City of Santa Barbara

Talking Points and Instructions for public comments regarding the City of Santa Barbara “Draft Small Wireless Facilities Ordinance”

The City of Santa Barbara released their “Draft Small Cell Wireless Facilities Ordinance” on December 1, 2020, for public review. This ordinance will establish rules and regulations for telecom companies regarding applications and installations of small cell towers within the city limits.

This draft ordinance does not include sufficient protection for SB residents from the many harms brought on by the installation of such equipment.

City residents are encouraged to submit their written public comments to the City of Santa Barbara. Although the deadline was January 15, 2021, they are still accepting public comments. Below, you will find all the information you need to do so.

*As an introduction to this action, here is A Special Message to You from our Board President, Miriam Lindbeck.

SafeTechSBC held an informational Zoom Meeting on January 7, 2021 to answer any questions you may have after reading these Instructions and Talking Points. Click here to view the zoom presentation.

Instructions to submit Public Comments 

Written Public Comments were to be submitted by Friday, January 15, 2021, however the city will still accept your comments for a few days after. If you missed the deadline, don’t worry. Just write and send it in!

  • Comments regarding the new Telecom Ordinance should be directed to Assistant City Attorney John Doimas at jdoimas@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.
  • You can also send a copy of your written comments to the Santa Barbara (SB) City Council. Don’t know who your City Council Member is? Check which district you live in, using this map.
  • You can also make live audio public comments at the SB City Council Meetings.

Talking Points for Public Comments

We have outlined some of the key issues that should be considered by the City, to update the Draft Ordinance. Please use these Talking Points to keep the comments relevant and on-point. We suggest that you personalize your comments if possible.

Your hands are not tied! Our public officials have more local control than they think. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 does in fact allow them to have authority regarding location of Small Wireless Facilities (SWFs) and to establish protective measures for the residents. (“Small” refers only to size not to power. These SWF’s are massively powerful.)

Promote Fiber To The Premises (FTTP): Fiber optic is safer (no microwave radiation), faster (speed of light downloads), more reliable and secure (preferred for data security and privacy). In Santa Barbara we have mostly coaxial cable which is similar to FTTP. Make FTTP or coaxial cable accessible and affordable to everyone at home and at work.

Strike promoting the telecom industry’s goals from Santa Barbara’s Regulatory Ordinance:
The last line of the Draft Ordinance’s second paragraph states: “The industry currently estimates that each national carrier will need to deploy between 30-60 small cells, connected by approximately 8 miles of fiber optic cable, per square mile. Promotion of the telecom industry’s goals has no place in this ordinance. Its inclusion begs the question, for whom is this regulatory ordinance written to serve? The telecom industry or the residents? If one does the math on this equation: 4 carriers x 60 antennas x 20.9 square miles in the City of Santa Barbara = 5000 plus small cell antennas. This formula is not mandated by any federal law; therefore, it has no place in Santa Barbara’s ordinance.

Limit cell antennas and towers in residential areas: Local residents should be protected from having cell towers installed close to their residences. Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable is the best option to provide internet services. First Responders’ communication needs can be served through existing cell towers or installing the minimal number of towers, operating at the minimal radiative power,
needed for 5 bars on a cell phone.

No cell towers in high fire and severe fire zones: Due to the combustible nature of these towers and their vulnerability to lightning strikes, seismic events and collisions, and the fact that their backup systems are more likely to be diesel fuel, we strongly recommend no towers or the minimal number of towers necessary. Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable should be used in high to severe fire risk areas.

Protect property values: Real Estate values are significantly impacted by a nearby cell tower. HUD refers to them as a “nuisance” and many property analyses and professional real estate publications state property values are dropping between 20-30%. The Draft Ordinance should include protection for property values.

Require telecoms to prove a gap in coverage before applying for a Small Wireless Facility (SWF):
Telecom companies are only required to provide wireless telecommunication or cell phone services. Telecom companies can measure the real-time gap in coverage and address that as needed. Data transfer is not required by the Telecom Act of 1996. Data can be provided by Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable. Limiting the scope of coverage to just what the Telcom Act requires will help limit the power and create less radiation toxicity.

Cap the power. Telecom companies are only required to provide telecommunication service (not data, which can be provided via Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable.  0.1-2.0 watts of power is needed to provide this service which delivers 5 bars on a cell phone. This is a tiny fraction of what the current small cell towers are radiating. Telecom companies are using 25 million times 0.1-2.0 watts of radiative power, which is unnecessary, excessive and toxic. The FCC regulations are obsolete and not protective.

Regular Monitoring: The Ordinance should require unannounced field and signal strength testing of all cell antennas provided by an independent RF engineer and paid for by the telecom companies at least every 6 months. Monitoring should be done 24/7/365. This will help protect residents from fire danger and excessive and unnecessary microwave radiation. No such testing or monitoring currently exists.

Public Notices: Require telecom companies to provide timely and effective notification before installing facilities. A Master Plan for proposed installations should be provided by the City. Neighboring residents within 1000-1500 feet of a planned Wireless Telecom Facilities (WTF) installation should be clearly notified, in writing, at their
specific address and given ample time to protest the facility.

Signage: Wireless companies need to be required to provide clearly visible signage in English, Spanish and symbols, warning residents about the radiation being emitted by their equipment. Residents should be informed so they can take action to protect themselves from radiation exposure. 

Create more restrictive regulations for residential and mixed use zones: Santa Barbara is very small. We have mixed zones throughout, including residential, commercial, schools, hospitals, parks, etc. In the Draft Ordinance, the terms “preferred” and “discouraged” locations for SWF’s are fairly specific, there are areas such as parks and recreation that are not included in the “discouraged” zones and should be. Also, these discouraged areas need further restrictions placed on the telecoms to make it very difficult for them to install any facilities in residential and sensitive zones.
   
Insurance: The Telecom Industry cannot get insurance for any injury claims caused by RFR . The Draft Ordinance leaves the City exposed to lawsuits from residents who are injured from Electro Magnetic Frequency or Radio Frequency Radiation (EMF/RFR). The city will also be exposed to lawsuits from fires caused by SWF’s, lowered property values, surveillance and privacy breaches and other health and environmental damages. The City should demand that the Telecom Companies obtain the highest level of insurance available in the event of a lawsuit and for the applicant to not elect the pollution exclusion policy. They must provide Pollution Insurance as EMF/RFR is deemed an environmental pollutant.

Respect all Federal Acts: ADA, FHA, NEPA: The Draft Ordinance should ensure that wireless companies follow all regulations included in the above Federal Acts.

SafeTechSBC Zoom Meeting presentation and Q&A Video

SafeTechSBC held a Zoom Presentation and Q&A on January 7th to assist the general public in submitting their public comments related to this Draft Ordinance. Click HERE to watch the video from that informative zoom presentation.

Questions?

If you still have questions related to this Draft Ordinance, you can reach us via email at info@safetechsbc.org, or post your question on our Facebook Group.


Template letter calling for Revisions of Santa Barbara Draft Telecom Ordinance

Please email your comments directly to Assistant City Attorney, John Doimas at jdoimas@santabarbaraca.gov and copy your District City Councilmember (district map) and the other City Councilmembers:

Mayor Cathy Murillo – cmurillo@santabarbaraca.gov
Sarah Gorman, Clerk – sgorman@santabarbaraca.gov
District 1 – Alejandra Gutierrez, Councilmember algutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov 
District 2 – Mike Jordan, Councilmember – mjordan@santabarbaraca.gov
District 3 – Oscar Gutierrez, Councilmember – ogutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov
District 4 – Kristen Sneddon, Mayor Pro Tempore – ksneddon@santabarbaraca.gov
District 5 – Eric Friedman, Councilmember – efriedman@santabarbaraca.gov|
District 6 – Meagan Harmon, Councilmember – mharmon@santabarbaraca.gov

You may also mail to: Mayor, City Council and John Doimas, 735 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I am a (selected suggestions or contribute your own)

  • ___ year resident of Santa Barbara
  • Student, worker or tourist of Santa Barbara

I (live, work, study, visit) Santa Barbara because I value: (selected suggestions or contribute your own) 

  • The aesthetics
  • The environment (beach, mountains, streams, etc)
  • The culture
  • The employment, education…

I am writing to object to the unnecessary proliferation of “Small” Wireless Facilities (SWF’s) in Santa Barbara for the following reasons: (select talking points, personalize as you like)

  • Thousands of scientific studies demonstrate and conclude that biological harm results from exposure to the radiofrequency/microwave radiation that 4G-5G infrastructures deploy.
  • There are far too many (SWF’s) in residential zones with antennas that are far too close to homes and too low to the ground.
  • Without proof of a significant gap in service they lack justification.
  • Residents are not receiving sufficient notification or given sufficient appeal procedures to be able to oppose the construction of SWF’s in our neighborhoods
  • Transmission of excessive power from these SWF’s- is 25 million times higher than needed for 5 bars telecommunications service (calls/texts)
  • Persons with electromagnetic/Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR) sensitivity are currently not receiving accommodation for their disabilities.
  • Statistically, property values lower by 20% when in close proximity to cell antennas and towers.
  • SWF’s of any size and any “G” are fire hazards, requiring significant fire safety mitigations.
  • I object to 24/7/365 surveillance and the unauthorized sale of my personal data. 
  • SWF’s are being installed within feet of Parks and Recreation centers where children congregate. Children’s skulls are 10 times more absorptive of and vulnerable to radio frequency radiation.
  • The City of Santa Barbara is doing insufficient due diligence by allowing SWF construction by companies/agents that cannot or do not provide sufficient insurance to protect the City of Santa Barbara from claims of injury, illness or death from such excessive RFR transmissions.

The current draft telecom ordinance falls short of adequately addressing my objections. Therefore, I ask you to approve the following revisions: (suggested talking points to choose from)

  • Require that all applicants provide proof of a significant gap in service for all SWF applications for cell towers of any size or any “G”.
  • Require that all applicants for antenna installations in “discouraged locations” prove that no feasible alternative exists in a “preferred location”.
  • Require that all SWF’s operate on Minimum Effective Power. This provides 5 bars on a cell phone constituting adequate cell phone service meeting the use of minimum power specified in the Telecommunications Act. 
  • Require a cap on power. An appropriate level of maximum effective radiated power In residential zones ranging from  .1 Watt and 2.0 Watts) per SWF and no higher. 
  • Add a Wireless Antenna Needs Test requirement for every SWF, accomplished by an unannounced city-wide signal strength test (in decibel-milliWatts (dBm) for every carrier- specific frequency/band/channel for which an FCC license exists within the jurisdictional boundaries of the City of Santa Barbara. This test could be completed every six months by a neutral third party RF Engineer contracted by the City. The costs would be borne by the Wireless Industry, shared on a pro-rata basis- based on carrier specific ERP (effective radiated power) antenna capability that transmits into the jurisdictional boundaries of the City of Santa Barbara.
  • Require applicants to submit a NEPA review to the FCC for all applications.
  • Strike the industry’s propaganda from the ordinance. Such pro-industry language does not belong in a City of Santa Barbara Municipal Ordinance.
  • Require each SWF applicant, to provide a projected five- year master plan and GIS for their projected roll out 
  • Require that all residents within 1500 feet be notified of a carrier’s SWF application.
  • Require that telecom applicants attend a meeting with the community, attended by a neutral city representative.
  • Require signage at adult eye- height, in English, Spanish and symbols, with contact information that reaches a human being for emergency purposes. 
  • Require visibility, no concealment or camouflaging of antennas for public awareness of their location
  • Add Parks and Recreation Centers to the “discouraged locations”
  • Require all SWF’s applicants to provide sufficient insurance (without a pollution exclusion) to cover claims of injury, illness or death from any emissions from these SWF’s.  
  • Require all SWF applicants to provide full financial information and list the full board of directors of the applicant’s firm to ensure which entities will be accountable and liable for potential future claims. 

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. Thousands of scientific studies demonstrate and conclude that biological harm results from exposure to the radiofrequency/microwave radiation that 4G-5G infrastructures deploy.  Please include in the new ordinance the requirement that all sWTFs operate on minimum effective power. This provides 5 bars on a cell phone constituting adequate cell phone service meeting the use of minimum power specified in the Telecommunications Act.

Thank you for your consideration

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. There are far too many (sWTFs) in residential zones with antennas that are far too close to homes and too low to the ground. Please include in the new ordinance the requirement that all applicants provide proof of a significant gap in service for all WTF applications for cell towers of any size or any “G”.

Respectfully,

Your name and  relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. The last line of the second paragraph states the industries goals for Santa Barbara are 30-60 antennas x carriers (4) x square miles (20.9).  Without proof of a significant gap in service these antennas lack justification. Strike the industry’s propaganda from Santa Barbara’s ordinance. Such pro-industry language does not belong in a City of Santa Barbara Municipal Ordinance. Require that all applicants provide proof of a significant gap in service for all WTF applications for cell towers of any size or any “G”.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input on the proliferation of  sWTFs installed in our neighborhoods. Residents are not receiving sufficient notification or given sufficient appeal procedures to be able to oppose the construction of sWTFs in our neighborhoods.  Please include in the new ordinance a requirement that all residents within 1500 feet be notified of a carrier’s WTF application and that that telecom applicants attend a meeting with the community.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Email your comments to Assistant City Attorney John Doimas at jdoimas@santabarbaraca.gov and cc sgorman@santabarbaraca.gov,  cmurillo@santabarbaraca.gov, algutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov , mjordan@santabarbaraca.gov, ogutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov , ksneddon@santabarbaraca.gov, efriedman@santabarbaraca.gov, mharmon@santabarbaraca.gov, info@safetechsbc.org

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. Transmission of excessive power from these sWTFs- 25 million times higher than needed for 5 bars telecommunications service (calls/texts).

Please require in the new ordinance a cap on power. An appropriate level of maximum effective radiated power in residential zones ranges from .1 Watt and 2.0 Watts) per WTF and no higher.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. Persons with electromagnetic/RFR sensitivity are currently not receiving accommodation for their disabilities. Please require that the new ordinance respect all Federal Acts: ADA FHA, and NEPA. The Draft Ordinance needs to ensure that wireless companies follow all regulations included in the above Federal Acts.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. Statistically property values lower by 20% when in close proximity to cell antennas and towers. Please require that all applicants for antenna installations in “discouraged locations” prove that no feasible alternative exists in a “preferred location”.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input on the new telecom draft ordinance. Santa Barbara has many high fire zones.  sWTFs of any size and any G towers are fire hazards. Please include in the new draft ordinance significant fire safety mitigations.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input on the proliferation of sWTFs. I object to 24/7/365 surveillance and the unauthorized sale of my personal data. Please include in the new ordinance the Requirement that all sWTFs operate on minimum effective power. This provides 5 bars on a cell phone constituting adequate cell phone service meeting the use of minimum power specified in the Telecommunications Act.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Email your comments to Assistant City Attorney John Doimas at jdoimas@santabarbaraca.gov and cc sgorman@santabarbaraca.gov,  cmurillo@santabarbaraca.gov, algutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov , mjordan@santabarbaraca.gov, ogutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov , ksneddon@santabarbaraca.gov, efriedman@santabarbaraca.gov, mharmon@santabarbaraca.gov, info@safetechsbc.org

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance. SWTFs are being installed within feet of Parks and Recreation centers where children congregate. Children’s skulls are 10 times more vulnerable to radio frequency radiation. Please include in the new ordinance the requirement to add Parks and Recreation Centers to the “discouraged locations”.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input on the Master Licensing Agreements with the Telecom Carriers. The City of Santa Barbara is doing insufficient due diligence by allowing sWTF construction by companies/agents that cannot provide sufficient insurance to protect the City of Santa Barbara from claims of injury, illness or death from such excessive RP transmissions. Please include in the new ordinance the requirement that  all WTF applicants to provide sufficient insurance (without a pollution exclusion) to cover claims of injury, illness or death from any emissions from these WTFs.  Also please require all WTF applicants to provide full financial information and list the full board of directors of the applicant’s firm to ensure which entities will be accountable and liable for potential future claims.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Sample e-mail or letter

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Councilmembers,

I would like to provide input to the Draft Telecom Ordinance.  The last line of the second paragraph states the industries goals for Santa Barbara are 30-60 antennas x carriers (4) x square miles (20.9).  Without proof of a significant gap in service these antennas lack justification.  Please add to the new ordinance a Wireless Antenna Needs Test requirement for every WTF, accomplished by a city-wide signal strength test (in decibel-milliWatts (dBm) for every carrier- specific frequency/band/channel for which an FCC license exists within the jurisdictional boundaries of the City of Santa Barbara. This test could be completed every six months by a neutral third party RF Engineer. The costs of which would be borne by the Wireless Industry, shared on a pro-rata basis- based on carrier specific ERP antenna capability that transmits into the jurisdictional boundaries of the City of Santa Barbara.

Thank you,

Your name and relationship to Santa Barbara

Email your comments to Assistant City Attorney John Doimas at jdoimas@santabarbaraca.gov and cc sgorman@santabarbaraca.gov,  cmurillo@santabarbaraca.gov, algutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov , mjordan@santabarbaraca.gov, ogutierrez@santabarbaraca.gov , ksneddon@santabarbaraca.gov, efriedman@santabarbaraca.gov, mharmon@santabarbaraca.gov, info@safetechsbc.org

How to Make Public Comment Online at City Council

https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/cals/default.asp