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Small cell towers do not belong in Tacoma neighborhoods




Andrea Haug

I am writing to you regarding the installation of 5G small cell towers in the residential areas of our fair city. The rollout of 5G has created uproar in many communities around the nation and the wave has finally hit our home town. What exactly does this all mean? I have to admit, I really didn’t know. I had only seen commercials that talked about how great this new technology is and how fast we would be able to download movies. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t like the latest and greatest technology? On April 25, my understanding of the situation changed and not for the better. I learned that the utility pole in the easement of my front yard was slated as a prospective site for one of these small cell towers. I began feverishly researching the subject only to be more and more concerned about our health as a community, our property values, and the overall lack of information given to us by the powers that be both locally and federally. I was very concerned about the fact that all of my neighbors and other people in the community I have spoken with had no clue this was happening!

These 5G towers seem harmless enough and don’t seem to clutter up the utility poles more than they already are, but did you know thanks to the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, under Section 6409(a), once a small cell is attached to a pole wireless companies have the right to expand their equipment. In fact, they can expand any number of times. In other words, once a site is built, municipalities have little power to restrict further expansions. This could rapidly affect property values because not only is there a potential health risk to the people of our community, but now there is a potential for a gigantic eyesore hanging off the pole out front. When given a choice to purchase a home near one of these locations or away from one I guarantee someone will choose the one away.

On March 30, the FCC passed an order allowing the installation of these small cell towers without an environmental review. This is both irresponsible and reckless as they themselves are using outdated information from old technologies to create the guidelines for safety we use today. The National Toxicology Program (a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services) is currently conducting a study regarding RF (cell phone) and the effects it had on lab rats and mice. The NTP will not be publishing their findings until fall 2018 (preliminary findings are available now). The FCC will have to revisit their guidelines and make changes if/when the study shows that cells are related to certain types of cancer. Why did an order by the FCC pass before these findings were published?

A call to action:

Our federal government is failing to protect us as citizens. The next line of defense is our state and local governments. The City of Tacoma needs to protect its citizens and the city needs to amend its ordinances regarding 5G in our town. If Tacoma wants to be responsible they will revisit the topic of 5G in our community. Residential areas should be exempt from the small towers for reasons of both health and property value. If progress is a must, let’s put these towers in business areas where people are only traveling through and not living their lives under it 24/7. Our first responders also need to be protected from the RF these towers produce. In Piedmont, Calif., firefighters suffered from dizziness, nausea, and headaches when a small cell tower was put on their station. How can our first responders respond adequately to emergencies if they are suffering from these ailments? No cell tower should be placed on any police, fire, or EMT station.

Tacoma needs to better notify all of its citizens regarding these small cell towers. They have not done their due diligence. They have only consulted one independent expert, who of course says there is nothing harmful about this technology. Present the people with both sides of the issue and let the citizens decide. What is the point of having local municipalities if they are just going to sit back and do nothing? Would one of our honorable council members volunteer to put one of these 5G small cell towers outside their family’s home? They cannot use the excuse that the federal government has tied their hands. This didn’t seem to matter when it came to legalizing marijuana or creating sanctuary cities. The only difference here is that defiance might cost them some money. Tacoma does not have a good track record when it comes to making decisions for us or the environment. Here is a chance for the City of Tacoma to do the right thing and proceed with caution. We can lead by example! Let’s not wait until we have a problem.

Everyone needs to write and/or call our city council members, state representatives, and our governor and tell them: “No 5G in our neighborhoods!” I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this.

Andrea Haug is a Tacoma resident.


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