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: http://sdcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=2333
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.