Joy Brann, Johanna Finney & Craig Fiels: Nevada City, Nevada County deserve high performance telecommunications, not dirty wireless |

Joy Brann, Johanna Finney & Craig Fiels: Nevada City, Nevada County deserve high performance telecommunications, not dirty wireless

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Joy Brann, Johanna Finney & Craig Fiels

Since last September, the Nevada City Public Working Group on Telecommunications has made efforts, some successful, to work with the City Council of Nevada City, ts attorneys, consultants and staff to advocate for stronger public safety protections in the Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Ordinance.

On May 27, the working group recommended three essential ordinance revisions that would protect the health and safety of people and communities: third party pollution insurance for telecoms, statement of fact under oath and perjury on permit applications and random radio frequency (RF) testing to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

On June 1, the last two of our recommendations were accepted, but the language approved by Council on June 10 neglected to adopt our request to require “substantive and verifiable evidence” on applications, and our request to have their permit revoked if false information was given on the permit application.

The Council stated that RF testing will be complaint-driven. This means individuals will need to bring complaints to the City to trigger independent testing of RF emissions from cell towers and antennae. Unfortunately, the burden of proof must be initiated by individuals who will need to bring their health and safety concerns to the Council.

Wireless providers are notorious for exceeding federal emissions standards, and the FCC does not enforce compliance at the local level. If necessary, residents may have to sue the industry for harms caused by effects of wireless facilities. Those living and working near cellular antennas, such as postal carriers who work in the “public right of way,” are chronically exposed to the cumulative effects of excess electromagnetic radiation. Children at school are exposed to wireless radiation in violation of the school’s lawful responsibility to protect their safety.

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The City of Nevada City paid over $40,000 in questionable legal fees for a vague, disorganized and confusing ordinance that was approved in September 2019, but that did not adequately protect its communities, property values, taxpayers and voters. Since last September, the working group has worked diligently with City staff, their attorneys, and consultants to improve the ordinance. The version approved on June 10 is a product of these collaborative revisions. However, the working group does not entirely agree with the overly cautionary approach taken by the City’s legal counsel, who has repeatedly put forth a perceived risk of litigation by telecommunications carriers. Instead, the working group has provided the city with legal proof that its authority is broader than what is reflected in this ordinance. For these reasons, the Public Working Group will continue its efforts to improve the ordinance, assert local authority and advocate for public health and safety protections, monitor permit applications, check compliance, and educate the public and elected officials on these issues.

The working group appreciates the positive and professional efforts of city staff, their consultants and the Council throughout the process. The working group especially thanks Mayor Reinette Senum for her leadership to improve the ordinance since before its original adoption in 2019.

The Public Working Group represents parents and children, professionals and visitors, businesses and employees, and all community members for access to safe and secure high performance telecommunications services, and protection from the effects of unregulated wireless electromagnetic pollution. Please volunteer your support at and sign up on our Nevada County CA group page to get involved locally.

Johanna Finney, wireless policy consultant; Joy Brann, MPH, environmental health policy consultant; and Craig Fiels, MCRP, city planner/policy analyst on behalf of the Public Working Group.

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