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Update:  Staff planners have recommended against  the 100-ft. setback from homes that the Planning Commission had recommended, which would allow the 5G devices to go right next to homes, among other changes. See Susan Brinchman's second message in the comments section below for details.

By Miriam Raftery

View video of hearing:

July 24, 2019 (San Diego) — Following a hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance update for small cell wireless facilities in the county’s unincorporated areas, planners voted to support stricter guidelines on where the devices can be placed. The new requirements were all on a list of suggestions provided by area residents including Susan Brinchman, director of the Center for Electrosmog Prevention in La Mesa.

5G stands for fifth generation cellular network technology designed for faster internet connection for a variety of devices as well as driverless cars. However, the technology also raises concerns over potential health impacts and other issues.

Realtor Holly Manion of Rancho Santa Fe spoke against the original proposal, citing concerns over property devaluation near 5G cell sites. Science writer Susan Foster, who helped plan a study of six firefighters exposed at close range to cellular antennas on their building in the early 2000s, indicated they ended up with brain damage and other health effects believed to be caused by radiation sickness.

Also opposed was Michael Schwaebe of Encinitas and Bob Gonsett, a MIT graduate and Electrical Engineer who needs "a radio quiet zone" for protection from interference from the free services he provides to the County's emergency systems. “This appeared to be denied by the telecom reps on the basis of Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, despite its obvious impact on safety,” Brinchman says.

Another County resident, Beth Nelson, of North County, spoke out against 5G, as well, concerned about residential setbacks and impacts on fire stations with close proximity to small cells.

The hearing included considerable discussion on the safety of 5G small cells. At one point, a planning commissioner asked one of the four telecom representatives if it was safe. The telecom representative responded, “As far as I know, the overwhelming consensus is that there is no link between rf radiation and health.

Brinchman says, “Apparently he hasn't seen the 30,000+ studies on EMF's in the EMF Portal nor read the numerous scientist appeals from all over the world based on these tens of thousands of studies showing harmful effects.  The Commissioners' nervousness about a decision likely to impact millions, without adequate information, was expressed numerous times.”

Planning Commission Chair Michael Seiler noted the FCC’s eagerness to push out 5Ga and voiced frustration over the federal government prohibiting local governments from considering health impacts of radiation. The Commission can, however address aesthetics concerns. Later he stated, “There is blood in the water, half a trillion dollars to be made, so the sharks are feeding,” in reference to the issue of co-location of two small cells  per pole and several telecom companies sharing poles.  "We don't want a forest of poles,” Seiler stated.

In the end, all of the Commissioners except one voted to strengthen the ordinance in some aspects, such as adding setbacks of 100 feet from residential properties.  The one Commissioner who voted against the motion to approve with these changes likely did so, according to observers, out of concern that it was not strengthened enough, especially given that the remaining Commissioners  took away setbacks of 1000 feet from civic centers, including schools, despite concerns over safety for sensitive populations in those public places.

The amended proposed small cell wireless (SCW) ordinance for the unincorporated area of San Diego County goes to the Board of Supervisors for its consideration and vote, on August 7th at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, in Hearing Room 310.  You must be there before 9 a.m. to testify.



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ATTENTION: ALL SAN DIEGO COUNTY RESIDENTS: DO YOU WANT A MICROWAVE-EMITTING, HAZARDOUS MINI-CELL TOWER IN FRONT OF YOUR HOME OR CHILD’S SCHOOL? TAKE ACTION! WRITE-ATTEND A RALLY-ATTEND THE MEETING-SPEAK ! Aug. 7th - save the date! ATTEND a “Stop 5G California” RALLY before the San Diego Board of Supervisors' meeting 8:00 – 8:45 AM at the County Administration Building, 1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, facing Pacific Hwy by the front entrance. Signs provided or bring your own – just come and bring many friends and family! After rally 8:45 AM sign up inside to speak at the BOS meeting (Agenda Item 6 - Small Cell Wireless Ordinance). More info at

Recommendations for County 5G wireless ordinance/ letter to send

Letter to personalize and send to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors about the two proposed 5G wireless ordinances, to arrive Aug 1 - Aug. 6th, to get it into the record.


• Restrict small cells in residential areas, and sensitive zones where children, elderly and those with special/medical needs will be. No small cell should be allowed within (a minimum) of 1000 feet from a residential property line, in any direction. Or within 1500 – 3,000 ft of civic areas, including schools, hospitals, libraries, churches, daycares, community centers, senior facilities, police and fire stations, parks, and sports fields - to the property lines. Verizon has a commercial on YouTube where they measured the distance of a 5G signal (through hills and obstacles) at a distance of greater than 3,000 feet, so there should be zero issue with these setbacks, they are a necessity.
• Restrict proximity of small cells in business areas
• Stronger language. Use words which are definitive, instead of suggestions which can be ignored.
• Permit approvals must be made to be discretionary rather than ministerial, with the entire shot clock used, so the public can provide input that can be acted on, with a new streamlined system to accommodate objections and ADA Accommodations Requests.
• ADA language and provisions. The ordinance lacks language that protects Americans with disabilities, and their use of these rights-of-way and travel paths, where the small cells structures will be deployed. Small cells may make it impossible to occupy one’s home or yard, as well, if sensitive to rf radiation. ADA protection must not be discriminatory toward those who have physical mobility disabilities only. What about citizens with EHS, pacemakers, ADD/ADHD, autoimmune, etc? Also, provide a set of directions for these requests with a timeline for granting them and incorporate into the shot clocks and beyond (which can then hold up the shot clock). These rights-of-way and public streets belong to us too, and this liability belongs to San Diego County.
• Require a Master Plan. The master plan needs to be coordinated across all carriers, and provide information for each antenna project like RF exposure levels, power levels, frequencies, and location address. The master plan should also be published online with ample notice, such that citizens can provide input BEFORE the antenna is installed.  REQUIRE that these companies have a plan and strategy for where they place the antennas, and enforce their compliance. This will minimize excessive, haphazard installments. If there is no plan, require it as part of permit application.
• No Colocation! Co-location means multiple antennas to a single pole. And despite the thinking, it does not reduce clutter. Actually, it produces a huge eyesore of a pole will multiple projections hanging off of it. It DRAWS more attention because of the extra hardware. Colocation allows poles to become scarily top-heavy, and also exposes citizens to higher doses of radiation since multiple antennas will emit from a single location.  One antenna per pole, and no antennas within 1000 feet of ANY other antenna, even from other providers.
• No cutting or disturbance of trees and landscaping – at all.  This must be forbidden! There are other towns and cities with gorgeous, old trees being chopped down or excessively trimmed to allow for small cell deployment.  Not going to happen in San Diego!
• Provide clear-easy-to-reach County support for citizens. We need to have a dedicated hotline/service to contact The County when issues with the small cells arise, such as noise, safety, health problems, or other complaints need to be reported. This service can be funded by the wireless providers as a part of their application/bond/yearly renewal fees.
• Insurance for rf radiation and other injuries, and Bonds. Require proof that the companies, annually, have adequate insurance ($2 million dollars each small cell) and bonds of $500,000 per small cell to protect against malfunction, accidents, damages, and injuries, including from exposure to nonionizing radiation. These provide protection for the County too.
• Random third-party testing. Random, independent third party inspections, by  companies contracting with the County, must be required at least 3-4 times annually, at the expense of the telecom company owning the small cells, to ensure compliance with FCC guidelines for each pole (in total) and for each small cell on the pole.
• Require notice for any residence within a mile of a proposed small cell site, to provide ample time for residents to come forward and provide input, particularly those with medical reasons to avoid rf radiation. During noticing, large signage noticing must also be placed on prospective poles with full details of application plans in large print, including frequencies and power, size of small cell.
• Approvals for permits may only be reissued yearly with new re-application, with proof of having met all criteria including noticing, liability insurance as above, and bonds. Small cells may not be upgraded without a full new application process.
• Require safety signage on all poles. All poles must have necessary warning signs and RF safety information as well as company and County contact names and phone numbers. Include total rf emission levels near bottom ten feet of poles or general area if more than one pole.
• Keep small cells away from parks and ball fields – at least 3000 ft away. The County Parks Dept. income desires do not come ahead of public safety and aesthetics. Cell towers and small cells are a safety hazard and produce clutter in our parks and ballfields.

County Planning Dept. vs. County Planning Commissioners

The County Planning Department has decided it disagrees with the County's Planning Commissioners regarding several key items for the proposed ordinance - County planners do not want ANY residential setbacks (so small cells could practically be up against your homes) and planners also don't want a Master Plan, so it is known what the overall plan is for small cells for each telecom. Therefore, in opposition to the 100 foot setback for residences that County Planning Commissioners voted to allow, and to the Master Plan Commissioners also voted for, as well as keeping 1000 foot setbacks from schools and other sensitive areas, County planners will propose their own ordinance recommendations and defend them on August 7th, no doubt. Commissioners, which met on July 19th and decided otherwise, may not be present to defend their protections for homeowners and renters, nor any of their other decisions. Why then, do we have Commissioners, some would ask, if office personnel know better? It is a dysfunctional system, we have found. We ask the public to attend the Board of Supervisors' meeting on August 7th to express their concerns about 5G. We recommend 100-500 foot residential setbacks from property lines, 1500 feet between small cells (for any wireless provider), no colocations on poles, and 1500 - 3000 foot setbacks from schools, hospitals, and other sensitive sites, including parks and ballfields.Most of all we recommend an immediate moratorium on installation of small cells, with removal of any installed thus far, as they are completely unsafe for the public, animals, wildlife, and plant-life. The County is well aware of the research and is choosing to ignore it. Some other municipalities, such as in Marin County, are NOT ignoring health and safety, and ARE standing up to the federal gov't and saying, we will not follow this dangerous law. 

The Agenda and Location of Aug 7 BOS meeting

Go to after July 31 to find the Agenda and location of the Board of Supervisors' meeting on Aug.7th, which starts at 9 AM. Be there early to fill out a speaker slip. The location may be at the County complex in Kearny Mesa, so check first. We invite the public to also write their Supervisor or all five of them and tell them what you think of the dangerous 5G plan and what you think of San Diego County Planning Dept's ideas to allow 5G radiation beaming into your homes 24/7 at exceedingly close range. Who do they work for? Remind them, please. They've all forgotten. They thought it was the wireless companies and the federal gov't, which thinks it works for the wireless companies too. As a matter of fact, the head of the FCC which oversees wireless DID work for the wireless industry as a lobbyist prior to his appointment by President Trump.