SodaCanyonRoad | The Monopole on Soda Canyon Road

The Monopole on Soda Canyon Road
Bill Hocker | Aug 31, 2021 on: Fire Issues

Update 10/13/21
NVR 10/12/21: High-tech fire cameras to make Napa County debut

NVR 8/25/21: Napa County moves ahead with early wildfire detection system

8/24/21 BOS agenda and documents (page 10)
Napa County monopole project page

The phony-tree monopole that now graces the intersection of Soda Canyon Road and the Trail (soon to be joined by a fenced generator) will remain a vestige of an attempt to build a series of private communications towers with a public service function added: a siren and fire detection camera. The system was proposed by Illumation Technologies and its CEO Chris Canning, who is also the mayor of Calistoga. The installation would be free to the county in return for the use of public rights-of-way for the towers which would also be commercial cell phone towers.

The problem was that the initial proposal for 32 towers would ring the valley floor, where communication towers are easy to build and reach a large number of paying customers. But the warning system is really needed in the more expensive-to-build remote areas of the county where cell phone coverage is bad to non-existant and the number of people buying into the system would be small.

Following resident protest, and a cost benefit analysis on the part of the contractor, the monopole project was retooled and the county pushed ahead with an installation by the same contractor, of 3 "IQ Firewatch" cameras located on highpoints in the county similar to the Alert Wildfire North Bay mountaintop cameras.

Since there is no siren function and no intention to add to cell phone service, it is unclear how much more effective they would be in a fast moving event than the existing Alert WIldfire cameras. While we may be getting another camera on the Atlas Peak tower, the best solution to a wildfire warning system for areas like upper Soda Canyon Road that have no cell phone reception is a government commitment to provide cell phone service to all residents in the woefully underserved remote areas of the county.

Valery Wolfe LTE 7/16/21: A better approach on emergency warning system
NVR 6/6/21: Napa County takes deeper look at cell towers, early fire warning towers
NVR 5/25/20: Illumination Technologies pitches emergency sirens to Napa County