Napa, CA: Residents and Local Advocacy Groups Oppose 60-Foot Cell Tower Near Homes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Amy Martenson
Title: Napa County Progressive Alliance Chair
Local Advocacy Groups and Residents Oppose 60 Foot Monopole
in the Napa County Public Right-of-Way
(Napa, CA, May 1, 2021--) Two local advocacy groups, the Napa Neighborhood Association for Safe Technology and the Napa County Progressive Alliance have opposed a proposal by third party telecommunications infrastructure provider Illumination Technologies to the County of Napa to install and operate ten monopoles with fire-sensing technology in exchange for access to the County public right-of-way to install twenty-three sixty foot monopoles disguised as trees to be leased to wireless companies as cell towers.
Both groups have raised concerns about the lack of a competitive process, the harmful health and environmental effects caused by increased wireless radiation from the prospective cell towers, and the visual blight in a region renowned for its scenic beauty. They have asked the County to fund and install the fire-sensing technology itself using public monies, following in the footsteps of Sonoma County, which is funding wildfire detection, using a different company, Alchera, Inc., with a federal grant.
While the County outlined a public process for the proposal during its Board meetings over the past eleven months, which would include environmental review and a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on June 8th, these groups began getting emails on April 9th from concerned citizens regarding an Illuminations Technologies’ monopole going up across from Soda Canyon Store on Silverado Trail in Napa.
Inquiries to the Napa County Public Works Director, Steve Lederer, and a series of public records requests revealed that two members of an ad hoc committee of the Board of Supervisors that was created on July 21, 2020, supervisors Diane Dillon and Alfredo Pedroza, directed Public Works Director, Steve Lederer, to approve the monopole in September. The permit was issued on January 22, 2021, to allow Illumination Technologies to install it as a potential cell tower, by-passing the public process promised by the County and without securing any agreement from Illumination Technologies to install fire-sensing technology in exchange.
Emails sent to the County in December by residents living within 1,000 feet of the proposed site in response to a letter they received from Illumination Technologies' vaguely describing the intended purpose of the pole reveal overwhelming opposition to the monopole due to health and aesthetic concerns; consequently the location was moved from 1045 Soda Canyon Road to the corner of Soda Canyon Road and Silverado Trail across from Soda Canyon Store. In the move, at least one resident states she did not receive notice even though her home is within 1,000 feet of where the monopole was actually installed.
“We didn’t get [a letter], because the first location was further away. It is kind of a joke isn’t it that the distance is only 1,000 feet. Winery setbacks are even more!” wrote resident Suzi Hall-Reynolds. “I am not happy about this project and do have huge concerns, particularly in regards to known carcinogens they give off.”
“We strongly oppose having such a large artificial structure in plain sight...It will not only be an eyesore from our properties, it will also be an unattractive site for our neighbors and the thousands who travel the historic and beautiful Silverado Trail daily,” said a neighbor, Lance Ellman.
“In an email, Mr. Lederer justified the County’s action as being in the ‘interest of expediting communications and safety in this hard hit area’ and a way ‘to gather information on the process,’” stated Valerie Wolf, a coordinator for the Napa Neighborhood Association for Safe Technology. “However, we already demonstrated to the County months ago, before it allowed Verizon to activate several 5G small cell antennas placed on telephone poles on Silverado Trail, that there is no lack of cell phone coverage in this area.”
“There are people living only 200 feet from that monopole who are upset and concerned. What the County has casually pursued as a pilot monopole ‘to gather information’ has created alarm among residents concerned about their health, since the pole is an invitation to wireless companies to install their cell antennas at that location. In addition, we know from surveys that property values drop up to 20% near a cell tower, because most people do not wish to live near one,” stated Amy Martenson, Napa County Progressive Alliance Chair. “Without a contract, Illumination Technologies is not entitled to lease that monopole to wireless providers. Should a wireless provider put in a request to place antennas on that pole, the County should require hard data showing there is a significant gap in telephone coverage and if so, ensure that the location is the ‘least intrusive means’ of closing that gap. In addition, the Napa County Board of Supervisors needs to immediately update its telecom ordinance to put in place provisions, including a 1,640 foot setback for new cell antennas from homes, schools, and businesses, to protect these and other property owners, and the County from future liability.”
Note: This project proposal was discussed at the May 19, 2020, July 21, 2020, February 23, 2021, and April 6, 2021 Napa County Board of Supervisors’ meetings.