Mountain View approves cell tower on church


Despite outcry about radiation exposure at an adjacent preschool, the city's zoning administrator approved a cell phone tower to go on top of Mountain View's First Presbyterian Church Wednesday evening.

Unless the decision is appealed to the City Council, the church at the corner of Miramonte and Cuesta streets will soon have wireless antennae devices on its roof to be enclosed in a new steeple on the chapel building on the south east corner of the property, across from the main chapel.

Zoning administrator Peter Gilli said FCC regulations do not allow him to reject the tower because of the neighbor's concerns with what may be cancer-causing radiation, unless RF levels were above the FCC threshold. That left him no choice but to approve the project if it was architecturally acceptable, which he said it was.

Parents of the Little Acorn preschool, located 50-75 feet from the cell tower location, are concerned about exposing 70 or so children to the cell tower's radiation. As of Wednesday afternoon 58 people signed an online petition in opposition, and 15 others have signed the paper version.

Gilli said that his approval of the cell tower was on the condition that parents would be able to pull their children from the preschool without being penalized with any fees.

While the church will make money from leasing the space to Clear Wireless LLC, parents said the preschool may lose enrollment because of it.

An RF study indicated that the theoretical radiation emitted from the cell tower to the site and the surrounding homes was well below the FCC's acceptable levels, Gilli noted. Applicant Clearwire LLC's representative Gordon Bell agreed to do before and after RF testing to back up that claim, and post results at the church. He said the tests would show almost "undetectable" levels of radiation.

Neighbors were still concerned, saying that there was no scientific proof that such a cell tower is safe. One resident noted that other countries, such as Austria, have much stricter regulations that would not allow such a cell tower.

"People are concerned about radiation," said preschool parent W. Tsang. "Does the community really want this or need this or can it be explored somewhere else?"

About a dozen parents and neighbors spoke in opposition to the proposal. Some said the value of their homes would drop.

"My biggest concern is that we were just informed about this," said a neighbor and preschool parent. "There's no data to let us know this is safe."

Parents and residential neighbors said they had only recently learned about the proposal and Gilli joined them in disappointment over the church's failure to notify everyone who might be affected. But Gilli said the proposal had already been delayed once.

"It should not be a legal obligation for the church, but a moral obligation to reach out to the community," said neighbor Wendy Yee.

A church representative said the church had notified the pre-school, along with other tenants on the property, including a group of Boy Scouts and another church on the site called the Open Door Church. No one responded to the church with concerns and it is unknown how many people really had the notice passed onto them.

"I'm a member of that church and I didn't even know," said one women who lives nextdoor and said residential neighbors were the most seriously impacted. "We can't get away from it."

Pastor Tim Boyer said a committee of church members had been discussing the proposal since July.

"We wouldn't do anything on this campus that would hurt god's children," Boyer said Tuesday.

After examining research compiled by the cell phone company and having discussed the issue with church members, Boyer said he was confident the cell phone antennas were safe.

"I would be more concerned with that (cell phone) in your hand that I would be with that (cell phone tower) on top of the church."

Boyer declined to say how much the church would be paid to host the antennas, saying "I don't think that's important." The reason for allowing the antennas was more to "provide a service," Boyer said, especially since the site is within a line of sight of El Camino Hospital.

Clearwire representative Gordon Bell said that previous proposals to put the antenna on top of a commercial building across the street or on top of the Safeway nearby were both denied.

The project approved is for "a wireless communications facility within a new steeple feature on the roof of an existing church, including a GPS antenna, three microwave dishes, three panel antennas/RRUs and one equipment cabinet in a fence enclosure."

Construction of the antennas may begin in January unless opponents win an appeal to the City Council.

Residents be forewarned, Bell said it would be impossible to find a location for a cell tower in the area that was away from homes. And Gilli said applications for cell towers were becoming more prevalent as service providers prepare for faster service, such as 4G.

— Daniel DeBolt

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Like this comment
Posted by HaHa
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

I guess connectedness is next to godliness.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve Jobs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2010 at 10:43 am

SO iphones are going to work in Mountain View, but still not in Palo Alto?

Like this comment
Posted by Jim Baxter
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Less than 100 years ago, people used to leave their light bulbs on because they were afraid that the electricity would "leak out" if they turned them off.
It's surprising that here in the heart of silicon valley residents are so ignorant of the actual scientific facts regarding cellphone tower radiation. Or maybe people just prefer to complain,rather than take the time to actually educate themselves on the topic.

Like this comment
Posted by Ignorance is bliss
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm

There is an article in today's Daily Post about a similar issue--opposition to a cell phone antenna at the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club and they cite the same "factoids" regarding cell phone radiation.
They quote from a letter written against the antenna and sent to the council by one of the club members. he states:
"The risks for the Palo Verde kids may well be substantial, even if not universally recognized as such".
Not mention of any real facts, just hysterical pronouncements made without a shred of proof and going directly against well established research (yes, I know the letter writer will say, once again, without any proof that the research is bogus).
How do you deal with supposedly intelligent people?

Like this comment
Posted by Tea Party
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Welcome to the 21st century. The Tea Party movement is based entirely on rumor and innuendo, not facts.

Like this comment
Posted by bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm

If people had some scientific training, they could understand the reason why a level of radiation below FCC guidelines is safe. Paraphrasing what was said above, it's easier to complain than to become educated.

Education in our schools is sadly going down hill. And these students will become next generation's leaders.

Like this comment
Posted by jerryl
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm

100 years from now, there will be a chapter in World History textbooks describing our present age. The chapter will no doubt be entitled:
"The Rise of the Know Nothings" and will reside a couple of chapters after the one called "The Age of Enlightenment".

We can only hope that it is a relatively thin chapter. If it never gets written then my worst fears will have been realized.

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm

The lack of basic scientific knowledge in the American public is truly frightening. We live in an increasingly technological society with a voting public that knows nothing about science. Roughly half of Americans don't believe in evolution! The quote above saying "There's no data to let us know this is safe" is very telling. Scientists can never prove that something is safe, they can only prove that something is known to be dangerous. Expecting the opposite shows a basic lack of understanding of how science really works.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm

The city council and zoning administrator should know that a recent court decision, San Diego v. Sprint, confirmed that a municipality has a right to have input about siting of transmitters and towers, and can insist they not be erected or installed, as in this case, near schools or hospitals, where the most vulnerable spend much of their time. For those doubters, read the studies, the most recent by the National Research Council, Blake Levitt and Dr. Henry Lai about the dangers of cell phone transmitters. They are real and they are significant. Shame on this church for endangering the children and neighbors. But the companies are targeting those most in need, schools and churches. They have no shame.

Like this comment
Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2010 at 2:38 am

Levitt and Lai have to present extraordinary proof, because we've never seen cancer without DNA damage, and the only way radiation is known to damage DNA is via the photoelectric effect, explained by Einstein in 1905 (and resulting in a Nobel Prize in 1920.) Don't forget that you can always find a few idiot scientists in every field. They were around for the "power lines cause cancer" issue, and guess what? A very expensive study conclusively proved power lines don't cause cancer.

Like this comment
Posted by mom
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

The body's natural frequency is 7.8hz. This is the frequency at which every cell in your body vibrates. Technologies such as a cell phone, a light bulb, a computer, a television, a wireless telephone, or wireless internet have their own frequencies. For instance a light bulb is 60 hz. A cell phone starts at 824 MHz and ends at 894 MHz. Wi-Fi is in the 2.4 GHz frequency.

When you come into contact with such technologies, the frequency of the technology interferes with your body's natural frequency. The more powerful frequency from the technology's causes your body's weaker frequency to vibrate at a higher rate, which is unnatural and causes a whole host of issues. One of the issues is disturbance with rest and sleep.

For example, as I type, I sit close to my computer, and I type on the keys. The computer is interacting with my body's frequency and causing my cells to vibrate more quickly than is natural. Hence the wired buzz. This is why most people cannot sit in front of the computer for very long without incurring a headache. The reason for the headache, or eye ache, is because of the EMFs from computer disturb the body's natural frequency.

This continues on through the night via the refrigerators that stay on, the wi-fi, or the cordless phone frequencies. Even the electricity that runs through your wall has a higher frequency.

Like this comment
Posted by Ignorance is bliss
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

Wow, Mom. No need to post any response to your posting, it speaks for itself!!!

Like this comment
Posted by BLM
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm

If you noticed during the World Series, a lot of players are wearing these "vortex" necklaces that claim to "balance the body's natural frequencies." I suppose they do look moderately cool, but obviously its pseudoscientific claims are hogwash. Great if you are in the business of selling those necklaces though!

Like this comment
Posted by SmartJerry
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I can't believe some people.. a Federal law was made that doesn't allow people to stop cell phone towers due to health concerns because there are no threats to your health. This issue has come up over and over, and still people don't trust them, science, and the government. Come on.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 12, 2010 at 6:53 pm

How is the human body's frequency measured? How come the scientists that I know, who are excruciatingly careful when dealing with something dangerous or something potentially dangerous, not freaking out about this? Perhaps because it's pseudoscience?

Like this comment
Posted by BILL
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2010 at 7:45 pm

You folks who decry the warnings here, what do you know about the standards in
Europe ? Or is there some magic is U.S. standards, arrived at with the help of
U.S. telecommunication lobbyists........

Like this comment
Posted by ban cell phones
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

If you don't want cell phone towers in your city, then ask the city to ban cell phones completely. If you own a cell phone, then you need a tower to make it work.

Besides, the radiation coming from the cell phone is a lot more dangerous than the radiation coming from the tower (since the cell phone is a lot closer to your brain).

Like this comment
Posted by Yeah Right
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I would love to be as blissfully innocent as the people who post who feel so confident trusting the government and industry in whatever they do and decide. No need to keep a critical eye out, Congress and Big Business has our back :) I can only suppose you haven't followed a single news story for the last 40 years. Enron, Exxon, on and on. New Orleans, financial crisis, AIG, tobacco, lead paint, thalidomide, Worldcom, asbestos, Savings & Loans, Bhopal.

So everything the government & industry says and does is fact? Umm ok.

Did you realize... Neither the Congress nor the FCC ever made claims that these are safe. They just declared a maximum exposure limit. The FCC has not one single medically trained professional on their staff to evaluate the research. Not one. They rely 100% on other government agencies to tell them what to do. And who is telling the other government agencies what to do? The CTIA.
AT&T alone made $130 BILLION last year. That’s more than it cost to conduct the war in Iraq (about $109 Billion/yr according to CBO).
All that money buys a whole lot of bunk science. The way the maximum exposure limit was actually determined was by exposing monkeys to high doses of RF. They freaked out and stopped eating. They gradually reduced the RF until the monkeys stopped freaking out. That's the limit we have.

How can you trust a regime that has declared any and all research of the last 15 years to be completely inadmissible?

Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The people who oppose the cellular towers are the same ones that oppose vaccines (autism) and nuclear energy (mutant babies). They are completely irrational, and should be ignored from a political perspective.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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