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Sebastopol approves expansion of cellphone tower


After three hours of sometimes bitter debate about whether radio frequencies cause health problems, the Sebastopol City Council Tuesday allowed additional antennas to be added to an existing telecommunications tower behind City Hall.

The council in a 2-2 vote denied the appeal of the EMF Safety Network, a Sebastopol group that has vociferously fought PG&E’s SmartMeters, downtown Sebastopol Wi-Fi and cellphone antennas.

The motion to grant the appeal needed a majority to pass. Vice Mayor Michael Kyes and Councilwoman Sarah Gurney voted for it, Mayor Guy Wilson and Councilman Patrick Slayter opposed it and Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer was absent.

“It is a total disregard for public health to foist technology on us that ignores human physiology,” said Linda Berg of Sebastopol, who says that electromagnetic waves cause her severe health problems.

But supporters of the tower strongly deny there are health concerns associated with the planned improvements.

The owner of the tower, Crown Castle, plans to add three antenna panels for Verizon to improve its cellphone coverage and ability to push more data to such devices as smartphones and tablets.

William Hammett, a Sonoma telecommunications consultant with Hammett & Edison Inc., said the antennas are necessary to beef up the cellphone network in the Sebastopol area.

“This will dramatically increase the ability to serve customers in this area,” Hammett said.

Hammett also denied that it would be a health hazard, contending the emissions will be below FCC guidelines by a wide margin.

The 106-foot tower behind City Hall, erected in 1996, has both television and cellphone communications antennas.

Sebastopol councilmembers, some of whom were sympathetic to the EMF Safety Network, said the city was constrained by the federal Telecommunications Act. The law allows jurisdictions to consider environmental impacts, but not health issues, as long as the radio waves fall within FCC guidelines.

“We are confronted by a legal situation where this local jurisdiction is profoundly limited by what it can do taking environmental concerns into this matter,” said Wilson, a lawyer. “We are proceeding outside the law.”

The EMF Safety Network was asking the City Council to overturn the approval for the tower additions by the city Planning Commission, which also found the proposal did not need an environmental impact study.

The group contends the Planning Commission did not have correct information supplied by the tower owner. They also contend the radio transmissions could be harmful to the wildlife, fish and plants of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a wetlands that has been proclaimed as having international significance.

Sandi Maurer, founder of the EMF Safety Network, said the additions to the tower were not a minor change and that wetlands are an issue that can be used to grant the appeal.

However, health concerns were acknowledged by all sides as an issue that is disallowed for consideration by federal telecommunications law. It nevertheless was the the central topic in the three-hour public hearing.

Kyes said that all the studies on cellphone safety are inconclusive.

“To say that there is a threshold that is safe is beyond what is reasonable,” Kyes said.

Slayter said the council can only act on what may be the environmental impact on the laguna, which is uncertain.

“I wholeheartedly applaud the work done by the Safety Network, but all we have to look at tonight is what we have before us,” Slayter said.

13 Responses to “Sebastopol approves expansion of cellphone tower”

  1. nomacoma says:

    cancer!! why me?! where does this cancer come from? why can’t we figure out where it comes from and why is it disproportionately causing deaths in our society?

    What EMF? Hahaha …….you’re a bafoon! That’s just sensationalism. I get my science from TV and mainstream media! Dr OZ will tell me how to cure my cancer!

  2. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Follower, are you saying that cell phones put out more EMF than cell towers? Or is it just that we are closer to the phone? If phones are our biggest danger, it would make sense to have more towers, not fewer, to reduce the phone EMF strength…

  3. Follower says:

    It’s all about the levels.
    If all man made technology ceased today, we would still be exposed to EMF. So somewhere between natural EMF & sticking your head in a microwave oven exists a point, were EMF becomes harmful.
    Sutro tower? Sure, I’m there! I wouldn’t want to live anywhere near that turkey roaster. Cell site? Yeah OK, if you set one up in your bedroom to keep you warm at night!
    But if you have a Cell Tower a block away or even one on every block around your house you are NOT going to get exposed to enough EMF to harm you. And never mind the Smart Meter! That’s just laughable.
    What about Satellites? Seriously. Satellites rain EMF down upon us by the hundreds. Satellites radiate more RF than any cell site. Why isn’t THAT an “issue”?
    Because it’s hundreds or thousands of miles away?
    OK, so what’s the distance?
    In my bedroom?
    On the corner?
    The next town?
    Don’t you think you should know this before you try to argue the point?

    You’re getting fed a load of crap to try to scare you into supporting someone else’s agenda and that agenda has nothing to do with “the harmful effects of EMF”.
    Believe what you want to believe.

  4. Social Dis-Ease says:

    To follower:
    would you beleive they even gave me a driver’s license?

    Extended EMF exposure has consistantly been linked to:
    tumors, leukemia, birth defects, miscarriages, chronic fatigue, head aches, cataracts, heart problems, stress, nausea, chest pain, memory loss,
    and more.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of deciding which form of EMF exposure is worse or solely responsible, it’s ACCUMULATIVE.

    When my computer was near a common wall with a Smart Meter, it made me a little ‘amped-up’, like I had one too many cups of strong coffee.

    Wonder if all this exposure is associated with the escalating cancers manifesting in people?

    As the law suits roll in over Smart Meters I guess we’ll learn what these crazy voters are alleging too.

    What would possess me to try to bring such trivia to light?

    My bad.

  5. Follower says:

    Do you have any clue how many tens of thousands of watts of RF are being radiated from Sutro Tower?

    Comparing that to a smart meter or even a cell tower is like comparing the effects of an atom bomb to that of a firecracker.

    I don’t for ONE SECOND believe anyone is so sensitive to the occasional low power blip of data from a smart meter or even the constant low power radiation from a Cell Tower that they are effected in any way beyond psychologically.

    That said.. even psychological effects ARE REAL! But the solution isn’t to ban Smart Meters or Cell Towers.

  6. Social Dis-Ease says:

    the Sutro Tower Study has so much detrimental information regarding the effects to the neighbors you’d have to take a week off work to read it all.

    All kinds of cancers, luekemia, the numbers increase/decrease directly correlated with how far/long the neighbors lived in relationship to the tower.
    You can’t legally place a tower adjacent to a school.
    I personally know EMF sensitive people who have had their lives turned upside down, mainly from Smart Meters.

    I thought this was mainstream knowledge.

    The body of information on the harmful effects of EMF exposure is international and overwelming.

    I’m not a scientist, but I can read.

    Some people don’t beleive in anything they can’t see and touch.

  7. Follower says:

    Sometimes the ignorance of people is just astounding!
    The people protesting EMF have NO CLUE what the hell they’re talking about.
    They have NO IDEA how much RF is radiating all around them in their daily lives.

    I’ve never heard ANYONE complain about the transmitters all over every town & city used by the Public Works departments to monitor & control sewage flow & water pumps. THEY”RE EVERYWHERE! And they radiate FAR MORE RF than any cell tower or smart meter.

    Every time you walk into any large office building you are walking into a huge RF field created by the cellular repeaters, radio repeaters & WiFi all throughout the building making it possible to use cell phones, lap tops & the walki-talkies used by building maintenance, house keeping & security. Not to mention the same type of sewage & water monitor & control systems used by PW are used in these buildings.
    According to their “logic”, walking into one of these building would be like walking into a giant microwave oven.
    But of course it’s NOT!
    These people really need to keep their mouths shut and go read a friggin book!

    The thing that scares me the most about this entire issue is that THESE PEOPLE VOTE!

    Now if THAT doesn’t send chills up your spine maybe you don’t HAVE ONE!

  8. Money Grubber says:

    Social Disease:

    Tell us about the “devastating health effects” of the residents around Sutro tower in SF.

    Surely, you could mention a few facts.

    I knew one of the public health officers who ran the initial studies and he told me personally they found zero issues. But, you could update me if I’m outdated.

  9. Money Grubber says:

    Social Disease:

    I gave you the thumbs DOWN for the trendy/ childish & silly opener: “my bad.”

    How old are you?

  10. Social Dis-Ease says:

    My bad,
    didn’t know the strength of the antenna.
    However the effects of EMF, radiation, ‘dirty electricity’ will be on our radar more and more.
    Especially as the government tries to put the ‘Smart Grid’ into place.
    If the tower will inflict a fraction of the health effects that neighbors ajacent to the Sutro experienced,
    it’s worthy of our attention.
    What about our cell phones?
    They’re harmful too.
    Half a dozen times a day for a few minutes, and constant, and/or pulsating all day and night is another.

    Many are having issues with Smart Meters.
    Check Refuse Smart Meters. com

  11. rfMonkey says:

    Jack – good point – a few questions for those who are convinced of the harm:
    - How much power do you think is radiated from the sites?
    - What are the power levels at specific distances?
    - How much power do you think a cell phone radiates? Near a tower? Far away from a tower?
    Not easy questions to answer, and the answers aren’t straight forward. But you’d be surprised, I’m sure, to learn that the levels away from a tower are no where near what you probably think they are, and that the further from a tower your cell phone is, the more power it pumps out to reach the tower.
    Not to be impertinent, but, google that for some information. I doubt it will change your mind, but being armed with facts is far more powerful than opinion.

  12. brown act jack says:

    Surely you are not comparing a 100KW transmitter tower to a 500watt tower , are you.

    If you are worried about the radiation from the towers dont use your sell telephones as they may be more of a danger to you

  13. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Simply study the devastating health effects of those residents around the Sutro tower in S.F..
    Google it, very applicable here.