Voicing their anger at a plan to build a cellular telephone antenna on a neighborhood school, about 100 Granada Hills residents attended a meeting Wednesday night to blast the idea as ill-conceived.
"The very bottom line is, we don't want it," said Sharon Black, who with Arline Kaltenbach has led the opposition to L.A. Cellular's attempt to erect a 62-foot transmitter on the campus of Patrick Henry Middle School.
Jerrold Bushberg, a professor of radiation biology at UC Davis and a paid consultant, sought to dispel fears that such equipment is hazardous, citing conclusions by the American Cancer Society, the American National Standards Institute and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement.
"The weight of scientific opinion is that they are not carcinogenic," he said, though few in attendance seemed to accept that view.
"Why should I believe what the American Cancer Society tells me?" one woman demanded.
Other residents cited concerns about declining property values, visual blight and the potential for vandalism.
The debate now moves to the Los Angeles Office of Zoning Administration, which will hold a public hearing Monday on the company's application for a conditional-use permit to build the antenna. The hearing will begin at 2 p.m. at the Sherman Oaks Woman's Club, 4808 Kester Ave.
L.A. Cellular's Dan Hare said if approved, the transmitter would probably be operating by March. The site was selected to increase the capacity for mobile phone calls in the neighborhood, he said.
"The coverage in this area is very weak," he said. "The center of the area we're trying to cover is right in the vicinity of the school."
School board member Julie Korenstein, who also attended Wednesday's 2 1/2-hour meeting, vowed to add her support to those against the plan.
"I personally do not want to see this on one of my campuses," she said.