The Tower


The City of Vacaville is constructing up to a 60-foot telecommunications tower (Drake's Pt. Radio Tower) and adjacent building on the summit of the prominent Old Rocky Peak, along the high ridgeline just west of Brown's Valley Road. The tower will dramatically impact views in north Vacaville, erase all existing protection on the ridge facilitating additional telecom approval, and change forever the remote and scenic character of Old Rocky. If a cluster of cell tower follows, you can expect drastic impacts to property values.  Please read on to see why we think you should absolutely care about this! Sign up here for more information and updates.

You may have heard of this tower, and that it is "no big deal," "won't be visible," or is "essential" for City emergency communications. However, we believe it was substantially misrepresented on multiple levels. Furthermore, they are in direct and clear violation of the City's own municipal code on telecom, put there to protect views, aesthetics, and property values. You may have heard there are no alternatives to this site - that is patently false! Multiple alternatives, likely more affordable, have not been vetted. You may have also heard the City has gone through the appropriate review and necessary hearings of this project, but in truth, they did the bare minimum, if that! We agree the City's communication needs an upgrade, but we also maintain it can be achieved LEGALLY, and with far fewer impacts on our vistas and our open space, and without the risk of future telecom. 

CURRENT NEWS & UPDATES:  The City has informed the public as of February 7, 2019 they will install the tower. We recognize at this late stage we will not stop the City. However, we are calling them to account for what at one point may have been negligent misrepresentation, but what we now believe to be willful and likely fraudulent, as they continue to publish information regarding this tower they know to be false. A lawsuit is possible, as we do not believe the citizens of Vacaville should tolerate deceptive governance or behavior by our City officials. Stay tuned. See the false claims they have made, and the truth that counters them (click here to access our latest letter sent to City Council).

Please get on our mailing list and reach out. We are asking the City to respond to requests for three things: (1) follow through on their commitment to ways to mitigate the negative visual effects of this tower; (2) provide some legal protection for Old Rocky from future telecom development, since this project effectively erased all existing protections; and (3) revamp their public outreach process for projects, as they indicated they would do. Please click here to send a public message to the City on our blog, or let us know what Old Rocky has meant to you over the generations it has been a cherished open ridgeline and destination. You can also review what others have said through this fight; many of you have expressed some strong feelings about this matter!

What is it?
  • Up to a 60-foot tower visible for miles! Tower is 54.5' as designed and authorized to 60'. The design includes multiple cross beams, antennas, and microwave dishes. Per City code, the height is considered ground to highest point which include antennas. 
  • It will be READILY VISIBLE ON THE MOST PROMINENT PEAK in north Vacaville! It will extend 40' above existing summit vegetation. The City did not accurately disclose visual impacts, maintaining the tower would be unnoticeable and screened from view; their visual renderings were indecipherable. We've prepared more accurate renderings here. We've also recently floated balloons at the relevant elevations - click here.
  • Violates City ridgeline telecom placement regulations! Code requires co-location of towers, that they be unnoticeable to the public, not be on prominent points, screened by vegetation, and not silhouette. Does not check any of those boxes! This installation is NOT LEGAL!!! Doubt it? See for yourself - 14.09.125.070 and 090, click here.
  • OPENS THE DOOR TO A CLUSTER OF TOWERS ON OLD ROCKY! The City Code encourages telecom on existing towers (co-location) or where other telecom is already present. More towers will come, just as happened at the hilltop above Butcher Road! Our planning commission and council have already shown a propensity to permit towers on our elevated peaks, and if future trends in the California State Legislature continue, THEY MAY NOT HAVE ANY SAY! See https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB57. California considers telecom to be a statewide concern, not a municipal affair, and may soon wrest control of co-location or new tower location decisions from the City.
  • PROPERTY VALUES WILL GET IMPACTED! Studies show time and again that telecom towers reduce property values by up to 20% or more with 97% of people choosing not to live near telecom. A cluster of towers on Old Rocky would have widespread impacts in north Vacaville neighborhoods.
  • The tower and building will CHANGE FOREVER the character of a popular and well-loved hiking destination, where residents have gone for generations to take in the expansive views and brilliant sunsets.
  • The City short-circuited the environmental review. By stating that there was NO change in scenic views, and NO change in the character of the area, the City avoided a complete and comprehensive alternatives analysis, and full public involvement.
  • The project includes destruction of trails and an air-conditioned building on Old Rocky's summit, and may subject hikers to non-ionizing radiation.
  • If cell towers follow, they can subject residents up to 1000 feet away to non-ionizing radiation risks, which would encompass significant parts of Brown's Valley, Vine Street, and Vine Estates. While the jury is still out on the true risks, many are becoming concerned.
  • The City has been intent on this location for their emergency communication system for years, and the appeal of a site as prominent as Old Rocky is apparent. However, limited information on the City's process to select this site, and comprehensive evaluation of alternatives, has generally been unavailable. While we fully and completely support emergency communication for our police and fire, we feel most residents would gladly see the City pay more to avoid developing our last clear ridgeline and do this legally, protecting our property values. This especially when only a handful of neighborhoods (e.g. Cheyenne) are driving the need for this. 
Overall, this project will result in substantial quality of life and property value impacts throughout neighborhoods in north Vacaville and degrade public open space and a prominent peak. WE URGE YOU TO GET INVOLVED!  If you are with us, please sign up here! We can stop this, but only if united.

HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK THE CITY!
1. Why wasn't the public engaged? Only a small handful of residents were notified, and the public hearing was posted at a back utility entrance to the Open Space.
2. What viable alternatives were investigated, costed, and what were their limitations? The last time the City published an alternatives analysis was 2005, now obsolete. This site has been front and center since.
3. Why are you violating your own regulations on locating towers, when they are there specifically to protect my views and property values? The code requires towers be unnoticeable and not be located on prominent points.
4. Why does it need to be 60' tall? We are trying to communicate within Vacaville, not a national forest.
5. How could you reasonably conclude it would have NO impacts on views? The tower will be visible throughout north Vacaville, and will tower over some locations on Vine St., North Vine St., and many locations in Brown's Valley.
6. How could you conclude it would have NO impact on the open space? The trail has already been destroyed, and the building and tower will degrade Old Rocky's open summit forever!

Please click here for some actions you can take now, and sign up here so we can inform you on progress of what we are doing as a group.

The City has been intent on this one location for years, and they are not likely to back down. However, we do intend to pressure them to act legally and more responsibly in abiding by the telecom code, engaging the public, accurately disclosing the impacts, and mitigating those impacts. We urge you to join us in challenging the current implementation. Here is what we are asking.