Cell Phone Towers: Are We STILL Having This Conversation?

Christina Wise is a friend of mine who lives in Boulder Creek, CA.  She recently recounted in an editorial “A Story of Cell Phone Towers and Bad Chi”.  It’s sad, really, because it shows just how powerful, mean and destructive an antiscience mob can be in the face of overwhelming evidence.  They pander to that mob mentality and are dangerous people.  Everywhere they operate they must be called out.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s the anti-vaccination club, the creationist “cdesign proponentsists”, charlatan faith healers or the local dowser.  Whats the harm, indeed.  In this case it’s pretty minor: ill will, lost business and the continued blight of undeveloped property.  Nobody was hurt, though when you read the story you’ll wonder if that’s not next.

Sad though it is, the story is a good one because Christina is picking up the fight.

Boulder Creek is a nice place between San Jose and Santa Cruz.  I’ve driven through there and lost reception, so I know of what she speaks.  Christina doesn’t have a blog but she agreed to let me publish her editorial in its entirety, here:

Boulder Creek: A Story of Cell Towers and Bad Chi

The town of Boulder Creek is rarely in the news. We get a little play when we hold a pancake breakfast or invite Santa to town, but otherwise, we’re just a quiet bedroom community.

At least, we used to be. Now we’re the town whose residents made the news by being at odds over the proposed installation of a cell phone tower. This idea isn’t a new one—Verizon has been working to solidify this deal for over four years. But a flyer created and distributed by a consortium that doesn’t have any ties to Boulder Creek got the townspeople talking, and by the time the county zoning administrators meeting took place a week later, lines had been drawn in the sand.

Every good story has a history to go with it. Chris Currier’s story started 40 years ago when he opened Mountain Mechanics, the only mechanic shop in Boulder Creek. Since then, Chris has earned his stripes in the San Lorenzo Valley. He has served on the Boulder Creek Fire Department. He is a member of the Boulder Creek Business Association. He has become the Honorary Mayor of Boulder Creek and leads our town’s 4th of July parade in a bright red Model T every year. For the past ten years, he and his wife have been the driving force behind the Red Hot, Red Hat Golf Tournament at the Boulder Creek Country Club, which generates thousands of dollars for BCFD. He has sponsored numerous Little League, softball and soccer teams, and is a regular member of the SLV adult co-ed softball league.

He also happens to own a piece of land that currently sits vacant in downtown. And Verizon Wireless was looking for a ready place to install a new 50-foot cell phone tower. As business transactions go, this was going to be easy. But the anonymously created flyer got the locals to start kicking up dust over the deal, and things went from bad to worse. In online forums, those with knowledge about cell towers, nonionizing radiation and radio frequency emissions posted information meant to allay concerns regarding cancer, cell division, radiated children and town esthetics. And the Curriers, who have contributed more to the betterment of our town than most others can claim, suddenly found themselves in the crosshairs of angered residents. Within hours of the proposed project coming to light, those who stood in opposition to it saw fit to share their views with Chris. A man who has serviced so many of our cars saw those vehicles drive past his shop with middle fingers extended and invitations to fellate himself being screamed by the drivers. Threatening calls were made to his home and his business. Current customers promised boycotts, but the coup de grace of the scene came on a day when two Boulder Creek business owners picketed in front of the Currier home. For a self-made businessman whose income is generated by locals, Chris didn’t have much of a choice: Endure hate speech being spewed at his family and his business, or squelch the deal with Verizon.

Squelched it was.

Rather than have a constructive conversation regarding risks and fears, the hippy-like idiosyncracies of our town’s residents were suddenly cloaked in guerilla tactics. Science be damned and all, the tower is throwing off my chi. Or something.

Let’s not ignore the fact that on the petition that was submitted at the county zoning administrator’s meeting, 70 of the 136 signers listed a cell phone number as their preferred method of contact (the petition didn’t contain 150 signatures as was originally stated). Yes, Virginia, NIMBYism is alive and well in Boulder Creek. And that anonymous flyer that raised the temperature in our town? It was generated by BioInitiative.org, a group that advocates for reducing electromagnetic radiation in towns that they don’t live in, and have no business in. Members of this organization will enter a community, stir the pot, get local folks outraged over a tower or antenna, and then move onto the next target.

And what are we left with? Dropped calls, spotty coverage and—my favorite—personal and professional relationships that have been damaged, some irreparably so. But be assured that, one day, a piece of property in our neck of the woods will come available, Verizon will reach a deal with the landowner, and the chi of our neighborhood will be disrupted once again.

– Christina Wise

My own parents have been negotiating with a mobile company for several years now on the same subject.  They live in the Allegheny mountains and the issue for them is, thankfully, not one of non-existent health concerns and the mob but the fact that they need multiple towers to provide meaningful coverage.  Residents in their town would kill for reliable communication to the outside world.

So let me get this straight: the residents of a tiny community in the Allegheny mountains, who largely live off the land side-by-side with the Amish are clamoring for a cell tower (or 5) and residents of a town just outside the epicenter of technology development are protesting over the potential placement of…one?

Boulder Creek, feel free to send yours to the Alleghenies.  The locals will probably build a shrine around it.

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About Peter

Peter is a Geocacher, competitive cribbage player, surfer, amateur magician, golfer and star watcher (the astronomical kind). In his day job for Datalink, Peter is a Senior Manager with their Cloud Service Management Practice helping customers build, manage and improve their legacy IT and Private Cloud infrastructures through Automation, Orchestration and clean living. We're not so sure on the clean living.
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23 Responses to Cell Phone Towers: Are We STILL Having This Conversation?

  1. Pingback: Cell Phone Towers: Are We STILL Having This Conversation? | The Practical Polymath | SLV Steve

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