Marin County, Calif., Supervisors to Consider 5G Regulations

A new ordinance spells out design guidelines for 5G-transmitting antennas, which include limiting them to one per pole, keeping them off historic buildings and installing them at least 1,000 feet apart.

(TNS) — With 5G technology on the way, Marin County, Calif., has released a draft ordinance that would regulate the placement and design of new wireless transmitting infrastructure.

The Marin Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the proposed regulations at its July 9 meeting.

The ordinance spells out design guidelines for 5G-transmitting antennas, which include limiting them to one per pole, keeping them off historic buildings and installing them at least 1,000 feet apart. They must also match the color of the structure they are placed on.

“We want them to blend in and not stick out,” said Immanuel Bereket, a county senior planner.

Preferred locations for the antennas, according to the ordinance, include industrial, commercial or agricultural sites, or near public facilities. The least-preferred locations include residential or mixed-use sites, and areas within 1,500 feet of schools and daycare centers.

Without local policies in place that set guidelines for companies hoping to set up the new hardware, municipalities have little ability to dictate where the infrastructure is installed and how it looks.

“They look generally awful,” said Susan Cleveland-Knowles, a Sausalito councilwoman. “They’re a massive aesthetic impact.”

On Tuesday, the Sausalito City Council held a public hearing for an ordinance that sets that city’s design and permitting guidelines for 5G. The council approved it unanimously on a first reading, joining several other Marin cities and towns that have enacted similar regulations ahead of the anticipated 5G rollout.

Federal regulations, first adopted decades ago and fortified this year, limit the ability of local governments to restrict wireless infrastructure. Those laws, according to the Federal Communications Commission, are aimed at maintaining a free market for the communications industry.

The 5G rollout has spurred international competition among countries eager to get it up and running. The new system is expected to boost internet speeds and is billed as a revolutionary technology that will be necessary to make possible future innovations, such as driverless cars.

5G has come under scrutiny in Marin. Residents afraid of potential negative health impacts they say are associated with wireless infrastructure have packed city halls around the county to voice their opposition to 5G.

The new technology operates on higher radio frequencies than older iterations of wireless. Those frequencies transmit data faster, but they don’t travel as far. As a result, more transmitters will be needed and they’ll need to be placed closer to the people using them — on telephone poles and light posts in the public right of way.

Some say the technology emits radio waves that can cause symptoms including insomnia, depression, anxiety and headaches.

“The more you can keep these away from people, the more we can protect health and well-being,” said Andy Peri, a member of an opposition group called 5G-Free Marin.

Roughly 200 people, many from the opposition group, showed up to a February board meeting, urging county supervisors to resist the new technology, despite federal regulations that prohibit municipalities from banning it on the basis of environmental or health concerns.

The FCC has determined what it calls safe levels of emissions, and says that technology that complies with its standards can’t be prohibited.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association has said in a statement that radiofrequency energy from networks such as 5G “has not been shown to cause health problems, according to the consensus of the international scientific community.”

“The health-related issues, while they may be unknown, are not part of the consideration of this ordinance, because we’re restricted from considering them,” said Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, who is on a wireless regulations subcommittee.

“The draft we’ve come up with tries to address as many community concerns we can,” he said, “within the legal bounds we have to work with.”

©2019 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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