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Letter from Nealon Neighbors Against Cell Towers (NNACT): Opposing T-Mobile's Application for a Cell Tower in Nealon Park

From: Joshua Hart <joshuanoahhart_at_(domain_name_was_removed)>
Date: Fri, 27 May 2011 15:18:27 -0700


May 27th, 2011

Menlo Park City Council/ Planning Commission

701 Laurel St.

Menlo Park, CA 94025

[sent via e-mail]

Dear Councilmembers/ Planning Commissioners,

I am writing to you on behalf of a new organization we have established-  Neighbors Against Cell Towers (NNACT). We have been canvassing the area surrounding Nealon Park speaking with our neighbors over the last few weeks and we have found nearly unanimous opposition to the proposed facility in the neighborhood, even among T-Mobile customers who report adequate reception in the area, raising questions about the need for such a facility in the first place.

I personally grew up in Menlo Park, and attended Menlo Atherton High School. I have taught traffic safety courses here and been a contributing member of the community for many years. My mother has lived in the same apartment on Roble Ave. for over 20 years. *I am writing on behalf of NNACT to strongly oppose T-Mobile’s application to install a cell tower in Nealon Park.* We believe this is an inappropriate and unnecessary location for a new cell tower, for a number of reasons that are outlined below.

Although local governments are restricted by section 704 of the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act from rejecting proposed cell sites based on environmental or health issues, *you do have the legal right to reject a proposed site based on other concerns such as property values, aesthetics, site appropriateness or lack of any demonstrated gap in wireless coverage*. I urge you to carefully consider the evidence for such impacts before making a decision on this application by T-Mobile.

You not only have the authority to reject this application based on a number of issues outside of potential health threats, the city council also has the right to join petitions opposing the restrictive language in Section 704, as many other cities and counties have done nationwide, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Santa Barbara, and many others.[1]<#_ftn1> The CA Constitution grants local governments many rights, including protecting the health and safety of local residents, and we urge you to exercise these rights and live up to your responsibilities to defend the interests, safety and welfare of the residents of Menlo Park.

We urge you to reject this application, and move with haste to approve guidelines to manage the flood of wireless facility applications that are coming to Menlo Park. Menlo Park- like Alameda and may other cities have done- must adopt a sensible wireless ordinance that puts residents of the city first. Cell towers do not belong in residential neighbourhoods. They especially do not belong in parks, particularly parks containing nursery schools and senior centers.

Following are the categories of impact we feel you should consider before making a decision on this application:

Commercial Use of City Open Space

Allowing a commercial installation in the middle of Nealon Park will set a precedent. The tower would be a commercial, for profit facility in the center of one of the City’s most significant public recreational open spaces. The park is heavily used by ball players, visitors to Little House and pre-schoolers attending Menlo Atherton Nursery. Nealon Park is surrounded by some of the densest housing stock in Menlo Park. We assert that such a commercial use of our prized open space is inappropriate, unnecessary, and may lead to the further unwelcome privatization and commercialization of our public open spaces.

*Effect on Property Values*

There are a number of studies[2] <#_ftn2> that show decreases in property values in residential areas surrounding a cell tower- in some cases as much as 25% loss of value. This is a very real effect that Menlo Park Planning Commission and City Council must weigh while considering this application by T-Mobile. While in the short term the City might make money from the company for allowing the tower, this might very well be offset by disproportionate financial losses for homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood- leading to reduced property tax revenue for the city.

*Health Research and Risks*

Large institutions with a responsibility for human health and wellbeing already admit that there are likely health problems associated with EMF exposure. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) classifies EMF radiation as a hazardous substance. NIEHS advocates prudent avoidance of EMF in the workplace.[3] <#_ftn3> The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) has passed a resolution formally opposing the siting of cell towers on top of- or near- fire stations because of concerns about health damage to fire fighters.[4] <#_ftn4> Why would we want to take the risk with preschoolers?

Particularly of late, there has been a vociferous debate about the safety and health effects of wireless technology. The recent Interphone study, a 10-year international study on the safety of cell phones, identified a connection between cell phone use and glioma brain tumors.[5] <#_ftn5> This was one of many studies that convinced the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass the “cell phone right-to-know” legislation last June, mandating that wireless retailers within city limits advertise the radiation levels of cell phones at the point of sale.[6] <#_ftn6> In response to this very mild law, the wireless industry cancelled their annual conference in San Francisco and denounced the legislation. In addition, the powerful and influential Council of Europe recently voted to recommend that Wi-fi and cell phones be banned from classrooms[7] <#_ftn7>, citing the particular vulnerability of children’s developing brains and bodies. They also recommended that all wireless devices have mandatory warning labels. These recommendations are based on expert scientific testimony and are expected to be taken up by individual European governments over the next several months. In addition, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is currently considering categorizing wireless, non-ionizing radiation of the type emitted by cell phone towers as a carcinogen.[8] <#_ftn8>

There are literally thousands of studies that raise concerns about the health impacts from electromagnetic fields (EMF’s). Many of these are detailed on the EMF Safety Network site.[9] <#_ftn9> Although the science is far from certain, we feel there is a reasonable suspicion of negative health impacts that may result from EMF in general, and the emissions from cell towers in particular. We would argue that this uncertainty is reason to tread cautiously, not justification for introducing a strong new source of EMF into one of our most densely populated neighbourhoods, home to a playing field, a senior center, and a preschool.

As someone who has developed what is known as electro-sensitivity[10]<#_ftn10>in the last year, I can tell you that cell towers and other sources of
wireless radiation are having a major impact on my life and my health.   Whenever
I am near a cell tower or around a wi-fi hotspot, I develop a migraine centered around my temples. This also happens around PG&E “Smart”Meters and other wireless devices. Because of this I can no longer use a cell phone, and must keep my distance from other wireless devices. If this cell tower gets installed in Nealon Park, I will no longer be able to visit my mother in her apartment without experiencing discomfort and pain.

*Aesthetic Impacts*

The proposed tower would increase the height of one of the light fixtures at the Nealon Park ballfield, significantly altering the views, and feel of the park from both inside the park and from surrounding areas. We feel this tower, and its associated infrastructure are inconsistent with the aesthetics of the neighborhood in general and Nealon Park in particular.

*Fire and Potential Safety Impacts*

There have recently been a number of cases of cell towers catching fire and falling over[11] <#_ftn11>, with associated risks to the neighborhood. With this tower being constructed adjacent to a parking lot, there is a real risk of injury to persons using the park including ball players, from vehicles backing into the structure.

In summary, Nealon Park is a poor choice to locate a commercial facility that poses health, safety, aesthetic, property value decline, and other risks to the neighborhood. Please vote to deny T-Mobile’s application- this is not a good plan for the neighborhood. It’s not a good plan for the park. And it’s certainly not a good plan for Menlo Park as a whole.

Sincerely,

Joshua Hart

Nealon Neighbors Against Cell Towers in Parks

Joshuanoahhart_at_gmail.com


[1] <#_ftnref1> http://cloutnow.org/localres/

[2] <#_ftnref2> Lorde Martin, S., 1995, Communities and Telecommunications
corporations: Rethinking the rules for zoning variances, American Business Law Journal, December 22, 1995.

[3] <#_ftnref3>

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/library/consumer/hazardous.cfm

[4] <#_ftnref4> http://www.iaff.org/hs/Facts/CellTowerFinal.asp

[5] <#_ftnref5>

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/59296/title/Interphone_study_finds_hints_of_brain_cancer_risk_in_heavy_cell-phone_users

[6] <#_ftnref6>

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/opinion/27dowd.html?scp=1&sq=right%20to%20know%20dowd&st=cse

[7] <#_ftnref7>

http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/Doc/DocListingDetails_E.asp?DocID=13441

[8] <#_ftnref8>

http://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/iarc/

[9] <#_ftnref9> http://emfsafetynetwork.org

[10] <#_ftnref10>

http://www.magdahavas.com/2010/10/21/new-study-radiation-from-cordless-phone-base-station-affects-the-heart/

[11] <#_ftnref11> http://www.janecelltower.com/gpage35.html
Received on Fri May 27 2011 - 15:20:15 PDT


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