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Pasadena agrees to AT&T cable boxes

The 165 street-side utility cabinets will be installed throughout the city despite protests from residents.

June 20, 2008|Joanna Lin | Times Staff Writer

After months of negotiations, the Pasadena City Council has signed off on plans that will allow AT&T to install 165 cable television and Internet equipment cabinets throughout the city.

Although some residents have described the 4-foot-tall cabinets as eyesores -- they look like municipal utility boxes -- city and company officials say the deal will give consumers more options for cable and Internet service. Currently, Pasadena offers only one cable service, Charter Communications.

The deal caps more than five months of negotiations in which the appearance and placement of the cabinets were key issues.

Among the conditions that AT&T agreed to were restrictions on where cable cabinets can be installed.

They cannot be placed within 10 feet of a driveway, for example, and AT&T must use landscaping to hide the boxes where possible.

The company "technically didn't have to agree to any conditions," said interim City Manager Bernard Melekian. "So we're very pleased with the attitude they took."

Despite those conditions, some residents remain concerned about the cabinets, which are part of a service AT&T calls U-Verse.

"We're calling it the AT&T U-Adverse box because it's going to have adverse effects on our neighborhood," resident Bob Kneisel told City Council members Monday.

"What we see on the screen is not the only thing we're interested in," he said.

"We're interested in what we see on the street too. And we don't want to see these things on the street in front of your house."

But under conditions set by the city, it is unlikely that any cabinets will be installed in front of homes, Melekian said.

"Once the public realizes we're not going to plop these down in front of people's houses, it will go much more smoothly," he said.

The city must issue permits for all 165 cabinets AT&T installs, he said.

Ideally, Melekian said, cabinets will be placed next to commercial properties, in alleyways or in areas where they blend in with existing structures.

They also must be installed within 350 feet of AT&T's 250 existing phone service cabinets.

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joanna.lin@latimes.com

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