• 28 APR 06
    • 0

    Telco pre-exemption moves in California – and elsewhere

    Although the following message from Libby Kelly deals with further Telco pre-emption legislative laws in California and its effect on other states, the implications for other countries cannot be ignored. It is an inexorable push by the Telcos to achieve total exemptions from local and national laws – globally. Perhaps its not beyond the realms of possibility to wonder if one day it may be your back yard or roof that is deemed the best antenna site for some wonderous new wireless system.

    Don

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    From Libby Kelly:

    Dear Friends and Colleagues,

    You may not be aware of a major pending California legislative action on wireless antenna siting. Senator Kehoe of San Diego introduced a bill (SB 1627), called the Permit Streamlining Act, in the California State Legislature in late February 2006. This bill was just voted through two Senate Committees: Local Government and, Environmental Quality, and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee (it is a “no money” bill.) This bill proposes to preempt local government wireless ordinances and would effectively preempt local control and preclude public review on antenna siting. See http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/ and click on Senate Bills, go to SB 1627 for details.

    The bill proposes to “streamline” the antenna review and permitting process, as part of other land use decision-making reforms, by encouraging colocation of antennas, by tightening up on the the time frame for getting permits and by limiting review activities to local government administrative review to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements as is done in handling of all building permits. The effect of these changes is that existing sites, which are generally the preferred locations for signal transmission would be added to increasing the EMF emissions, public notice and hearings procedures on these sites would stop. County and municipal wireless siting ordinances would become obsolete. Local elected officials could not represent their constituents when there is a concern about a local antenna siting proposal involving colocations. Neighbors to a proposed colocation site would lose their right to review the proposal. The community may not know about an antenna collocation proposal until the telecom trucks arrive to install the antennas, after the permit is approved. The telecommunications industry would benefit by being able to deploy antennas more quickly and at reduced cost in fulfilling their goal to provide signal to cellular phone users. Citizens concerned about the potential effects on their health, property values, aesthetics, historic preservation and neighborhood character would lose their right of review and comment on proposed antenna permits.

    The sponsors of this bill expand upon a recent and pending federal court decision regarding siting of antennas on public right-of- way in La Canada ,California This court decision is under review as it has been appealed by the California League of Cities which has also opposed SB 1627. According to the Senate EQ Committee staff Bill report, the court decision, Sprint PCS Assets v. La Canada Flintridge (435 F3d 993, U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, specifically states: certain city decisions to deny applications submitted by Sprint for permits to construct wireless facilities in the public rights-of-way were not supported by substantial evidence as required under federal law (47 U.S.C 332(c)(7)(B)(iii)) because Public Utilities Code 7901 does not permit local agencies to cite aesthetics as a basis for limiting wireless telecommunications companies’ right to access the public right-of-way to place their antenna facilities. The Senate local government committee staff Bill report points out that ” By limiting the review of applications to “collocate” wireless equipment to the consideration of health and safety issues, SB 1627 nearly eliminates local discretion over the placement of antennae and similar devices on structures that already support such equipment. For example, local communities would not be able to consider whether adding additional equipment to an existing tower could harm local aesthetics or property values.

    New York State has had a similar preemption law in place since 1998 whereby local review is preempted in permitting antennas. According to NYC activist Lenore Gordon (leonore1234@aol.com), the number of antennas, including multiple companies on one rooftop, has been multiplying relentlessly, and it seems, especially in the past year. Ms. Gordon, who is a member of a state wide citizens group called CRAS (Coalition to Regulate Antenna Siting), tells me that the number of permitted antennas, including unrestricted collocations on rooftops, has been multiplying relentlessly in New York City. Several lawsuits have brought by citizen groups over this in NYC and Peter Vallone, Jr., a N.Y. City Councilman, and some state legislators are considering legislation to reverse this preemption authority. (Kathleen Sims works for Vallone, cathleen.sims@council.nycny.us)

    Texas has already adopted similar preemption laws as part of a broader “Speed to Market” initiative sponsored by the wireless industry.

    According to the California League of Cities Policy Committee, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has expressed concerns about federal and state telecom reforms that affect local government control. See the grass roots advocacy section of the CLC Policy Committee website for more details: http://www.cacities.org/index.jsp?displaytype=11&zone=locc&section=advo&sub_sec=advo_grassroots&tert=&story=24298

    If the California bill passes, it is likely that New York State would be less likely to reform its law. In fact, this bill if enacted could trigger similar legislative action in other states.

    The bill was voted through the California State Legislature’s Environmental Quality Committee on Monday, May 24. Senators Kuehl and Escutia are among the 6 committee members who serve on this committee and the vote was 6-0, according to the unofficial ballot posted on internet. I know that these two state legislators, who are strong campaigners on public health issues that affect Californians, have been briefed on the potential health effects of wireless antenna transmissions. Their affirmative vote on this bill is disconcerting, to say the least. They need to hear directly from their constituents about this. (Other Senate EQ committee members include Simitian, Runner, Cox, and Lowenthal.) It is clear that California‚s environmental protection laws would be further weakened if this bill passes.

    The bill next moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Committee members include Escutia, (Norwalk), who voted for the bill when it went through the Environmental Quality Committee) The Senate Appropriations committee includes these members: Murray (Chair), Aanestad (Vice-Chair),
    Alarcon, Alquist, Ashburn, Battin, Dutton, Escutia, Florez, Ortiz, Poochi- gian, Romero and Torlakson. Staff Director: Bob Franzoia. Consultants: Miriam Barcellona Ingenito, John Decker, Nora Lynn, Mark McKenzie, John Miller and Maureen Ortiz. Assistant: Sally Ann Romo and Krimilda Hodson. Phone: (916)651-4101. Room: 2206.

    Next, the Bill would be introduced in the California State Assembly.

    SB 1627 is opposed by the California League of Cities and the California Chapter of the American Planning Association.
    It is supported by PCIA – the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Sprint and Nextel.

    It is very important that, if you are concerned you take immediate action to oppose this bill. Start locally, contacting your local officials and state legislators, write letters to local newspapers, get an editorial published, get petitions and delivered to elected officials and testify before local and state committees. Support the California League of Cities and the California Chapter of the American Planning Association in their opposition. I have attached a letter from Susan Ambrose in San Diego which states her opinions in opposition to SB 1627.

    Sincerely,

    Libby Kelley, MA
    Executive Director
    Council on Wireless Technology Impacts
    Novato, California
    www.energyfields.org

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