The Next Steps In Sacramento

On April 7th Sacramento City Council voted to move full steam ahead with 4G/5G small cell deployment in Sacramento. They passed a new ordinance outlining how these small cells will be installed on Sacramento streets. You can find a detailed breakdown of that meeting here: https://5gawarenessnow.com/sacramentos-final-decision-on-5g/

You can download the ordinance here: https://sacramento.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=22&clip_id=4585&meta_id=580576

The City DID NOT grant us any of the residential protections our campaign was pushing for but they did implement some language that might be able to be used to prevent the installation of a cell antenna near your home. Most of these “tools” can be found in the “Design and Deployment” standards on pages 40-49 of the pdf file above. Here is a list of those tools:

1) The Notification Process. Page 46, Section 6, outlines the notification process which requires wireless carriers to notify all residents within 300 feet of a proposed cell antenna location within two days of application for the permit. This gives residents an opportunity to make their case to the city why the antenna should not be installed there, BEFORE the antenna is permitted. Once the antenna is permitted, it is much, much more difficult to prevent installation. This makes the notification process a very important tool in the ordinance for preventing the installation of any given cell antenna.

Because this notification of residents is so important, I am suggesting everyone reach out to the City and request that they make the following additions the notification requirements, i.e., that the following information be REQUIRED on the notification that is received by residents. You can copy/paste the following and send to council:

“Dear representatives of the City of Sacramento,

I am reaching to request a change in the requirements for the notification process outlined in Section 6 of the Design & Deployment Standards recently approved by City Council on April 7th, 2020. Specifically, I am requesting that the following information be REQUIRED on the notification that is received by residents.

  • A description of the city’s application review and permit issuance process.
  • A link to where the person can download the application from the city’s website (NOT a statement that they can make a records request, which we know the city does not respond to).
  • A statement that the resident can send the city comments about the application and proposed cell antenna location so as to have input into the city’s permit decision. 
  • The email address to which residents can write to do what I just described. 
  • The deadline by which residents must send in their comments in order for the City to consider them. 
  • Additionally, please increase the notification radius to 500 feet to more closely match the radius of people that will be affected by the antenna.

Just notifying people that an antenna will be installed near their home is not very helpful if you do not also tell them how they can impact the decision making process. Thank you.”

City Council and relevant staff email addresses can be found at the bottom of this page: https://5gawarenessnow.com/sample-letter/

I also encourage you to call your Councilmember by phone. Their contact information can be found here: http://www.cityofsacramento.org/mayor-council

Another important note, if a wireless company attempts to install an antenna without adhering to the notification process, the city has grounds to reject a permit application or remove an installed antenna. The City should have record of all public notifications, as they are required to send the notifications by registered mail. For any antennas permitted AFTER April 7th, when the new ordinance was signed into effect, you can make a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request to verify that the wireless carrier adhered to the notification process. The page to make a public records act request is here: https://sacramentoca.mycusthelp.com/webapp/_rs/(S(s152wqtvzc5hyt4gl5yi2xp4))/supporthome.aspx

2) Enforce Section 3E (p. 42). So you got a notification that an antenna will be installed near your home, now what? You do not want to call the city and just say “I don’t want this antenna near me” or “I am concerned about the health effects from this antenna,” neither of those statements will prevent the installation of that antenna. You need to provide the City substantial reasoning for not placing the antenna there. One potential reason that can be used is if the antenna location does NOT adhere to the antenna location “priority order” in Section 3E of the Design and Development Standards.

For example, if you get a notification that an antenna will be installed directly in front of your home, but there is a alley behind your home with a pole where the antenna could be installed, then you can make the argument to the City that the antenna should be installed in the alley because that location is higher on the priority order. So, for any given antenna location, you can argue that the antenna be installed in a nearby location that is higher on the priority order.

Section 3E also contains language that prevents a cell antenna from being installed within 500 of a cell antenna owned by the same carrier. So, if Verizon wants to install an antenna in front of your home, but they already have a cell antenna within 500 feet of the proposed location, you can argue to the City that the antenna be disallowed.

3) Enforce Section 7 (p. 46). Section 7 lays out a fairly long list of requirements on the wireless carriers for them to submit a permit application. You can make a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request to verify that all of this information has been submitted. The page to make a public records act request is here: https://sacramentoca.mycusthelp.com/webapp/_rs/(S(s152wqtvzc5hyt4gl5yi2xp4))/supporthome.aspx

If all the requirements were not submitted, the City has grounds to deny the permit application, or potentially to remove an installed antenna.

4) Enforce Section 5 (p.45). Section 5 has to deal with RF emissions from the antennas. You are extremely unlikely to catch the carriers violating the FCC emission guidelines because they are ridiculously high. You can however waste the wireless carriers resources by making sure they adhere to the RF guidelines and testing requirements outlined in this section.

5) Nitpick the whole ordinance! I highlighted the elements of the ordinance that I think will yield the most successful challenges, but the best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with the whole ordinance and make sure both the City and the wireless carriers are adhering to the requirements of the ordinance. If you catch either party not adhering to the ordinance, you have grounds to request denial of a permit or removal of an antenna.

6) ADA Accommodations. One potentially very powerful tool to prevent the installation of a cell antenna is to request an ADA accommodation from the City and wireless carrier. Section 3E of the Design and Deployment Standards even has a small section on ADA compliance. To use this, you will need a note from your doctor stating that the proposed cell antenna will negatively impact your health in some way. If your doctor is unfamiliar with the dangers of wireless radiation, you can attempt to educate them by sharing some of the research paper found in the “science” section of this website: https://5gawarenessnow.com/scientific-research-and-analysis/ You may also be able to make the argument to your doctor that the antenna will have a negative psychological impact on you by increasing your anxiety over the potential long term negative health consequences caused by the antenna.

Once you have your doctor’s note, make a “reasonable accommodation request” to the City and the wireless carrier. The only reasonable accommodation is that the antenna NOT be installed near your home. More information on requesting an ADA accommodation can be found here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/requesting-reasonable-accommodation.html

7) Hire An Attorney. All of these tactics can potentially prevent a cell antenna being installed near your home, but they are all also dependent upon the City enforcing these policies. To date, Sacramento city officials have shown that they are more often on the side of the wireless carriers, and therefore less likely to assist you with enforcing these policies. If you have a very strong case, such a very clear violation of the City’s ordinance, and the City refuses to enforce the ordinance, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to bring a case against the City/wireless carrier for the violation. If you win your case, the judge will order the City/wireless carrier to comply with policy you brought suit over, and they will be required to pay your attorneys fees. If you lose, you will NOT have to pay the City’s attorneys fees. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

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