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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 30, 2010 3:32 PM. The previous post in this blog was Evil triumphs once again. The next post in this blog is Remember them. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Of bake sales and half-baked ideas

The Portland folks who are protesting the placement of cell phone antennas on poles right next to their homes are holding a combination bake sale and protest at the proposed site of one of the unwanted installations -- 37th and Fremont, where Alameda crosses Fremont -- on Tuesday afternoon at 4:30. I am sure they will be joined by the angry folks from the vicinity of 23rd and Stanton, where the same cell phone company, Clearwire, is also planning to slap up some additional antennas.

Meanwhile, the controversy has led us to a post on city commissioner Amanda Fritz's web site, in which she explains the current regulatory scheme that the city says it's following:

If there is an existing building or structure, such as a business, church, school, existing cell tower, or water tank where the new antennas can be placed, that option is preferred. Approval may require a Land Use review using Zoning Code regulations and approval criteria.

If an existing building or structure is not available, facilities must be placed on existing utility poles, based on a four-tier street ranking, from busy arterials to quiet neighborhood streets. The street rankings are here. [Alas, that link is to an excruciatingly slow-loading pdf file -- but it does show the maps. And both Clearwire locations are shown as Priority 4 -- lowest priority. --JB] The facility must be placed on a pole on the largest street possible, based on the coverage need of the carrier....

If the above choices are impossible, then the carrier can apply to build a cell tower.

This policy has been effective. No new cell towers have been built in residential areas since about 2004, and of the 80 sites with an antenna on a utility pole, only about 20 have been placed on poles on small neighborhood streets in residential areas.

But in the end, it appears that Fritz has realized that the city's current regime of rules isn't going to be satisfactory to the voters once these pole projects insinuate themselves citywide:

We are pursuing new strategies to address the hundreds of upcoming applications for more cellular facilities... I recognize many Portlanders are concerned about the siting of cellular facilities. After a sufficient number of applications have been reviewed and approved/denied, my office will work with Cable staff and citizens to assess whether changes to the current regulations are needed.
Forget reading the handwriting on the wall. On this one, Fritz will be smelling the tar and feathers as they come up Fourth Avenue quite soon.

Comments (33)

Perhaps the folks from the two sites you've named will be joined by others from the 26th & Fremont surrounds:

"Fremont Methodist signed a deal with AT&T to put one up on 26th and Fremont last summer—one block away from Alameda elementary school.

Next time you pick up your kids take a look and remember to thank Fremont Methodist Church for selling out their neighbors and our kids.

Posted by get the cell outta here | May 28, 2010 8:05 PM"

http://bojack.org/2010/05/a_failure_of_process.html#comments

And perhaps Ms Fritz will get around to defining "sufficient number."

What is the problem?

These frequencies have been used for 1/2 a century with no one proving any harm from the radiation (except heating effects very close to very high powers. )

The 37th & Fremont site is not even a cell site - it’s wi-max. Much lower power than cell, about 3 watts. That cell phone in your pocket is close to that power level! The levels at the street are probably no higher than background from the mega-watt transmitters that have been on the West hills for 50 years.

Thanks
JK

And more to the point the specific frequency band to which human biological processes are most susceptible is the FM band, for which a number of 5000 to 50,000 watt real power transmitters are dedicated. Of course, the effective radiated power in most cases is higher.

Go cable! No broadcast transmitters required.

Oops! a tiny amount of RF does enter your home from the cable. Come to think of it, your computer radiates, and if you have Wi Fi or wireless mice, keyboards...

Your teeth will turn blue.

no one proving any harm from the radiation

And no one proving lack of harm. It's a question of who has the right to increase your risk without your consent, and for what public benefit.

And no one proving lack of harm
How does one do that?

If we applied that criteria to all perceived risks, wouldn't we still be pre-industrial with its misery?

Thanks
JK

Jim, I not going to get into one of your all-night techno-arguments with you. There's a cost-benefit analysis here. You and I will disagree about the costs (I'd call them increased risks of cancer) and the benefits (I'd call them the ability of every 10-year-old to have her own iPhone) that are on the scale. There is also the question of who got there first and paid for the status quo -- that would be the neighbors. You can go ahead and have the last word if you like, but the neighbors here have a valid point, and they have my support.

Here's a link to IEEE "Spectrum" on the subject:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/interphone-report-on-cell-phonecancer-connection-doesnt-settle-anything

Notice that the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) is 1.6W/kg. I weigh 160 lb which translates to 72.72 kg, x 1.6=116W! No cell phone radiates at that power level. Now the tests referred to in the IEEE article is much lower than that as well, but still, no data pro or con.

I did have a problem with this statement in the report:

"And the “conclusions” were subject to negotiation—negotiation that took four years and led to compromises in how to report the results."

Compromise?

As to the cell towers, here's the FCC:

http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/rfexposure.html

Too long to quote here.

Disclaimer: I am not a cell phone/tower sales person. I have training in RF; transmitters and antennas. I have been in stations where the output power is 50,000 watts (WCFL in Chicago) and in my own "radio shack" whose transmitter ran at about 150W max. I am here with no problems so far.

But I am only one person.

Yes, and you didn't have one of these things 30 feet from your crib, 24/7, when you were an infant.

I had a medium power ham radio transmitter 8 ft from my bed at age 16. I tuned the antenna by holding a florescent tube right next to the antenna. In my hand. I occasionally experienced painful RF burns. My sisters slept upstairs and I was frequently "On the Air" at 2AM, when long distance communication was best. The antenna itself was less than ten feet over their heads, strung from the brick chimney.

Of course, I wasn't sleeping!

The precautions of the day (in the 50's at school) did not consider cancer or any other medical condition other than burns or perhaps having internal organs "cooked" in the beam of high powered radar installations. Fortunately, I had no experience with radar!

However, I concur with you concerning the infants. Better safe than sorry. I would not have been comfortable with my kids next to any transmitter. I did not practice as a ham when my kids were growing up. But what about the infants up on the west hills surrounded by those high power continuous output commercial transmitters? What about the infants "down stream" from an AM station going directional in the evening, now dumping an equivalent of 150,000 watts into your neighborhood? WCFL, was such a station, west of Chicago, beamed east and people on Long Island could get the White Sox evening games better than from the New York stations!

Jack, there is much, much more to all this than one might think. If cancer is traceable to cell phones the entire broadcasting perspective would have to be re-examined. And, given the rise in cancer, of what is there to be sure?

There remains no scientifically valid study concluding that cell phone telecommunications towers have any ill-health effects. It is my belief that this is all hysteria. And yes, I would be willing to live in a house with a cell phone antenna on top of it. And no, I am not in the cell phone business.

It may be hysteria, but whatever it is, it knocks 10-20% off the value of the houses nearby. That's not fair.

You figure you can handle second-hand smoke too?

There remains no scientifically valid study concluding that cell phone telecommunications towers have any ill-health effects.

That was true when they were X-raying kids' feet at shoe stores. Who should bear the burden of proof on this?

Take a cheap AM radio and tune it between stations. Walk around your house with it and notice all the RF energy emitted by just the wiring in your house, the transformer adaptor charger dohickies that power almost all consumer electronics and from tv's to computer printers. Go near a halogen lamp. Take it out to your car hold it near the engine while running. Now see all the RF energy one is exposed to. This exposure is far more than emanating from any cell tower. For crying out loud, the next thing people will be afraid of is magnetism. Better get rid of those fridge magnets.

And no one proving lack of harm
How does one do that?

By applying Popper's Falsifiability Theorem

What's fascinating to me is to see this (righteous, I think) concern for the blight of cellphone towers but note that it comes from people who, like Jack, an iphone user, create demand for cell towers.

And many people concerned with cell-tower radiation are agnostic or in denial about the consequences of the climate chaos that we're unleashing on future generations (including those asleep in their beds each night now).

The nice thing about cell towers is that they are reversible mistakes. They can come down (quite easily). Not so with a planetary climate system. Which problem cries out for more caution?

you didn't have one of these things 30 feet from your crib, 24/7, when you were an infant.

Are they really that close?

This is a classic NIMBY problem, a valuable benefit to society as a whole, with health unknowns disputed mostly by non-experts or people with conflicts of interest.

There is a city process that enables nearby residents to prevent a cell phone antenna from being erected. The core issue is, why did the process not protect the rights of the residents??

In the case of the Fremont Methodist Church, most nearby residents did not even respond to the notification that was required by the process. Then, when the time window to protest expired, *after* the church signed a contract, people noticed the work starting, and claimed they never received the notification.

Is that lame or what?

And if the notification process is not sufficient, then why don't we propose to change it? IMHO, because the parties on both sides would view a fair process as a disadvantage to their interests.

Who else is fed up with the whining (whatever you think about cell antennas)?

Well, either way, Clear is the WORST and most unreliable service! So even if they do put up these towers, hopefully they won't get much if any additional business. Just look at the number of class action suits against them in many states.

Part of the point of early zoning was to in fact preserve both home owner values and human health. Having a meat rendering/packing plant or tire factory (I am looking at you Buffalo) on your street way back when was considered undesirable. What I see here is that that as usual the law has not kept up with technology and that govt is pandering to business interests....

I don't understand the fuss, Either from RF pollution or aesthetic degradation. This isn't an eighty foot cell tower. There is a Clear Wire unit on top of a pole on SW Hamilton near Wilson High. The appearance in no more visually noxious than all the other clutter on utility poles, where service isn't underground. This is a classic NIMBY reaction to anything coming even close to disturbing the status quo, in a world where change is inevitable.

When you move about town in the next couple of weeks, notice any Notification signs from the city about pending hearings. See what is actually posted.

Usually, nothing because the info has blown off, rained off or more likely, ripped off.

So much for notification. A lick and a promise.

So far as that stupid Nimby acronym, who else but you is responsible for your back yard? Nimby vs city sets up an important tension between people the environment and government.

Nimby belongs in the same category as words that insult race, national origin and such. It's a disparagement.

The nice thing about cell towers is that they are reversible mistakes. They can come down (quite easily).

Are you kidding? The cell weasels sign 10-year deals, minimum. They'd scream "taking" if the government interrupted their precious flow of money.

They would likely leave them in place, even if unused.

What do these clear things look like? What are their dimensions?

Steve C. Who else is fed up with the whining (whatever you think about cell antennas)?

Quite frankly, I don't think there has been enough whining. People are not adequately informed. People's interests are not adequately protected by the elected officials.

The economy and money have trumped the decisions over human considerations.
As human beings we should be tired of our concerns being treated as a sidebar on a list of considerations.

I have attended meetings that when human issues to consider as a priority are brought up, they are generally dismissed rather quickly:
- It isn't economically viable
- Great idea but
- Wouldn't pencil out to do that
- That would be ideal but
- Sorry if the neighborhood loses their view of Mt. Hood, tall building needed
- Too bad if you lost your garden or solar access, we need to infill

Others who blog here could add to this list. So thankfully people are standing up. Call it "whining" if you like, I call it fed up and not taking it anymore and we need more people to protest.

NIMBY is not such a bad thing, has been given a bad name so that people will feel uncomfortable about standing up for their neighborhood. There are times when NIABY applies, Not In Anyone's Back Yard.

Steve C you make some interesting comments, let me give you my perspective:

>> There is a city process that enables nearby residents to prevent a cell phone antenna from being erected. The core issue is, why did the process not protect the rights of the residents??

There is no such process. The process that is in place excludes residents from all substantive input when towers are proposed for the PUBLIC Right of Way. For cell/wimax towers there is no land use review like you or I would have to go through if we wanted to build on our own property. There is a short 'application checklist' that is submitted to the City along with engineering drawings. The 'public meeting' is not a forum or hearing of any kind. I've been to a few and they are just a lot of very angry neighbors yelling at a guy who is paid to get yelled at. It is not a productive process.


>> In the case of the Fremont Methodist Church, most nearby residents did not even respond to the notification that was required by the process. Then, when the time window to protest expired, *after* the church signed a contract, people noticed the work starting, and claimed they never received the notification.

Are you asserting that the residents around Fremont and 26th purposefully waited until a large ugly cell tower and the associated noisy commercial equipment was installed before they protested? What would the benefit of this be?

>> And if the notification process is not sufficient, then why don't we propose to change it? IMHO, because the parties on both sides would view a fair process as a disadvantage to their interests.

RespectPDX, a city-wide group of residents organizing against the lack of effective tower regulation, testified at City Council a few months ago asking for a revised process. One point we would like to address is to ensure that residents are notified by registered mail to ensure that everyone gets the information.

There are hundreds of these towers coming, and most will likely be coming to utility poles on streets like yours and mine. Take a look out your window and hope you are not one of the unlucky ones.

"The facility must be placed on a pole on the largest street possible, based on the coverage need of the carrier...."
Critical here is the coverage "need" of the carrier. The City doesn't confirm this "need", they simply let the carrier tell them where they want to go.

Translation: The tower must go on the largest street possible unless the carrier doesn't want it there.

I'm just not sure as to why these are any worse than the actual utlility poles themselves as far as visual impacts? Any pictures of these wimax things in action?

Lawrence: When you move about town in the next couple of weeks, notice any Notification signs from the city about pending hearings. See what is actually posted.
Usually, nothing because the info has blown off, rained off or more likely, ripped off.
So much for notification. A lick and a promise.

Noticed this when a city public hearing sign was placed in our neighborhood. The next day the sign was there, but the information was gone. Once aware of this, then started noticing this same pattern around the city when I saw signs, that the information part was missing.

The city has their own printing shop. There is no excuse for this. The information could be printed on the sign. Instead a separate sheet of paper is adhered to the sign and ripped off, etc.

This shabby procedure is reflective of the shabby treatment of the city towards the citizens.

The city could put up boxes rain proof like real estate does with many sheets available in it. The city could send a letter directly to residents not just to those within a few hundred feet but to a wider area. The city cannot claim that they do not have funds for a better procedure, as we can see how they spend foolishly on other matters.

This exposure is far more than emanating from any cell tower.

But the effect is cumulative, yes? And why do we need more in the city? I seem to be getting reception on my cell everywhere just fine.

JK writes the power level is "about 3 watts. That cell phone in your pocket is close to that power level!"

I can choose to have that phone in my pocket. I can use it as I believe is safe. By building these towers so close to homes and schools, carriers remove that freedom of choice. These facilities on residential streets are basically forcing nearby residents to have the equivalent of a functioning phone next to their heads 24/7.

You should not be surprised when people object to this, especially when young children may have to spend their entire lives with the equivalent of a phone strapped to their heads and have no say in the matter.

I hope this clarifies what the problem is.

There is much we don't know, either we could have information with integrity, to become more angry about the situation or to become somewhat relieved that all is not as bad as we might think.

We do not have these type of technologies in place for 20 plus years to see what can occur after that time. Where is there an overall view or study of so many items added up and what the effect might be after years of use?

Of course some suspect that we are given half truths and there is speculation. It appears complete information on the issue may not be possible. Until then, the wise thing to do is to be prudent.

RH comments: But the effect is cumulative, yes? And why do we need more in the city? I seem to be getting reception on my cell everywhere just fine.

Question then is, why the need on all these utility poles?

CO, 3 watts next to your head, if proven harmful, is entirely different than the same power 30' away. Don't confuse the two situations.

There is much I can go into here, but it is rather technical so all I will say is that antenna is like a light bulb illuminating your reading. All you have to do is move it only slightly away or closer to make a big difference in brightness. It's called the power law, and the light (and radio waves) fall off accordingly. Double the distance get 1/4 the power. double it again get 1/16 the power. Now make the calculation for the difference between a couple of inches and 30'.

The most important parameter to know is how much effective power is allowed for that antenna near you. Anything less than even 50 watts is hardly a problem.

I know the feeling about being exposed to something you cannot see or sense, yet you know that because of it, people thousands of miles away can talk to each other, even with only 50 watts, less than a standard light bulb. And this has been going on since at least 1906.

Anyway, it goes with the territory. No, I'm not fond of them either.


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J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 259
At this date last year: 107
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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