Los Angeles City Council members yesterday voted to approve the use of 19 city-owned police stations as the location of cell sites for the amended Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) public-safety LTE proposal. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is expected to restart the project—suspended by NTIA since April 3—next week, according to the approved special motion.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County board voted to support the LA-RICS corrective action plan that NTIA must approve before the suspension on the project is lifted. NTIA, which administers the key federal grant associated with the project, previously stated that it also needed LA City Council support to lift the suspension. That support came in the form of a special motion approved by a 14-0 vote.

“The Department of Commerce has requested City Council action consistent with the county action by Monday, April 20, in order to assure that the project move forward,” according to a statement made before the motion was considered.

In approving the new LA-RICS LTE proposal, the LA City Council also approved the inclusion of LTE cell sites being deployed at 19 city police stations, which means the new plan includes 83 cell sites—less than half the 177 cell sites in the LA-RICS network design that was undermined by opposition votes from elected officials from the county and the city more than two weeks ago.

Problems with the LA-RICS surfaced when a local firefighters union led a public campaign that claimed the RF emissions from the LTE towers being installed at city and county fire stations would create health dangers for the firefighters at those stations. No fire stations will host LTE cell sites under the new LA-RICS proposal.

“We’ve already eliminated the fire stations, because of the geographical constraints, in terms of the footprint of those,” Councilman Mitch Englander said during the meeting, which was webcast. “Most of them—a lot of them—don’t have communications towers on them already, unlike police stations that have existing equipment and much greater footprints. There’s a lot more area to mitigate and work around a police station, particularly because they have large parking lots.

“They also have the infrastructure already in place at every police station, versus the fire stations—that’s what this really addresses.”

Councilman Bob Blumenfield thanked Englander for his efforts and expressed support for the motion, which included an amendment that alternatives for a proposed San Vicente Peak cell site be considered.

“Not only is this a tremendous amount of federal money, but what’s at stake here is an interoperable communications system for emergency situations,” Blumenfield said. “We’ve been told in the past that one of the problems that happens is that police departments can’t communicate to other departments, etc. This is a major federal grant to allow us to improve our communication that will help with public safety and will help with emergency situations.”