Small cell towers do not belong in Tacoma neighborhoods


I am writing to you regarding the installation of 5G small cell towers in the residential areas of our fair city. The rollout of 5G has created uproar in many communities around the nation and the wave has finally hit our home town. What exactly does this all mean? I have to admit, I really didn’t know. I had only seen commercials that talked about how great this new technology is and how fast we would be able to download movies. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t like the latest and greatest technology? On April 25, my understanding of the situation changed and not for the better. I learned that the utility pole in the easement of my front yard was slated as a prospective site for one of these small cell towers. I began feverishly researching the subject only to be more and more concerned about our health as a community, our property values, and the overall lack of information given to us by the powers that be both locally and federally. I was very concerned about the fact that all of my neighbors and other people in the community I have spoken with had no clue this was happening!

These 5G towers seem harmless enough and don’t seem to clutter up the utility poles more than they already are, but did you know thanks to the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, under Section 6409(a), once a small cell is attached to a pole wireless companies have the right to expand their equipment. In fact, they can expand any number of times. In other words, once a site is built, municipalities have little power to restrict further expansions. This could rapidly affect property values because not only is there a potential health risk to the people of our community, but now there is a potential for a gigantic eyesore hanging off the pole out front. When given a choice to purchase a home near one of these locations or away from one I guarantee someone will choose the one away.

On March 30, the FCC passed an order allowing the installation of these small cell towers without an environmental review. This is both irresponsible and reckless as they themselves are using outdated information from old technologies to create the guidelines for safety we use today. The National Toxicology Program (a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services) is currently conducting a study regarding RF (cell phone) and the effects it had on lab rats and mice. The NTP will not be publishing their findings until fall 2018 (preliminary findings are available now). The FCC will have to revisit their guidelines and make changes if/when the study shows that cells are related to certain types of cancer. Why did an order by the FCC pass before these findings were published? 

A call to action:

Our federal government is failing to protect us as citizens. The next line of defense is our state and local governments. The City of Tacoma needs to protect its citizens and the city needs to amend its ordinances regarding 5G in our town. If Tacoma wants to be responsible they will revisit the topic of 5G in our community. Residential areas should be exempt from the small towers for reasons of both health and property value. If progress is a must, let’s put these towers in business areas where people are only traveling through and not living their lives under it 24/7. Our first responders also need to be protected from the RF these towers produce. In Piedmont, Calif., firefighters suffered from dizziness, nausea, and headaches when a small cell tower was put on their station. How can our first responders respond adequately to emergencies if they are suffering from these ailments? No cell tower should be placed on any police, fire, or EMT station.

Tacoma needs to better notify all of its citizens regarding these small cell towers. They have not done their due diligence. They have only consulted one independent expert, who of course says there is nothing harmful about this technology. Present the people with both sides of the issue and let the citizens decide. What is the point of having local municipalities if they are just going to sit back and do nothing? Would one of our honorable council members volunteer to put one of these 5G small cell towers outside their family’s home? They cannot use the excuse that the federal government has tied their hands. This didn’t seem to matter when it came to legalizing marijuana or creating sanctuary cities. The only difference here is that defiance might cost them some money. Tacoma does not have a good track record when it comes to making decisions for us or the environment. Here is a chance for the City of Tacoma to do the right thing and proceed with caution. We can lead by example! Let’s not wait until we have a problem. 

Everyone needs to write and/or call our city council members, state representatives, and our governor and tell them: “No 5G in our neighborhoods!” I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this. 

Andrea Haug is a Tacoma resident. 

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  1. Andrea – they are not “small cell towers” is a misnomer – the implication is the wireless companies are putting towers in neighborhoods – which they are not.
    They are called Small Cells – an attachment to an existing pole; looks like a longer transformer that many poles already have attached. Total size – 3 feet tall and maybe 1.5 feet across.
    The antennas and radios can only serve 1,500 feet from the site – so…. the wireless companies will not be adding more to an existing site… but would attach another radio to a tower near by.
    The radios are less powerful than what you see on a Cell Tower today – so less health issues.
    The real question is do you want your City to be “smart’ when is comes to wireless coverage.

    • Hey Victor… So which carrier and/or company do you work for? Have you seen any of the video or pictures of the 5G towers in neighborhoods? Clearly you haven’t done your due diligence around current tower infrastructure vs what changes the telecom companies are “upgrading” cell towers to omit both in terms of RF/electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation exposure and sheer energy. Do some research first, then some more, etc…. By the way, yes they are in fact putting 5G tow ears in residential neighborhoods.

      …. Sorry to go on a rant but. Just use Google.

  2. Thanks for your response Victor. I’m not sure if you are aware, but 5G technology uses 4mm wave technology (which has had no cradle to grave environmental studies done). We do not yet know what health affect this will have on the population. Moving forward with implementing this technology without tests is irresponsible and careless. We have choice when it comes to x rays, whether or not we have a cell phone, or use a microwave. Installing these small 5G cell towers( the name is used by wireless companies to describe them) is taking away our choice when it comes to how much RF we are exposed to. Some of these small cells can be installed as close as 15 ft from where people sleep, bathing people in RF 24/7. As far as the size of these installations, they start out small, but can expand numerous times and actually can become quite messy looking. I actually just read a news article regarding this. I would like to invite you to check out a FB page with some great information. The article regarding the expansions of these small cell towers is also posted here.
    I’m all for technology, but I am not for stealing choices from citizens, lower property value, or potentially endangering the community.

  3. I’m now trying to deal with the city regarding a tower at&t built without any permits, and now are wanting to replace with an even bigger tower with more antennas and 18 radio, the tower that they built is 25’ from my house and the proposed new tower will only be around 60’ from my house and 70’ tall. Guess what, the city wants to allow the new tower, the city of tacoma could care less about what its citizens want! We went to the one public meeting and were not allowed to speak about the illegally built tower and city planing staff has allowed AT&T to keep the tower up and operational for 3 years, even gave them a permit to add antenna to the unpermitted structure. Talked to city government and are just told that cell companies can pretty much do whatever they want, and we basically have no voice on what happens in our neighborhoods.

  4. Thank you for posting this!

    Dr. Martin Pall recently said to the NIH: “The 5G Rollout Is Absolutely Insane.”

    Dr. Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at
    Washington State University who has received numerous honors for my research on
    environmental medicine has discovered the mechanism of action that explain the extraordinary health dangers of EMF, particularly 4G and 5G. He lectures around the world on subject of how EMF’s affect biology. Legislative officials in decision making positions on this matter MUST be presented with Dr. Pall’s work.

    Even California Governor Jerry Brown voted down 5G placement last year at the last minute, despite enormous industry pressure. Tacoma officials are being lobbied by a few wireless tower placement specialists.
    This is an incredibly important issue that requires enormous support to counter the misinformation that is being spread. At the most basic level these placements occur via cellular tower placement agents who are clever and supported by the legal teams via the wireless companies. The wireless companies are granted cell phone bandwidth, they are not the tower operators necessarily. The actual owners of the towers are often hidden, not necessarily revealed.

    Insider industry lobbyists strike at the planning and development level, as well as a legislative level. Planners are worried about protecting the departments from lawsuits and its often perceived as easier to bend to the whims of the placement towers. Often once a placement has gone up it is already too late. OR as the commenter above pointed out, they are doing after-the-fact placements. DId they do any environmental impacts, likely not? The law is incredibly easy to circumvent and was weak to begin with. One is not allowed to protest the health effects when protesting cell phone tower placements due to Federal Legislation. The strength of tower placements rests at the local levels and how the municipal codes are crafted. To get them changed is of UTMOST importance.
    Prevention is key.

    Most planners and the directors of planning and development have not been sufficiently educated about wireless and its dangers. There is usually a planning agent in each municipal office who is tasked with processing and rubber stamping the wireless tower applications. The dangers of these tower placements are being suppressed in a coordinated effort and a large-scale. The safety levels have not been updated since 1996. The wireless tower placement agents are clever and find whatever way they can to ensure the towers go up.

    Its not necessarily that the officials don’t care, but it is a lot of work to change it. And it is a legal understanding which must be undertaken to get it changed. AND it can and SHOULD be changed.

    Look to how the City of Medina fought and overcame a park placement. Look to the few legal successes and look to the very few communities that have been successful. Then look who is the Hearings Examiner, who are the attorneys advising the City Council and County Government that interact on these issues. Figure out where the safe areas are for placement and what will allow for the best balance of safety and rollout. Telecommunications companies are steamrolling over every day citizens via local level government planning offices.

    As ridiculous as it is, typically a municipality can only deny a tower if it presents a safety or aesthetic issue. And health is not allowed to be a safety issue that is relevant. There is a way to balance safety and placement.

    Let’s follow examples like the Medina group who fought for smarter, more respectful, responsible wireless solutions.

    A successful fight mounted by City of Medina residents/attorneys:

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