Update on Nevada City Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance
Dear friends of Nevada City,
Since last September, the Nevada City Public Working Group (PWG) on Telecommunications has been working with the City Council of Nevada City, their attorneys, consultants and staff to advocate for stronger public safety protections in the Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Ordinance (WTF).
On May 27, 2020, the PWG submitted three essential recommended Ordinance revisions that would protect the health and safety of people and communities:
1) Insurance: “All permittees are required to have general insurance that includes pollution insurance by a third-party insurer, not a self-insured indemnity substitute by a telecommunications company or any company listed on a License Agreement.”
2) Permit Applications: “Any and all information on a permit application must be supported with substantive and verifiable evidence and is deemed to be true under oath and subject to perjury, and/or subject to applicant having their permit(s) and Master Agreements/Franchise Agreements revoked.”
3) Random Testing for RF Compliance. “The municipality shall have the right to employ a qualified RF engineer to conduct an annual random and unannounced test of any Permittee’s wireless installations located within its jurisdiction to certify their compliance with all FCC radio-frequency emission limits as they pertain to exposure to the general public. The reasonable cost of such tests shall be paid by the Permittee.”
On June 1, the last two of our recommendations were accepted, but the language approved by Council on June 10 was weakened to limit enforceability and industry accountability. The Council claims the City is protected from litigation by the Telecom industry, but chose to ignore public safety concerns, leaving people and communities vulnerable to effects of unregulated, untested wireless facilities. This City Council chose to approve an ordinance that protects the wireless industry instead of the City’s inhabitants, the public bears the responsibility to monitor emissions and violations, and if necessary, independently sue the industry for violations and harms.
For the record, the PWG submitted comments for the June 10, City Council meeting, stating the PWG does not approve the weakened language. However, this Council chose to approve the second and final reading of the current form of the Wireless Ordinance with weakened provisions.
The PWG remains committed to appeal to the incoming Council to strengthen the wireless Ordinance. The City of Nevada City has paid more than $40,000, in questionable billing fees for a vague and confusing ordinance that doesn’t adequately protect its communities, property, taxpayers and voters.
A committed group of people is essential to assert local authority – Federal courts support local control of telecommunications services by City Councils (see D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 18-1129 and D.C. Court of Appeals Case No. 18-105).
WE NEED YOUR HELP! The PWG has been renamed the Nevada County Public Working Group on Telecommunications to represent our rural areas and cities. We need committed volunteers to:
• Submit records requests to the City manager and planning department to verify, monitor and enforce accuracy and applicants’ compliance in permitting of Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTF) and infrastructure.
• Enforce random RF testing and procedures to ensure compliance with FCC standards and other applicable laws.
• Require proper and adequate insurance from telecom companies (3rd party liability insurance with “pollution” clause) for all permit applications and Master Agreements/Franchise Agreements.
• Respond to Public Notification – When a tower, small cells, DAS, or other WTFs are being requested in a new permit application, the public must be notified and able to comment.
• Insist on Fire Prevention – Require underground equipment when possible, and limit co-locations on poles, towers, etc., to limit fire danger.
• Represent the community in lawsuits and remedies – When a telecom company violates permit requirements and FCC regulations, and when equipment causes harm, the PWG must be able to respond to affected residents, file cease and desist and other actions to provide compensation and remedies for violations by the telecom industry.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
Please volunteer and/or donate to this effort. Visit https://5gfree.org/ to learn about issues and how to get involved locally. Pease become a member, donate and sign up on our Nevada County CA group page. Funds will be directed to our local organization.
Help us provide the oversight necessary to enforce compliance with safe standards, and protect the public from wireless industry violations and potential damages. Together, our efforts can ensure that dirty technologies do not threaten public safety, and are replaced with the safer high performance technologies we deserve.
Contact us for more information on how you can participate at: NevadaCountyPWG@protonmail.com
Core members of the Nevada County Public Working Group on Telecommunications (PWG) are Craig Fiels, MCRP, city planner/policy analyst, Johanna Finney, wireless policy consultant, and Joy Brann, MPH, environmental health policy. The PWG is an affiliate of the national coalition https://5gfree.org/