Residents worry Palo Alto is 'celling out'

Telecommunications-industry carriers say they need more cell towers, but residents are concerned about health effects and property values

Channing Avenue resident Tru Love and her neighbors are waging a battle against the Catholic Church.

It's not over same-sex marriage, abortion or any other obvious hot-button issue.

The controversy involves a ubiquitous technology for which the church is not normally known: cell-phone towers.

In Palo Alto and throughout the Bay Area the issue is arising in cities and towns. Churches, schools and public buildings are taking advantage of the lucrative land-leasing market, adding to their bottom lines with a little help from AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.

Residents from Richmond to Cupertino are up in arms over the leases, which place the 60-plus-foot towers in residential neighborhoods, often near schools. They say that transmitter radiation poses health risks and the towers emit a hum that is disturbing. Residents also fear that towers will lower property values.

But mobile-services providers say the health risks are minimal. In most cases, the radiation levels are far below Federal Communication Commission (FCC) standards, they say.

With the ever-increasing demand for data and other services that go beyond the phone call -- enabling video, music, texting, image transmission, smart-home and wireless medical, business and government-management applications -- providers are trying to boost their coverage and bandwidth, industry spokespersons said.

The issue is being taken on by Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a San Jose nonprofit. Its Wireless Communications Initiative is working with cities, businesses, the public and the industry to promote model ordinances, help develop an area-wide infrastructure for wireless services, and assist the industry and municipalities in working together.

Companies can't accommodate the growing needs with the existing bandwidth, said Amy Storey, communications director for CTIA -- The Wireless Association. CTIA (formerly the Cellular Telephone Industries Association) is an international nonprofit group representing the wireless industry in Washington, D.C.

"Watching YouTube consumes 100 times the bandwidth of a voice call. The estimated mobile-data usage of a single mobile subscriber in 2015 will be 450 times what it was in 2005," Storey said.

Storey said the Library of Congress' collections and public demand for them illustrate one example of the pressures on the existing network.

The Library's National Digital Library Program has been digitizing certain collections and archival materials since 1995. Thousands of books, pamphlets, motion pictures, manuscripts and sound recordings will be available to the public at lightning speed.

"There are 22 million books in the Library of Congress," she said. To get a sense of how much data was carried by the nation's wireless networks in the first half of 2010, it's equivalent to the entire Library of Congress being sent 1.5 times every hour, every day. "That's 161.5 billion megabytes from January to June," she said.

From July to December 2009, wireless networks carried 107.8 billion megabytes of data traffic, according to a CTIA study.

"Even in those six months, there was a tremendous increase in data traffic. Towers are a very important part of our demand," she said.

AT&T has seen a 5,000 percent increase in data traffic over the past few years. The company spent $1.1 billion on its wireless network in California in the last six months, spokesman Lane Kasselman said.

"That's significant. From 2007 to 2009, AT&T spent maybe $2.5 billion per year annually on infrastructure," he said.

The company has applied for conditional-use permits to install a number of towers in the past few years, including at least two in residential areas: a 75-foot-high tower at the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club on Louis Road and a 60-foot tower at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church on Channing Avenue.

In November, AT&T withdrew its application for the Eichler Club site following a vigorous campaign by residents, who were concerned the tower would be close to Palo Verde Elementary School. Kasselman, however, said the company decided it probably could not get the variance it needed for the higher tower, which exceeded city 65-foot height limits.

Is it even necessary to build towers in residential areas?

"Palo Alto is a very tech-savvy city. It's unrivaled in the number of smart-phone users. We're seeing a record decrease of levels of wire-phone lines. People are switching to their cell phones only," Kasselman said.

Nationally, 22.7 percent of American homes are "cell phone only," according to a 2009 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Nearly half of adults ages 25 to 29 lived in households with only wireless phones.

"Folks say, 'Why don't you put the towers in commercial districts?' But that's not where people live" or need better mobile service, Kasselman said.

"The carriers have already built on the 'low-hanging fruit' -- the commercial and industrial areas," Ken Schmidt, president of Steel in the Air Inc., said. His consulting firm helps people, businesses and cities negotiate leases with wireless-communications companies.

Users want ubiquitous coverage and fewer dropped calls, he said.

"Note that this is different from the issue of simply having coverage in an area. Most areas have coverage and can see four bars on the phone -- but bars on the phone don't tell you how frequently you drop a call or how speedy your data connection is," he said.

Enter the churches, school districts, libraries and park districts within residential areas. Such sites are attractive to cellular companies, he said.

The benefit can be lucrative for the lessee as well as the companies.

Nationally, private landowners have netted roughly $1.25 billion annually from leases, Schmidt estimated.

About 15 to 20 percent of Schmidt's clients are churches -- "primarily because the decision makers realize that they need an outside consultant to advise them on the value of the lease rather than making that decision themselves and potentially not fulfilling their fiduciary duty to the church," he said.

Leases can pay from $500 to $10,000 per month, although the higher figure is rare, he said.

At Palo Alto's Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Manuela Avenue, the church has received $1,600 per month from AT&T since a tower disguised as a pine tree was constructed on the property about two years ago, said a church representative who declined to be named.

The tower was somewhat controversial. Residents who had poor phone coverage supported the tower, but others were opposed, he said. But no one has complained since the tower was built, he added.

Schmidt said the trend is likely to continue, as more school and park districts are approaching his company. But most times, it's the company that approaches the church or school.

Chuck Tully, business manager for St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Palo Alto, the parish that decided to allow a tower at St. Albert the Great, said the church "was not looking for" the lease, which he estimated would amount to between $1,500 and $2,500 per month.

"What's kind of nice is, it's income month after month. Every little bit helps. Is it significant to the overall budget? Probably not," he said.

Schmidt said the churches and schools are not the first choices among telecommunications carriers. The industry has historically built towers where they were easier to approve, on commercial and industrial parcels.

"The only reason a cellular provider approaches a church or a school is because they don't have a better option. This is due to zoning requirements whereby the local municipality requires that a new tower cannot be constructed and that the cellular providers must use existing structures.

"Because steeples are the tallest structures in many small or historic small towns or even in large cities, the carriers look to the churches. It really is a last choice though for the carriers," he said.

Ian Abel, facilities manager for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, said the churches are not taking the offers lightly, despite the money.

"The first question we asked is, 'Is it legal and is it healthful?'" he said.

Tully said the church has been doing "due diligence" by researching the towers and working to have a neighborhood meeting and to be in touch with schools and parents.

But some residents believe the towers aren't necessary.

They cite data gathered on websites such as, which show hundreds of towers and hundreds more smaller antennas already installed throughout Palo Alto.

While the accuracy of sites might be variable -- there are likely towers that are not listed because the FCC does not require their registration -- the sites may be the best guess as to how many towers exist. Palo Alto officials in the utilities and planning departments conceded recently they have no comprehensive way of tracking wireless facilities.

A recent search on the website of the Weekly's address at 450 Cambridge Ave. found 103 towers and 500 antennas within a four-mile radius. Three applications were in process, according to the site.

Tru Love and her husband, Stephen Stuart, found 13 towers in commercially zoned districts within one mile of the proposed St. Albert tower and they have spearheaded a campaign against its construction.

They cite peer-reviewed research that documents the detrimental effects of the towers on property values -- up to 20 percent lower.

Eleven real estate agents have also supported their contention and petitioned against the St. Albert tower in November.

Love and Stuart want the city to request an audit from AT&T regarding its wireless-communications facilities in the city and a presentation showing why it cannot simply co-locate at any of the existing facilities used by other carriers.

Six of the 13 towers "are registered to companies acquired by AT&T and there are seven others on which AT&T may co-locate. Prove that this tower is necessary," they told city officials in a Nov. 15 letter.

Love and Stuart also want the city to develop a wireless plan.

"The City of Palo Alto has a very weak zoning ordinance for wireless communications facilities. The city's Comprehensive Plan makes no mention of wireless communication facilities whatsoever," Love said, comparing it to extensive ordinances created by the cities of Richmond and Glendale (in Southern California) a few years ago.

Curtis Williams, director of planning and community environment, said the city has a zoning ordinance regarding wireless-communications facilities that requires a conditional-use permit when the facility is to be located in a residentially zoned parcel, is a stand-alone structure or if the height of a building-mounted antenna exceeds the height of the building.

The city encourages, but does not require, locating the towers on non-residential property and encourages screening, co-location with other facilities and architectural compatibility, such as the pine-tree towers, he said.

"The city is prohibited by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 from regulating wireless-communications facilities based on radiation emissions," he said.

Where a proposed site is of concern to neighbors, the city generally requires extensive information regarding the radius of coverage needed and an evaluation of other alternative sites, he said.

Williams said a study session next year with Joint Venture Silicon Valley will look at new technologies, such as the Distributed Antenna System (DAS), a setup of smaller antennas usually placed on utility poles, and how the city should plan for the upcoming 4G network, which is the latest system being implemented by the carriers.

The demand for new towers in residential areas caused City of Richmond officials to adopt an emergency moratorium to stop applications for wireless-communications facilities a few years ago, Lena Velasco, interim planning director, said.

City leaders formed an advisory group with carriers and residents to develop an agreed-upon policy. In 2009, a 30-page ordinance established standards for the towers and prioritized zones and required "maximum achievable setbacks" from schools, child-care facilities, residences, hospitals and mixed-use areas.

The law "puts the onerous proof on the carrier" to show that a location within a residential area is the only alternative and the best site, she said.

Since the ordinance was adopted and revised, there have been few problems, she said. But recently an issue arose when the city approved a structure in a public/civic zone at a reservoir. The existing law does not require a setback in that area, but the site is adjacent to residences.

Richmond brought in outside counsel and experts when it formulated its law and looked at ordinances in Berkeley, Albany and Orinda, she said.

There are always unanticipated consequences -- some things that can't be identified in advance, even with the best intentions, she said.

"It hasn't worked as completely as we anticipated. But overall, people feel better than they did two or three years ago."

Related story:

Are towers a health hazard?

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Like this comment
Posted by vote on it
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Neighborhoods should be allowed to vote on whether or not they want cell phone towers. If they vote no, then all cell towers should be removed and cell phones should be banned. Residents can use land lines to make phone calls, just like in the old days.

Like this comment
Posted by EcoMama
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Shame on you, Palo Alto Online, for giving the sensationalist Love/Stuart family airtime. There are PLENTY of neighbors of the church who WANT the cell phone tower; did you bother knocking on doors to find supporters? (No.) OUR realtors SUPPORT the tower's construction, as they've had bigger issues selling houses in the Crescent Park/Community Center area because of lack of coverage. Please publish a list of the realtors who've supposedly petitioned against the tower. If there are actually 13, it'd be fun to compare/contrast that with the ones who've sold houses in the immediate vicinity of the church. My bet is that there are few. Further, did you bother to vet the family quoted on their interest in this matter? Do they perhaps have a pre-existing adversarial relationship with the church and/or work for an AT&T competitor? (Yes, on both counts, by the way.) Get your facts straight. There are as many people up in arms about the opposition to the tower, but you didn't bother to find any of us -- just ran with the sensationalism with no responsible journalism to back it up. What a shame.

Like this comment
Posted by Laws
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Whatever laws prevent residents (residential units) from installing cell phone towers should also prevent churches from doing so.

Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm

As a long-time resident of Crescent Park living in quite close proximity to the Church, I strongly support the tower.

Like this comment
Posted by gghkkz
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:07 pm

God doesn't care where the cell phone tower is.

Like this comment
Posted by charlie
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm

This is a classic NIMBY example. Ms. Love is pandering to fear to win support; "Save the kids" she proudly displays on her sign. (Shown on the cover of the paper.)

Yet as the Palo Alto Weekly acknowledges, no studies have ever shown any negative health effects of cell phone towers. And so Ms. Love is left looking either a) ignorant or b) manipulative, using her kids to drum up support when other factors (property values, eye sore, etc.) are probably to blame.

(And for the record, I live very near the Barron Park cell tower/tree and don't notice it at all.)

Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2010 at 6:03 am

You just need to get a short distance away from any such antenna and the energy you will absorb from it is miniscule.

Web Link

If you were planning to sleep with your head touching the antenna, you might want to worry about the alleged health effects. If you don't plan to do that, why not worry about something that actually will affect your health -- your diet, say.

Like this comment
Posted by CellZoneVeteran
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:57 am

A church is bound by non-profit tax law, isn't it? How does a cell tower help their religious mission or comply with non-profit tax restrictions?
There are land use laws that should be restricting cell tower locations. What are they in Palo Alto? Property values will be devalued as more and more towers crowd your neighborhood. It looks bad enough already but if you allow more, be prepared for flashing red lights to signal low flying aircraft and proliferation everywhere. Depending on their power they might take over your garage door openers, your radio signals, and interfere with TV transmission. They (cell zones) are hungry competitive monsters that would probably eat their young.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Ken Krechmer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:57 am

The dangers, if any, from microwave radiation are still to be determined. So it is reasonable for people to have concerns. However, if Palo Alto residents are against cell phone towers and still continue to use their own cell phones, such people are demonstrately "two-faced" and their opinions should be judged accordingly.

Like this comment
Posted by WHat a joke
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 18, 2010 at 10:07 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by ban TV too
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

Television stations are broadcasting radiation into my house, too. I can see it right on my TV. Are these people calling for bans on TV broadcasts? Or do they not care because the antennas are not as ugly?

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Posted by TJ
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Why is the Weekly taking Tru Love seriously? Do you remember her bizarre campaign for council?

As for these towers -- we need more of them. Yes, these towers emit radiation. At a distance of just a few feet away, you'd get the same amount of radiation by taking a cross country plane trip.

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Posted by Adam
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm

This NIMBY BANANA strategy is really sad. What is even more sad however is that I can not get cell phone reception in my house only a few blocks away from the purposed site. Perhaps the family's should also fight to ban microwaves in all new homes as they emit radiation as well.

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Posted by U Gotta B Kidding
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 19, 2010 at 1:50 pm

This kind of nonsense is what happens when superstition stands in for knowledge and logic. It is much the same as the "immunizations will make my kid retarded" fallacy of the recent past. Don't believe me? Then do some research on your own and draw your own conclusions. Also, I fail to see how acting out in this way is anything but a bad example for the kids.

Fortunately, there is a solution for both the cell phone tower and the immunization issues - tinfoil hats. Alcoa, Reynolds or even store brand foil, it does not matter as all are up to the job. ;-)

I think that the Palo Alto Weekly article is poorly researched, given that it only presents the opinions of the tiniest fraction of the neighborhood. Did it ever occur to anyone to poll the neighborhood as a whole? Based on some of the posts here, it seems that Tru Love's views are far from universally held. The mention of relevant scientific research would also be a good idea.

As for the property values, which is better, a property will cell phone service or a property in a dead zone?

Like this comment
Posted by NeedMoreTowers
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I can't wait until the St. Albert tower is built . . . maybe I'll have consistent iPhone reception in my home in the neighborhood for the first time and won't suffer incessant drops.
As for the risks of tower radiation, if it's ok with the World Health Organization, it's ok with me . . .

Like this comment
Posted by AT&T sucks
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm

AT&T sucks. The problem isn't the lack of cell towers. The problem is network capacity. AT&T is been the worst rated cell phone company for years, so it's your fault for sticking with them. Switch to any other company and you'll be fine.

Like this comment
Posted by Don't be a h8r
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm

@ AT&T sux:
If Verizon gets the iPhone, you'll see just how a network can start creaking under a heavy load . . . it's all about voice/data mix and right now, AT&T has a much higher portion of data traffic, which is more bandwidth intensive . . . stay tuned . . .

Like this comment
Posted by AT&T sucks
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Android phones use just as much data as iphones. Verizon is selling just as many Android phones as AT&T is selling iphones. Verizon is still the top rated company in all the consumer surveys, including Consumer Reports.

Like this comment
Posted by Don't be a h8r
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I don't mean to turn this into a VZW vs AT&T debate, as that'll distract us from the real issue, which is Tru Love's ridiculous campaign.
That said, I use both an iPhone and a VZW blackberry and find the VZW data network to be painfully slow when compared to AT&T; indeed that may not be the case on VZW Android-based phones, but my BB is annoyingly slow. In the end, I tolerate my Iphone's drops in exchange for a much more robust data experience.
Let's agree to disagree on the network point, but let's also agree on the need to resist this True Love's junky, pseudoscience-filled clamoring in the wilderness.

Like this comment
Posted by Get real
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:44 am

Everything is bad for us! We're not supposed to eat tuna more than once a week. But I love tuna,and can eat it every day.

People were afraid of asbestos, yet unless directly exposed to it breathing or eating it- it's all around us, even in our roadways. So no licking streets. By the way, I chewed tar, as a kid.

Now we want our phones with good reception. While SOME don't want the equipment necessary to make that happen and functional, the majority of us need be the voice of REASON.

It's probably the tuna that's the worst. IF we eat gallons of it, daily, for 75 years.

Allow this location to have a tower. Complain about something IMPORTANT. Let's get real.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm

It's a shame that the City (and or) the communications companies don't install some permanent radiation monitors around town, and post the results (raw data and graphic representation) on the City's web-site. Being able to see the footprints of these towers, in terms of radiation levels, would go a long way to quiet this seeming hysteria over the danger of having these transmission facilities in our community.

Like this comment
Posted by WHat a joke
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Does Tru Love and her husband and neighbors use a cell phone? Do they have TV sets and microwave ovens in their home?

Like this comment
Posted by JerryL
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 20, 2010 at 5:41 pm

While I found the majority of the article to be quite even handed, there were a number of factual errors that ought to be corrected.
First, the height of the proposed tower is 50 feet above ground level not 60 as stated in the article. Secondly, the 50 foot tower will be built right adjacent to part of the church building. It is NOT a 50 foot tower on the roof of the church.

I also was appalled at the photo of the huge rural multifaceted tower you introduced the article with. I have seen the architect's rendition of the tower in question and it blends so well with the existing building that it will be unnoticeable within a few months of completion.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 21, 2010 at 6:30 am

@ JerryL:
Right on brother! I see the church from my front steps and was initially worried, but then looked at the plans and was *wildly* impressed with the rendering. Very nice work on the architect's part! Oh, and by the way, even if it were less aesthetically pleasing, I'd still be in favor as my cell phone service is terrible and I'm still troubled by how difficult it was to call and reassure family when I was stuck in NYC on 9/11 and cell service was unavailable. Disaster lurks everywhere and we need the infrastructure to support communications during chaos.

Like this comment
Posted by progress
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

Why don't we just go back to phone booths just to be on the safe side? They'll go well in the "walkable neighborhoods" where everyone walks or shares bicycles and there aren't any real grocery stores.

PA needs to change with the times just like everywhere else. Like many others, I dropped my land line this year and would welcome better cell service in my area.

Like this comment
Posted by Carol Winitsky
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Regardless of the various pro-con arguments regarding the cell phone tower proposal, the wording of the woman's (Tru Love) argument that "the Catholic Church" is behind the proposal is so completely ludicrous that her position is immediately tarnished by the ignorance of such a claim. Are we supposed to believe the this is a secret Vatican plot to take over cell phone communication. Maybe she's been reading too many Dan Brown novels.

Like this comment
Posted by Catholic
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Is the "Catholic Church" part of the women's crusade or something that the newspaper made up? I do not see any quotes from the woman referring to Catholics in general.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I'd like to know more about what EcoMama mentioned - Love's & Stuart's backgrounds re working for AT&T's competition & their issues w/either St. Albert or the The Church as a whole. Does anyone have viable info?

Like this comment
Posted by report the facts
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

yes the weekly dropped the ball on this article, writing another one of their fluff pieces based on someone spouting false pseudo science instead of doing some footwork to provide us with the facts. I would also like to see ecomamas claims looked into or is the weekly afraid of rufffling feathers?

Like this comment
Posted by BILL
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm


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Posted by Don't be a h8r
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 22, 2010 at 5:44 am

You do realize that much of the health information on the internet (85% by some estimates) is wrong . . . I go to trusted, credible, resistant-to-influence sources: the World Health Organization, American Cancer Society, the CDC. All those are sanguine about cell tower radiation.
Just because the Internet gives everyone a megaphone with which to shout, doesn't mean they're all equally worthy of our attention.

Like this comment
Posted by BILL
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 22, 2010 at 8:14 am


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Posted by Don't be a h8r
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 22, 2010 at 8:20 am

Indeed, it's helpful to think about all this stuff, which, indeed, the World Health Organization has . . .

Like this comment
Posted by BILL
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 22, 2010 at 9:07 am


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Posted by radiation causes one track minds
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2010 at 9:44 am

Looks like cell phone radiation has causes people to lose the ability to use lower case. You gotta turn that cell phone off some of the time or it will fry your brain.

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Posted by bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

Sorry. Should have said: austria has standards 10,000 times more protective.... etc.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

@ Bill, these other countries may be more conservative w/their protection (I haven't looked into that aspect, so I don't know). But how DANGEROUS are the towers? That's the issue, methinks. Re this issue, I have deferred to my partner, a medical scientist, who isn't panicking about cell towers. I an be as Calif Native New Agey (about certain things) as the next Calif native non-scientist, but I am still shocked how much pseudo-science there is in this area about these types of things. And w/a campaign mounted by a woman w/that unfortunate moniker, too boot. I think I'll focus on the water level of the creek during storm season :-)

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Posted by new in town
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Worse for your brain is the extra radiation dispersed by the phone working harder to find a signal that is too far away.

We went through this whole hysterical discussion last month when a small noisy group, citing widely disputed studies from Europe de-railed the Eichler club tower. They were relentless with misinformation in their so-called activist campaign toward the Eichler and AT&T executives until the project was cancelled.

Again, the noisy minority out-screamed the sane majority and our coverage continues to be poor.

Like this comment
Posted by Don't be a h8r
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 23, 2010 at 5:11 am

Seconding what "new in town" said, if you believe that radio frequency (RF) radiation is bad, then the real danger is the phone right next to your ear. RF radiation declines with distance, so a transmitter right next to your head generates more bio-load than one hundreds or thousands of meters away. The worse your signal is, the more power that phone has to use to acquire the signal, raising any RF effects. This is the worst danger associated with phones. If you really wanted to minimize net radiation, everyone would have a low-power transmitter on their roof (this is one of the promises behind wireless mesh networking).
Google all you want, but nothing supplants a basic college-level course in physics. Once you can contextualize, it becomes clear how junky peoples' science on this topic really is.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 23, 2010 at 8:18 am

Thanks "new in town" and "Don't be a h8r" for your analysis and comments. Proclaiming that the majority is sane and that basic college physics cannot be supplanted does little to broaden our understanding of cell tower risks (not the receptor cell-phone). Personally. I
did study math, physics, electrical engineering, statistics, and medicine. But none of that is as important as a modest respect for the nasty surprises that decades of experience may bring. Back in the 1920's German scientists saw a relationship between smoking tobacco and lung cancer. Since then the world has come to preach against tobacco usage, and still big tobacco interests continue to promote tobacco smoking.
To ignore European standards is to risk being misled. A lot of scientists out there believe the cell-towers contain a risk that must be contained while the eventual answers are slowly found.

Like this comment
Posted by EcoMama
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 23, 2010 at 11:51 am

For those interested, here is a link to the World Health Organization (WHO) and to its position on cell phone towers: Web Link Also, here's American Cancery Society's: Web Link

If you put a cell phone to your head, there is no question that you are exposing yourself to far more radiation/EMF/whatever than you'll ever experience from a tower. Even Europe agrees on that!

As for biases of those fighting the tower, yes, there are many: working for competitor companies, prior issues with the church, etc. There will probably never be a way to know if they really fear the tower or if they're acting on these biases. Because of that, I suggest we weed them out this way: if they use a cell phone, they're discredited.

Meanwhile, neighbors who want the tower -- like our family -- will come armed with real, American science. If I cared about or wanted European standards, frankly, I'd live there. We're in Silicon Valley, people, not the French countryside -- a pity, because there, this issue wouldn't have received media hype fronted by a family with its own agenda and published by a site that doesn't even care to poll the neighborhood or check out the folks involved. The truth will all come out, and the tower will be built -- and I bet that no one moves out of their house because of it (and when they don't, their hypocrisy will be further revealed).

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Posted by ugly
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2010 at 11:57 am

You people who are seeing a big anti-Christian conspiracy are missing the point. The main reason that people oppose cell phone towers is that they are ugly. They are ugly for neighbors to look at. And they are ugly to new home buyers, thus lowering property values. Everything else is a smoke screen.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

@ugy It sounds like this tower isn't bad looking, according to those who've actually seen the plans.

@EcoMama - I appreciate your posts. My partner's a European scientist & believe me, he understands why the Euro standards are the what they are re this issue, & he also thinks what's being spouted by this woman & her husband is pseudo science. This all is a good reminder to wear a headset, or use a landline, or send smoke signals for communication if you're really worried. Oh, wait, we have a lot of spare the air days & smoke is hazardous to our health...maybe the landline is the safest - drive around town w/a super long phone cord plugged into your wall jack...

I'd love to know what her issues are w/St. Albert's. It's always seemed to me to be a pretty nice church, nice personnel, etc. I'm betting the church has been there longer than Tru Love & her family. Yuck, I don't even like typing that name...

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

From what I've learned, this tower will not look like a tower at all--it will be concealed in a "bell tower" similar to what many churches (in Palo Alto) and elsewhere already have. In short, no
one will be able to tell from the outside that it's a transmission tower.

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