Monday, July 24, 2017

Cell Phone Safety Guidance from the California Public Health Department

CDPH fact sheet with draft watermark


This page will be updated periodically with further developments. 

See links at the bottom of this page for media coverage.

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Exposing California's Cell Phone Risk Cover-Up

Ecological Options Network, Jul 21, 2017      (10 minute video)

Opposing telecom totalitarianism in Sacramento, cell phone safety advocates Ellie Marks, Cindy Franklin, and Toni Stein denounce the California Department of Public Health's refusal to release to the public its own cell phone safety advisory.

They also explain how the bill, SB 649, now moving through the legislature--and similar bills being pushed in states around the country--would eliminate any local authority over cell tower placement and result in toxic antennas lining every block leaving the public with no legal recourse.



June 19, 2017


What prevents CDPH from adopting the cell phone guidance document?



Following my successful public records lawsuit against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), reporters have posed two key questions:

(1) “Why did the State of California suppress the CDPH cell phone radiation safety guidance document (aka "fact sheet") from 2009 to 2015?”

(2) “Why won’t the State adopt the fact sheet now since the evidence is much stronger for cell phone radiation health risks?”

Unfortunately, the documents that the Department released due to the Court ruling do not answer these questions.

My interviews with key informants suggest that it was due to suppression by “political appointees.” Opposition to releasing the document came from within the Department and from at least one other agency within the state government.

In October, 2009, the CDPH conducted a webinar on electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures and health effects which may shed some light on the motivation for suppressing the fact sheet. A presentation was made by the former chief of the CDPH Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, the division that prepared the cell phone guidance document earlier that year.

Although Raymond Neutra, MD, MPH, DrPH, had retired from CDPH two years earlier, as the former chief of the CDPH EMF Program, he was asked to present the reasons for precaution regarding cell phone use.  He has served on scientific advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.

Dr. Neutra posed the following question, “How certain must we be of how much ill-health from cell phones, cordless phones and base stations before we would opt for cheap or expensive protection?”

Speaking as a private citizen, he argued we shouldn’t need certainty to lower our exposure 100-fold. 

He presented the following precautionary recommendations:

• Keep cell phone off most of the time
• Use ear piece or speaker function
• Place on table 3 feet away before turning on
• Write down phone messages
• Return calls, then turn off
• Keep it off in bus when others might be exposed

Next, he addressed the reasons why government requires more certainty before recommending precaution:

• Industry lawyers and lobbyists afraid that precautionary government recommendations
will support tort law suits
• Industry afraid that “alarmed” citizens will push for more
• Lobbyists pressure government not to issue them

I would argue that although we now have substantially more evidence that cell phone radiation is harmful, the telecommunications and wireless industries have much greater political and economic power at the state and Federal level. Moreover, industry motivation to suppress precautionary policies is likely as strong as ever. 

Thus, we should not be surprised that governments fail to provide the public with precautionary recommendations about cell phone use. Nor should we surprised that wireless radiation regulations have not been updated since 1996.

The slides for Dr. Neutra’s 2009 presentation can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/neutra2009.


June 1, 2017



Melody Gutierrez."New records show how state reworked secret cell phone warnings," 
San Francisco Chronicle, May 19, 2017 (published online first) http://bit.ly/CDPHsfchron


In March, the San Francisco Chronicle was the first newspaper to report on a lawsuit we filed against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to obtain a cell phone safety guidance document that was never released to the public (Moskowitz v CDPH)

The Chronicle also published an editorial in March encouraging the state to release this cell phone safety information to the public,


In May, the Chronicle reported the outcome of our case. CDPH released 27 versions of a cell phone safety "fact sheet" originally created in 2009 and updated through 2014. The documents were released to us in compliance with a court order.
"Newly released public records show that California public health officials worked for five years on a set of guidelines to warn the public about the potential dangers of cell phones, revising their work 27 times with updated research before abandoning the efforts without ever making their concerns public until ordered by a judge."
CDPH refused the Chronicle's public record request just as it previously denied our public record requests:
"The Chronicle submitted a public records request to the health department in March, asking for emails or documents related to why the cell phone guidelines were never approved to be made public — and to see whether there was any outside influence. The department refused to release records, saying those that existed were protected by attorney-client privilege."
In response to a request for an interview, CDPH issued a written statement to the Chronicle which indicated that the Department still does not intend to adopt and distribute to the public its cell phone safety guidelines:
"The statement from the California Department of Public Health said there are no plans to post the guidelines on its website."

May 22, 2017




California Department of Public Health Releases
Secret Cell Phone Safety Guidance


The San Francisco Chronicle published this news story online May 19, 2017.

The California Attorney General’s Office released 27 versions of a cell phone radiation safety fact sheet prepared by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) initially in 2009 and revised multiple times through January, 2015.

The State has never adopted this fact sheet nor released it to the public due to suppression by “political appointees” according to my sources.

The recommendations in the final version of the fact sheet are sound. CDPH should adopt and disseminate the fact sheet now. The public has a right to know the information that the Department’s health professionals have been trying to share with them since 2009. I further recommend that the fact sheet be updated annually consistent with the latest research.

The fact sheet is based upon reviews of the research conducted by the CDPH Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control between 2009 and 2014.

The original document reflected a consensus of the Division (Document 25, file date: 6/17/2009; pp.104-109). The fact sheet summarized research on the health effects associated with exposure to cell phone and cordless phone radiation. It provided recommendations to the California Department of General Services, the “business manager” for the State, regarding cell phone purchases. The fact sheet also included safety tips for state employees and the general public, especially children, about safe use of phones to minimize exposure to wireless radiation.

The final version of the fact sheet omits recommendations to the Department of General Services and does not discuss cordless phones (Document 1, file date 1/26/2015; pp. 6-8).

In 2014, I submitted three requests to the CDPH under the California Public Records Act for this information. All three requests were denied.

In 2016, the UC Berkeley School of Law Environmental Law Clinic and the First Amendment Project filed a lawsuit on my behalf in the Sacramento Superior Court. 

On May 12 of this year, the Attorney General’s office mailed us 27 documents to comply with the March 13 court ruling.

The case is Dr. Joel Moskowitz v. California Department of Public Health (#34-2016-80002358).

Supplemental materials

Substantive changes to fact sheet: http://bit.ly/CDPHchanges

Table of contents for 27 versions of fact sheet: http://bit.ly/CDPHToC

Contents of 27 versions of fact sheet (8 MB file): http://bit.ly/AGCDPHdocs



March 15, 2017

Court orders California Public Health Dept. to Release 
Cellphone Radiation Safety Document


The Sacramento Superior Court has ordered the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to release the Department's cell phone use guidance document without superimposed markings.

This cell phone radiation safety document, originally prepared in 2010 by health professionals in the CDPH Environmental Health Investigations Branch, has been suppressed by political appointees over the years.

On March 13, Judge Shelleyanne Chang re-issued the tentative ruling she made prior to the hearing:


And she appended the following section to the Court's final ruling:


On March 2, prior to the judge's ruling, CDPH emailed a version of the cell phone use guidance document, entitled "Cell Phones and Health," to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter who attended the court hearing. CDPH had defaced this version with large markings indicating "Draft and Not for Public Release."

The judge did not consider the document a "preliminary draft" because the document was maintained by CDPH staff since 2010, and the substance of the document changed little over time despite multiple updates by staff.

The court order, dated March 13, 2017, is labeled "Ruling on Submitted Matter and Order: Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declarative Relief." 

The ruling can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/MvCDPHfinal.

The unaltered cell phone use guidance document will be available here when the CDPH complies with the Court order.


March 4, 2017

"Warnings on Cell Phone Use"
aka "State kept secret guidelines on cell phone use"

Photos from the San Francisco Chronicle front page and the Editorial appear below along with links to news coverage of this story.

March 2, 2017 (Updated 10:10 PM)


Last May we sued the California Department of Public Health for a cell phone safety guidance document under the California Public Records Act. The document was originally prepared in 2010 and has been updated several times but never released to the public.

Late this afternoon, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) emailed a cell phone guidance document, entitled "Cell Phones and Health," to Melody Gutierrez, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle who attended our court hearing. 

This "fact sheet" summarizes research on cell phone radiation health risks and provides safety tips on how to reduce cell phone radiation exposure. The document highlights a potentially greater risk to "pregnant women, children, and teens." The safety recommendations are similar to those issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health in May, 2015.

We are grateful to see CDPH’s cell phone guidance document after a long battle for it. 

The CDPH document is marked "released pursuant to Moskowitz v. CDPH, Sac. Super. Ct. No. 34-2016-8000-2358" and "Draft and Not for Public Release."

Apparently, CDPH does not intend to appeal the merits of the court's ruling that the document must be disclosed. However, the manner of release is troubling. CDPH has not waited for the court to finalize its ruling and determine whether CDPH may indicate that the document does not (as it argued at the hearing) represent its current, official position.  Rather, the agency has "jumped the gun" and stamped new lettering in huge dark letters across the face of the document so as to make it virtually illegible. Further, that lettering states that the document is “draft and not for public release” when the judge's tentative ruling stated exactly the opposite --   that the document was not a draft, and must be publicly released. 

CDPH has essentially created a new document rather than produced the document as-is, in violation of the Public Records Act. To the extent that CDPH wanted merely to indicate that the document does not represent its official position in early 2017, the fact that the document is dated “April 2014” should make that plain.

An account of our attempts to obtain the document and the lawsuit filed by the UC Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic and the First Amendment Project on my behalf appears below. The judge's tentative ruling on our lawsuit is available (see link below). 


Excerpt from the tentative ruling.

Why has the California Department of Public Health 
suppressed a cell phone radiation safety document since 2010?

In 2010, health professionals in the Environmental Health Investigations Branch of CDPH prepared a cell phone guidance document that summarized the science regarding the health risks from cell phone radiation and provided precautionary recommendations to the public for limiting personal exposure. 

Why was this document never officially released to the public?

I learned about the existence of the document in late 2013. In January, 2014, I submitted a formal request for the document to the CDPH under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

Dr. Richard Kreutzer, the Division Chief for Environmental and Occupational Disease Control in CDPH, contacted me three days later. He informed me that the document was recently revised and was under review by the State. He asked me to withdraw my request since the final approved version should be available within three weeks. When I asked how long the document had been under review, he responded that the review was "freshly re-started this year," and that the current draft is similar to a previous version "that stalled three years ago" while under review by the State. I opted not to withdraw my request.

In April, 2014, I spoke to the Deputy Director for Legislative and Governmental Affairs at CDPH. She informed me that the document was under review by a "state agency outside" of CDPH. She implied that the document had cleared CDPH's approval process and promised to provide me with periodic updates regarding its status.

In June, 2014, since no one contacted me and the document had not been released, I submitted a second request under the CPRA. The CDPH denied this request arguing that they are exempt from disclosing “preliminary drafts,” and that the public interest in nondisclosure exceeded the public interest in disclosure of this document. 

In September, 2014, based upon my information an investigative reporter from the New York Times requested the document, but his request was also denied.  

My final CPRA request was submitted in January, 2015. CDPH denied this request and provided a new rationale: “In light of the updated guidance issued by the CDC [federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control] in June of 2014, CDPH has chosen not to issue a guidance document on radio frequency EMF and cell phones.”

After my final rejection, I interviewed several CDPH health professionals who were familiar with the cell phone guidance document. All thought the document should have been published by the Department. None could explain why the State suppressed the document or why the Department refused to release it to me.

Based upon this information, I decided to sue the CDPH for the cell phone guidance document.  The environmental law clinic at the University of California, Berkeley Law School and the First Amendment Project are representing me pro bono. In May, 2016, we filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the County of Sacramento. 
The case was assigned to Judge Shellyanne Chang.

CDPH asserted that “[t]he public’s health may be harmed” simply by release of the Document (Starr Decl., ¶ 19(a)) ... that the memo “will needlessly confuse, and possibly alarm, cell phone users” (id., ¶ 24; same); and even speculates that release of the Document will cause both those with and without cancer to flood physicians’ offices to ventilate hysterical fear of cell phones (Id. at ¶ 27). 

In its opposition brief, CDPH confuses the public and private interests in withholding the document, suggesting that the public interest in receiving advice about safe cell phone use must be discounted “[because] a portion of the public, namely the wireless industry and cell phone manufacturers . . . likely have no interest in the dissemination of the cell phone guidance document" (p. 15). 

Judge Chang held a hearing on February 24, 2017. Prior to the hearing, she issued a seven-page tentative ruling in which she over-ruled eight of the nine objections submitted by the Attorney General on behalf of the CDPH. The tentative ruling granted our petition and directed CDPH to release the Cellular Phone Use Guidance documentation.

The court documents are available online (case number: 2016 80002358) at
https://services.saccourt.ca.gov/PublicCaseAccess/Civil/SearchByCaseNumber

We are waiting for the judge's final ruling on the case.




News Coverage (Updated June 1, 2017)

United States

New records show how state reworked secret cell phone warnings
"State kept warnings on cell phones secret" (print version, pg. C-1, May 21, 2017)
Melody Gutierrez, San Francisco Chronicle, published online May 19, 2017

Judge orders CDPH cell phone guidance document released
Cal-OSHA Reporter, 44(15):00-11745, Apr 21, 2017

Sammy Caiola, Sacramento Bee, Apr 6, 2017

Long-overdue release of information about cell phone risks
Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 3, 2017

California Health Officials release report on cell phone radiation
Nuala Sawyer, San Francisco Examiner, Mar 3, 2017

Scott Budman, NBC Bay Area, Mar 3, 2017
Scott Budman, NBC Southern California, Mar 3, 2017

Vicki Gonzalez, KCRA (NBC Sacramento), Mar 3, 2017

Jeff Gillan, KSNV (NBC Las Vegas), Mar 3, 2017

Lyanne Melendez, KGO-TV (ABC Bay Area), Mar 3, 2017

Inland News Today (Riverside, CA) , Mar 3, 2017

Is California Hiding the Risks of Cell Phone Use?
KABC Radio (Culver City, CA), Mar 3, 2017

Study Suggests Your Cell Phone is Actually Quite Dangerous
Scott Hendren, Newstalk 1290 (Wichita Falls, TX), Mar 3, 2017


State kept secret guidelines on cell phone use
"Warnings on cell phone use" (print version, front page, Mar 3, 2017)
Melody Gutierrez, San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 2, 2017

Cellphone Radiation Exposure Fact Sheet Draft Released By California Health Officials
Hannah Albarazi, CBS San Francisco, Mar 2, 2017

Reynard Loki, Alternet, Feb 28, 2017

Consumer Watch: State Continues To Refuse To Release Records On Cell Phone Radiation
Julie Watts, CBS San Francisco, Feb 26, 2017 

Judge Orders California To Release Papers Discussing Risk Of Cell Phone Use 
Julie Watts, CBS San Francisco, Feb 24, 2017

FAP Files Public Records Act Case with U.C. Berkeley School of Law
First Amendment Project, Jun 16, 2016

The following radio stations reported news about this story: KABC (Culver City), KATD (Sacramento), KCBS (San Francisco), KIQI (San Francisco), KPFA (Berkeley), and KWFS (Wichita Falls, TX).


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Friday, July 21, 2017

Major newspaper editorials oppose 5G "small cell" antenna bills

The following editorials oppose the 5G "small cell" antenna bills proposed by the telecommunications/wireless industry in numerous states across the country.

The editorial boards of four major newspapers in California are opposed to this legislation because it imposes serious limitations on local control over the siting of cell antennas. 
"The telecom corporations want to streamline permitting and reduce costs for slapping their transmitters — ranging in size from a pizza box to a small refrigerator — on municipal utility poles, street lights and traffic signals wherever they want.... 
In Sacramento, the telecoms have hoards of money to fuel legislators’ reelection campaigns, and they routinely spend it. 
During the last election cycle, AT&T doled out more than $1.6 million to political groups and politicians. It didn’t discriminate among parties. Virtually everyone got a piece. The California Democratic Party was given $615,000. But the Republican Party got even more, $625,000.
AT&T also spent $250,000 on the annual Speaker’s Cup golf tournament at the world-class Pebble Beach course. That’s the Assembly Democrats’ big fundraiser. 
By contrast, the League of California Cities and other local government organizations aren’t allowed to spend a dime on politicians because their money comes from taxpayers. They do lobby, however." (Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2017)
The legislature, as well as most newspapers, have ignored the potential health risks from the proliferation of cell antennas necessary for 5G adoption including widespread exposure of the population to new radio frequency bands including millimeter waves. As many as 50,000 new cell sites will be required in California alone.

For more information about the potential public health risks from this new technology see 

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California should butt out of cities’ dealings

 with telecom companies using public facilities

Editorial Board, San Jose Mercury News, July 11, 2017

A state bill that would give huge telecom companies a financial break and unprecedented rights to use public property at almost no cost is sailing through the Legislature this summer.

Why? Money, of course. Telecom companies measure profits in the tens of billions. California lawmakers understand this, so that’s whose side they’re on. The bill sailed through the Senate. Now it’s up to the Assembly to stand up for communities — particularly low-income neighborhoods — that will be harmed by it.

SB 649 would prohibit cities from any discretionary review or public say on plans to put “small cell” wireless antennas on publicly owned light poles and other structures in any neighborhood. (Yes, even your neighborhood.) And it would sharply limit fees that cities charge private industry for using property or facilities that taxpayers have paid for.

Sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, SB 649 is billed as cutting through permitting red tape and improving cell phone service. But it will slash existing revenue to cities such as San Francisco, which stands to lose millions of dollars a year. And it will eviscerate cities’ ability to bring high-speed Internet service to low-income neighborhoods, as San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has promised to do for East San Jose.

Other mayors are joining Liccardo and the League of California Cities to fight this outrageous power grab by the state and telecoms. We hope it’s not too late.

Here are a few of SB 649’s problems:

By preventing cities from negotiating over antenna locations, the bill eliminates their ability to push companies to provide high-speed access in underprivileged areas. Without that leverage, companies will focus only on areas where they make the most money.

By limiting fees, the bill deprives cities of revenue they could use to increase access to broadband in those poor neighborhoods. Companies will save an estimated $30 million statewide over 10 years — at the cost of public services.

By making public property broadly available to for-profit companies, the bill will limit cities’ and counties’ ability to locate their own communication equipment, such as police and fire systems and equipment from partners — potentially Facebook in San Jose — working on ways to help equalize Internet access.

And wait until neighbors find out they have no say over the clumps of electronic equipment that show up on light poles near their houses. But state legislators don’t care about that. People won’t call them; they’ll scream to the local mayor and council members.

The bill sets a terrible precedent of forcing communities to all but give away public property for private profit. Yet it passed the Assembly local government committee last week and goes to the Communication and Conveyance Committee on July 12.

So — where are area Assembly members? Ash Kalra? Marc Berman? Evan Low?

They’re fresh from serving on city councils. They could lead the fight to stop SB 649 in the Assembly and be the heroes of local government. And their voters.


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Democratic legislators take bold stands, 
except when they don’t

Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee, July 9, 2017

California’s Legislature, it’s said, is about as liberal as can be.

With supermajorities of Democrats in both houses, legislators definitely go out of their way to defy President Donald Trump, especially on immigration issues. On business issues, however, lawmakers are far less adventuresome.

In the coming days, the Democrats’ leftward slant will be tested on major bills affecting the powerful telecommunications industry, privacy rights and consumer protection….

A second, Senate Bill 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, would give wireless providers such as AT&T virtually unfettered ability to place wireless transmitters on utilities poles control by cities and counties, for a nominal fee.

It’s part of a national effort by wireless providers to introduce 5G technology, which promises to vastly increase wireless’ ability to provide super-fast connections, and compete more directly with old-line cable providers. Similar bills are pending or have been approved in 20 states.

Hueso’s bill would cap fees that local governments could impose on wireless companies at $250 plus expenses for placing their devices on polls. Certainly, local authorities should not gouge companies that provide what could be useful technology. But Hueso’s bill also strips local authorities of the right to regulate the use of property in their jurisdictions. We side with local officials: they should be able to determine what corporations build in public spaces, not Sacramento legislators ….

Clearly, something else is going on. We cannot help but think that for all their bluster and bravado, Democrats see business lobbyists arrayed against them and do what too many politicians do: duck.


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 An audacious 5G power (pole) grab

Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, July 5, 2017

Telecommunications companies are preparing to roll out the next generation of wireless networks, dubbed “5G,” which promise an enormous increase in capacity and connectivity. These networks not only will increase competition in broadband, they are a key enabling technology for a host of advanced products and services. They also represent a gateway to better economic opportunities in inner-city areas that are underserved by broadband today.

But these new networks are different in structure and appearance too. Instead of high-powered antennas on tall towers, they rely on an array of lower-power transmitters closer to the ground that serve much smaller “cells.” That’s why mobile phone companies are concerned that cities and counties will throw up bureaucratic or financial roadblocks to 5G in their communities. It’s not a groundless worry; wireless companies already have encountered local resistance in places where they have introduced the new technology.

It’s the look and the intrusiveness of the small cell networks that seems to spark the controversy. People are upset about the deployment of thousands of pieces of equipment the size of small appliances being placed strategically and liberally on publicly owned “vertical infrastructure” (that’s bureaucratese for municipal utility poles, street lights and even traffic lights). That means a lot of equipment in full view and in proximity — really close in some cases — to houses and people.

Local governments must retain some authority to push back on proposed deployments.

There is precedent for this kind of brazen move: The phone and cable TV companies persuaded the Legislature in 2006 to end local control over the construction of new cable TV systems, arguing that a shift to state licensing would bring much-needed competition to pay TV. But that logic doesn’t apply to the mobile phone market, where there is vibrant competition. Local government officials are crying foul, calling it an audacious power grab and the equivalent of a gift of public funds to billion-dollar telecommunications companies that don’t need the help.

The new mobile networks also will involve much more equipment in public view than an upstart cable TV system. Wireless companies say that the transmitters are typically the size of a pizza box or briefcase, although the bill would allow equipment up to the size of a small refrigerator.

Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the author of SB 649, argues that wireless upgrades are a public benefit, and therefore local governments should not have the right to endanger them with unreasonable hurdles. Besides, he says, the more that individual cities are allowed to charge for their pole rentals, the less that wireless companies will have left for network upgrades in other, possibly more needy communities. But the bill goes far beyond setting a reasonable fee to access public property; it would usurp the rights of cities and counties to make decisions about how to use their property. Those rights include the right to make the wrong decisions.

It’s clearly in everyone’s best interest for 5G networks to be deployed, and surely most local governments would agree. But why shouldn’t cities and counties be able to try to leverage their assets to get a good deal for residents as part of the process, or take the time to get the public’s input on what could be a significant change to their physical and virtual landscapes?

Small cell technology does not have to be obtrusive or unattractive, nor will every street in a community necessarily require outfitting. That’s why local governments must retain some authority to push back on proposed deployments. Left to their own devices, telecommunications companies would naturally opt for the most efficient and cost-effective configuration when making a capital investment. Their goals are making profits and serving customers, not making a city look nice.

The telecommunication industry has been pushing this “streamlining” strategy in other states, with various degrees of success. Eleven have adopted some sort of laws to limit the local permitting process and pole fees. Legislators in other states, like Washington, have been more skeptical. California’s lawmakers ought to be wary as well and show more interest in protecting the rights of communities to govern the use of their infrastructure, rather than letting telecommunication companies make those decisions for them.


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A brazen phone power grab

Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2017

Local governments should decide where cell phone equipment goes.

San Francisco has hundreds of them: slim cylinders and flat boxes strapped to utility poles that serve as mini-cell towers to speed up wireless service. The devices are essential for anyone carrying a smartphone or tablet, but the subject is breeding a battle over money and political control.

Telecom firms such as Verizon and AT&T are pushing Sacramento to pass a law that would essentially remove the control cities and counties now have over where the equipment goes and how much localities can charge. In San Francisco’s case, the loss could total in the millions, according to Supervisor Mark Farrell, an opponent of the measure, SB 649.
  
His argument, backed by scores of other local jurisdictions, is about as basic as home rule gets. Cities, not Sacramento, should have the final say on what private industry can build in the public right of way.

The telecoms are selling the measure as a way to streamline approvals and improve coverage, an appealing idea to anyone who’s had a call dropped or Facebook session cut off. But these companies also want to curb the fees that local communities can charge to only a few hundred dollars per device.

In San Francisco’s experience, nearly all of the mini-cell towers are approved, making the argument about timeliness suspect. The existing rules give telecoms ready access to phone poles and utility posts as a way to fill in broader cell phone service that can be disrupted by tall buildings, thick walls or rolling landscape. Also, as wireless needs grow, more bandwidth to handle the traffic is needed. Cities have responded with lease agreements and worked out arrangements to put the wireless boxes in the right spots.

This bill would shred that process. The measure, which is showing up in nearly identical shape in other states, is about cutting expenses and avoiding local oversight. Health concerns about cell phone towers are not an issue in this dispute since that topic is governed by federal rules.

The bill has already shot through the state Senate and faces its first test before the Assembly’s Local Government Committee on Wednesday. That panel should heed the criticism from their home communities and stop a measure that subverts local control.


Other Newspaper Editorials in Opposition

Daily Bruin, July 16, 2017

DanvilleSanRamon, July 6, 2017

East Bay Times, June 9, 2017

Imperial Valley Press, July 16, 2017

Pleasanton Weekly, July 6, 2017

Ventura County Star, May 22, 2017