Wireless Technology Policy

Sunroom Desk Utility Technologies Archive – posts on almost every document or hearing summarized below, many other news items and policy issues related to wireless technology and broadband.

Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers
Letter to Glendale News Press – January 5, 2009 – objections to wireless sites in residential zones, recommendations to city
Update for Glendale residents – February 4, 2009
Fact Sheet – April 2009 – Review of local, state, and federal telecom issues
Petition to City Council on Broadband Plan – May 26, 2009
Critique of Pasadena Draft Wireless Ordinance – June 9, 2009 – delivered to Glendale City Council with advice on Glendale’s ordinance
Comments on Draft Ordinance – October 28, 2009
Fact Sheet on Planning Commission hearing – February 3, 2010
Comments at City Council hearing on final ordinance – April 6, 2010

Local Government Hearings – Video Archives
Glendale City Council meeting – January 7, 2009 – (Discussion begins at 1hr, 23min, GOACT presentation at 1hr, 59min) Advocating a moratorium on cell site installations, GOACT delivers a convincing presentation.
Glendale City Council meeting – February 10, 2009 – (GOACT members appear during public comment at 1hr, 37min) GOACT reports positive community reaction to T-Mobile’s withdrawal, asks to work with wireless providers and the city, and advises the city on Pasadena’s wireless ordinance.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – May 26, 2009 – La Crescenta community members prevail against Sprint appeal for cell site on Foothill Blvd.
Glendale City Council – May 26, 2009 – (Discussion begins at 1 hr, 16min) GOACT calls for the city to send comments to the FCC condemning Section 704 of the 1996 Federal Telecom Act.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – June 2, 2009 – Board condemns federal and state laws that restrict municipal control over wireless siting.
Glendale City Council meeting – June 2, 2009 – (Discussion begins at 1hr, 1min) City staff and council discuss FCC Broadband Plan, existing wireless siting rules, and city comments to the FCC.
Glendale City Council meeting – June 9, 2009 – (Discussion begins at 53min) – Council adopts resolution to send comments condemning federal laws restricting municipal control over wireless siting, votes to extend wireless moratorium – GOACT and industry representatives testify on both matters.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – June 23, 2009 – View Park/Windsor Hills community prevail against T-Mobile proposed cell tower.
Glendale City Council meeting – September 29, 2009 – (Discussion begins at 2hr, 3min) – Council votes to retain expert legal counsel to fight the wireless industry “shot-clock” petition now before the FCC, joining a coalition of cities advocating for local control over wireless installations.
Glendale Planning Commission hearing on revised draft wireless ordinance – February 3, 2010 (Part 1 of 2 – Discussion begins at 2hr, 37min; discussion continues on Part 2 of 2)
Glendale City Council meeting – March 9, 2010 – (Discussion begins at 2hr, 21min) – City Council votes to join coalition of cities including Arlington, Texas in opposing FCC Declaratory Ruling on limitations to municipal authority over telecommunication facility siting.
City Council hearing on final draft wireless ordinance with staff-proposed addendum – April 6, 2010 (Discussion begins at 1hr, 5min) – staff report, community, industry, and council member comments.

City of Glendale Staff Reports on Wireless Ordinance
Discussion of the Placement of Commercial Wireless Facilities Including the Placement of Wireless Antennas in Residential Areas and an Analysis of the Current State of the Law Including Consideration of an Interim Urgency Ordinance Establishing a Moratorium on the Installation of Wireless Facilities in Residential Areas – January 7, 2009

Report Regarding Development of a National Broadband Plan by the Federal Communications Commission and its Call for Comments – June 2, 2009

Consideration Of Resolution Advocating Amendments To The Telecommunications Act Of 1996 To Permit Local Governments To Consider The Health And Environmental Effects Of Radio Frequency Emissions From Wireless Communications Facilities; And To Support Greater Zoning Powers For Local Governments With Regard To The Placement Of Such Facilities And Communicating Same To The President And The U.S. Congress – June 9, 2009

Discussion Regarding the Placement of Commercial Wireless Facilities in the City and Consideration of an Urgency Ordinance Extending a Temporary Moratorium on the Placement of Commercial Wireless Facilities – June 9, 2009
Includes map of existing wireless sites in Glendale

First Draft of Glendale Wireless Ordinance released for Community Review – October 28, 2009

Report to Planning Commission on Amendments to Titles 12 and 30 of the Glendale Municipal Code, the Downtown Specific Plan, the Town Center Specific Plan and the South Brand Boulevard Specific Plan relating to the placement of Wireless Telecommunications Facilities – February 3, 2010
With revised draft ordinance

Ordinance Regulating the Placement of Commercial Wireless Facilities in the City – April 6, 2010

Addendum to the Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance Proposed at the City Council public hearing on April 6, 2010

National/International Resources
Coalition for Local Oversight of Utility Technologies (CLOUT) – petition to rescind 1996 Telecom Act, Sec. 704; links to municipal comments sent to FCC and supporters throughout the U.S.
Environmental Working Group Report on Cell Phone Radiation – includes guide to individual cell phone radiation levels
U.S. Senate Hearing on the Health Effects of Cell Phone Use – September 14, 2009 – U.S. and international experts cite potential increased risks for brain cancer following long-term cell phone use
CTIA Statement on “The Health Effects of Cell Phone Use” – September 14, 2009 – Wireless association response to the Senate hearing, stating evidence to date does not show adverse health effects from cell phone use.
EMR Policy Institute Congressional Briefing Part 1 – May 10, 2007 – Cell Phone Tower Radiation (link to Parts 2-7 from YouTube sidebar)
The Electromagnetic Radiation Policy Institute
Microwave News
Coalition to Regulate Antennae Siting
RCR Wireless
Wireless Tower Siting Issues
International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety

Local Resources
Burbank: Burbank is currently researching its options for a new wireless ordinance. The residents’ group Burbank ACTION has compiled helpful resources on both its webpage and its Facebook page (No Cell Tower in our Neighborhood)

Culver City: Stop Sawtelle Tower prevented a cell site in their neighborhood, and donated the following to Sunroom Desk documenting their analysis of the permit application, their objections, and T-Mobile’s responses:
Synopsis of Stop Sawtelle Tower Research and Actions
Stop Sawtelle Tower Analysis of Candidate Sites
T-Mobile Responses (in red) to Stop Sawtelle Tower Objections
Stop Sawtelle Tower Comments on T-Mobile Responses

Los Angeles: The Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Working Group has called on Los Angeles city council to craft updated rules for cell sites; it put these documents together for LA residents.
What Can Neighborhood Councils Do to Control Cell Tower (WTF) Siting & Aesthetics?
Los Angeles WTF Working Group Position Paper on WTF Regulation
Cell Tower Background Information and Concerned Organizations
Glossary of Terms & Phrases re WTF Proliferation/Regulation
(with summaries of pertinent federal and state laws and high court rulings)

Existing City, State, and Federal Wireless Citing Rules
Changes to the Glendale Municipal Code Regarding the Regulation of Wireless Facilities and Changes to the Glendale Downtown Specific Plan and other Glendale Districts Regarding the Regulation of Wireless Facilities – as of April 13, 2010
California Public Utilities Code, Sec. 7901 – “Telegraph or telephone corporations may construct lines of telegraph or telephone lines along and upon any public road or highway, along or across any of the waters or lands within this State, and may erect poles, posts, piers, or abutments for supporting the insulators, wires, and other necessary fixtures of their lines, in such manner and at such points as not to incommode the public use of the road or highway or interrupt the navigation of the waters.”
1996 Federal Telecommunications Act, Section 704 – Page 117 – “The regulation of the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities by any State or local government or instrumentality thereof–
(I) shall not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services; and
(II) shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services.
… (iv) No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.”

Recent Ninth Circuit Court Rulings on Wireless Citing
MetroPCS v. City of San Francisco – March 2005 – Upheld “least intrusive means” as a municipal standard for wireless facilities.
Sprint Telephony v. County of San Diego – September 2008 Upheld San Diego County’s wireless ordinance (the Supreme Court denied Sprint’s appeal).
T-Mobile USA v. City of Anacortes, Washington – July 2009 Required local governments to identify feasible alternatives to disfavored locations.
Sprint v. City of Palos Verdes Estates – October 2009 Ruled that the city’s aesthetic objections were valid, and consistent with its zoning practices.

Issues and Players
Net NeutralityFCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed net neutrality rules on September 21, 2009 requiring provision of equal access to all internet sites. The wireless industry does not want to be subject to these rules, which would limit their ability to control network traffic and to direct users away from competitors or bandwidth-heavy applications. A three-judge panel ruled against the FCC and for Comcast on this matter in April 2010, casting doubt on the commission’s ability to enforce balanced access to internet sites and services.
Broadband – The FCC’s 2010 Broadband Plan for the Future aims to make high-speed broadband available throughout the U.S. The #2 long-term goal is for the U.S. to “lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.” Wireless broadband service is slower and less secure than fiber-optic wireline service, and towers and transmitting stations must be built to deploy it (in contrast to wireline service, which can piggyback on existing utility lines and poles). Mobile carriers report (September 27, 2009) that smartphones are straining their capacity. Thousand more towers must be built; and spectrum could be taken away from local broadcasters and given to wireless providers.
Wireless 911 Emergency ResponseT-Mobile mentioned 911 emergency coverage as one reason for needing a cell site in northwest Glendale, but wireless industry 911 claims are self-serving and actually misleading – a 911 call from a cell phone will connect to any available network, even if the phone has no contract. Cell phone 911 calls are less reliable – they don’t connect to local emergency response dispatchers, and the phones themselves cannot be traced as accurately as landlines. Organizations such as COMCARE are pushing for enhanced mobile 911 response and tracking, but it isn’t a reality yet.
Nonionizing radiationDevra Davis of the University of Pittsburgh just testified at a U.S. Senate hearing in support of precautions to avoid potential health risks from cell phone radiation. The Environmental Working Group posted an online guide to assessing individual cell phones’ radiation output. The Food and Drug Administration says that more study is needed. The FCC website estimates the risk from cell phone radiation as “probably very small”.
Municipal Zoning Concerns – Wireless trade association CTIA petitioned the FCC to impose “shot-clock” deadlines of 45 to 75 days for approval of all wireless permits. SCAN NATOA (a coalition of government telecom managers) filed this opposition to the CTIA request. The FCC unanimously imposed “shot-clock” deadlines of 90 to 150 days for municipal processing of wireless facility permits at its November 2009 meeting. A coalition of cities is appealing certain aspects of the decision, while Arlington, Texas (joined by Glendale, California) is appealing the decision at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

California Community Groups
Burbank ACTION – No Cell Tower in our Neighborhood
Culver City – Stop Sawtelle Tower Group
Mission Viejo Cell Out
Oceanside City Accountability for Neighborhoods
RAP for Richmond – Responsible Antenna Placement and Planning
San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna Free Union
San Rafael Families Against Cell Towers (FACT)

West San Pedro Neighborhood Alliance
Windsor Hills/View Park MySpace page
Regional Coalition REACT: Residents Engaged Against Cell Towers
REACT Calls for LA County Moratorium – February 18, 2009
REACT Comments for FCC National Broadband Plan – June 7, 2009