Posted by Bob, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:04 am
This was a zoning issue. Not one person associated with the appeal brought up health issues. One person not associated with it did and Ronit Bryant correctly reminded everyone that the council was not allowed to consider that. At the conclusion of public input, in explaining her position, SHE cited health concerns, “freaking out” and then saying she believed the appeal was driven by health concerns. No one brought that up except her. Everyone followed the FCC rules with respect to that except her and then she had the audacity to put it on the appellants!
Then she went on to say that the appellants and supporters still have a “nice, desirable” neighborhood whose property values will not be affected. This comment appeared to be both condescending as well as jealousy-ridden, not just to myself but to others as well.
Ronit and Laura Macias both stated "I don't get it." True, they really didn't get it. John Inks paid lip service to the vast majority in the audience who supported the appellants saying how the city council needs to pay attention to its constituents, and then voted against them.
I came away with two conclusions: (1) the Zoning Administrator and City Attorney are woefully lacking in experience as well as a fundamental understanding of the 1996 Telecom Act and (2) our city council was not fully prepared to make a decision and do not understand that control over such matters still lies with local government.
While other cities are leading the way in being proactive to modify ordinances or at the very least really look into what this means for the residents in their cities before approving such sites, our city leaders and staff seem to prefer to address the issue when it becomes a problem and cower at the thought of the telecoms or FCC taking action against our city.
One can't help but wonder who this council (at least four of them) really represents.
Posted by Let's Get This Straight, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:40 am
Once and for all, FCC does not allow health concerns to be considered if the EMR is below the maximum allowed. Therefore, health concerns apparently were not raised because they were not allowed. This does not prove they are invalid.
If anyone is really interested in potential health effects, there are both independent studies and studies funded by the telecom industry. Decide for yourself.
But as an earlier post stated, the appeal was apparently based only on zoning issues. The health argument was a non-issue in this case.
Posted by Dr. Debra Greene, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:21 am
The fact that health issues were not allowed to be discussed at the meeting is a sad reflection of the multi-billion dollar wireless industry's power over U.S. citizens and U.S. law. The health dangers of wireless technologies, especially for children, are well documented.
Here are some respected resources: www.electromagnetichealth.org, www.magdahavas.com, www.bioinitiative.org. My website contains a free report on how you can protect yourself: www.YourEnergyMatters.com. For a YouTube video on household radiation dangers and solutions: Web Link
Posted by Dr. Collateral, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm Dr. Collateral is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Worried about microwave RF exposure? If so, you've got bigger problems to face than a cell tower To put the anticipated exposure in some perspective, here's a list of exposures from some common microwave sources that I forwarded to the city council last week.
50000: Allowable microwave oven leakage limit at 5 cm (~2 inches): FDA Web Link
10000: FCC maximum permissible exposure to microwave RF signals for the general population / uncontrolled exposure: FCC
22.2: Computer WiFi at 0.5 m (~2 feet): UK Health Protection Agency Web Link
12: Clearwire antenna array in Irvine, CA: Draft engineering report: Web Link
Still worried about the tower? I hope you didn't write your comment on a wirelessly networked laptop. Perhaps you should lobby for a city-wide ban on WiFi networks. Just think - your neighbors don't even have to leave a note on your door to start pumping out WiFi signals into the air and into your kids, much less go through a planning review.
Posted by A disappointed neighbor, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm
I am of course disappointed in the City Council, but not surprised. It's not being erected right over their house, so why should they care?
One thing is clear - the neighborhood's patience for this church and its bad neighborly ways should end. Something needs to be done now about the church's failure to address the speeding down our neighborhood streets by non-resident parents dropping kids off at Little Acorn School. Something needs to be done about the Sunday parking madness created by their rental agreement with the Open Door church. And something needs to be done about the church's willingness to bring substance abusers into a residential neighborhood with children, without taking a single step to ensure neighborhood safety. The cell tower is just the icing on the cake, but it should be proverbial straw that broke the camel's back and wakes this neighborhood up to its shenanigans.
Posted by Paul E, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm
The tower design has NO negative visual impact on the neighborhood and the church (which I attended as a child) can certainly use the rental income. I see no impediment except for a NIMBY attitude. Similar concerns were raised when Calpine built a natural gas fired power plant in my current neighborhood (Santa Teresa in San Jose). To this day there has been literally zero impact. Then again, if more local folk would attend and support the church, perhaps this whole thing would go away...
Posted by Bobbie, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm
It is amazing that the very same people who fear radiation from the antenna, comfortably use cellphones, cordless phones, wireless computers, routers, keyboards, mice, microwave ovens, garage door openers, to say nothing about our constant bombardment of EMF from satellites, broadcast antennas, police/fire/ambulances, etc, etc.
Posted by Lawbreaker, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm
Some of you just don't get it. It is not a health concern for everyone. It is a zoning issue. Some in city hall claim that the zoning ordinance is open to interpretation. In some areas it is, in others, it is not. The majority of the ordinance is clear as to what is and what isn't a permissible land use. The ordinance with respect to this is clear...it's not permissible.
The city, over the years with respect to issuing building permits, has made subjective decisions oftentimes based upon who the ZA is, who the applicant is and if it goes far enough, who the city attorney is. These fine people in city hall play games with semantics, having one city attorney claim any violation of code needs to be addressed and remedied, precedents make no difference. If it violates code, it needs to come down. The successor says the opposite, as it suits the city's position.
The ordinance should apply equally to all, whether you are a licensed contractor, a do-it-yourself home owner, a business owner, etc. If you are not going to follow your own ordinance, or are willing to change it so city staff can save face, just throw it out altogether.
It's a zoning issue. Not a single argument here has addressed that. It's always the same old story: those not opposed to the tower stick to health issues and mock those who have concerns. For me, it is about following your ordinance. Where is the argument against those who claim it violates the zoning ordinance?
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm Max Hauser is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Thank you Dr Collateral for the comparison data, though experience suggests it will do little good. If people simply did real homework on these situations -- research, as in openness to adapting your perceptions to data, rather than vice versa -- there would be no controversy, no rhetoric about innocent children, no recourse to "zoning issues" or any other gambits in support of what the same people earlier expressed as health concerns.
I trust the Mountain View Voice will be consistent, and henceforth pointedly use the same loaded term "radiation" whenever describing light bulbs, stoves, fireplaces, sunlight, etc., given that they are all sources of radiation in _precisely_ the same sense as radio emissions.
This is not to say there are no ill health effects caused by electromagnetic radiation. Rather, if you conclude that in fact this is a real danger, the question should really be what to do about the antennas already in place, and how much exposure you already have, even without the additional antenna.
Health issue aside, the City does have the final say in the interpretation of the building code and zoning laws. Interpretation of code is open to subjectivity and for better or worse, the City gets to have the last word.
Besides, hanging your hat on whether an antenna is allowed on residential vs commercial property is tenuous in this case, as that would not prevent a company from installing an antenna on the roof of Safeway at Miramonte to avoid the distinction. That's probably where the "reasonable person" qualification comes into play.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm
There are many things we are restrained from doing because they are illegal, immoral, or against social norms. And yet because we live in a civil society, we abide with these restraints accepting they are a prerequisite of living with others. Unlimited choice is not the preferable goal here, IMO.
Arguing with this stance also throws out the health concerns, as its no longer a question of whether something is hazardous to you, but whether you have total control how much you expose yourself.
And this still doesn't make much sense, because minimizing the exposure of 1 antenna does next to nothing when you have hundreds of other antennas currently around you that you also have no control over.
I'd also point out that your "choice" to not use a cellphone, wireless computer, router, microwave oven, or garage door opener in this day and age is really a "phantom" choice, since only the very fervent Luddites among us would ever swear off these items, nor would doing so protect you from exposure from those around you who continued to use these devices.
In the end, the "reasonable person" criteria applies. Anything can be taken to an extreme to cause a paranoia.
Posted by WireHead, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm
Wireless radiation = No problem
Do not pull your kids out of Little Acorn!
I have spent over 40 years working on transmitters at all frequencies. I am 78 years old and have no health problems. Been exposed to more microwave radiation than any cellphone user will ever encounter.
Posted by Dr. Collateral, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm Dr. Collateral is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
The zoning issue is a total smokescreen. The church sits in zone R1 - single family residence. Yet it's clearly not a single family residence (unless a house of G-d counts).
As for the notion that we must minimize imagined at well as real risks - where would you draw the line? This debate sits in the same category as the "vaccines cause autism" debate. On the the one side, an assertion that vaccines cause autism, backed up by a single, now refuted and discovered-to-be falsified study. On the other hand, a real increase in measles and whooping cough.
Finally, the "think of the children" argument. "Insidious tower"? I hope you don't take yourself or your kids to the city library, where dozens of WiFi laptops - unlicensed, no zoning review required! - are -each- lighting you up with double the amount of radiation you'll get out of the tower.
But it's not inflammatory to call it "radiation". That is, after all, what it is - radio frequency radiation. That reminds me - anyone here worry much about the bath of radio and TV signals we get? Did you know that the safe exposure limits for those frequencies are -lower- than for cellphone frequencies...?
Posted by Dr. Collateral, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm Dr. Collateral is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Last thing - of COURSE the council members don't live near the proposed tower. If they did (like Jac Siegel), they'd have to recuse themselves. I doubt you would prefer that nice new parks and resurfaced roads only ever show up near council members' front doors.
Posted by robertwilliams, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 7:18 am
WiMax is pulsed digital which is very different from AM and FM and television antenna. In South Africa, iBurst just removed a WiMax tower in the town of Fourways. An out of court settlement makes the plaintiffs silent on the issue as to why it was removed. Web Link
but the townspeople all complained that the tower was making them ill.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:57 am
"BTW, Luddites has become an overused term in the last few months, don't you think? I wouldn't raise even the slightest objection to its use, but it just doesn't apply here."
I disagree, as abstinence/rejection of technology because of a perceived danger from it is absolutely relevant to this discussion.
IMO, the primary resistance to this tower seems to stem from a misunderstanding/ignorance of the current facts pertaining to health concerns regarding electromagnetic radiation, preferring bias and irrational personal belief over established facts, and ignoring the existing exposures already out there.
I have children too, and would also be initially concerned if this antenna were close to their school. Its natural to be concerned. But to move forward requires an examination of what is truly known and what is conjecture.
It is the more reasonable choice to exercise the right to relocate the children, than it is to rail against code, zoning, and scientific data that has so far supported the notion that there is no danger at the exposure levels generated by this antenna.
However, if this is really a matter of life and death, move.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:28 am
"WiMax is pulsed digital which is very different from AM and FM and television antenna. In South Africa, iBurst just removed a WiMax tower in the town of Fourways. An out of court settlement makes the plaintiffs silent on the issue as to why it was removed...but the townspeople all complained that the tower was making them ill."
Reading the comments section of the article, it appears that the tower was taken down because it had been erected illegally, without proper notification to residents, and misrepresented by the company to the City.
This information was gleened from the documents that the company submitted to the City, in order to get permits, and as a public record, is exempt from the NDA.
There is no evidence that health issues played any part in the decision to remove the tower.
Posted by Dr. Collateral, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:45 am Dr. Collateral is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
I was joking about the radio and TV signals, to illustrate that people are fearful of the "new". I heard about people who resisted color TVs initially because they were worried about radiation. That 500 Terahertz radiation gets you every time. And it's -everywhere- that isn't under a rock.
You will note, however, that WiMAX and WiFi operate at in similar frequency spectra in the US.
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm
Lawbreaker wrote, "The majority of the ordinance is clear as to what is and what isn't a permissible land use. The ordinance with respect to this is clear...it's not permissible."
After watching the tape, it's not that clear since staff provided their reasonable argument which disagreed with the narrow interpretation of the appellants. Council agreed with staff. A simple reading of the ordinance allows the installation in R1. The other side argued like lawyers, asking for a limited and more complicated reading only because they wanted a way to support their arguments.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm
"Been here a long time, I'll stay, thanks. Although I wouldn't mind seeing a few smug individuals who seem to think they know more than they actually do move."
Ummm....my comment was made in reference to my preceding statement, regarding parents who have children at the church, and who feel strongly about perceived health issues at the school.
It would indeed be a simpler solution for parents to relocate their children to another school, then it would to prevent the antenna, and provide them a tangible outlet to communicate their position to the church.
You bring up an excellent point though, if indirectly...
This isn't about how much you think I know, or how smug you think I am. Its really about how much is known about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation, wireless specifically and on what basis people are against the proposed antenna.
Posted by Pretty Darn Clear, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm
It's odd how you'd say the other side argued like lawyers, as if it's some kind of insult in this context. Yes there are some funny lawyers jokes, but I must say a lawyer does seem well suited for interpreting... uh... laws. Last I checked, the ordinance is our city's laws. And our city government is charged with writing and enforcing law. But the Staff and Council Members demonstrated disdain for the regular process of city government.
Guess when you have had the gavel for so long you forget you're just a regular person. Tom Means acted as if "variance" were a dirty word, instead of a critical part of a legal process.
To the argument of "narrow interpretation"... The subsection is titled "Utilities" and then goes on to say "... erected by a public utility or public agency". Is it a "narrow interpretation" to require that an actual utility of some sort is the type of entity being covered under this subclause? Why should any private company get the same rights as a public utility? If Clearwire is a public utility, show it. If you're right, prove it. Otherwise you're just breaking the law, then changing it, and scapegoating "lawyers" to boot.
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm
I dont think anyone is breaking laws. Staff and council believe they followed the ordinance, they went with a different less narrow reading of an ordinance. The 3rd sentence under utilities was read as a separate point.
My disdain for lawyers is that they argue not based on what they really believe but what they want to prove. They argue based on an ambiguity when its convenient and and then ask for a limited interpretation when it suits them.
Your definition of public utility is too narrow. Are PG&E, SJ Water, Foothill Diposal, Google, ATT and Comcast public utilities? They provide public infrastructure, are private companies and regulated by govt. to provide services that require use of public space (land, air, water, etc). Some contract directly with the city and some directly with residents. Some individuals are even allowed to sell electricity back to PG&E. Seems to me a private firm can be a public utility.
Posted by Dr. Collateral, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm Dr. Collateral is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
@Dr. Collateral Damage: Yes, and if you look at the table of the study conclusions, several of published studies either omitted fluoride concentrations, or studied concentrations at up to ten times the recommended concentration in drinking water.
*I* believe that it's always possible to have too much of a good thing. You can even drink yourself to death on water: Web Link
Posted by LittleBit, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm
@Political Insider. There are standards that govern how laws are written, and interpreted. These standards are the rules of the game. Just as a referee doesn't get to change the rules of a sport, the city Staff, Council Members, and even City Attorney don't get to change the standards that apply how codes are to be read and interpreted. Specific words that have specific meanings are not open canvases for others to paint in with their desires. At least not in legal matters. Yes, there are areas where discretion and judgment factor in, but the matters at issue in this particular case are not ones of discretion.
For example Ronit Bryant doesn't "get to" interpret the last sentence as a stand alone exclusion that lives apart from the rest of the clause. A poll of Ronit's friends and neighbors don't "get to" define what a public utility is or isn't.
The Council relied heavily on the City Attorney's advice. Due diligence was scant. No one expected real guts or ethical fortitude out of this Council. Some did hope you'd at least follow the rules when they were pointed out to you. Guess we dreamed a dream too high.
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm
@ Littlebit "There are standards that govern how laws are written, and interpreted."
Not really. You missed the point that council gets to read the sentence and figure out what it meant by a reasonable person. She does get to read the sentence as a separate point. What standard or rule is violated other than noting it is poorly written. Even the appellants wanted a limited reading on another passage over what was meant by a comma. Both sides can provide reasonable inferences over what is meant by the ordinance and come to different reasonable conclusions.