Saturday, 18 January 2014

Conflicts of Interests

Department of Development Services
City of Long Beach
333 W. Ocean Blvd., 5th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802

Attn: Amy J. Bodek, AICP
         Director of Development Services
       Jeff Winklepleck
       Acting Planning Administrator

January 18, 2014

Ref.: Application No 1310--12
 Public Hearing Jan. 16, 2014

Dear Director Bodek and Mr. Winklepleck,

My name is Duane Stanfield, and I live at (Redacted); pretty much directly behind the subject building (Redacted.), on the next block north.  Consequently I was notified of the public hearing on this application for "a new AT&T wireless telecommunications facility on the rooftop of" said four-story apartment building.  I went to that hearing, on January 16 (this past Thursday), hoping to hear/get any information regarding health and safety factors of such antenna installations - knowing that such information seems to be updated at a rather rapid pace these days, at least regarding the likes of mobile phones themselves, and smart meters.

I was, in the event, not apprised of any such information; the hearing concentrated on a) the "architectural integrity" of this classic example of an Art Deco building from the '20s, and b) the possibility and ramifications of any "future co-locating carrier".1  Before the vote was taken, I was allowed to speak to the proposal.

In opening my comments, I mentioned how struck I was about the application and its discussion, that there was a lot of concern expressed about the aesthetics but not much to be said about the health and safety factors; and then addressed my specific two points of concern.  Which were: 1) The Conditional Use Permit Findings (Exhibit D of the Application) noted, under point 2 ('The Proposed Use Will Not Be Detrimental To The Surrounding Community Including Public Health, Safety, General Welfare, Environmental Quality Or Quality Of Life'), that "(t)he site will be required to comply with the regulations and development standards of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the United States standards for radio emissions set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)".  I queried how recent those standards had been set, in the light of health & safety issues of such wireless technology constantly being updated, and also in the light of 2) point 5 under 'Conditions Of Approval' noting that there was to be a "10-year review…for this subject wireless site…", commenting that that was really not good enough of a review process, considering the relatively rapid turnover of information from studies into this sort of technology.  The response to my enquires, first from the Chair of the Commission and then from one of the Staff, was that 1) they went by the FCC on this sort of thing; and 2) the 10-year review in question was only relating to the building.  The Application was then passed 4-1.

I went home thinking, So if I get cancer from this installation, the City of Long Beach washes its hands of any responsibility in the matter. because they, quote, "go by the FCC" in such questions.  So, the next day (yesterday), I did some checking on this regulatory agency, the FCC.  And what I have found is that it is now - as of early November of this just--past year - chaired by a man by the name of Thomas Wheeler, who has been, in his past, the President and CEO of a telecommunications lobbyist.2

Let's keep this straight: The FCC, which is (or at least, is supposed to be) the regulator of the telecommunications industry, is now being headed by a man who was President and CEO of a business that catered to the needs of the industry that he was a lobbyist for.   Like - oh, say, like: AT&T.  The Applicant for this Permit.          

I hope you can appreciate my various concerns.  And will discuss this particular state of affairs - this glaring conflict of interest - with your team.  And advise me of any response - from you and your Staff, representing the City of Long Beach - to my concerns.  As a citizen of your fair City.  Entrusting my environmentally-affected health to your good keeping. 

I opened my remarks to the Planning Commission by noting something that an earlier Presenter said, in her report to the Commission on an initiative that she and her City Department are responsible for, called 'Public Health by Design'.3  At one point she remarked, "Where you live will affect your health."

A wise observation.  And apparently, I am about to find out just how true that observation is.

Yours sincerely,

Duane Stanfield


1 "Staff believes that construction of a new rooftop screening enclosure by a second co-locating carrier would seriously compromise the architectural integrity of this particular building…However, staff's ultimate objective at this site is to prevent the adulteration of the Art Deco architecture of this historically-significant building…" page 3 of the Application      

2 Called the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, or CTIA.  Which used to be known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.  Which name may have been too obvious as to what they actually did.

3 Susan Price, Manager, Bureau of Community Health, City of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services 


I'll keep you posted on the outcome of this little matter.  Well; this little matter to you, possibly.


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