Thursday, July 16, 2009

UTILITY FUTILITY ... AT 404 SAN VICENTE

It was an Exercise in Futility last night at Santa Monica City Hall as Kathy, Genevieve and I attended a public hearing to discuss Verizon's plans to install an industrial-sized "cellular transmission facility" atop the residence at 404 San Vicente. Here's the scoop: Verizon, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the perfect spot for a new cell phone base facility -- capable of processing hundreds of calls at a time -- would be on the roof of a condominium at the corner of Fourth and San Vicente. They approached the President of the Homeowners Association with a lucrative offer he couldn't refuse and he, in turn, presented it in the most glowing terms to the building residents. Later, after the deal was signed, the residents realized just how glowing the terms would be: They, and the elementary school nearby, would be bombarded with radiation morning, noon and night. They tried to get out of the deal but by that point it was too late: Verizon wouldn't budge and the initial proposal had already been approved by the City Planning Commission. Last night's hearing was to discuss an appeal, filed by some friends of mine who live directly across from the building-in-question. Residents, many of whom would be sleeping five feet beneath Verizon's transmitters, outlined their case: They're terrified of the health risks and feel they were tricked into signing the deal with Verizon. While they were arguing their case, I reviewed some relevant research Kathy had given me and made a list of all the health issues associated with long-term exposure in close proximity to cell phone transmission facilities: Leukemia, Cardiac Problems, Cancer (especially brain tumors), Mood Swings, Indigestion, Ulcers, Joint Pain, Suppressed Immune Function, Alzheimer's and more.

Five representatives from Verizon argued that the radiation from their equipment would be no more dangerous than a Gentle Ocean Breeze. One of them, pictured below, kept twitching his hands nervously as he spoke. "Look at how he's hiding his hands behind his back," said Genevieve, "That's the weirdest posture I've ever seen." "It must be an occupational hazard," I said, adding Neurological Disorders to my list. Verizon, for their part, admitted that they won't send anyone near the equipment-in-question unless they're wearing a Special Radiation Suit. How did our City Planning Commissioners respond to all this? Four of them -- Gerda Newbold, Hank Koning, Gwynne Pugh and Jim Ries -- seemed to wash their hands of the issue: They "sympathized" with the homeowners but said that the health concerns were beyond their jurisdiction. Only one, Jay Johnson, said he was inclined to vote against Verizon on the basis of the homeowners' concerns. Afterall, he noted, this was the first time that the City had ever considered allowing a major cell phone transmitter to be placed atop a private residence. He also reminded everyone that there already is a cell phone tower -- a Sprint transmitter -- directly across from 404 San Vicente. But it was all to no avail. Verizon prevailed in what I consider a Tremendous Miscarriage of Justice. Speaking of which, according to Dr. Neal Cherry, a biophysicist at Lincoln University, "prompt effects" of living in close proximity to cell phone base stations might also include miscarriages.


6 comments:

Beth said...

But wait...why didn't the residents protest this before the deal was signed? Did the pres of the HOA railroad the thing through? Was there some sort of kickback? Very fishy.

garnett109 said...

yikes!
Can you hear me now?

Lynne said...

Goes with when something seems too good to be true...and read the small print!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Ah, the greed of the few outweigh protests of the many :o(

Joann said...

WOW!!! I really, really want to take a stand against Verizon, and boycott them as my provider, but they really are the best provider around these parts... now I know why, they put transmitters EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE!!!! I'll seriously consider my personal boycott!!

Indigo said...

The money from the tower doesn't look so sweet now does it. Always, always think things through and research. There is always a clause somewhere in the fine print. (Hugs)Indigo