Montgomery County

Residents Testify in Unanimous Opposition to Cell Tower ZTA 22-01 at a Truncated Daytime Public Hearing

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 22-01, Antenna on Existing Structure - Use Standards
Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 1:30 – 2:30pm

ZTA 22-01 lets carriers turn utility and light poles into cell towers just 30 feet from homes, with no prior notice to nearby residents and no chance for hearing or appeal.

The Council conducted a truncated afternoon public hearing despite letters from hundreds of residents urging Council President Gabe Albornoz (At-Large) to either cancel all action on the ZTA and let the incoming Council review cell-tower zoning issues, or at least schedule a full, evening hearing to allow time for many more residents eager to testify against it. More than two dozen residents on the wait list were never given an opportunity to testify at the hearing. Casey Anderson (Head of the Planning Board appointed by Hans Riemer and the Council) was given a priority and took up a speakers slot and then deviated from that topic to talk about zoning on pools and their enclosures. Not a single resident testified in favor—only Casey, Crown Castle and MD 5G Partnership.

Name Representing Time
Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, Somerset Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=317
Laura Simon Ethiogreen https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=452
Deborah Norris, Ph.D. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=582
Rick Meyer MC4T.ORG https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=719
Carly D. Crown Castle https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=853
Robert J. Montgomery Clear Vistas https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1017
Sue P. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1164
Susan L. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1288
Susannah G. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1427
Theodora Scarato, MSW Environmental Health Trust https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1532
Colleen C. Community Vision for Takoma https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1671
Anna O. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1807
Michelle B. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=1929
Katherine K. Individual https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=2066
Laura Toraldo MD5G Partnership https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=2217

Watch the entire hearing testimony starting here: https://youtu.be/xGW7OEVXOb0?t=105

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 22-01: Effects are harmful and unfair to residents and neighborhoods

  1. The FCC's recent big loss in court proves what residents warned all along: The Council can’t trust the FCC's safety standards for wireless radiation to protect our families. A federal appeals court ruled that the FCC failed to show that its 25-year-old safety limits for wireless radiation are based on science! Residents have asked the Council to wait for the FCC to justify or provide a reasoned explanation based on science for its RF limits.
  2. ZTA 22-01 takes aim at the rights-of-ways in residential zones that abut homes that are on smaller lots and have shorter setbacks. Persons of color and persons of low and modest incomes live in these homes with greater frequency than the County population at large. See New Report by Project WTF: SAY NO to Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 22-01 — Effects are harmful and unfair to residents and neighborhoods.
  3. 5G would be a huge new energy hog -- intensifying our climate crisis. Energy experts estimate that wireless internet communication technologies could be responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, undermining our efforts to combat climate change. Many trees also would likely have to be cut down for 5G towers –– a further climate cost.
  4. 5G has major cyber security problems by providing millions of entry points for hackers into key utilities and infrastructure.
  5. 5G is designed to support 3 million wireless devices per square mile, digitizing our entire lives and monitoring behavior 24/7 with massive invasions of privacy–– a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
  6. The NSA reports, “Focusing predominantly on 5G technology, the implications of privacy and security are contrasted across the competing requirements of high- speed, low-latency connectivity of billions of devices...the Internet is using much data about many people in many ways, and this raises privacy concerns.”
  7. ZTA 22-01's sponsors falsely suggest the pandemic has shown we need 5G, including to help wipe out the digital divide. What the pandemic has revealed is how many residents and businesses still need affordable access to safe, reliable, secure, high-speed Internet service. Improving wired connections –– that were paid for, but never delivered –– will meet that goal better than expanding wireless technology. We don’t need 5G in our neighborhoods. For equity, we need to make sure that wiring all the way to their premises for high-speed Internet is available for all residences –– including individual apartments –– and that the service is affordable for all, including businesses.
  8. Montgomery County passed Bill 44-20 saying that racial equity and social justice issues must be considered in all county ordinances. The RESJ statement for ZTA 22-01 is based on industry funded report.  ZTA 22-01, if passed will evade proper scrutiny. Such scrutiny is essential, because the County’s process for cell-tower oversight is broken –– including its failure to monitor radiation levels inside affordable, multi-family housing and other buildings it lets be used like cell towers, even when the rooftop antennas exceed FCC limits.
  9. “Small” cell antennas in front of houses reduce property values, according to the Montgomery County Property Tax Appeals Board.
  10. The Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board for Montgomery County lowered a Rockville home’s assessment: “Comparables warrant a reduction in value. Probability of neighboring cell tower also affects value negatively.”
  11. The Mayor of Takoma Park and most of Takoma Park’s City Council were part of an amicus brief supporting the landmark court case against the FCC. Residents have asked the Council to wait for the FCC to justify or provide a reasoned explanation based on science for its RF limits.
  12. In 2018, Councilmember Riemer, in supporting a previous court challenge led by Montgomery County, noted that he and others had asked the FCC “to make every effort to consider all available research and update their RF emissions guidelines accordingly. They have declined to [do] that...so we are taking them to court to ensure that they fulfill their responsibility to keep our residents safe.” ZTA 22-01 undermines the prospect of waiting for updated RF limits   –– to finally achieve the County’s very own goal.
  13. Evidence from hundreds of studies, including the definitive NIH National Toxicology Program Study, show that wireless radiation, from 2G, 3G and 4G –– all below 5G, causes biological and environmental effects. There is “clear evidence” of cancer from cell phone level radiation exposure. 4G/5G densification will add significantly to current levels of radiation exposure. Read more.
  14. Symptoms are being experienced by wireless deployments in other areas: firefighters suffered neurological damage, and injuries in Switzerland.
  15. 256 leading scientists and experts in Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) from 44 nations have signed an Appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) asking for greater health protection on EMF exposure as of August 2022.
  16. The insurance industry will not insure cell towers, antennas, poles, wires, and devices due to the health risks and damages from long term exposure.
  17. As of September 2022, 302,301 signatories from 203 nations and territories have signed an Appeal to the UN, WHO, Council of Europe, and governments of all nations to halt the deployment of 5G wireless networks, including 5G from space satellites.
Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Legislation, Montgomery County, Testimony

URGENT: 2 CLICKS TODAY to Stop a New Bill on Cell Towers In Front Of Homes

Don’t let this happen in Montgomery County, MD. Take action now.

Don’t want a cell tower 30 feet from your bedroom window?

Click the 2 links below to help defeat ZTA 22-01

The County Council is at it again. They want to pass yet another bill to make it even easier to build thousands of additional cell towers 30 feet from homes, on existing utility or light poles. This new bill comes despite adopting ZTA 19-07 last year, a zoning law the Council pushed through for the wireless industry over residents’ intense objections.

Two things to do NOW to stop this:

1. CLICK HERE TO USE OUR 1-CLICK TOOL TO EMAIL THE COUNCIL.

Tell Council President Gabe Albornoz (At-Large) and the rest of the lame-duck Council to cancel the hearing on ZTA 22-01 and allow the incoming Council to consider any changes to the zoning code. (The lead sponsor of 22-01 lost in his primary election bid, but is intent on one more handout to the wireless industry before leaving office this winter.

2. ALSO CLICK HERE to SIGN UP NOW for the wait list to speak against ZTA 22-01 at the Council’s Public Hearing on Sept. 13th.

The Council plans to allow only about 6 residents to speak for just 2 minutes each at a very short hearing on Sept. 13th. Show them that hundreds of us oppose this bad bill by making this a very long wait list!

___________________________

Related Post:

For Immediate Release. Statement by Rick Meyer, Executive Director, Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (MC4T) –Whoops, PHED Committee Chair Goofs Again; ZTA 19-07 Needs Big Band-Aid

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation, Montgomery County, Testimony

Thrive Montgomery 2050 accelerates deployment of 5G –– Tell the Council to Hit Pause –– and Add Equity

We are sharing this August 16th article and Action Alert by Montgomery Countryside Alliance (mocoalliance.org)

Thrive 2050: What it Says, What it Will Do, and Why We Have to Hit Pause

OF NOTE related to the proliferation of close-proximity small cells from that article, please find this linked PDF: Thrive's Sweeping Changes (PDF)

"Thrive’s Proposed Policies Would Bring Sweeping Changes to Montgomery County

Thrive’s proposed policies and those in its companion documents including Attainable Housing Strategies, would bring sweeping changes to Montgomery County - to the detriment of a healthy environment and affordable housing for all.

Here’s a partial list of Thrive’s sweeping changes. Thrive would:

"...Accelerate deployment of high-frequency networks in every neighborhoodexposing residents to harmful levels of 5G radiofrequency radiation.
Source: PHED draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050, October 2021, pages 50 - 51.  (Thrive 2050 Draft PDF: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/Resources/Files/2021/ PHED-CommitteeDraftThrive2050.pdf)"

Also from the PHED draft (PHED-CommitteeDraftThrive2050.pdf):

    • p48 — . . . the importance of virtual connections, including the deployment of high-speed wireless networks and fiber optic cable, continues to grow.
    • p50 — Support teleworking by accelerating deployment of information and communications technology and making working from home easier by facilitating Complete Communities. (Ec, Env)
    • p51 — Another essential building block of economic competitiveness is information and communications technology and telecommunications networks. Montgomery County should continue to prioritize advancing new technologies and making deployment of high-speed wireless networks and fiber optic cable – or other new communication systems – an important part of infrastructure planning.

Besides accelerating the deployment of high-frequency networks in every neighborhood, Thrive, if enacted, would undermine our existing Smart-Growth General Plan—Thwarting our ability to repair racial and social Injustice and equity.

Thrive Fails:

→ to stop sprawl
→ to advance Racial Equity and Social Justice in land use and transportation
→ to provide a path to success in meeting the need for affordable housing
→ to protect renters from rent increases and displacement
→ to protect our urban trees and forests
→ to protect our watersheds and clean drinking water supplies from pollution
→ to protect historic sites and structures
→ to protect our Agricultural Reserve so we can grow its capacity for food production

Read the entire MC Alliance article: Thrive 2050: What it Says, What it Will Do, and Why We Have to Hit Pause

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Montgomery County, Thrive 2050

Watch Now: PRESS BRIEFING June 28, 2021 – MoCo Residents Protest Radical ZTA 19-07

PRESS BRIEFING MONDAY, JUNE 28, 11:15 AM
Montgomery County Coalition to Protect Neighborhoods

Montgomery County Residents Protest Radical Bill ZTA 19-07 That Impose Cell Towers Near Homes — MoCo Council Poised for Straw Vote

Who: Residents, Community Groups, Advocacy Groups

What: Press Conference on Resident Opposition to “Small” Cell-Tower Zoning Proposal

When: Monday June 28, 2021

Why: Community groups and residents are outraged that the Montgomery County Council may move forward this week with legislation to routinely allow “small” cell towers in residential communities 30 feet from homes with no notice and no hearing. They could be even closer with a special permit. Monday’s Coalition press conference takes place the day before the full Council’s work session on this unpopular proposal, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Montgomery County

What Do “Small” Cell Towers Look Like?

Photos of "small" cell towers and other wireless transmission facilities

Junkyard right outside your home

Here is what a cell tower looks like to a Montgomery Co. family that got a 68' cell tower in their front yard because of a mistake. Eleven years later it's still there despite her and her neighbors' attempts at seeking remedy and testifying before the Montgomery County Council.

Stop ZTA 19-07 Yard Photo

Junkyard on a Rooftop Near You

Junkyard on a Water Tower Hovering Over Your House

Junkyard in the school yard (Link to article)

Junkyard in the Sky Smothering the Globe



 

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Montgomery County

URGENT: OPPOSE CELL ANTENNAS IN FRONT OF OUR HOMES — STOP ZTA 19-07 – Sample Letters – Contact the Montgomery County Council Today!

URGENT: OPPOSE CELL ANTENNAS IN FRONT OF OUR HOMES

STOP ZTA 19-07 – Contact the Montgomery County Council Today! —

 

County Councilmember Hans Riemer has revived his 2019 proposal to let cell towers be built as close as 30 feet from our homes –– on streetlights and utility poles, possibly two or more on a block. Despite strong resident opposition, Mr. Riemer seems eager to push this Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) through while most elected officials and residents are preoccupied by the pandemic. The Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee that he chairs will take up his proposal for ZTA 19–07 on Feb. 10th. Therefore, it’s urgent to voice your concerns to the County Council ASAP –– before his committee votes on it!

 

Lining our neighborhoods with small cell towers would increase more climate change, reduce property values, beam radio-frequency microwave (RF/MW) radiation 24/7 into our homes -– just to name a few harms. (See below!) A map exists of the intended plan for densification (cancel sign-in to gain access).

 

Even worse, in the past year, informed residents have exposed just how inept the County’s current oversight of existing wireless facilities is –– especially the antennas allowed to accumulate on top of affordable multi-family apartments without any inspections or measurements. No one, it turns out, knows for sure that the families who live directly under them are not being exposed to illegal levels of RF radiation! Please urge Mr. Riemer, the rest of the Council, and the County Executive to act immediately to end this blatant environmental injustice –– instead of rushing to inflict similar safety and health hazards on every resident in the County.

 

Mr. Riemer is a big fan of 5G. He apparently buys all of the telecom industry’s pro-5G advertising. However, what industry never mentions in their advertising are the many down sides to implementing 5G, including:

 

  • 5G would be a huge new energy hog — intensifying our climate crisis. Energy experts estimate that wireless internet communication technologies could be responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, undermining our efforts to combat climate change. Many trees also would likely have to be cut down for 5G towers –– a further climate cost.
  • 5G has major cyber security problems by providing millions of entry points for hackers into key utilities and infrastructure.
  • 5G is designed to support 3 million wireless devices per square mile, digitizing our entire lives and monitoring behavior 24/7 with massive invasions of privacy –– a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
  • The NSA reports, “Focusing predominantly on 5G technology, the implications of privacy and security are contrasted across the competing requirements of high-speed, low-latency connectivity of billions of devices…the Internet is using much data about many people in many ways, and this raises privacy concerns.”
  • ZTA 19–07’s sponsors falsely suggest the pandemic has shown we need 5G, including to help wipe out the digital divide. What the pandemic has revealed is how many residents and businesses still need affordable access to safe, reliable, secure, high-speed Internet service. Improving wired connections –– that were paid for, but never delivered –– will meet that goal better than expanding wireless technology. We don’t need 5G. For equity, we need to make sure that wiring all the way to their premises for high-speed Internet is available for all residences –– including individual apartments –– and that the service is affordable for all, including businesses.
  • Montgomery County passed Bill 44-20 saying that racial equity and social justice issues must be considered in all county ordinances. However, zoning legislation will not be subject to the bill until September 2021 because of a transition clause. ZTA 19-07, if passed before then, will evade such scrutiny. Such scrutiny is essential, however, because the County’s has non-existent process for cell-tower oversight –– including its failure to monitor radiation levels inside affordable, multi-family housing and other buildings it lets be used like cell towers.
  • “Small” cell antennas in front of houses reduce property values, according to the Montgomery County Property Tax Appeals Board.
  • The Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board for Montgomery County lowered a Rockville home’s assessment: “Comparables warrant a reduction in value. Probability of neighboring cell tower also affects value negatively.”
  • The Mayor of Takoma Park and most of Takoma Park’s City Council are part of an amicus brief supporting this same promising, landmark court case against the FCC. The case seems likely to push the FCC to thoroughly review decades of science indicating its 25–year–old exposure guidelines for wireless radiation are not applicable to modern technology, and to update them accordingly. Oral arguments were just heard in late January.
  • In 2018, Councilmember Riemer, in supporting a previous court challenge led by Montgomery County, noted that he and others had asked the FCC “to make every effort to consider all available research and update their RF emissions guidelines accordingly. They have declined to that…so we are taking them to court to ensure that they fulfill their responsibility to keep our residents safe.” ZTA 19–07 undermines the promising new effort above –– involving Takoma Park officials –– to finally achieve the County’s very own goal.
  • Evidence from hundreds of studies, including the definitive NIH National Toxicology Program Study, show that wireless radiation, from 2G, 3G and 4G –– all below 5G, cause biological and environmental effects. There is “clear evidence” of cancer from cell phone level radiation exposure. 4G/5G densification will add significantly to current levels of radiation exposure.
  • Symptoms are being experienced by wireless deployments in other areas:  firefighters suffered neurological damage, cancer cluster at an elementary school with tower, and injuries in Switzerland.
  • 252 leading scientists and experts in Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) from 43 nations have signed an Appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) asking for greater health protection on EMF exposure as of October 2019.
  • The insurance industry will not insure cell towers, antennas, poles, wires, and devices due to the health risks and damages from long term exposure.
  • As of March 2020, 203,659 signatories from 203 nations and territories have signed an Appeal to the UN, WHO, Council of Europe, and governments of all nations to halt the deployment of 5G wireless networks, including 5G from space satellites.

Below is a sample letter you can personalize and send to your District member and all At-Large Montgomery County Council members (Glass, Albornoz, Jawando, and Riemer, the sponsor).  Include your address on your District letter.

 

Note: Councilmember Riemer is the lead sponsor, while Gabe Albornoz, County Council Vice President, and Craig Rice, Councilmember for District 2, are co-sponsors. However, they are not on Mr. Riemer’s PHED committee, which is taking the lead on ZTA 19–07. The only other two members of that committee are Councilmember Jawando and Councilmember Friedson, so please be sure to contact them ASAP!

 

 

 

If you would like to help on this issue or get more information, please email our great group of informed citizens at info@mocosafeg.org  

 

 

 

 

To:  Montgomery County Council

 

Short:

 

I am writing to request that you vote against ZTA 19–07, which would allow densified 4G and 5G “small” cell microwave radiation antennas in residential areas of Montgomery County. I oppose deploying untested, ultra-high frequency microwave radiation in Montgomery County. Several lawsuits against the FCC for its unreasonable Orders and outdated exposure guidelines have been brought to court by Montgomery County and its affiliates. We ask you to table this amendment until all devices are proven safe for all Montgomery County citizens, our environment, and the core values of our society. In the meantime, rewrite wireless zoning for maximum protections for our communities until FCC standards are safer for people and the environment. Likewise, require warnings be made mandatory for every Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) installation, and in every commercial venue with WiFi, antennas, small cells, etc. The robust promotion of 5G for this ZTA is new, therefore another public hearing on ZTA 19–07 is urged by your constituency.

 

Sincerely,

 

<organizations and individuals names, address>

 

 

Stronger:

 

The undersigned organizations and individuals request that you publicly oppose and vote against ZTA 19–07, which would allow deployment of intensified 4G and new 5G “small cell” microwave radiation antennas in residential areas of Montgomery County. We support a wired-based, fiber to the premises solution as the more secure, cheaper, faster technical solution without the property devaluation, insurance liability, and health risks.

 

The proposed 4G/5G antennas and their networks are likely to have long standing effects in many areas: climate, the ecosystem in general, privacy invasion, cyber security, reduced property values, and human health –– especially in children. The insurance industry has calculated the medical risks are too high to cover, so the proposed, and existing, wireless infrastructure of towers, antennas, poles, and supporting equipment in Montgomery would have no insurance coverage for damages from long-term exposures.

 

The 4G microwave radiation infrastructure and devices have more than 2,000 scientific and medical studies linking exposures to biological effects for people, wildlife, and plants. This radiation appears to be especially riskier to children and other medically vulnerable people. Other nations and cities are rejecting 5G and small antennas due to these biological effects. Montgomery County needs to rewrite wireless zoning for maximum protections of our communities and establish “safe havens” that accommodate its medically vulnerable population.

 

The new 5G technology includes ultra-high frequency millimeter microwave radiation, which has higher energy per square meter and greater capacity for risk to people and the environment than 4G. No safety studies have established a level at which this frequency is safe, and 5G service will include 4G, which we already know is dangerous. Warning signs, viewable to the public, Warning signs that are viewable to the public need to be mandatory for every WTF installation, and in every commercial venue with WiFi, antennas, small cells, etc.

 

Furthermore, Montgomery County was party to a lawsuit against the FCC for their failure to thoroughly review and update their exposure guidelines. Legal challenges continue against the FCC’s guidelines –– most notably, EHT et al vs FCC, for which many Takoma Park elected officials signed on to the Amicus Brief. Additionally, the U.S. District Court of Appeals found in United Keetoowah Band vs FCC (August 9, 2019) that the FCC was “arbitrary and capricious” in exempting 5G infrastructure from health, environmental, and historical review. As a result, the FCC is under judicial order not to proceed with enforcement of their requirement that local jurisdictions pass legislation such as ZTA 19–07.

 

Alternatives exist with wired networks such as fiber optic, known as “SafeG”. Fiber optic is already in place in many areas. It has no health risks, and the service is documented in locally-owned networks to be much faster, cheaper, more energy efficient, while providing more reliable data integrity and protecting privacy. Wired internet also remains subject to local regulatory control.

 

Protection of our safety, health, and environment is the primary purpose of our government and of your representation of us, the electorate. We ask you to table this amendment until all medical, scientific, and legal issues are resolved, and the proposed technology, infrastructure, and devices are proven safe for all Montgomery County citizens, our environment, and the core values of our society. The heavy promotion of 5G for this ZTA is new. Therefore, another public hearing on ZTA 19–07 is urged by your constituency.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

<organizations and individuals names, address>

Use your address to find your district at https://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/mccouncildistrict:

 

 

Marc Elrich, County Executive ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov

 

At-Large: Hans Riemer, Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7964

 

At-Large: Will Jawando, Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7811

 

District 1: Andrew Friedson, Councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7828 (Bethesda, Potomac, and Poolesville)

 

District 2: Craig Rice, Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7955

(Clarksburg, Damascus, and Germantown)

 

District 3: Sidney Katz   Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7906 (Gaithersburg and Rockville)

 

District 4: Nancy Navarro   Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7968 Colesville, Laytonsville, Olney, and Wheaton)

 

District 5: Tom Hucker   Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7960 (Burtonsville, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park)

 

At-Large: Evan Glass   Councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7966

 

At-Large: Gabe Albornoz   Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7959

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation, Montgomery County

Community Vision for Takoma ZTA19-07 Testimony

YOUR CHOICE IS CLEAR:

Champion Public Interests – Or Let the Telecom Industry Rule Our Streets

Nov. 19, 2019 Statement on behalf of Community Vision for Takoma*

by Colleen Cordes

Our Health and Safety Is Not Negotiable — Letting cell towers be installed as close as 30 feet from homes is to gamble with our health and the health of our children and grandchildren. Everyone on the Council is smart enough to know that we live in a world where good people work for big corporations – but where the first priority of the corporations they work for is profits, not people. So we’re not surprised that the good people of the telecom industry have spent decades trying to prevent and suppress important emerging science about the potentially serious health risks of radio-frequency radiation on our health and wellbeing. We are not surprised that they are trying to seduce the County into surrendering our public rights of way without a peep, with promises of amazing high-tech wonders to come. What we are surprised by, Councilmembers Hans Riemer, Gabe Albornoz, and Craig Rice, is that so far you seem to be so naïvely falling for this hype.

Everyone knows the FCC is a Captured Agency – But What About the Montgomery County Council? – The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University actually published a long exposé in 2015: Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates. To each member of our own County Council, know that we are paying attention and we will remember when the next election rolls around: Did you vote to let the Council be captured by the telecom industry as well? This is not a threat – it’s a statement of reality.

What is the Crowd Here Tonight So Concerned About?

  • Serious Potential Public-Health Risk: Consider, for example, the science-based commentary published by Scientific American last month–We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe . Written by Joel M. Moscowitz, Ph.D., who directs the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California at Berkeley, it links to a recent call from hundreds of scientists and doctors for a 5G moratorium.
  • Corporate Welfare, Compliments of Taxpayers:  Corporations prefer to place cell towers in public rights-of-way since they can use our land at cost rather than negotiate a rate with a private property owner: It’s a much more profitable business model.
  • A Host of Other Social and Ecological Concerns About 5G Yet to be Subject to Public Debate:  The sponsors of ZTA 19-07 repeat industry’s hype about the positive potential of 5G. What about its negative potential? In addition to health concerns, critical predictions include:
    • A new world of 24/7 corporate and government surveillance and control.
    • Further diversion from face-to-face relationships with people and nature.
    • Severe pruning and reduced planting sites for shade trees, at an ecological moment in time when trees are more important than ever.
    • Increases in unemployment thanks to a huge push for autonomous trucks and cars and services of all kinds.
    • Ever more biased algorithms in AI-enabled tracking devices in all aspects of our daily lives contributing to new racial inequities.
    • And a big increase in energy use to power the multitude of new connected devices.

Remember the wonders of lead, asbestos, tobacco, CFCs, and fossil fuels? Let’s critically evaluate this new technology before we dive in — not be sorry later. Let’s get savvy. Drop the gee-whiz naivete about the next technological revolution. It’s clearly premature to line our residential streets with cell towers to speed the deployment of 5G. We need wisdom-based, not profit-based technology policies, generated only after robust public participation in decisions about the design and use of powerful technologies. The public should have access, for our deliberations, to a strong base of thoughtful, carefully researched analyses that scrutinize the full range of potential social and ecological impacts — both good and bad. ZTA 19-07 fails to meet any of these tests of wisdom.

And Councilmember Riemer, please stop distributing that canned statement from the American Cancer Society – last subject to a medical review, by the way, five years ago. We know it’s one of industry’s favorite ” don’t worry” go-to articles. Have you investigated whether the Society has connections to corporations that are invested in the speedy rollout of 5G? Did you not know that the ACS, related to other issues, has been criticized for conflicts of interest (See: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/is-the-american-cancer-society-putting-money-ahead-of-mission/) and questionable partnerships with corporations (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/health/american-cancer-society-brawley-resigns.html)?

See also: The Miseducation of America | By Dr. Devra Davis | Mar 29, 2021 An expose on the major omissions of fact from the New York Times July 16, 2019 article on 5G by William J. Broad.

Councilmember Riemer, you’ve also directed us to pro-5G stories in The New York Times. Here’s news straight from the NYT about its new partnership with Verizon involving NYT getting early access to 5G networking and equipment – talk about an incredible PR opportunity for the telecom industry! (See: https://open.nytimes.com/exploring-the-future-of-5g-and-journalism-a53f4c4b8644 ) And here’s more news about increasing links between Verizon and NYT — this one from the Wall Street Journal, which describes “a deepening advertising partnership between the two companies.” (See: https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-sponsors-new-york-times-subscriptions-for-high-schools-11569492001 ) Other news media have their own financial conflicts. Have you noticed the full-page ads for 5G from Verizon and T-Mobile in The Washington Post lately? We’ve noticed – we hope you will put the dollar signs here together as well.

Racial Equity and Social Justice: An especially urgent issue – the danger that the siting of cell towers in our neighborhoods will target our most affordable neighborhoods first and unfairly often. This is a pressing issue of racial equity.  Consider the County’s record to date in allowing large installations of cell antennas at affordable housing sites that are home primarily to families of color. ZTA 19-07 would do absolutely nothing to change that, or to prevent communities of color from once again being asked to shoulder far more than their share of the risks to health and safety.

Community Vision for Takoma urges the County to commission an immediate full scale, on-site audit of what actual health exposures are right now at apartments at 7600 Maple Avenue. Those 189-units provide an affordable home to many individuals and families of color. They have a right to safe shelter and to be fully informed. If our County commitment to racial equity and affordable housing means anything, we urge you to make sure a comprehensive, on-site review of what’s happening there gets started this week. That would include a detailed study of actual current conditions, including what warning signs are posted and in what languages, if protective physical barriers are in place, who has access to the two roof levels and the penthouse, and a comprehensive study of radio frequency emissions on top of, inside, around the perimeter and the grounds.

We brought this urgent issue to the Tower Committee this month – after an application to replace some of the 33 antennas there predicted that areas of the roof would register 25 times the limits for the general public’s exposure to RF radiation allowed by the FCC’s way too lenient rules. The Chair of the Committee threatened to throw us out of the meeting. But we’re not leaving the room. All applications for wireless transmission facilities should be subject to a review for their impact on racial equity and social justice.

It’s your choice, and your constituents are paying attention: Will you champion public interests or let the telecom industry rule Montgomery County’s streets? Please, prioritize the social and ecological health of our County: Community Vision for Takoma opposes ZTA 19-07, and we refuse to consent to be part of this experiment.

 


* Community Vision for Takoma (CVT) is a volunteer group working for an inclusive, just, and compassionate community and an effective, responsive local government.  We strive to apply Takoma Park’s progressive legacy to the social and ecological challenges of the 21st century. This version has been slightly revised from our submitted written testimony.

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Corruption, Legislation, Montgomery County

Big Turnout in Opposition to ZTA 19-07 Public Hearing – November 19, 2019

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Legislation, Montgomery County, Testimony