June Marin IJ Readers Forum Letters
A. Letter to the Editor, June 5, 2021
Adapted from a letter by Roberta Anthes, San Rafael,CA
Local control of Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs) is Needed
I’m writing to encourage the town councils of Marin to oppose Senate Bill 556 which will be heard June 9 in the Local Government Committee and then move on to the Communications and Conveyance Committee. This bill essentially eliminates the authority of local elected officials in deploying Wireless Telecommunications Facilities in their respective towns and hands it to private, for-profit telecom companies.
Nearly all the towns in Marin, together with knowledgeable citizens, have spent considerable time and energy crafting wireless ordinances to comply with the federal law and still retained the powers inherent in that law. This bill does an “end run” around the intent of our local ordinances and the express desires of Marin residents.
I did not vote for my Assembly representatives to give away this power and allow telecoms to impose on the public wireless services they may not want or need in undesirable locations. I do not want wireless facilities next to my home, school, day-care center or playground. I don’t want them in fire-prone areas. Local elected officials should be making these decisions — not big Telecom companies.
Unlike private Telecoms, local officials do not have a profit motive. Instead, they are responsible for the well-being of their constituents. They are responsive to the needs of citizens to protect them from the harms of wireless radiation and the fire dangers created by overloaded utility poles. They are well aware that property values decrease with proximity to wireless facilities.
Marin town council members should protect the best interests of their constituents by preserving their own authority. They are the people we elected. They have the knowledge and civic motivation to deploy facilities in the safest manner with regard to the needs and well-being of their town residents.
Tell Assembly members to vote no on SB 556 (and its companion bills AB 537 & SB 378).
— Roberta J. Anthes, Fairfax
B. Letter to the Editor, June 9, 2021
Adapted from a letter by Vicki Sievers, San Rafael,CA
Keep local control of all wireless and cellular antenna construction.
Thank you to the IJ editors for printing the fine letter by Roberta Anthes (“Local control of wireless facilities is needed,” June 5).
It refers to Senate Bill 556, a grave threat to local control of cell antenna siting that is opposed by our state Sen. Mike McGuire. Assemblyman Marc Levine, however, has thrown our towns, cities and the public under the bus by voting yes last week on Assembly Bill 537. This bill, also a gift to the telecom industry, seeks to weaken local government’s ability to thoroughly review antenna permit applications.
Communities are best served when our local authorities, with public input, enforce regulations according to their own telecommunications policies crafted to ensure examination of public safety, including fire risk.
With 41 California counties in emergency drought conditions, fire risk mitigation should be uppermost in the minds of elected officials. The devastating 2007 Malibu Canyon fire was caused by poles overloaded wireless cellular equipment. Martin Pall, Washington State University professor of molecular biosciences, has implicated electromagnetic field sources as exacerbating the 2017 Santa Rosa wildfires.
I am surprised and disappointed by Levine’s vote. I hope he sees the error of his ways if SB 556 reaches the Assembly floor.
C. Letter to the Editor, June 10, 2021
Adapted from a letter by Jess Lerner, Fairfax, CA
Telecoms have no real interest in closing the Digital Divide
Senate Bill 556 would remove local power from our elected officials. It would prevent them from determining what is best for our communities, while placing that power directly in the hands of corporate entities for profit.
Many of our communities have worked hard on local ordinances to reflect our needs. We need our cities and towns to write letters today and call our State Senators and Assembly members to strongly oppose this bill and two others (AB 537 and SB 378), and stand with the League of California Cities in doing so.
Two other key problems are fire safety and the myth that SB 556 would somehow close the Digital Divide.
Fire safety is of utmost importance. It’s a life-and-death issue, but Telecoms don’t care — they want to force untested technology into our communities with no prerequisites for fire-safety checks. Their only goal is profit.
Simultaneously, Telcomes (and our state legislators doing their bidding) push this bill claiming it will help underserved communities. Shame on them and the elected officials for claiming this. They are using a social and racial justice platform to promote their agenda, when it would not be serving those communities’ best interests at all.
Telecoms have not been willing to make financial investments in the most underserved communities, and that has not changed. SB 556 does not address that. This bill takes the power away from the people and gives it to corporations.
D. Letter to the Editor, June 11, 2021
Adapted from a letter by Andy Peri, Fairfax, CA
Don’t take away local control of siting cell tower antennas.
During the past three years, dozens of Marin advocates worked closely with council members, the county Board of Supervisors and staff from many of Marin’s cities and towns to help create ordinances to protect Marin residents from an onslaught of a new generation of unnecessary wireless cellular antennas.
In many cases, these antennas are slated to be installed within one or two dozen feet from where we live (and where our children sleep). These antennas emit harmful microwave radiation.
All of the ordinances that were passed or updated during this time complied with federal law and while none provided 100% protection, some had good protections for children where they learn, play and receive medical care.
Ordinances also considered fire safety, density of wireless antennas, aesthetics, signal monitoring, noise, public participation, setbacks, protection of trees and public warning notifications.
State Bill 556 threatens to undermine all of this and everything our communities, our elected officials and our government staff worked so hard to create in order to protect our communities from the aggressive onslaught of wireless antennas by the big Telecom corporations.
I urge Marin’s elected officials to join the League of California Cities by making your voices heard in opposing this draconian bill that will undermine the ability of our towns and cities to properly self-govern. We can have excellent communications technology by simply expanding fiber optics to our homes and businesses. In fact, this is already happening in many of Marin’s towns and cities.
SB 556 is being marketed as having the purpose of closing the Digital Divide. It completely fails to do so. Instead it undermines the ability of elected officials to govern in a democratic manner.
E. Letter to the Editor, June 20, 2021
Adapted from a letter by Maggi Garloff, Santa Venetia, CA
Keep Local Control of Cell Antennas and Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs) of any size or any “G”
I was so encouraged by reading recent letters to the editor addressing concerns about corporate interests taking away local control of placement of wireless antennas and towers in Marin County.
As one of more nearly 4 million people in California who suffers from electromagnetic sensitivity, I can attest to the real health problems associated with exposure to toxic levels of RF Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR). As a result of my environmentally-induced condition, I use only wired technology in my home, and I have more than adequate speeds for my internet access.
Unfortunately, in January, I noted high RF-EMR levels in my own backyard. I learned that, in spite of ordinances limiting placement of new cell antennas, my neighborhood had so-called “upgrades” rolled out on already existing Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs). These new toxic emissions are easily measured with an RF meter.
All this year I have been robbed of my passion of gardening outdoors without being molested by high and hazardous amounts of wireless radiation, those usually associated with prolonged indoor exposure to cell phones and computers. I have also observed a marked reduction in the honey bee and small songbird populations in my yard.
Needless to say, I feel this situation demonstrates just how irresponsibly Telecom corporations have behaved in choosing economic interests ahead of community hazards and nuisances. I was never informed, nor warned about changes, so I have no information about the origins, locations or which carriers made the changes.
We are diminishing the quiet enjoyment of streets (and homes) which is adversely affecting our quality of life in our otherwise beautiful county. This is what local police powers are all about.
Not only do we need superior, more secure, more energy-efficient internet service by Fiber Optic direct to homes, we need to remove these toxic antennas that are scattered across the landscape.