Marin County Civic Center
Around 200 people showed up at the February 5th Marin County Workshop on 5G Technology. The evening began with Staff giving a presentation about the fifth generation (5G) for telecommunications and an update on the County's lawsuit against the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC's) new Small Cell Order, entitled; "Accelerating Wireless and Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment". The FCC Order, which went into effect on January 14, 2019, streamlines the processes required to deploy small cell wireless facilities and reduces local control of the facilities. This was followed by open time for public expression.
Many people spoke eloquently against the roll-out of 5G wireless technology. They voiced concerns that 5G small cell facilities could: cause adverse health and environmental effects due to increased exposure to microwave radiation; increase fire hazards; decrease property values; and degrade the traditional character of neighborhoods. Many favored wired fiber optic networks over 5G wireless technology. They affirmed that fiber optic cable is faster, more secure, more reliable, more energy efficient, more cost effective, healthier and safer than wireless networks. A number of residents recounted their trials and tribulations with Electromagnetic Sensitivity. Only three people spoke in favor of the new 5G technology, all of which were paid to be there by wireless carriers.
At the end of the evening, Senior Planner Tom Lai asked the Supervisors to give direction to Staff. Each of the Supervisors made comments about 5G wireless technology and told Staff what to prepare for a future hearing.
Supervisor Kate Sears stated; “The Internet of Things can never surpass the importance of the health and wellness of our community and all the critters that live in it.” She asked Staff to prepare two sets of regulations: One set of regulations to comply with the new Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Small Cell Orders; and another set of regulations for the possibility that the FCC rules may be overturned.
Sears announced that the Board just sent a letter to Congressman Jared Huffman in support of H.R. 530 – “Accelerating Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019”, introduced on January 14, 2019 by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. (See letter below.) She added that she also wants to send a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting the commission to provide a 5G health and safety determination and for relevant health agencies to provide input.
Supervisor Dennis Rodoni directed Staff to require a specified distance between Small Cell Facilities and homes and schools.
Supervisor Damon Connolly expressed that the most important thing for Staff to do is to “protect the public to the greatest degree possible”. He asked Staff to develop small cell wireless facility regulations as follows:
- Require a minimum distance from a 5G installation to a residence;
- Require a minimum distance between a 5G installation and child care facilities, medical facilities, and schools;
- Require a minimum distance in between installations;
- Establish regulations to reduce fire hazards related to small cell facilities;
- Look into our ability to administer coverage analysis; and
- Look into limiting installations in other zoning districts to the greatest degree possible.
Supervisor Katie Rice concurred with Connolly’s & Sear’s recommendations. She said the Board should also pursue a political legislative path regarding small cell facilities. In addition, she asked Staff to add language about the newer thinking regarding 5G health concerns.
Supervisor Judy Arnold said; “Looking at the materials sent in regarding the harmful effects of 5G… Cellular radiation is a disgrace and I concur with that.” She supported:
- Limiting 5G in residential areas;
- Limiting 5G in ridge and upland greenbelt areas;
- Requiring stealth design for 5G small cell facilities; and
- Developing objective standards.
After the workshop, some participants said they were heartened by the Supervisors’ responses and hoped that the small cell regulations developed by Staff would give ample protection.
Please click HERE to view a video of the workshop. (Click on "10) Informational workshop from the Community Development Agency on small wireless (5G) telecommunications.")