Grounds for Appeal

Project number P08-003 (MetroPCS Antenna System at Washington Plaza 1318 E St)

By Mark Blackburn

May 5, 2008

 

I am the owner of 1312 E Street, which is next door to Washington Plaza at 1318 E.  My building is a legal triplex and I have rented to families since I bought the building 10 years ago.  As an ethical and responsible real estate investor and landlord I oppose adding the proposed Metro PCS cell phone antenna system for a variety of reasons.

 

1.  There are over 500 legal dwelling units within 1000 feet of the proposed electromagnetic nuisance, supporting a population of at least 1000 individuals.  I estimate that there are at least 50 different landlords within 1000 feet of your proposed EMR (electro magnetic radiation)  nuisance.  So far, there is only 1 other landlord I have spoken to who is aware of this stealth project.  Today I spoke with another 3 other landlords who own rental buildings within 500 feet of your proposed nuisance and none of them have received notification of it.  I believe this may be a violation of the planning commissionís regulations for such a project, and request at the very least that the process be re-started with the proper notifications being made to all property owners within the statutory radius. About 80% of the dwelling units within 1000 feet are rented out by landlords like me.  Under California Real Estate Law we are legally required to disclose to all current and  prospective tenants any potential health threats including mold, asbestos, pesticide residues, and electromagnetic radiation (EMR).  Already, I have two tenants who are threatening to leave due to the proposed cell antennas.   I have a unit that will be vacated at the end of this month.  How will I ever be able to rent it out?  How much should I discount the rent to entice them to live in an EMR hot zone?   If I canít re-rent the unit, will MetroPCS and SHRA pay my mortgage for me?  My wife and I live within 500 feet in a rented apartment directly behind Washington Plaza on F Street, where we have rented for over 5 years.  We love our apartment, but we will definitely move away from this health hazard, if approved, at tremendous personal expense.  And, what of our landlord?  What will you do to compensate our Landlord who will legally have to disclose why we left the apartment, and may be unable to rent out our apartment.  Letís just suppose that MetroPCS will pay $2000 in rent to place the hazard on Washington Plazaís roof.  What if in a 1000 foot radius there are suddenly 50 apartments that can no longer be rented because nobody wants to live under a cell tower?  50 x average rent of $700 = $35,000.  Does SHRA hope to cost nearby property owners $35,000 so they can pocket $2000?  What is the public interest in that?

 

If you inform the many property owners within the statutory radius, maybe some of them will show up at the public meeting (if it will be open to the public)!  I am working out of town presently and I sent my wife, Sharoll Blackburn, to the April 24 public hearing for this project and although she tried every entrance to both the old & new portions of city hall she was turned away at all entrances, being assured that there were no public hearings at city hall that day.  I therefore assume there was not one property owner or local resident present to oppose the nuisance.   Since virtually none of them claim to have been notified, it does not surprise me that no one came to oppose the proposal.  Yet, I am aware of a number of people on the block that are very concerned.

 

2.       A casual amount of research will show that many people, especially the elderly are put at grave risk by living close to cell antennas.  www.mercola.com is the 2nd largest medical site on the web.  Dr. Joseph Mercola has an article describing the horrible experience with a similar apartment building for the elderly that erected a cell phone tower:

 

Orange mobile phone company agreed to remove its cell phone mast -- dubbed the ďTower of DoomĒ -- from the top of a five-story London apartment building after seven of its residents got cancer.

The cancer rate among those living on the top floor, where residents from five of the eight flats were affected, is 20 percent -- 10 times the national average.

The mast, along with a second mast owned by Vodafone, was put up in 1994. Since then, residents have battled cancer, headaches and other health problems they say are caused by radiation from the masts. Three residents have died from cancer, while another four are still fighting the disease.

In August 2007, after a long legal battle, Orange agreed to move the mast from the building -- to another area near homes, a public library and a primary school. 

 

 

3.  Most people understand cell phone technology is new and we donít know the full risks.   Do you know this?   Did you know that in the 1940s many government doctors were touting occasional cigarette smoking as beneficial for the lungs?   (How much did the tobacco companies pay them)?   Our parents blindly bought into the fraudulent test results that calmed concerns of the health risks of asbestos, nuclear energy, silicone implants and tobacco. When the brain tumors and cancers start forming 15 years from now, which industry leader or government official will take responsibility? Today, cell phone use remains in its infancy and is very convenient.  But, the long-term effects are not known.  Government studies show conclusive physical harm from long term exposure to electromagnetic energy.   For this reason it is illegal to place a cell transmitter at or near a high school in California.  This is an appropriate law because A study by Dr. Bruce Hocking in Australia found that children living near three TV and FM broadcast towers (similar to cell towers) in Sydney had more than twice the rate of leukemia than children living more than seven miles away. Yet, the occupants of Washington Plaza are frankly more vulnerable than high school students and deserve the same protection.   The residents of Washington Plaza are among the most unhealthy, weak, vulnerable,  and disenfranchised citizens in Sacramento.  Was this population targeted because of this?  Because they are too weak to resist?    Like the residents of the London building these seniors remain in their apartments nearly 24x7.  This means they get constant bombardment with EMR.  Iíd think it better to place this on top of the Attorney Generalís office.  Those guys are there a scant 8 hours a day and take tons of vacation.   Why pick on the most vulnerable?  MetroPCS makes millions of dollars per year.  Washington Plaza residents make what, less than $18k?  Are they just expendable?  Are the big corporations controlling every decision? 

 

4.  What safeguards are in place?  What guarantees does SHRA make that another ďTower of DoomĒ scenario will not occur?  Who will examine and track the health of the residents of Washington Plaza over the next few years?  Have proper baseline health examinations already been made?  Can the city afford the potential economic burden of  lawsuits arising from a building of 100 sick and dying people and their dying neighbors?   Will SHRA become known as the ĎDorthea Puenteí of the 2000s? 

 

 

5.  I have had newborn  infants as tenants.  I do not want to rent to tenants knowing they may be getting cancer due to Washington Plazaís ability to pull in $2000 or so a month rent from MetroPCS.  I appreciate Washington Plazaís unique height and  location, but there are many other areas less populated that could serve much the same cell zones.  There is a cell tower at 15th & D.  Cell towers can be shared by different companies.  They do not all have to have their own individual towers.  There are central locations near the train tracks that could be exploited that are not near homes, families, and vulnerable children.  I am including a map of the registered cell towers in downtown.  Do you not notice that downtown is already very well-saturated with cell towers compared to other parts of Sacramento? 

 

http://www.cellreception.com/towers/towers.php?city=sacramento&state_abr=ca

 

The above map shows the downtown area is loaded with cell towers already, especially when compared to other high-density areas like East Sac, Arden, Natomas or West Sac.  Why do we need to destroy the rental income of 50-odd landlords to add another?  Why canít MetroPCS do a cooperative sharing with another existing tower?  Or, locate slightly away from such a densely populated quadrant of downtown?  What about the rail yards?  And, why does East Sac not have any towers?  Is it because they are richer and more influential and donít want cell towers close to their homes?

 

6.  As an ethical & law-abiding landlord,  I have to disclose to all current and prospective tenants the health risks that potentially exist in my home.  Up to now, there have been no such risks to disclose.  I spend considerable effort when renting an empty unit.  I have worked very diligently to attract good people and tenants to the neighborhood.  Now, what kind of people will I be able to recruit as tenants?   Only the trashy druggies who make a sport of killing themselves.  These are the type of people we have worked so hard to get rid of on E Street!  

 

7.  The proposed hazard and the health risk it will create will certainly cause me to lose rental income and double the considerable effort I take to locate and rent to good tenants.  Already, I have two tenants threatening to leave over the cell fiasco.  Will MetroPCS or SHRA be there to make up the shortfall due to their actions?  Iím struggling with an adjustable rate mortgage already.   I have maximized my rental income to pay the mortgage.    But, if MetroPCS makes it impossible to rent my home out, and other nearby homes, the neighborhood will become blighted again as homes are foreclosed upon.   Or, what if my tenants develop cancer and sue me?  Will MetroPCS and SHRA be there to pay?  I donít think a public agency like SHRA should undertake the enormous potential liability for harm to itís thousands of neighbors. 

 

8.  My home is a commercial entity.  As such its valuation is directly apportioned by my rental income.  Will MetroPCS and SHRA make up the losses in equity valuation of my home?   What of all the homes on the surrounding blocks?

 

9.      The following property owners within 500í of the proposed EMR hazard were never notified of the planning commission project:

 

Tom Kiltz  (owns 8 units at closest corner of 13th & F)

Tim Parkinson (owns triplex on 13th between E & F)

Mary Morant (owns 1315 F Street)

 

There are many more names I could add to this list, but I spoke with these three on May 4, 2008. 

 

 

10.  I will be speaking with other neighbors trying to determine if any of them are aware of the project.  So far I know of one who IS.  All others are in the dark.  I am sure that the city would intend for a decision like this be made with input from residents and property owners.  I suspect that proper (and possibly legal) notification has not yet been made.  

 

11.  What I want:  I believe the planning departmentís efforts to inform local residents of this project has fallen short of normally expected outcomes.   Were procedures followed properly?  If so, are the dismal results (2 property owners on the block know of the project)  indicative that the public interest in this matter was not served?   I believe it might be appropriate to re-open the matter to hearing.   Given sufficient advance notice I believe a number of residents and property owners would like to weigh in on the matter.  This project may have considerable downstream affect on a marginal neighborhood that is struggling to mainstream itself.  I believe there are many reasons why approving this project will really pull the neighborhood down.  Most nearby properties are rental units.  Having this EMR Hazard on the block will make renting properties very difficult.  Homes will go to foreclosure.  Blight will occur.  Seeing the cell map I have included I cannot imagine that yet another downtown cell tower is necessary.  I donít doubt for a minute that the planning commission has worked tirelessly on this project.  Upon every inquiry I have been dealt with professionally and courteously, and I really appreciate it.  Please, however, I would ask the commission to re-examine:

 

  1. Is the antenna system necessary?  Why? 
  2. Are there alternate locations in less populated areas nearby?
  3. Who will be responsible for health issues that may arise in the neighborhood?
  4. Have WP residents been advised to even notice if they begin to feel sick, and have they been given a method to report nausea, headaches, etc.?  To whom?
  5. Is there a health statistics system in place to track what happens with residents of WP if the EMR (electro magnetic radiation) hazard is installed?
  6. What relief will SHRA make to nearby landlords who cannot rent properties?
  7. Will the city or SHRA buy back homes that cannot be rented and therefore have no value?
  8. What is the amount of rent that MetroPCS has offered to pay SHRA?
  9. What other sites were considered?    

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

 

Mark S Blackburn 

(916) 444-6500

1315    F  Street #2

Sacramento, CA

95814

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