Ugh. Here we go again.
AT&T would like to offer some relief to those long-suffering iPhone owners in southeast Bernal Heights, who have long had to endure dropped calls and poor reception. This relief would come in the form of a new antenna installation atop the building at 3901 Mission Street (at College).
But before the antenna can be installed, AT&T must first secure approval from the City’s Planning Commission. Yet glumly and predictably, the usual crew of fearmongering, science-hating NIMBYs are already lining up to oppose the project.
This email was recently posted to a neighborhood mailing list:
Subject: Stop Cellphone Tower Installation @ 3901 Mission
(Mission and College)
The proposed installation would emit radio-frequency (RF) radiation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This site would be within a 300-foot radius of numerous residential homes and close to St. Mary’s Park.
Considerable debate and uncertainty exists within the scientific community about the potential health effects to individuals, especially children, from exposure to electromagnetic and RF radiation. Some adverse health effects show up immediately, but it can take 3 to 10 years or more for the longer-term effects of RF illness, such as cancer, to appear. More research is needed to provide a definitive answer. We should not be forced to act as guinea pigs in a bio-effects experiment.
We value our neighborhood as a safe, community-oriented place to live and raise our children.
– Attend the Public Hearing on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 12 p.m. (noon) at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 400
– Contact the Planning Commission:
Diego R. Sanchez
The Planning Department,
650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103
Radiation! Cancer! Uncertainty! AND WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN???!!!! All the hot-buttons are pressed here, in lurid, sensationalist, and grossly misleading form.
But is any of it true? Well, it is true that the antenna would transmit RF radiation 24-7. But then again, so does the KQED antenna atop Sutro Tower, the many geosynchronous telecom satellites high above, and the WiFi router you probably have in your home. OMG!!!
As Bernalwood has patiently explained before, RF is not the kind of radiation that causes cancer. And unless you want to be an intellectual bedfellow with Climate Change Denialists and those who refuse to believe in Evolution because it is “just a theory,” the overwhelming scientific consensus on the safety of this technology should be enough to put your mind at ease.
I could go on in this vein. But instead, I’ll just hand the microphone over to Neighbor Fiid, who recently cc’d Bernalwood on a letter he wrote to Supervisor Campos to weigh in on the proposed AT&T antenna at 3901 Mission:
Subject: New Cell phone tower on Mission St. & WiMax project on Bernal Hill
Greetings Mr Campos,
I’m writing to express my ambivalence to the addition of additional cell phone towers in the neighborhood. I know there are a brigade of people around Bernal that go around protesting any kind thing that looks like an antenna on the basis of “junk science”. You might think that I would write in support, but I don’t care enough about a particular project to do that; what I care about is that companies trying to provide better services to our community aren’t hampered by unnecessary burden.
As I’m sure you know, everyone expects cell phones to cause cancer, since they are transmitters that are very close to your head. It is surprising therefore, that a clearly demonstrated scientific link still has not been established. On the other hand, cell phones save millions of lives every day because they enable people to communicate in times of need and generally allow people to communicate better. Better communication hopefully allows people to be more efficient in environmentally destructive resource usage, like using cars, airplanes, or even coordinating food consumption.
If evidence comes to light that provides more clear evidence of health problems being caused, I will be the first to lobby in opposition, or to regulate any wrongdoing. But this simply is not the case at the current time.
The technology industry is a big employer in our area, and seems right now to be one of the only industries that are doing well in our incredibly tough economic climate. The economy is detrimental to everyone; government, that provides less and less of the facilities that support society as we know it, like social safety nets, infrastructure, and education. The private sector outside of technology is also suffering.
I believe the benefits that these projects provide both in terms of direct help, and indirect help via employment and economic and infrastructure support far outweigh the “maybe” risks that a minority of people use the threat of to torpedo the common good.
I wanted to mention also my dismay that the WiMax project on Bernal Hill was cancelled, for the same reasons; although I realize there may be other planning issues involved there.
I hang out on some mailing lists in the neighborhood; and I try to provide scientific and non-biased factual guidance for people on those lists. The anti-antenna lobby emails to that list have caused people to request me to weigh in on this issue with some science and fact, which I try to provide. I have received many thank you emails from other neighbors after doing this, so I think there is a majority of people that will not write to you in support of a cell phone tower, but who nonetheless reject the junk science offered by the vocal minority. I trust that you assess and take this into account when you establish your position on these issues.
Thanks for your time and your ear, and if I can help in any way, please let me know.
Nicely said, and eminently neighborly and reasonable, eh? So what can you do to help? Here are a few ways:
- Don’t let the tinfoil-beanie crowd get the last word. Attend that Public Hearing on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 12 p.m. (noon) at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 400.
- Write to Supervisor Campos (David.Campos@sfgov.org) to let him know that you want better telecommunications services in Bernal Heights
- Sound off in the comments to this post, to make a public statement about your desire for better wireless service (or just to vent about fearmongering NIMBYs).
PHOTOS: 3901 Mission, by Telstar Logistics