For Our Neighbors

Sutro Tower Inc. and the Twin Peaks Improvement Association, Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization and Midtown Terrace Neighborhood Association agreed in March 2015 to establish this dedicated web page with information about activity at Sutro Tower that could affect some nearby residents.

San Francisco Planning Commission approved in July 2019 the permits to install new TV antennas mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, and to strengthen certain structural elements of the tower. This work is continuing through 2020, though Bay Area stations have met nationwide go-live deadlines for “repacking” broadcast signals into a smaller portion of the radio frequency spectrum, as 30% of bandwidth previously used by TV stations is shifted to wireless.

As a condition of the repacking permit, Sutro Tower, Inc. will comply with building codes that include managing the forces of winds of more than 100 mph. The safest way to meet this requirement is to reduce the tower’s weight and lessen the wind forces. Therefore, Sutro Tower, Inc. has submitted a permit application to the San Francisco Planning Department to remove hundreds of siding panels from the structure’s legs by 2023 – creating “open truss legs” similar to the Eiffel Tower and most bridges

New Siding Project (pdf)

Sutro Tower’s 2020 maintenance includes the annual work on one of the tower’s legs –  the South leg  – as well as any maintenance identified as needed by the Structural Engineers who inspect the tower. The work includes scraping away old paint and rust and coating the steel with a high-quality epoxy paint, and replacing any bolts that identified as nearing the end of their useful life.

To minimize the noise impact on neighbors, tower workers use quieter tools as much as possible and use their louder heavy-duty air tools only when absolutely necessary in order to meet maintenance requirements.Louder noise from machinery and tools will be limited to the work hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and there will be no maintenance work on holiday weekends.

Sutro Tower Inc. has planted trees and shrubs between its building and the trail around the adjacent city reservoir. The landscaping, which includes new foliage both on Sutro Tower’s property and on city land that Sutro Tower planted and maintains, was developed in cooperation with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. In addition, translucent glass has been installed on some building ledges to shield some roof-mounted antennas from view from the trail. And portions of the Sutro Tower facility, and certain antennas, have been repainted to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Radio frequency radiation exposure limits set by the FCC are 50 times lower than any level found by numerous scientific studies to have any negative effect on health.  Emissions are measured regularly at 200 points within 1,000 feet of Sutro Tower. The most recent measurements, in 2018, showed radiation from Sutro Tower was 6% of the FCC limit at the point of maximum exposure under normal conditions.  When broadcasters use their auxiliary antennas, which are located lower on the tower than their primary antennas, the maximum radiation level can rise, but is never more than 15% of the FCC limit.  Sutro Tower will notify any resident in the Twin Peaks, Forest Knolls or Midtown Terrace neighborhoods who would like to be notified when Auxiliary Antennas are in use.

Click here for the results of the most recent R-F exposure measurements and the most recent structural inspections.

For inclusion on the auxiliary antenna activation email list, send an email with “Notice List” in the subject line to If you, or someone you know, do not have access to e-mail, and you would like a telephone call regarding operation of auxiliary antennas, please give us a call at 415-681-8851 to be added to our notification list.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sutro Tower Vice President Raul Velez at 415-213-7800, or email him at