Objecting to a cell site about to be installed in front of a home, five years ago today more than 100 people petitioned Glendale City Council for better zoning protection (January 7, 2009 – jump to Agenda Item 6d). In April 2010, after a cell site moratorium, various official hearings and two sets of public meetings, city council enacted a new wireless ordinance that provided greater notices and protections for residential areas of Glendale.
Working with Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers from its beginnings during the holiday break of 2008 to approval of the Glendale ordinance in April 2010, I developed contacts with people fighting similar battles across the region and around the world. I spent hours archiving and linking to source materials for our fight, which can be found on the Wireless Technology Policy Sunroom Desk Page. I also documented the process on Sunroom Desk, with blog posts under Utility Technologies. I’m still contacted by people who want help fighting a cell site installation (the count was three this past December: phone call from someone in the city of Walnut, blog comment from West L.A., and an email from Virginia!).
In October 2013, I received an email from from Bert deGraaff, a Dutch researcher studying how citizens, policy and industry deal with cell site controversies in his own country and in the United States. In the U.S., he focusing on Glendale and Burbank, because “community involvement in the construction of cell towers appears to be one the most comprehensive in the world.”
In about half of the 451 Dutch municipalities, some form of protest against cell towers has occurred from the 1990s onwards, deGraaff reports. As in the U.S., health impacts are invalid as an argument against cell tower construction, if the facility meets exposure standards (set by the FCC in the U.S.; by the ICNIRP in the Europe and the Netherlands). The issues remaining include aesthetics and real estate values.
Here in Southern California, deGraaff is interviewing people who have been involved in cell tower installation protests. He’s spoken with me, with the leader of Burbank’s No Cell Tower in Our Neighborhood, and with city staff who worked on wireless ordinances.