Mill Valley Blocks Small Cells Over Health Findings

By Michelle Robertson, September 11, 2018 | Adapted from this SF Gate article

Mill Valley has yet to receive a single proposal to deploy 4G or 5G so-called "Small Cell" towers within town limits. That has not stopped city officials from blocking the installations in residential areas altogether. Most telecommunications companies say that the future is 5G, but that future will not be coming to the residential zones in this upscale town in Marin County.

The Mill Valley City Council voted unanimously last week to block deployments of 4G and 5G towers in the city’s residential areas by activating an urgency ordinance. The legislation, which is active immediately, allows authorities to enact regulations protecting the health and safety of residents. San Anselmo and Ross have already adopted similar ordinances.

Mill Valley Mayor Stephanie Moulton-Peters told the Marin Independent Journal.

"The urgency ordinance has standards to limit and prohibit the installations of devices in residential neighborhoods, but there is more that we can do,"

The paper said residents from all over Marin "packed the council chambers" to urge officials to prevent cell phone companies from building 4G and 5G towers on utility and light piles in the city’s residential areas.The public’s opposition to the towers was supported by substantial information entered into the public record reporting, neurological, cardiac and other health problems, associated with exposures to RF electromagnetic microwave radiation (RF-EMR) at levels far below the outdated Federal RF-EMR exposure guidelines

According to the EMF Safety Network, the consequences of 24/7 exposures to RF microwave radiation include

  • DNA damage
  • Headaches
  • Learning and memory disorders
  • Sleep problems and fatigue
  • Melatonin suppression
  • Increased rates of heart and brain cancer

The group seeks to keep communities free of electromagnetic fields and wireless RF microwave radiation.

The 4G and 5G cell towers would enable faster and higher-capacity wireless data transmissions. These towers are called "Small Cells" by the Wireless industry, but are not small at all. Each can have equipment as large as 30-35 cubic feet (antennas, radios and power equipment), installed on or next to every targeted pole.

Though the telecommunications industry has vehemently denied links between health effects and antennae, scientists continue to publish peer-reviewed science that concludes harm from RF-EMR exposures.

In December, the California Department of Health issued guidelines recommending reducing exposure to radio frequency energy from mobile phones and infrastructure, from cordless phones and from Wireless Access Points and Wireless devices.

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith:i

"We know that simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican commissioners do not seem to read or appreciate the science. In March, the FCC enacted a new policy to make it easier for operators to deploy densified 4G and 5G infrastructure. The new rule removes federal oversight of some small cell deployments, removing obstacles outlined in the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. State and local regulations still apply, hence the efficacy of the Mill Valley ordinance, which is designed to thwart the FCC’s new rule.

Mill Valley will look into crafting a permanent ordinance later in the year.