Response to Press Democrat re: Santa Rosa Community Meetings on Cell Towers

2/24/18 Press Democrat article by Kevin McCallum, Feb 24, 2018; original article here. You can reach McCallum at 707-521-5207 or The following includes the text of the article and responsive comments from Scientists For Wired Technology (‘S4WT’).

PD: "The City of Santa Rosa and Verizon are holding a series of meetings in coming weeks to allay concerns about its network of 4G “small cell” wireless antenna equipment being installed on utility poles around the city."

S4WT Comment:

More accurately stated, the residents of Santa Rosa have legitimate problems with the installation of the 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell towers in Santa Rosa’s residential zones, not just "concerns that can be allayed with some education". There will need to be significant changes made to the current program to fix these problems.

PD: "The four joint Verizon/city meetings [and the single City of Santa Rosa study session] will take place:

  • Monday, Feb. 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 637 First St.
  • Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to noon at Veteran’s Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.
  • [Tuesday, March 6 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Santa Rosa City Council Study Session on 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell towers installed in residential zones, City Hall, 100 Santa Rosa Ave.]
  • Thursday, March 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.
  • Saturday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Veteran’s Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.

The City Council is also planning to hold a study session on Tuesday, March 6, beginning at 3 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Santa Rosa Ave to discuss the problems with the installation of the 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell towers installed in residential zones."

S4WT Comment:

It is extremely important that many, many Santa Rosa residents attend each of these meetings and bring evidence of how these cell towers will harm your neighborhoods. It is especially important to attend the Tuesday, March 6 City Council Study session. Read about the next steps for Santa Rosa residents.

PD: "Wireless provider Verizon has paused the rollout of its next-generation network in Santa Rosa to hold a series of public meetings aimed at educating residents about its new “small cell” wireless installations on utility poles, which have triggered health and aesthetic concerns among residents.

The city and the company have agreed to hold off on further installation of new equipment until four public informational meetings, starting this week, and a study session before the City Council."

S4WT Comment:

The public was told by the City of Santa Rosa the week of 2/12/18 that Verizon and its contractors would pause construction, but we have photo and video evidence that construction continued from 2/19/18 through 2/24/18. On the Presidents’ Day Holiday, contractors for PG&E earned double-time-and-a-half when they installed a 48 inch high, 14 inch diameter cylindrical antenna atop a PG&E Utility pole at 610 Los Alamos Rd./Scotland Dr. (Encroachment Permit EP17-0324). What’s the rush, Verizon? Getting as much installed as possible before you have to answer for this under-the-radar attempt to harm neighborhoods?

On 2/19/18 at 610 Los Alamos Rd., no Verizon or Nexius supervisor was on site at the time, which is a violation of the city’s Encroachment Permit. We have further evidence of replacment of Utility poles and installation of antennas at many sites around the city. See the photos below and an up-to-date cell tower installation list here.

In short, despite what the PD wrote on 2/24/18, construction is continuing around the city —
before during and after these long-overdue public meetings.

PD: "The pause comes in the wake of concerns and confusion about Verizon’s planned installation of up to 72 wireless antennas the company said it needs to boost the speed and reliability of its Santa Rosa network, which lags many other urban areas.

‘We really are interested in helping educate residents and hopefully make them feel better about what we are doing,’ said Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato."

S4WT Comment:

The public is not confused. The public is very clear how its rights have been violated by the current Verizon Cell Tower installations. The public has the right to participate in the design review process of Cell Towers per the City of Santa Rosa Wireless Municipal code Chapter 20-44. The installation of these first 10-15 Verizon 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell towers in Santa Rosa proceeded

  • without proof of a SIGNIFICANT GAP in Verizon coverage
  • without public hearings
  • without public participation in a design review
  • without alternate site analyses to consider the least intrusive means to close an alleged SIGNIFICANT GAP in coverage that doesn’t seem to exist
  • without sufficient public notification
  • without Verizon completing any environmental impact or CEQA study
  • without Verizon completing substantial professional RF Microwave Radiation exposure analyses for each cell tower

An effective way to address these substantial problems would be to install the smallest number of 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell towers only where a SIGNIFICANT GAP in coverage has been proven to exist and only on PG&E Utility poles in commercial zones — not in residential zones and not on any city-owned light poles or other city-owned street furniture. Of course, each installation should include public participation and provide the missing information, listed above.

PD: "Cellphone service in the county was widely disrupted in October, when a historic firestorm tore through the area and knocked out up to 70 towers, according to emergency officials.

But concerns about the Verizon equipment have been raised not only by residents but by City Council members and city staff. The city’s chief information officer, Eric McHenry, who has a background in the telecom industry and is the lead staffer on the project, said he was surprised by some of the equipment Verizon was placing on wooden utility poles.

The equipment was installed properly by the company’s subcontractor and according to the plans submitted to the city, but nevertheless caught him off guard, McHenry said.

‘They did not mislead us,’ he said. ‘It’s just we had never seen one of these go up before.’"

McHenry said he had been more focused on the equipment going up on the city-owned metal streetlights than on what was planned for the wooden “joint-use” utility poles around the city. The light poles are metal and hollow, allowing some of the wiring to be installed inside the pole and providing a cleaner look. But it was the first installation on wooden poles that caught people’s attention and raised concerns, ranging from unsightliness to fears of being exposed to high-frequency radio radiation.

At City Council meetings following a Press Democrat story in January about the issue, residents peppered the council with questions about how and why the project was approved, concerns about the health impacts and questions about whether the upgrades were really needed.

Victor Trione, chairman of the largest local bank, Luther Burbank Savings, told the council that while upgrading the cellular network is probably a good idea, he was surprised to learn one such array was slated for installation in front of his Proctor Terrace home.

‘We were not notified about this project,’ Trione said. ‘Having a facility like this 20 feet away from a bedroom is, I think, really problematic.’

S4WT Comment:

The City of Santa Rosa, summarily ignored Mr. Trione and scheduled construction of the 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell tower to commence in front of Mr. Trione’s home on Mar 2 — four days prior to the Mar 6 City Council study session.

View and listen to what the public said in the Jan/Feb Santa Rosa City Council meetings. The public did not present mere fears or concerns; the public presented substantial evidence proving that NO SIGNIFICANT GAP in coverage exists at the sites where Verizon wishes to install these 4G/5G so-called "Small Cell" cell towers in residential zones. The public also brought to the City Council the very Santa Rosa Municipal Code and Council Policy that Santa Rosa/Verizon/Nexius were violating by installing these cell towers without proper public process: no public design review, no public hearings and no public input.

The public also enterered into the public record substantial scientific and legal evidence that proves direct, immediate and long-term harm from 24/7/265 exposures to pulsed, data-modulated, RadioFrequency Microwave radiation and how the liability for these harms will be transferred to the City and its taxpayers, if this project continues, as-is.

PD: "McHenry said the city is working closely with Verizon to address questions being raised by residents and to make adjustments to the project where possible. For example, some of the equipment involves batteries installed in cabinets in the city’s right-of-way.

The batteries are designed to ensure the network keeps operating in the event of a power outage. Verizon prefers to include such backup power supplies whenever possible, and the city was open to the idea given how important cellular communication is to people’s lives generally and in emergencies in particular, McHenry said.

‘I think we would have done a disservice to our residents not to have looked for a way to get battery backups for the network,’ he said.

The city is exploring which locations may need backup power and whether the batteries, which were designed to run the small cells for up to four hours, need to be as large as they are, he said. No decisions have been made, but the company is ‘bending over backwards’ to work with the city on a solution, McHenry said.’"

S4WT Comment:

The public applauds the removal of these toxic, dangerous and unnecessary ancillary equipment boxes that can contain. apparently, whatever Verizon chooses to place there: NiCad or Li-Ion batteries, rectifiers, AC-to-DC converters, fiber to radio interfaces and more. A key question we must ask is what are the minimum and maximum power inputs/outputs for each cell tower and how energy-inefficient will it be to spray RF Microwave radiation into the neighborhoods 24/7/365? Verizon and the City have stalled in providing this information for over a month. Information received late on Fri 2/23/18 shows that the three Ericcson radios on each tower can output 400 Watts of power, but the antennas (both the 48" and 24" Amphenol antennas can accept 2200 Watts of input power). Why this mismatch? What future changes to these cell towers can we expect, once they go in?

Once this real estate is grabbed by Verizon, by Federal law, Verizon can repeatedly come back and increase each cell tower’s height by 10 feet, the width by 6 feet whenever they wish — without any public process or public input. This is why you want to protect neighborhoods right now — these cell towers would be a cancer in your neighborhood that could metastasize to grow in both number and volume.

“They are really interested in trying to make sure this is a successful rollout,” he said.

The four joint meetings will take the form of a “science fair” where residents can get information on a range of subjects, including permitting issues, implications for coverage and human health.

S4WT Comment:

To address these well-documented problems, members of the public have entered into the public record via email correspondence from 1/16/18 through 2/23/18, and in City Council meetings on 1/23/18, 1/30/18, 2/6/18 and 2/13/18. — substantial evidence of many problems, including:

  1. Video proof that NO SIGNIFICANT GAP in Verizon coverage exists in Santa Rosa where Verizon wishes to install these cell towers.
  2. A 1/18/18 California Public Records request has established that Verizon has not provided substantial evidence to prove that a SIGNIFICANT GAP in Verizon coverage exists; Verizon has the burden of proof to establish that a SIGNIFICANT GAP in coverage exists.
  3. Without proof of SIGNIFICANT GAP in coverage, Verizon has no basis to preempt local authority regarding the placement, construction and modification of cell towers in Santa Rosa.
  4. Santa Rosa has a duty under the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 to allow Verizon to close any proven SIGNIFICANT GAP in coverage via the least intrusive means and in a manner that is consistent with existing Santa Rosa Municipal Code.
  5. Coverage is not the same thing as capacity. Coverage is the ability to make a call or send a text. The ability to access the internet or stream video wirelessly is merely a commercial goal of Verizon’s. These commercial goals are not essential activities for which Verizon can preempt local authority.
  6. The City of Santa Rosa’s City Council members have taken oaths to uphold the US and CA constitutions. Therefore, they have the duty to protect Santa Rosa residents’ inalienable rights to privacy and safety, as guaranteed by the US and California constitutions.
  7. Fiber to the Premises (FTTP), as you can read here, is — by far — the best solution for Broadband Internet and Video in neighborhoods. FTTP is the fastest, most secure, most reliable and most energy-efficient way to stream Internet and 4k video data — many thousands of times more energy-efficient than streaming video data Wirelessly through the air, from the curb, as Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and others intend to do.