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Santa Monica Residents Appeal Cell Sites


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By Jorge Casuso

August 23, 2018 -- Three Santa Monica residents have appealed the City's plans to install small Sprint cell sites atop street poles on residential streets, saying they pose health risks and decrease property values.

Staff has recommended that the City Council on Tuesday reject the appeals and move forward with the installations in Sunset Park and the Wilshire-Montana neighborhood.

In their appeals, the residents contend that the sites emit radio frequencies that can be harmful and negatively impact the residential quality of the neighborhood.

The appeal of the northside site was filed by Manish Butte, who lives across the street from the proposed Sprint cell site at the southwest corner of 18th Street and Idaho Avenue.

"This small cell site proposed is distinctly noticeable as a cell antenna and thus irreparably harms the quaint, residential character of this area," Butte wrote.

Butte suggested that the City place the cell site at the public library branch on Montana Avenue "less than one diagonal block away."

Two residents appealed the proposed site at 2255-2261 23rd Street and suggested the cell site be moved to the commercial strip on nearby Pico Boulevard.

"This is a residential area where there are many elderly people who are home at least twenty hours each day with compromised immune systems," wrote Gracie Gomez, who lives near the site.

"I myself suffer from skin cancer and my doctors have informed me to stay away from cell towers," Gomez wrote.

Robert Parhami, who lives next to the site, said the City won't consider health issues due to federal limitations and laws.

"I believe any law that gives special unequal protection for health issues to cell phone company employees as opposed to residents living nearby the Antenna are not Constitutional," Parhami wrote in his appeal.

He said he intends "to pursue a class action suit against all responsible for disrupting my home and the safe enjoyment of my neighborhood."

Staff said the City's hands are tied by federal law that regulates the placement of the cell sites.

The Telecommunications Act, staff said, "preempts local decisions premised directly or indirectly on the environmental effects of radio frequency (RF) emissions."

The proposed facility, staff said, complies with "all of the applicable laws and Federal electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) emissions standards."

The visual impacts of the cell sites "have been mitigated through the use of camouflage and concealment elements," staff said.


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