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Sebastopol sued over cellphone antennas


A Sebastopol group that has fought to limit public exposure to radio waves is suing the city for approving additional antennas to an existing telecommunications tower behind City Hall.

The suit, brought by the EMF Safety Network, claims that the radio wave frequencies emitted by the new antennas will cause “immediate, severe and irreparable harm to the environment.”

The group seeks an injunction preventing Verizon and Crown Castle, an international wireless infrastructure firm, from doing the installation work. The suit also demands that the city’s approval of the project in December be voided.

“They’re not doing their job to protect public and environmental safety,” EMF Safety Network founder Sandi Maurer said of Sebastopol’s city leaders. “We are forced into doing it.”

The safety network has fought PG&E’s SmartMeters, downtown Sebastopol Wi-Fi and cellphone antennas.

The group fears that radio frequencies used to transmit data from SmartMeters, as well as electronic emissions from laptops, cell phones, TVs and other devices, can cause “electrical sensitivity” and health problems ranging from chronic fatigue, headaches and insomnia to heart ailments and cancer.

However, the group’s lawsuit, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, focuses on environmental concerns, and in particular, fears that the radio waves emitted by additional antennas at City Hall pose a threat to the wildlife, plants and fish of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a wetlands that has been proclaimed as having international significance.

Federal telecommunications law allows jurisdictions to consider the environmental impacts of radio waves but not health issues, so long as the emissions fall within FCC guidelines.

The city of Sebastopol claimed that work on the 106-foot tower is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because the changes are negligible.

The tower was erected in 1996 and includes both television and cellphone communications antennas. The new work calls for three additional antenna panels for Verizon to improve its cellphone coverage and ability to push more data to such devices as smartphones and tablets.

On Dec. 6, the City Council voted 2-2 to deny the safety network’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the project. The tie resulted in a green light for Verizon and Crown Castle.

Representatives of Crown Castle did not return a message seeking comment.

Mayor Guy Wilson, who voted to deny the safety network’s appeal, said Monday that he stands behind his vote.

“I don’t see an environmental risk,” he said. “I realize the EMF sees it differently. I respect that.”

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com.

10 Responses to “Sebastopol sued over cellphone antennas”

  1. Follower says:


    No. Because the NPR signals are allowed to roam freely through the void of the airwaves with no place to go, whereas the Limbaugh signals are being sucked up by all the millions of listeners.

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  2. Steveguy says:

    I have a physics question. Are Rush Limbaugh radio waves as dangerous as the NPR ones ?

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  3. Steveguy says:

    Maybe some Sebastopol clothing designer can come up with ” Faraday Cage” clothing.

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  4. Graeme Wellington says:

    To those of you stating the WHO is some kind of authoritative source, please refer to their report and tell us the proof they cited for their claims? Do they name a single case in all medical history where anyone proved they got cancer from a regular radio signal? How does the WHO account for the lack of any actual cases anywhere in the world during the hundred year history of radio broadcasting? What mechanism of injury did the WHO describe?

    Where is the Press Democrat’s science editor? Or physics consultant?

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  5. Social Dis-Ease says:

    This is the year that many people will open their minds, learn about things they can’t see, learn about information suppressed from them.

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  6. Kay Tokerud says:

    Fortunately, the previous commenters do not have any sensitivity issues. But others less fortunate do notice adverse health effects. Would it help you if you knew that the WHO, World Health Organization has classified electro magnetic waves as a class 2 carcinogen? How do you know that these individuals use cell phones? I know people that have moved out of cities to escape these electro magnetic waves. Smart meters can wreak havoc on some people’s health and many have moved from their homes because of them.

    I’m not surprised by the insensitive comments here though, as people are quick to judge others even though they may have no knowledge themselves about the issues.

    You would say they are hypochondriacs, as if they wanted to deliberately cry wolf and make false claims about being sick. I’m healthy enough to not notice any ill effects myself but a lot of people are suffering from various other illnesses that compromise their health and could make them far more susceptible to the effects from cell towers etc. There’s no need to further the suffering of these individuals by insulting them too.

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  7. Follower says:

    @Dee Dee

    Mine has a propeller on top blow away the solar radiation before it gets to my brain.
    I highly recommend it!

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  8. David Stubblebine says:

    What a colossal non-issue. There is no credible science to back any of this up. According to a conversation I had years ago with the chief of nuclear medicine at Stanford Medical Center, radiation (in whatever form) must be sufficient to actually heat the tissues before it MIGHT be harmful. Further, distance from the transmission source is an excellent defense against exposure since intensity is the inverse square of the distance. So, Honestly; how much actual harm can come from a transmitter that is about as powerful as a strong flashlight mounted on a 106 foot tower?

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  9. Graeme Wellington says:

    I’m looking forward to a “sensitive” getting on the witness stand and trying to prove he/she can tell when a transmitter of any type is in use – or proving damages were caused by radio waves.

    In the one hundred or so years of radio broadcasting, is there even one single case where someone proved they were harmed by radio?

    How exactly are they claiming the mechanism of injury here? How does a radio wave affect someone? They are sensitive to a smart meter but use a cell phone?

    Why is the Press Democrat printing this story uncritically? Don’t they have any writer who understands science and physics that can simply report the facts of this?

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  10. DeeDee says:

    Get out your tinfoil helmets, this is a dangerous new world.

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