval process. 

The city and Illuminations Technology mutually understood that for Illuminations Technology to install their poles or towers on city-owned property (fee title), there would need to be some form of agreement but that pursuant to Government Code Sec. 1090, the city could not enter into a contract with Illuminations Technology because the mayor has a financial interest in Illuminations Technology. The city can, however, act in its regulatory capacity as long as the city official is recused, including by considering whether to issue a non-routine encroachment permit in the public right of way as provided in the Calistoga Municipal Code for the installation of the poles or towers. Although some of the initial locations identified by Illuminations Technology were on fee title property owned by the city,  Illuminations Technology resubmitted proposed locations that were within the public right-of-way so that city staff could review the request as a non-routine encroachment permit.

While awaiting the outcome of Illuminations Technology’s applications, the city is not actively engaged in the independent installation of stand-alone sirens. From our previous investigations, it appears that four sirens would provide adequate emergency warning coverage for the city. We are looking at costs and scheduling in the event a stand-alone design is determined to be the preferred course of action.    

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