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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Cell Sites Threaten Santa Cruz Wildlife Area- Protest Planned
by Josh Hart
Sunday Jun 24th, 2012 3:45 PM
Apple’s recent iPhone ad highlights the beauty of California’s central coast, with two shivering Easterners asking ‘what’s the best way to Santa Cruz, California?’. Now it appears that Santa Cruz, California is asking, ‘ what’s the best way to protect scenic views and stop 4G radiation damage to wildlife?’

Perhaps a good time to consider the sanity of blanketing our County in microwave radiation- a Class 2B carcinogen according to the World Health Organization(pdf)- is the moment right before the last few wild and free areas of the County are about to be put at risk because of our seemingly insatiable appetite for mobile technology.

In January, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors quietly approved a plan by NextG (now called Crown Castle)- for Verizon Wireless- to install seven cell towers- so called “distributed” or “microcell” antennas along a remote stretch of Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Waddell Creek in Big Basin State Park. This latest project is part of the “Distributed Antenna System” being promoted by industry and waved through by the CA Public Utilities Commission, an agency adept at bullying local governments into accepting a wireless smart grid that no one wants. “Distributed” means a new cell antenna could appear on the pole right outside your bedroom window- pulsing microwaves 24/7- potentially reducing your property value, not to mention your libido and mental function – and there would be little you could do to prevent it.

Evidence of wireless health damage is mounting. Dr. Poki Namkung, the top Public Health Officer in the County, issued a report in January entitled “Health Risks Associated with Smart Meters.” Her report cites research showing harmful effects on sperm, double strand breaks in DNA, and cancer. The dream of high-speed, on-the-go, smart phone connectivity is hitting up against the reality that this dream may only possible at the expense of our health, our environment – and for some so sensitized to even the weakest signals — basic access to the necessities of life.

For Santa Cruzans, our stewardship of the most pristine natural ecosystems in the County is at stake. The northernmost antenna is proposed to be located only yards from Big Basin State Park, directly adjacent to the Waddell Creek wetlands, home to endangered species such as the Red Legged Frog, Western Pond Turtle, and Coho Salmon. Scientific research indicates a myriad of impacts on plants and animals (not to mention humans) who are exposed. In one study of the effects of cell tower radiation on tadpoles, a 90% mortality rate was observed.[1] Other studies show links to bee decline. [2] The Waddell and Scott Creeks are both teeming with life and are conservation success stories. It would be extraordinarily short sighted to put that at risk.

There is a reason that the Telecommunications Act- signed by Pres. Clinton in 1996- prohibits local and state governments from rejecting cell towers because of environmental concerns. It’s because those concerns are justified. Such a restriction is of course blatantly illegal and unconstitutional, prohibiting local governments from carrying out the duty they are sworn to uphold- to protect public health and safety- but the telecom firms have well paid lawyers. And consumers are left with unexplained headaches and damaged landscapes.

Fire concerns have also been raised. NextG Corp. is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by residents of Malibu who suffered nearly 15 million in damages from a 2007 wildfire caused by overloaded power poles that blew over and sparking in high winds. The last thing Bonny Doon needs is another wildfire.

Emergency communication is an important issue. AT&T and Sprint have service along Highway 1 in this area- any cell user dialing 911 has access to these. There are also call boxes along remote stretches. Streaming 4G video is not an essential emergency service.

The existing cell panel mock ups at seven locations along the coast give an idea of what is proposed to be made permanent, but only if the California Coastal Commission issues a Coastal Permit in July. There is still time to stop this ill-conceived project from going forward, if the community mobilizes.

When it comes to the beauty of the North Coast, the safety of our communities, and the survival of entire species, we should all question whether we even want to use cell phones on our wild North Coast beaches.

the foregoing was published as a Sentinel Opinion on Sunday, June 17th: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/ci_20876060/joshua-hart-keep-north-coast-beaches-cell-tower

What to Do:

1. Write to the CA Coastal Commission- c/o Susan Craig 725 Front Street, Suite 300, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Include all the reasons to oppose the project: safety, aesthetics, and health/ environmental protection. Brief is okay.

2. Come to the protest July 21st 4pm Verizon Store Pacific Ave. (across from Cinema 9)- link your friends to this page- using a safe, wired connection!

3. Speak out at the CA Coastal Commission Mtg in Santa Cruz Aug. 8-10 (exact date tba)

4. If you- or anyone you know is (god forbid) a Verizon customer, switch to another provider (and tell them why!) or even better lose the cell entirely. Call Verizon customer service at: 1.800.837.4966 You have the power to quit!

5. Learn more about the project and download the files available at: http://stopsmartmeters.org/2012/06/22/northcoast/