Image: A Minor Communications Facility with a 100 ft. cell tower sits inside active Burial Block 13 with graves at the 2-acre historic Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery est. 1950 (aka Seattle Pet Cemetery). Humans, pets, K-9s officers and other service animals are buried here.
The public comments to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council are from a multi diverse community of cemetery patrons, residents bordering a cemetery, community members, and interested parties who oppose the desecration of a 2-acre historic cemetery by a 100-foot cell tower placement inside an active burial block with graves and that is TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE to cemetery patrons, residents, and visitors in their unincorporated South King County community of color, immigrants, refugees, and low-income households. More information: K-9s, Pets and People Over Profit, Twitter @kppoverprofit. Contributions to help this coalition bring environmental and economic justice to their community and so this does not set a precedent nationwide can be made at GoFundMe https://www.gofundme.com/f/
August 18, 2022 Letter to White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Honorable Members of the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council,
RE: “Environmental Justice Scorecard” and cell tower placement, bringing awareness to our experience
Our community was invited by Dr. Theodora Scarato, Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust (EHT), to provide public comments to the “White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council” and ask that the issue of cell tower placement be included on the Environmental Justice Scorecard that the federal government is preparing.
We respectfully request that the issue of cell tower placement be included on the Environmental Justice Scorecard that the federal government is preparing.
We are 29 people of over 100+ people and counting who represent a multi diverse community of cemetery patrons, residents bordering a cemetery, community members, and interested parties adversely impacted by one 100-foot cell tower permitted during COVID-19 (2020) inside an active burial block with graves and mourners at the 2-acre historic Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery est. 1950, in unincorporated South King County (Kent, WA), breaking WA State cemetery laws and violating King County Code (KCC). Humans, pets, K-9 Officers, and service animals for the blind are interred here in a continuously run, active historic cemetery, the county’s primary burial place for companion animals for 72 years and its role in the social rituals of the community. This is a human cemetery as defined by state cemetery law with state law protections. The historic Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery is a King County Community Landmark, is officially eligible for King County Landmark designation, and is officially eligible for entries in the Washington State Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (KC DPER) violated their own KCC by permitting this 100-foot cell tower in our 2-acre historic cemetery dedicated for cemetery use, by permitting in the wrong zone of Industrial with a P suffix “I-P” (not the zone of the cemetery, which is Neighborhood Business “NB”, a cemetery cannot be zoned I-P), and by permitting without requiring the correct Conditional Use Permit (CUP). KCC only allows for a 60-foot cell tower in a NB zone without a CUP. Our local county government even pushed this cell tower through as an accessory use to a cemetery which violates WA State cemetery law and KCC. The WA State Department of Archeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) requested the re-opening of both the state and federal environmental processes, i.e., the SEPA and Section 106, based on the non-disclosure of human remains and the non-disclosure of the historic and cultural significance of the cemetery property on the applications, but were denied by the county and federal governments. Both the federal and county governments said their hands were tied.
King County pointed the marginalized and disenfranchised residents to King County Superior Court on this incorrect permit which created an insurmountable barrier for our community of color, immigrants, refugees, and low-income households (including Section 8 housing). The correct permit, a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) would have been appealable to the King County Hearing Examiner, much less of a barrier. Marginalized and disenfranchised cemetery patrons were not notified as they are not required to be notified according to KCC. Despite our attempts with King County to get KCC changed to notify cemetery patrons of proposed land use actions, we have had no success to date. Not a priority.
The 100-foot cell tower is TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE to cemetery patrons practicing their religious freedom and rites with their deceased beloveds laid to rest in marked and unmarked graves both inside and outside of burial blocks, to residents bordering the cemetery and adjacent to the cell tower who live here and expect quiet enjoyment, and visitors who come to the cemetery and cemetery neighborhood at least expecting PUBLIC SAFETY. We all are expecting at the very least PUBLIC SAFETY. Safety from harm to our physical and mental health.
Imagine sharing Burial Block 13 with your beloved mother’s grave and a 100-foot cell tower literally looming overhead complete with penitentiary-style razor wire and a posted Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radio frequency radiation emissions warning sign. Imagine the 100-foot cell tower with the potential of four multibillion-dollar international telecom corporations (one tower builder, three cell carriers) doing business literally right next to you while you grieve and memorialize your deceased beloveds or while you live less than 155 feet away. How do you feel when you hear a case of regulatory neglect that matters here? On August 13, 2021 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the FCC ignored scientific evidence and failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its determination that its 1996 regulations adequately protect the public against all the harmful effects of wireless radiation. EHT et al. v. FCC 2021.
We are not anti-technology, but for safe technology and the appropriate placement of cell towers. No cell towers in cemeteries where our ancestors and our beloved companion and service animals lay, and where people practice their religious freedom and rites. This is the United States of America. This is common sense. No cell towers TOO HIGH, TOO CLOSE that would land, if they fell over (which literally does happen) in people’s yards or hit their houses. God forbid injure or kill a person or animal. Cell tower placement needs careful consideration to ensure environmental justice and not the opposite.
King County has admitted to mistakes, yet we see they are not assigning any penalties to themselves. Sadly, King County to date has not remedied the egregious environment and economic injustices that is harming our community and is not attending to the ultimate PUBLIC SAFETY issue they have created. King County is not interested in making things right with a community of color, immigrants, refugees, and low-income households (including Section 8 housing). How do we know this? We have collectively fought this cell tower placement from the beginning since February 1, 2019 (over 3-1/2 years). Our local county government has not gotten back to us with any remedy. We ask King County not to issue any further permits on this tower. They proceed. We ask them to rescind the tower permit and pay the damages. We wait. They can certainly do this. In fact, this 100-foot tower here was a result of a new plan when a tri-county project (involving King County), “Sound Transit”, took over a cell tower by eminent domain less than a ½ mile away. Our local county government demonstrates that they do what they want.
We think that by including the issue of cell tower placement on the Environmental Justice Scorecard that the federal government is preparing will help bring awareness to our experience and situation and the situation at large. Certainly, this could help others and our community too by way of supports.
Thank you for hearing our request and the environmental and economic injustices we are experiencing at the hands of government we had faith in to protect us and our sacred burial grounds from harm.
Points of Contact
Julie Seitz, Federal Way, WA
:Dean-Ali-Blackwell: Bey, North Bend, WA
- Julie Seitz, Federal Way, WA
- :Dean-Ali-Blackwell: Bey, North Bend, WA
- Lisa Jilek, Port Orchard, WA
- Victoria Shilley, University Place, WA
- Lloyd Guthrie, Olympia, WA
- Lanell Washington, Kent, WA
- Lee Lundquist, Kent, WA
- Darrell Herzog, Kent, WA
- Blanca Raymundo, Kent, WA
- Shukri Olow, Kent, WA
- Barbara McMichael, Des Moines, WA
- Anne Bosse, Kent, WA
- Dennis Jaraczeski, Kent, WA
- Phylliss Lundquist, Kent, WA
- Dana Yang, Bellevue, WA
- Robert Guadiz, Kent, WA
- Joan Hall, Greensburg, IN
- Rachael McAlister, Auburn, WA
- Rachel Wright, Redmond, WA
- Joni Dennison, Federal Way, WA
- Suzanne Vargo, Federal Way, WA
- Anita Petter, Kent, WA
- Kathy Sura, Kent, WA
- Trish Foss, SeaTac, WA
- Ken Jacobsen, Seattle, WA
- Cicely Wylde, Burien, WA
- Jason Goodwin, Tukwila, WA
- Laura Sullivan, Jefferson, ME
- Amit Sharma, Gig Harbor, WA
- S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA State, D-09)
- S. Sen. Patty Murray (WA State)
- S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA State)
- WA State Rep. Tina Orwall (D-33)
- WA State Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-33)
- WA State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33)
- WA State Rep. Jamila Taylor (D-30)
- WA State Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-37)
- WA State Department of Archeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) Dr. Allyson Brooks
- WA State DAHP State Physical Anthropologist Dr. Guy Tasa
- WA State Assistant Attorney General Sandra Adix
- King County Executive Dow Constantine
- King County Deputy Executive April Putney
- King County Executive Office Chief of Staff Shannon Braddock
- King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove (District 5)
- King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) Supervising Attorney Darren Carrnell
- King County Local Services Director John Taylor
- King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (KC DPER) Director Jim Chan
- King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (KC DPER) Commercial Product Line Manager Ty Peterson
- King County Office of the Ombuds Director Amy Calderwood
- King County Office of the Ombuds Senior Deputy Ombuds for Rural and Unincorporated Area Affairs Elizabeth Hill
- Greater Kent Historical Society and Museum President Eileen Lamphere
- Washington Trust for Historic Preservation Executive Director Chris Moore
- Environmental Health Trust (EHT) Executive Director Dr. Theodora Scarato
- David Bricklin, Land Use and Environmental Attorney, Bricklin & Newman, LLP