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Calistoga passes Wireless Ordinance

Calistoga passes Wireless Ordinance

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The City of Calistoga has approved a wireless telecommunication ordinance that will provide the city with more control over future wireless facility applications.

The ordinance has been in the works for more than a year, and was unanimously approved by the planning commission in April.

The approval comes as the City prepares to comply with frequently evolving federal and state regulations for use permits from telecommunications companies. In the absence of local regulations, the city would lose a large amount of discretion and local control with regard to new wireless facilities, said Planning and Building Director Zac Tusinger.

The ordinance will allow the City to regulate permit requirements, indicate where wireless companies can place facilities, and exercise discretion over design features including height limits, concealment of towers and equipment, and tower clusters.

The council voted 3-1 in favor of the ordinance, with Mayor Chris Canning recusing himself as he is also CEO of Illumination Technologies California, a telecommunications company.  

Councilmember Don Williams cast his second dissenting vote against the ordinance. At the council’s meeting in May, he said he was not prepared to approve the ordinance without more education and public input.

Prior to the meeting, staff responded to questions and concerns raised by the public including health and safety issues, and the permit review process. The staff report states that providers must comply with FCC electromagnetic frequency standards. Federal law preempts local agencies from regulating radio frequency or electromagnetic waves for facilities that comply with FCC regulations. However, the City can require proof that FCC standards are met. Most of the policy examples that staff has reviewed require proof that the wireless carriers comply with the FCC EMF parameters, the report said.

With regard to specific concerns about 5G frequencies, Interim City Manager Brad Kilger pointed out that “Health impacts are not applicable from a legal standpoint.”

There are also many best practices built into the ordinance. Facilities must be installed away from residential and city gateway locations, no new poles can be installed in the public right-of-way, and all new facilities need to go through the building permit process.

According to a new study, a 10-minute phone call multiple times a week can help decrease loneliness. Half of the 240 study participants were selected to receive short phone calls from volunteers for one month. All participants had loneliness, anxiety and depression measured on scientific scales at the start and end of the study. Participants who received phone calls reported feeling 20% less lonely on average because of the phone calls. The loneliness of participants was analyzed using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, which ranges from three to nine. Participants averaged 6.5 at the start of the study and 5.2 at the end of the study. The phone calls also caused a 30% decrease in anxiety and a 20% decrease in depression. Researchers are encouraging people who are feeling lonely to reach out to friends and family for support.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

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