Letter: Justin-Siena should abandon plan for cell tower on campus – Environmental Health Trust


Letter: Justin-Siena should abandon plan for cell tower on campus

We were very disappointed to read the article in the Napa Valley Register dated March 7, “Planners approve Dish antenna,” regarding the Napa Planning Commission’s approval of a second macro cell tower on Justin-Siena High School’s athletic field: The first of a planned new Dish wireless network in Napa.

At its March 3 meeting, four of the five planning commissioners (Massaro, Kelley, Shotwell, and Hurtado) asked excellent questions regarding wireless radiation yet voted hesitantly to approve it, after being told by the assistant city attorney that as long as it met the FCC’s RF radiation exposure limit, there was nothing they could do.

Unfortunately, inaccurate legal advice and lack of effective policy planning on the part of the Napa City Council put them in that position, resulting in a decision that puts students and staff at Justin-Siena at risk, along with the surrounding neighbors in north Napa.

Last August, the DC Circuit of Appeals ruled that the FCC’s RF radiation limit is “arbitrary and capricious,” since the FCC has not reviewed that limit since 1996, ignoring all of the science documenting the physical harms caused by wireless radiation that has accumulated over the past 25 years. The federal court ordered the FCC to review its limit and that science, and the FCC has yet to comply. The current FCC RF radiation limit, upon which the commissioners relied, provides no assurance of safety, and the commissioners could have denied the application on those grounds.

And what has the science shown over the past 25 years? That cell towers should be set back 500 meters or 1,640 feet from homes, schools, and businesses — something currently being considered in the New Hampshire legislature.

Although this cell tower was approved, we ask the Justin-Siena leadership to abandon this new cell tower and to not renew the lease for the existing one. A cell tower does not belong on a school campus, even if, as the Dish representative shockingly said, it is “not on the home side” and would be closer to the away team sitting in the bleachers!

Justin-Siena should pursue revenue streams that do not endanger public health and safety, and that won’t lower the property values of the surrounding neighbors.

In addition, the city of Napa should immediately update its outdated telecommunications ordinance to put provisions in place to promote safer telecommunications, something residents have been requesting for some time. There are model telecommunications ordinances out there, including San Anselmo’s, Mill Valley’s and Petaluma’s. Napa residents deserve the same protections as residents in these communities.

The planning commissioners are guided by policies put in place by city council. Never again should they have their hands tied or feel as though they are unable to look out for the public’s well-being. It is important now more than ever, as Dish has plans to come forward with more requests.

Napa Neighborhood Association for Safe Technology