Neighbors and families from schools near St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church near the corner of Dolores Street and 16th Street will gather there on Sunday morning to protest the proposed installation of a T-Mobile cell tower in the church steeple.
Parents are concerned about potential health risks from the tower. The National Research Council has called for more research into the safety of cell towers and antennas, particularly for children.
“We need to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach when it comes to children,” said Jessica Ross, whose six-year-old son attends a school adjacent to the church, in a prepared statement. “Until long-term epidemiological studies have proved that they’re safe, those towers do not belong on a corner occupied by so many children for so many hours of the day for so many years of their lives.”
This March, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study the health impacts of “wireless facilities,” and urging a repeal on limitations imposed by the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The Act preempts local communities from regulating the placement, construction, and modification of wireless service facilities on the basis of the potential environmental effects of radio-frequency emissions, as long as those facilities comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations.
The European Parliament, the Los Angeles Unified School District and other entities have called for a precautionary approach, recommending 1,500-foot buffer zones around schools and day-care centers until more research is complete, according to a press release from the protesters.
The protesters say that there are four schools within 300 feet of the proposed San Francisco tower, and that more than 500 children are currently enrolled at those schools.
The San Francisco Planning Commission hearing on the conditional use permit for the tower was recently continued to June 17.
Protesters will gather Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.