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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Stop the Proposed Cell Tower in Downtown Boulder Creek
by Adam Burgess
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 1:04 PM
Verizon plans to build a 50 ft. tall "Monopine" cell tower at 13260 Big Basin Hwy (across from Mountain Mechanics behind Jonnies). This tower will not serve Boulder Creek, but will increase service for Northern Santa Cruz. All of downtown, Boulder Creek Elementary, as well as multiple day care facilities will be within the 1000ft radiation radius of the tower. Whether or not radiation is a concern for your family (or business), real estate values and the scenic beauty of Boulder Creek will be affected.

Verizon plans to build a 50 ft. tall "Monopine" cell tower at 13260 Big Basin Hwy (across from Mountain Mechanics behind Jonnies). This tower will not serve Boulder Creek, but will increase service for Northern Santa Cruz. All of downtown, Boulder Creek Elementary, as well as multiple day care facilities will be within the 1000ft radiation radius of the tower. Whether or not radiation is a concern for your family (or business), real estate values and the scenic beauty of Boulder Creek will be affected.

HOW CAN YOU OBJECT? (Time is running out FAST!):
1) Email Frank Barron (County Planning Department)
(831) 454-2530 pln782 [at] co.santa-cruz.ca.us
2) Call Bruce McPhereson (District Supervisor)
(831) 4542200 bruce.mcpherson [at] co.santa-cruz.ca.us
3) Call Chris and let him know how you feel about the tower
Chris Mountain Mechanics (Property Owner) (831) 338-3903

FRIDAY (JULY 19TH) 9 a.m. 5th floor 701 Ocean Street

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prevents any argument against cell towers due to health issues. So be prepared to build your argument around the damage to our scenic and historic town and its effects on our real estate values and local business.

With so many other potential sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains for a cell tower, there is no need to degrade our small historic town (and its delicate economy) with a tower whose purpose is to serve other parts of the county.

There are only 8 California Historical Landmarks in Santa Cruz County. One is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (#983) A symbol of the City of Santa Cruz's history and a crucial pull for tourism, commerce and a key element to its success as a flourishing beach atmosphere. Another is BIG BASIN REDWOODS STATE PARK (#827) in Boulder Creek. Similarly, people come from all over the world to visit Big Basin but it’s to experience the remote and tranquil beauty of one of the last groves of ancient redwoods in the world. Boulder Creek's economic viability depends greatly on the seasonal influx of tourists and the quality and authenticity of their experience visiting the host town of such a remarkable Historical Landmark. Boulder Creek and its residents take pride in the heritage and the authentic natural surroundings by which many of its businesses base their livelihoods on. Placing a 50' faux pine tree located the at opening of Big Basin Highway, the gateway to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park will not only be a gleaming eyesore but also an insult to the California Historical Landmark and an embarrassment to our town who proudly hosts the park. This massive fake Christmas tree will also overlook the Merry Brook Lodge, the last cluster of hotel cabins and only accommodation available before entering the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
The economy of Boulder Creek depends on adventurous couples, the health conscious, and families with young children from as far away as Japan, Germany, and Australia and as close as the Bay Area who enjoy hiking, camping, and wellness activities such as yoga, therapeutic massage and just escaping their world for something a bit more natural. Most of them stroll down our Historic Downtown admiring the authenticity of our shop fronts and architecture. They shop for antiques, rustic goods or organic foods while soaking in the sites and smells of the surrounding forests. After reading the historical name plaques in the shop windows on their stroll back to their cabins they'll soon pass the huge fake pine tree buzzing on the street corner and hunker into bed under its bluish-green metal pine needles wondering if driving that far is really worth sleeping under a cell phone tower.

Tourists ratings of their experience in Boulder Creek

- Boulder Creek is actually an easier town to walk than Felton because it has good sidewalks, and because there are curves in Hwy 9 at both ends of the downtown area, traffic comes to an abrupt slowdown as it cruises through town. There's a New Leaf Market, which stocks organic and sustainable groceries, a tradition bound lumber yard with plenty of redwood, several decent beer halls and sandwich shops, and a lot of boutique antique and import shops. I like just looking at the old architecture of town. The town origins in it's narrow gauge railroad station and lumber yard during the late 19th century are still evident in many places around town.
- "At the north end and one block to the east of this small mountain town, you'll find a great little semi-developed swimming hole , free to the public (like the old days)."..."Big Basin State Park is a very nice place to visit (just up the road) in what is left of the beautiful redwood forests that once covered this area."

“Solid place to escape from Silicon Valley for a weekend.”

The town has suffered immensely during the economical downturn. Shop owners and citizens alike have struggled to make ends meet as tourism has been hit hard in the past few years. Adding more insult to injury by building a cell phone tower in the heart of a town that depends on authentic natural beauty as part of its tourism industry is absolutely thoughtless and is already threatening to drive out several shop owners in search of new towns.

In February 2012 Sunset magazine voted Boulder Creek as one of the "Best Places to Live" under the category "Woodsy Dream Towns" quoting it as, "absurdly rural".

Others see the value in our pristine and historically natural community and envy our idyllic setting. Boulder Creek hosts loads of festivals and parades whose focus is on the towns intact natural beauty and small town vibe. All essential to promoting the local economy. Jeopardizing the livelihood of a towns who’s image is the selling point for a tower who’s service is not required in Boulder Creek is damaging to the community and its ability to prosper.

Remote or unpopulated areas in The Santa Cruz Mountains are abundant. There are so many other sites throughout the mountains for a potential site for a cell tower. There is absolutely no need to degrade our small historic town and its delicate economy for a tower whose purpose is to serve other parts of the county.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by D. Scruggs
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 3:35 PM
It is not clear what you mean by "not serve Boulder Creek". Can you expand on this. It does not make sense from a technical standpoint.

There is a dead area south of downtown. Are you saying it will not improve this area? Are you saying our phones will not hit the nearest tower?
by Mike Holmes
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 4:23 PM
A tower in Boulder Creek would not be able to be received in Santa Cruz. The radio waves will, of course, be able to be received by people with cell phones in Boulder Creek.
by SRay
Tuesday Jul 16th, 2013 2:44 PM
I am not pro-tower but this article and call to action seems to be lacking in data accuracy. If we are going to block something lets be a bit more honest in the data we are using to get people motivated.

As far as I can tell the reasons to block this are:

1. The monopine cell tower is ugly and takes away from downtown BC's natural beauty
2. Undetermined health risks. (not sure BCE is that close or if it would be exposed to any unspecified health risks) Please include any factual studies for Radiation dangers from Cell towers of this kind.

Reasons for:
1. If you are a Verizon customer, or whoever might lease the tower, then it should serve the whole northern SLV area.

Again, I'm not advocating the placing of such a tower in this area but I also detest information that is trying to manipulate emotions to get people to respond. Facts only please

by Rachel Wooster
Thursday Jul 18th, 2013 1:12 AM
I want to attend the meeting which is this Friday 7/19 at 9am. Where is it going to be, what is the address?

I also have been doing lots of reading today because of this article and would like to share with people some of my findings.

Images of what it might look like:
This image is of one that is 35 to 40 feet tall

Health issues, interesting article:

Cell Towers and Schools:
My main concern regarding this tower is that it is going to be 700 feet from the elementary school.

Interesting facts (I have found sited on many different sites and articles):
1995 - The California Public Utilities Commission advised cellular telephone companies not to build antennas near schools or hospitals.

1996 - Cellular towers have been banned on school property in San Francisco.
by From the Article
Thursday Jul 18th, 2013 1:19 AM
FRIDAY (JULY 19TH) 9 a.m., Board of Supervisors 5th floor, 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz
by Rachel Wooster
Thursday Jul 18th, 2013 1:25 AM
Disregard my question regarding the address, I was just getting confused because it is not listed on their main website as an upcoming meeting, will call tomorrow to confirm meeting time and day.

FRIDAY (JULY 19TH) 9 a.m. 5th floor 701 Ocean Street
by Lisa Robinson
Friday Jul 19th, 2013 8:58 AM
Grace Episcopal Church Building that houses the San Lorenzo Valley Museum is a National Register Building and as such is also a California Historical Resource.
by Micki
Friday Jul 19th, 2013 9:43 AM
Rachel, thank you for the links. As a new community member, I appreciate your activism so quickly. Beside the preschool and elementary school, I know that your family lives close to the 1000ft radius, let alone within the 2.5 mile radius quoted in studies. I also know that you would not have bought a home within that radius if the tower had been there when you moved in. The health issues are huge, but as a real estate agent I can tell you it will effect downtown prices and may even make a determination as to whether families even move to Boulder Creek, knowing their children will be spending hours a day, 9 months a year under the influence of this specter.
by Adam Burgess
Saturday Jul 20th, 2013 10:02 AM

Thankfully Friday's hearing went rather well. We were able to stay the decision until a few questions were answered for Wanda Williams the Director of Santa Cruz Planning. Several very important facts came to light from the hearing:

1) Frank Barron at Santa Cruz Planning has been giving out mis-information regarding the purpose of the tower. He has been telling the public it is to improve service to Boulder Creek and to remedy the service gap in Brookdale. This is NOT the reason for the proposed tower. (see #2)

2) Verizon announced and reiterated later in the meeting that the tower's purpose is to accommodate for a perceived need in the future. i.e. we don't need it.

3) Frank Barron and Verizon explained that after a 2 1/2 year "exhaustive search" they came to the only available location for the tower which happens to be in the heart of Boulder Creek. Santa Cruz's zoning for new cell towers requires co-locating before new locations are developed. When it was brought to their attention that there is currently a tower on Rebecca Drive the two reps looked at eachother puzzled. A resident later confirmed that they were not aware of the former GTE tower (now owned by Verizon). This site was discovered after 5 minutes on antennaesearch.com
by Lisa Robinson vi
Saturday Jul 20th, 2013 11:19 AM
From the Boulder Creek Insider.
by Adam Burgess
Saturday Jul 20th, 2013 12:30 PM
According to the Boulder Creek Insider website Chris Currier (property owner of proposed Verizon Cell Tower) has been talking to Verizon about abandoning the Cell Tower in the heart of Boulder Creek and they have agreed!
by Jack London
Sunday Jul 21st, 2013 3:07 PM
To claim that other places to locate a cell phone tower in the county in remote and unpopulated places still misses the point. The radiation that is emitted may not bother people still bothers wildlife and can disrupt animal life and other environmental issues. We may need to just not have any more cell phone towers in area at all.
by Christina Wise
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 11:51 AM
With credit to my colleague Peter Kraatz, I wanted to add some accurate information to the mix that is contrary to what's being said.

"Boulder Creek's economic viability depends greatly on the seasonal influx of tourists and the quality and authenticity of their experience visiting the host town of such a remarkable Historical Landmark."

1. Our town's economic viability is *augmented* by tourism, not reliant upon it. Let's not discount the locals who shop for groceries and gas, get their hair done, purchase gifts and prescriptions, take martial arts, eat dinner out, get their oil changed or start every day with a cup of coffee and a croissant. While tourism will ebb and flow, locals will continue to keep Boulder Creek humming just by sheer force of necessity. Tourism helps the bottom line, but it doesn't shape it.

2. What do tourists bring when they come to Boulder Creek? Money and cell phones. No matter what the proposed monopine tower looks like, it will be an essential component to continuing to boost our town's economy. Cell phone towers are crucial to commerce--not just for tourists who can't be separated from updating their every move on Facebook and Instagram, but for locals, many of whom rely on their cell phones during the chronic outages we experience every winter. Think about places like San Jose, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Seattle. What is one of the main components of their success? Thriving local commerce. And if you look up each of those cities online, you'll see an overwhelming number of cell towers plastered across those towns. Now, none of us want to LIVE in those cities--that's why we live in Boulder Creek. But a plethora of cell phone towers doesn't lead to a downturn in their economy--it kicks it up, because cell phone towers are a big part of successful commerce, thereby translating into increased revenue.

3. The quality and authenticity of a visit to Boulder Creek will not be upset by a monopine cell tower. Such an argument is laughable. I would suggest that the gutterpups who populate the sidewalk in front of Johnnie's and the gas station; the LaRouche radicals who plant themselves in front of New Leaf with an "Impeach Obama" table; the insolent skateboarders who litter the parking lot of the pizza place; the vacant, overgrown fenced lot where Stellini's used to sit; the house on the corner of Hwy 9 that is festooned with broken down cars and a Confederate flag, and the dilapidated houses and cabins that are one offense away from a Red Tag--THOSE are the things that will negatively affect a visitor's experience in Boulder Creek. Save the hype about a tower turning people away--that is just a crock. Heck--the very lot where the tower is planned to go is a mess of weeds, trash and vagrants. Installation of the tower and fencing around the property would improve the scenery there, not diminish it.

4. Finally, with the amount of accidents that happen on our local roadways, cell phones are an essential component to calling for help. Of all the arguments FOR a cell tower, I would say that the safety of everyone--locals and visitors alike--is the most important one.

"After reading the historical name plaques in the shop windows on their stroll back to their cabins they'll soon pass the huge fake pine tree buzzing on the street corner and hunker into bed under its bluish-green metal pine needles wondering if driving that far is really worth sleeping under a cell phone tower."

You should write children's books. Really--you have a gift for imaginative brain hysteria. Have you ever been to Lake Tahoe? Do you know how many cell towers are in the immediate Tahoe area? Nine. Nine cell towers. And for all of the people from all over the world that visit Lake Tahoe, I would bet my house that not ONE of those people will "hunker into bed" at night. No. They'll be grateful for the natural beauty and clean air, and will promptly pick up their phones to start documenting their trip via Facebook.

"The town has suffered immensely during the economical downturn. Shop owners and citizens alike have struggled to make ends meet as tourism has been hit hard in the past few years. Adding more insult to injury by building a cell phone tower in the heart of a town that depends on authentic natural beauty as part of its tourism industry is absolutely thoughtless and is already threatening to drive out several shop owners in search of new towns."

1. First, I'd like to see your citation as to how the economy of Boulder Creek has been altered for the worse in the past few years. Are you sure you live there? Rainbow's End was sold, revamped and is now more popular than ever. Boulder Creek Pizza and Pub has taken over the old Round Table and is doing GREAT business. There's a new martial arts school in Boulder Creek. BCRPD is doing amazing work by offering a wide variety of classes and activities for all ages, and we're just a few months away from getting our own radio station. If anything, I'd say we're rockin' better than we have in years.

2. The cell tower isn't threatening to drive out small business owners in town--ignorance is. People like Lizzie Fenton and Emelia Nahinu are fanning the flames of fear by spreading hysteria about radiation and cancer, even going so far as to be concerned for the health of a pet parrot. Who sits outside. Where there is sun. Which gives off--wait for it--radiation.

For additional information that relies more on truth than tin foil, you can visit Peter's blog here:


I could do this all day, and if someone responds to my post with a bunch of inane comments that begin with, "But cancer!!" I'll be sure and chime back in.
by Adam Burgess
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 9:40 PM
Just so those who are concerned are aware the tower application is still going through.

Yes I am a resident and property owner in Boulder Creek. Yes I am a father of two and work full time. I'm sorry you feel the need to continuously insult the residents of this town who share a different opinion to yours.

I know for a fact this town depends on a seasonal influx of tourism. I'm not sure if you live here but perhaps you've noticed in the winter there is nobody passing through town, restaurants are empty and the golf course loses money.

In the past year 4 businesses have shut down. Rainbows End is in a transitional state right now. I hope it prospers and commend them often on the improvements they are making.

Justin, who owns the Pizza Pub, told me the other day that he depends on good summers because winters are so slow.

Lizzie of Luminescence Spa is a very good-hearted person who has invested a lot into a wonderful business. For you to insult her, and her bird (who at this latitude gets fewer of the sun's rays than it would in its native equatorial habitat) is disheartening.

As far as threatening to drive out business. The Yoga Studio is leaving. As might two others that I don't feel in the position to say. So yes it is affecting the local businesses.

Its actually the little woodsy cabins that make this mountain town so interesting. Insulting those who live here again reflects deeply of your character. We all live different lives and for many uncontrollable or deliberate reasons we end up in different circumstances. If you are so appalled by your surroundings in Boulder Creek then perhaps its not the town for you.

As for the Tower. I'm merely asking Planning to co-locate the tower on one of the 8 existing sites in Boulder Creek as opposed to smack in the middle of town. If you had been following the facts of this application you would know that despite whatever you've heard from others
1) Verizon announced twice at the Cell Tower hearing that this was NOT to improve service to Boulder Creek or fix any service gap in Brookdale. It is to accommodate an anticipated non-voice data load in the future for 4G service.
2) Both their engineer, the Verizon rep and Frank at planning had no idea Boulder Creek already has a tower on Rebecca Drive
3) It is a bluish-green long needle Ponderosa Pine Tree that's going in. Not a redwood model because the company OnAir doesn't offer that model.
4) It will be surrounded by 3 very large 8 foot tall car-sized equipment and generators
5) These towers are essentially data billboards. The carriers build them for roughly $200-$300K and lease space to other carriers recouping most of the cost in one or two years.
6) Co-location is a zoning guideline for Santa Cruz County for new towers, there is also a moratorium of 300 feet from residential lots and schools. Frank has decided to waive them all for this application.
7) In town planning meetings we've discussed the future of that lot to accommodate for a park or town plaza much like Los Gatos.. unfortunately, unlike Los Gatos, there are some residents fighting adamantly for the tower to be placed directly in the middle of town for reasons I'm not entirely sure. For one to say the proposed site is just a pile of weeds and junk cars already so why not just throw a 50' cell tower on there its beyond me. Its such poor reasoning, which brings me to:
8) SC zoning guidelines for WCTs and FCC regulations ensure that once a tower is approved and placed it can be expanded vertically, more panels can be added and more towers can be co-located on the same parcel without having to have planning approval or any further regulations. That site is zoned for towers up to 87 feet. Again, I'm just trying to preserve the integrity of our historic town. I generally don't oppose development, I'd love to have a BC radio station and I tried to help the planning process for the Rec Center Application for the grant. But when it comes to deciding the long term future of a lot that could serve this community for decades to come I'd like to think that others would also rather not eat a sandwich or relax in the sun under a forest of 87' cell phone towers.
by drew fenton
Thursday Sep 19th, 2013 10:25 PM
My emailed comment to planner and supervisor 9/19/13:

I am unable to attend the hearing, please submit this as my testimony and comments in opposition to the approval of this project set for 9am hearing on Friday, sept 19.
Please hand a copy to Wanda Williams and allow the public access to these questions. I have not found the website to submit for everyone to read the comments. Will There be a continuance so we can determine how many opposed? Thank you,
DREW FENTON, Boulder creek

TO: Frank Barron (County Planning Department)
1) Necessity/Justification is lacking, and given that the ‘reasons’ to construct a cell tower keep changing (i.e., justification was to meet a need in Brookdale; justification that it would help dropped calls, another one was to increase data for smartphone users) Changing reasons mean necessity is still not disclosed. There is no reason to trust any new justification by applicants. I use Verizon service for the last 6 years and have NEVER had a dropped call or problems with my service.
2) overwhelming community opposition to the construction of the tower, this constitutes substantial evidence to support the denial (currently on Change.org It appears as if almost 600 signatures from residents oppose the tower at this cite.) (see AT VS.
3) Alternatives to location was not sought, there are SO MANY alternatives, why put us through this?
4) I first found out about this project when shopping a Jonny’s and in the parking lot, I noticed a sign on a fence at the site (yet a car was partially blocking it and I almost missed it.) It was a Notice of Proposed Development” The information wasn’t descriptive of the project or informing me where I could find out more information . I noticed some kinda flags that looked like they were trying to demonstrate how high a 50 foot point would be, and I could clearly tell it was not as high as 50 feet. Did anyone from the county have oversight to check to confirm what the actually height was?
5) I read in the newspaper that the application was pulled and confirmed by my supervisor’s office. I was relieved and did not prepare to oppose. Just several days ago I read in my Valley newspaper that it was going forward. This is unfair to use propaganda, lies, to the public to obtain approval for a permit (illegal and cheating.) Now I am rushing a response and not fair.
6) APPLICATION PAGE 2: GP land use designation is “C-S” (Service Commercial).
7) ZONING REPORT PAGE 2: The zone district is C-4, which cell phone towers are not included as one of the services or uses that may be offered. Defined by the county as: “C-4" Commercial Services Boat building, sales, and storage, nightclubs, bowling alleys, indoor theaters, flea markets, skating rinks, sports arenas, contractor’s shops, mini-storage buildings, automobile repair shops, contractors’ storage yards, shipping terminals, automobile sales, building materials yards, nurseries, feed and farm supply stores, and all allowed uses in the “M-1" zone with certain restrictions.”
8) ZONING REPORT PAGE 2: The site is within the RURAL SERVICES BOUNDRY lines. This is mapped by GIS Santa Cruz County. Request this be discussed.
9) ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION in ZONING REPORT is incorrect, A) Report claims “Existing Drainage Adequate” but county GIS mapping states there is a “Silt and grease inlet OBJECTID = 14593, SD_TYPE = Silt and Grease Inlet, DESCR = POOR COND, ODOR, FILLED WITH DEBRIS” B) geological hazards CLAIMED by the Zoning staff as “not mapped, no physical evidence on site.” Since when does someone claim a fault zone by sight?? when in fact the Ben Lomond fault runs diagonally across the general area within feet or through the parcel! Additionally, the Zayante fault is several blocks away. There are three faults that meet right near this location and must be discussed, analyzed by professionals
10) The site does not comply with Boulder Creeks general plan
11) The site is adjacent to FEMA flood zones, it should be up higher on a mountain ridge.
12) The approval should requires a vote of the residents who live in boulder creek.
13) Conflicts of interest have not been disclosed throughout process.
14) VISUAL IMPACTS ** IMPORTANT** Brings serious visual blight at the center junction of town intersection, is horrifying. It will be standing next to other redwood trees, and has the effect of bring much disrespect to our beautiful trees, it will make visitors from all over the world, go… “what WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE – There is something so MORALLY and FUNDAMENTALLY and PSYCOLOGICALLY WRONG with the visual comparison of the fake mono tree next to a 50 foot redwood tree. The visual impacts violate the GP “Public vistas from scenic roads, as designated in General Plan Section 5.10.10, shall be afforded the highest level of protection.”
15) *VERY IMPORTANT*** CUMULATIVE EFFECTs of all RF devices commonly used by the residents in this town and neighborhood is being ignored. Cumulative Effect of all RF devices that the public uses daily then added RF by tower must be disclosed is being avoided.
16) The report states CEQA exemption under category 3 exemption for “small structures” The cell tower is not considered a small structure. Additionally, the determination project exempt is made by an unqualified person. Please disclose the CV, qualifications, conflicts of interest of the person who made such determination in the report.
17) The DEVOPMENT PERMIT FINDINGS are assumptions and without any basis in fact. Page 6 under DEVEOPMENTAL PERMIT FINDINGS : a) The structure can never be consistent with a design that could be approved on any similarly sized lot in the vicinity because there is NOTHING like this proposed monstrocity anywhere near here. B) The proposed project is very inconsistent with the Town plan because it is not a commercial use that is ALLOWED as defined in the plan that can be located in the “commercial zone district” . Just because the tower is a commercial “thing” doesn’t mean it can be located in a commercial zone district. Justification, exemptions must be written, an amendment to plans must be made in order to allow this thing in the GP and Town plan.
18) Serious human and environmental hazards are not discussed. The effects of RF RADIATION is IGNORED, RF affects all life, including protected salmonid in our creeks, currently becoming extinct because of TIMBER HARVESTING in all HEADWATERS of boulder creek. Why are commercial entities destroying America? How can you be OK with yourself?
19) Trees are now dying from RF exposure: Trees are now dying mysteriously from a variety of diseases in urban areas all over Europe and are also showing abnormal photoperiodic responses. In addition, many have cancer-like growths under the bark (phloem nodules) and the bark may also split so that the underlying tissues become infected. All of these can be explained as being a result of weak radio-frequency radiation from mobile phones, their base stations, WiFi and similar sources of weak non-ionising radiation. But first let us look at how living organisms use electric currents that they generate themselves and which perform vital functions in their normal day-to-day metabolism and growth. We will then go on to see how weak electromagnetic fields can disrupt these and bring about many unwanted biological effects. By Andrew Golldswortthy,, PhD (article on line)