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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Peter

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. Christina Wise says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Pete. Have you heard of this consortium, BioInitiative.org, that travels from town to town like anti-tech hobos, selling their wares of fear and hysteria to the fragile and dupable? Wonder how we go about taking a group like that down a notch…

  2. Peter Peter says:

    This right here is the highest density of bullshit I’ve ever read. So much fail :

    Overall, these 1800 or so new studies report abnormal gene transcription (Section 5); genotoxicity and single-and double-strand DNA damage (Section 6); stress proteins because of the fractal RF-antenna like nature of DNA (Section 7); chromatin condensation and loss of DNA repair capacity in human stem cells (Sections 6 and 15); reduction in free-radical scavengers – particularly melatonin (Sections 5, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17); neurotoxicity in humans and animals (Section 9), carcinogenicity in humans (Sections 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17); serious impacts on human and animal sperm morphology and function (Section 18); effects on offspring behavior (Section 18, 19 and 20); and effects on brain and cranial bone development in the offspring of animals that are exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy (Sections 5 and 18). This is only a snapshot of the evidence presented in the BioInitiative 2012 updated report.

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  4. John Arrasjid says:

    Chris gets my support. He has done so much for this town and this is a positive. We as a town need to look at the facts and make our own decisions. On behalf of those protesting and offering obscene gestures, they obviously don’t know you. You have our support.

  5. Rachel Wooster says:

    I would first like to state that this cell tower has nothing to do with Chris Currier, yes he is the land owner, yes he is in contract, but being against it does not mean you are against Chris Currier. Also I completely condemn any violent actions or threats being given to anyone on either side especially the Currier’s themselves.

    Regarding science here are a few studies you might want to read before you state that we feel our chi is out of whack.
    http://www.emrpolicy.org/science/research/fact_sheet.htm
    Evidence of harmful health effects on persons living close to cell transmission base station antennas.

    France (2003): People living within 300 metres of cell antennas reported the following disorders: “fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, feeling of discomfort, difficulty concentrating, depression, memory loss, visual disruptions, irritability, hearing disruptions, skin problems, cardiovascular disorders, and dizziness.” (Survey Study of People Living in the Vicinity of Cellular Phone Base Stations. Santini 2003, Electromagnetic Biology & Medicine, Vol. 22 (1): 41-49.)

    (Magda Havas, B.Sc., Ph.D http://www.magdahavas.org Expert Testimony on Health Effects Associated with Radio Frequency Radiation, October 10, 2005, citing: Symptoms experienced by people in the vicinity of cellular phone base station. Santini 2001, La Presse Medicale)

    Spain (2003): “Exposed individuals lived within 50 and 150 meters of the base station…experienced more headaches, sleep disturbances, irritability, difficulty concentrating, discomfort, dizziness, appetite loss and nausea.”

    (Ibid., citing: The Microwave Syndrome: A Preliminary Study in Spain. [Navarro, E.A., J. Segura, M. Portoles, C. G-P de Mateo. 2003. Electromagnetic Biology & Medicine, Vol. 22 (2): 161-169.])

    Germany (2004): “The proportion of newly developing cancer cases was significantly higher among those patients who had lived during the past ten years at a distance of up to 400 metres from the cellular transmitter site, which has been in operation since 1993, compared to those patients living further away, and that the patients fell ill on average 8 years earlier. After five years’ operation of the transmitting installation, the relative risk of getting cancer had trebled for the residents of the area in the proximity of the installation compared to the inhabitants of Naila outside the area.”

    (Ibid., citing: Naila Study, Germany (November 2004) Report by five medical doctors.)

    U.K. (2007): “Seven clusters of cancer and other serious illnesses have been discovered around mobile phone masts, raising concerns over the technology’s potential impact on health. Studies of the sites show high incidences of cancer, brain haemorrhages and high blood pressure within a radius of 400 yards of mobile phone masts. One of the studies, in Warwickshire, showed a cluster of 31 cancers around a single street. A quarter of the 30 staff at a special school within sight of the 90ft high mast have developed tumours since 2000, while another quarter have suffered significant health problems.”

    (Daniel Foggo, “Cancer Clusters at Phone Masts,” The Sunday Times (UK), April 22, 2007.) http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/personal_tech/article1687491.ece

    Germany (2009): Persons living within 400 meters from the cell tower experienced:
    “sleep problems, depression, cerebral symptoms, infections, skin problems, cardiovascular problems, joint problems, problems of the visual and auditory system, hormone system and gastrointestinal tract.”

    (Specific Symptoms and Radiation from Mobile Basis Stations in Selbitz, Bavaria, Germany: Evidence for a Dose-Effect Relationship, Horst Eger & Manfred Jahn, February, 2010, Umwelt Medizin Gesellschaft 2010; 23(2): 130-139.)

    You might also want to visit this site as well, since Chris is a volunteer fire fighter.
    International Associations of Fire Fighters – stance on Cell Towers
    http://www.iaff.org/hs/Facts/CellTowerFinal.asp

    This is my major argument against the cell tower:
    In 1995 the California Public Utilities Commission advised cellular telephone companies not to build cell towers near schools or hospitals. In 1996 San Francisco banned cell towers from being built on school property. Many other counties around the country and in California including but not limited to Los Angeles Unified School District have also banned cell towers from being built on or near schools. Boulder Creek Elementary is 700 feet from the proposed tower, well within the 1000 foot radiation field; given the precedence’s listed why is this site even being considered?

    • Peter Peter says:

      This is my major argument against the cell tower:
      In 1995 the California Public Utilities Commission advised cellular telephone companies not to build cell towers near schools or hospitals.

      Sorry about the out of sync insertion here but no, they didn’t. I read that report. I’m guessing you did not, since this is what the report actually says:

      11. Scientific studies have not indicated any obvious relationship between prolonged lower-level RF radiation exposure with increased mortality or morbidity, including cancer.

      What the CPUC essentially said is “hey carriers, do yourselves a favor and try other sites first because the locals will probably come hunting you with pitchforks if you try to put towers on school property .” They did not say “Don’t put towers on hospitals and school property.”

      There’s a cell tower on the hospital 3 miles from my house, for what that’s worth.

  6. Peter Peter says:

    There’s so much wrong with your cut and paste talking points I don’t know where to start, but let’s try:

    First, you have a hodgepodge of anecdotal and unverified reports masquerading as evidence. Is there a single one of those “studies” you cited that happens to be a peer-reviewed article in a credible journal? Maybe one, but as is typical with cherry picked evidence, you selected one study out of a large pile of studies. It took me 2 minutes to find a contradicting study from THE SAME JOURNAL. Nevermind that the single article is 10 years old, PubMed doesn’t even have an index record of this journal or the article and its impact factor is so low as to immediately flag it as a phony political journal. Add to those unflattering facts that all of these sources you cited are self-referential. Every one of them refers to the others in some way, such as your expert’s testimony, in which cites the journal article as his basis for judgment. That’s an appeal to authority anyway, made worse by the fact that you’re trying to pass that guy’s opinion off as one more damning piece of evidence. It’s no such thing.

    Basically, you’ve cited a pile of fabrications, anecdotes and political hit pieces to justify a political position and not one based on the evidence, the science or the actual impact. I don’t for a minute think you’re unaware of the bad science, terrible logical fallacies and fundamental dishonesty of your screed; your mendacity knows no bounds. What’s worse you don’t even understand the science you are falsely using to promote your specious position. What the hell is a “1000 foot radiation field”? (hint, you made that up) Who cares what the IAAF thinks about cell phone towers? Do you consult them on the best time to get an MRI or PET scan? No, I didn’t think so.

    Just so we’re clear here, I am at a disadvantage in the argument. I will happily reconsider my position when presented with some evidence. You are not burdened by such considerations. I’d like some conclusive research from a journal that isn’t better used as toilet paper with a methodology that doesn’t consist of “I asked Bob and he said it’s bad.” The problem, as covered in the ScienceBasedMedicine link, is that there are no conclusive studies and the issue is massively complicated. Could there be a link? Possible. Can we find it? Not yet.

    As I used to tell my son: I don’t think we have the answers, but we’ll have a lot more productive conversation about them if you stop making things up.

  7. Peter Peter says:

    Sorry, missed something very important in my reply, this:

    I would first like to state that this cell tower has nothing to do with Chris Currier, yes he is the land owner, yes he is in contract, but being against it does not mean you are against Chris Currier. Also I completely condemn any violent actions or threats being given to anyone on either side especially the Currier’s themselves.

    After you stirred up the mob, gave them false premises for their anger and as far as I can see never weighed in on this while Chris was getting threats delivered by that mob you now propose to condemn those actions? You should be ashamed of yourself. But you won’t be, because it’s not at all about anyone’s health, the community or any search for truth. It’s about winning a political battle at any costs.

    • Christina Wise says:

      Hot damn, Pete. That’s what I’m talking about.
      P.S. My editorial is going to hit the Santa Cruz Sentinel this Sunday. Would love to see you fending off the blowhards in force with me online.

      • Peter Peter says:

        That’s a full time job, fending off the blowhards. There’s more of them than there are people in possession of fundamental critical thinking skills.

    • Rachel Wooster says:

      I do condemn those actions, and I don’t allow anything negative to be said about Chris and his family in what I am handing for the opposition. Yes there have been actions by some who are opposed to the cell tower that I find extremely wrong, and I have voice my opinion as such, in person (to people after the hearing and in other situations that Chris is not the enemy and that I have nothing against Chris my arguments are against the cell tower itself and Verizon), online, in emails, and so on. I can’t control everyone. I was not part of those actions PERIOD. I heard about the hearing for 7/19 on 7/17, that is when I got involved. I personally have talked to Chris to thanked him for changing his mind regarding the cell tower and I would love to talk with Chris again if he likes.

      • Rachel Wooster says:

        If you don’t believe me you can read one of my online comments here, that I said to DaveJoanne Scruggs on 7/23 http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_23710206/verizon-pulls-plug-downtown-boulder-creek-cellphone-tower?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com

        I have gotten some flack from some people in person who have said oh it isn’t but Chris said what every, and I quickly shut them down, I don’t care, this is about a cell tower and Verizon. I very much think that a community that is tight neat like ours is strong and can do a lot, dividing our selves and demonizing anyone does not accomplish anything. I think that deep down Chris Currier is a wonderful person, I don’t know a lot about him since I am so new to Boulder Creek only been here since 2/2013, but been around the area since 6/2012. I do know that he is very active in planning many of the events in town, that he has 40 years as a business owner, that he donates to many of the local organizations and sponsers little league among many other things.

        • Peter Peter says:

          The fact remains that your entire case for opposition to the tower consists of junk science largely collected two organizations with zero credibility. The one (BioInitiative) has an obvious conflict of interest, the authors were unaware of what they were writing and is discussed thoroughly at the ScienceBasedMedicine link I provided. The other (EMR Policy) is arguably worse. Here’s what the courts had to say about them in a case concerning cell phones and cancer:

          Their reasoning, theories, and methodology have not gained general acceptance in
          the scientific community, as demonstrated by the numerous national and international scientific and governmental published reports finding no sufficient proof that use of handheld cellular phones causes human brain cancer, and by the array of established, experienced, and highly-credentialed experts called to testify by the defense.

          You can read the entire decision here- http://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Opinions/newman0902.pdf

          There are legitimate areas of concern and study in this matter and the link I provided from SBM highlights a number of them. The fact remains that the evidence is simply not there. Every time the effects are studied properly, the results are overwhelmingly negative.

          The science is tough to understand, the fear is not. If you continue to base your opposition on junk science at this point you’re not at all interested in the truth of the matter and just have an axe to grind. This is all too common, sadly. There are good reasons to oppose this kind of installation in your community but basing your opposition on a bed of lies is not one of them.

          It’s not my fight, of course, since I don’t live there but if you just don’t like the look of the tower, fear your own property value might decrease or simply hate Verizon you should just say that. You’ll probably be able to walk into the planning meeting with 100 people willing to join you in a rousing “we all just hate Verizon” chorus. That’s the community process at work. It’s ugly, but it’s honorable. Who’s to challenge your community’s unique values?

          But…if you get them all to show up based on falsehoods, you’re doing your community a disservice.

  8. Christina Wise says:

    P.P.S. “I asked Bob and he said it’s bad” will be the name of my next piece. I giggled so hard at that line that people in the lobby looked at me funny.

  9. Rachel Wooster says:

    Question I don’t see your article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel today, what happen, or was that just miss information just like the shop keepers picketing in front of the Currier’s home. So nice of you to spread even more miss information then their already is.

    • Peter Peter says:

      Good thing I finished my tea right before I read that. You visit my blog and cite outright fabrications. You were informed with copious evidence that your sources are discredited, self-interested hacks and ignored it. You didn’t even read the CPUC report, which comes to precisely the opposite conclusions you claim and now you come back to accuse someone of having otherworldly control over the editor’s desk of your local newspaper and impugn that same person by accusing them of spreading misinformation?

      You owe me a new irony meter and you owe Christina an apology. I won’t hold my breath on either.

      Let’s just chalk this up to what it really is, shall we? You are a credulous dupe who believes anything you hear as long as it comes from “your side,” whatever that looks like. This is religious zealotry and nothing more. We’re done here. My contempt for liars knows no limit.

    • Christina Wise says:

      Dear Rachel,

      While I appreciate a good debate, I don’t appreciate being called a liar. And I certainly don’t take kindly to being referred to as a liar by someone who barely has a rudimentary grasp of the English language, as evinced by your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Miss Information is the lady who answers the 411 line; misinformation is what you are spreading with your crackpot beliefs in hysteria over facts.

      Suffice to say that when I initially submitted my editorial to the SCS, editor Marc Desjardins, he notified me that my piece was far too long, and it needed to be trimmed to 550 words. He also said that since last Sunday’s editorial page was full, he would publish it this Sunday. I imagine that something happened on the way to the presses that derailed my piece; I’m guessing that it had to do with the timeliness of the subject.

      Fear not, though, Rachel. I have a message in to Marc, and you’ll be the first person I relay his reply to. Just give me your cell phone number so I can text you the answer. You, um, DO have a cell phone, don’t you?

  10. Paul Balch says:

    This whole problem could be solved if those who think a cell phone tower is a health hazard would just wear tin-foil hats on their heads when in town. This would protect the rest of us from the bad vibrations radiating from underneath.

  11. Carl Hill says:

    All radiation concerns aside, the only legal reason to stop this cell tower is because it would be asthetically unpleasing.

    I stop at Johnnie’s Market every morning, and look at those hills using the same view they are proposing to place this antenna. Even disgused as a fake tree, it is going to stick out like a sore thumb, period. The trees that it’s supposed to blend in with are too far away, and not even the same coloring.
    Now, at least one competitor, AT&T has excellent covverage, using a property on top of a hill overlooking Boulder Creek. There shouldn’t be a reason why Verizon can’t do something similar. My wife has a Verizon account, and she has no issue with coverage in town or even 4 miles away from it.
    So with no immediate benefit, and no dire coverage emergency, please keep a sleepy little mountain town exactyl that.

    • Peter Peter says:

      See, now this is what I’m talking about. A rational Person expresses a personal preference and isn’t ashamed to say “yup, not my style, and that’s all the reason I need”.

      Respect.

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