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objection to AT&T Permit Application for Surface Mounted Facilities in San Francisco

AT&T sent me a letter informing me they would be placing a large box on my street. Something like this:

surface mounted facility

I was offered a chance to give my feedback to the city of San Francisco - here's my letter, dated 3 March 2014:

Hello San Francisco Department of Public Works -

I live near the proposed location for the [redacted] street Surface Mounted Facilities. I wish to submit an objection to AT&T's Permit Application.

I wasn't able to attend the 13 January 2014 hearing on the AT&T boxes, but I watched it over SFGov online streaming. After reading the note from AT&T, and watching the hearing, I would like to register these objections to the cable box:

During the hearing an AT&T representative said AT&T expects each of their employees to take responsibility for graffiti abatement. But a former AT&T technician stood up at the same hearing to observe that the people working on those boxes for AT&T do not remove graffiti.

I was left believing that AT&T will not be accountable for keeping this box graffiti-free in a timely fashion. Since this is a neighborhood with some lively young folks who practice street art-making, I want proof that AT&T is ready to manage this issue before we put a potential graffiti billboard up on this block.

I corresponded with AT&T to see if they could instead have a mural on the box, to support local artists, reflect the community, and avoid a blank canvas for graffiti tags. AT&T replied that the SMF boxes they use can not be painted since they get too hot inside. That seems like an obstacle they could tackle, especially after seeing something like Mona Caron's "Manifestation" painting on a similar box near the big Safeway on Market:

If AT&T is correct, and their boxes can't handle paint for a mural, and also can't be spraypainted, or markered, or scratched, well that would be an urban miracle. There's a tree on our street with a graffiti tag on it, so I expect this box would soon be somehow decorated. Whatever resistant material they have come up with. I don't want to be calling AT&T to ask them to be a good neighbor when the box is invariably targeted.

If I used AT&T for TV or internet, I might be more eager to have them install this hardware in the neighborhood. Instead I get my internet through, a local San Francisco wireless internet service provider. Monkeybrains doesn't need these giant boxes installed on neighborhood streetcorners to bring good, inexpensive internet service: they offer 30 megabits per second for $35 a month; similar service from AT&T costs about $55. I think I know why AT&T might cost more; they have to subsidize the direct mail solicitations they send me each week asking me to sign up for their expensive service.

If AT&T can prove that they are going to do something beautiful with that box, like incorporating local artists to decorate and avoid graffiti, and if they can explain how I might have a huge increase in my home internet speed for less money than Monkeybrains, I might be interested. Instead I feel like AT&T has made a 20th century proposal in a 21st century town and I don't want to give them permission to add something to the street that doesn't seem necessary or community-enhancing.

Thanks for your consideration,



Thanks Steve Rhodes - from @tigerbeat on Instagram
June 2012 dancing in the streets of San Francisco with Ilyse Magy, photo thanks Steve Rhodes on instagram!

Hi, I'm Justin Hall and this here is a personal web site I've used to chronicle my time on earth since 1994. The content on the front page is relatively recent; if you search through the archives, you'll find old pieces of Justin. Some folks have indexed my doings on Wikipedia.

Twitter: jah
Facebook: Justinreach

eBooks by Justin Hall

I've published books for sale, somewhere else online! Behold:

Now available for the Kindle: A Story of GameLayers. My experience being CEO of a tech company, 2007-2009:

"A tell-all story of a startup from the very beginning, with lots of info about real-world fundraising. A more intimate look than you'll find in other business reads." says Irene Polnyi in a 5-star review on

A Story of GameLayers, for the Amazon Kindle.