Telecom installations in Santa Barbara | Credit: courtesy

A new frontier called the public right of way has sprung up in the residential neighborhoods of Santa Barbara. Telecom carriers are lassoing real estate in the public right of way, like the cowboys of yesteryear, taming our local governments with their hypnotic mantra, “Your hands are tied. The FCC has got you strapped and tied to do our bidding!”

The telecoms’ goal is to lay their claim to pole space in the public right of way before their competitors. As stated in Santa Barbara City’s Draft Telecom Ordinance, they have their sights on installing 30-60 towers per square mile per carrier. If you do the math on this equation, that makes roughly 5,000 antennas blanketing our city.

Perhaps you concur? We need more wireless connectivity. More towers, please. Let’s do our part in making sure everyone gets connected. That sounds great, unless it’s your bedroom window that is now 16 feet from the next public right of way acquisition. Well, they’re not exactly pretty, but with so many power lines and utility poles it all blends together. They can’t be that bad really?

Well yes, they actually can. Nobody’s monitoring the intensity of their pulsed modulations that blast through your walls like a smack on the face every few hours. There are now thousands of peer-reviewed studies that say the levels of microwave radiation being transmitted cause harm, while the FCC sticks to their outdated data from 1996 measuring the effect of only thermal radiation with 2G technology, ignoring the non-thermal effects of 4G and emerging 5G technology. What possible harms might there be? Well they include: fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, brain fog, cardiovascular issues, and cancer to name a few. Meanwhile home buyers say, “No thank you.” Property values decline an average of 20 percent adjacent to so-called small cell antennas. Furthermore, they are combustible and their electrical fires cannot be put out with water and standard fire equipment.

Cell antenna applicants claim significant gaps in coverage that must be filled with another tower. While their marketing literature claims the opposite, they actually have excellent coverage! Their cannon-size equipment housing 4G antennas hung on utility poles, dedicated poles, light poles, and wires radiate broadband data through microwave radiation for miles within feet of our residences. When instead a few macro towers on our hillside away from our residences, will suffice for personal wireless services. Or we can install pea shooter–size antennas with a cap on power of .1-2 watts or -85 dBm which gives us 5 bars on cell phone for personal wireless coverage. Fiber Optics To The Premises gives us ample capacity and is faster, safer, and more private for our broadband data.

Who is the sheriff, you may ask, to halt the robbery of our public right of way? So far both the city and the county have rolled over to assist the acquisition. The County Board of Supervisors rescinded restrictions such as proof of significant gap in coverage and prohibition of cell towers in residential neighborhoods. Likewise, the City Council voted down placing a moratorium on new cell towers, until their outdated ordinance is revised.

In recent weeks, Andrew Campanelli, a leading national telecom attorney, gave instruction to our county attorney, county public officials, and local residents on the legal arguments that refute the billion-dollar telecom industry mantra “your hands are tied.” He educated participants that our local zoning laws offer us the local authority to protect our residents, if our local government officials so choose. That is a big if. The power is in their hands to ensure that our telecom ordinances and codes enact specific provisions such as proof of Significant Gap in Coverage, set back limitations, height limitations, fall zones, prohibition in residential zones, cap on radiative power.

So the question remains, do you want cannons or pea shooters on your street? Do you want “so called” small cells pulsing microwave radiation within feet of your bedroom? Or do you want affordable Fiber Optics To The Premises or coaxial cable for your broadband, with macro towers in the hills, at a good distance, for your personal wireless services?

Will your street be next? Your City Council and your Board of Supervisors need to hear from you! For more information visit


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