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Close to Home: Let cities decide on wireless antennas

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect The Press Democrat editorial board’s perspective. The opinion and news sections operate separately and independently of one another.

The same trillion-dollar industry that created the digital divide with high-priced internet service plans and expensive devices is promising to bridge the divide, using the need for distance learning as their excuse to blanket us with wireless antennas.

Senate Bill 556 and Assembly Bill 537 would limit cities’ control over what gets attached to publicly owned utility poles, giving control to telecom companies for their commercial benefit.

In July, the Environmental Working Group published a study that recommended new guidelines for exposure to radio-frequency radiation — the kind emitted by cellphones, routers and antennas. Focused on children’s health, the guidelines recommend that children’s exposure be 400 times lower than the current limit set by the Federal Communications Commission back in 1996.

On Friday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the FCC failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its determination that its current guidelines adequately protect the public against harmful effects of wireless radiation. The court said the FCC failed to address impacts of long-term wireless exposure.

The bills pending in Sacramento would preempt local ordinances in many Sonoma County cities. They would put our cities and counties at risk for fires caused by wireless equipment. And if a city disagrees on the placement of an antenna, the burden for seeking court intervention is shifted to local government, contrary to the recommendations of the FCC and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The fastest, safest, most affordable, reliable, secure and future-proof solution for providing broadband for everyone in California is community-owned, fiber-optic wired broadband going directly into homes. Wired broadband is safe, can close the digital divide, save consumers millions and generate much-needed income for cities and counties.

Rather than helping telecoms increase their profits, tell our legislators to vote no on SB 556 and AB 537 and to work on ways to help communities implement high-speed wired broadband.

Catherine Dodd of Santa Rosa is a policy adviser for the California Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Lendri Purcell of Petaluma is president of Families Advocating for Chemical and Toxics Safety.

You can send letters to the editor to letters@pressdemocrat.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect The Press Democrat editorial board’s perspective. The opinion and news sections operate separately and independently of one another.

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