2012-03-22 / Editorials

Cell tower critics are dropping the call

What’s one thing the San Fernando Valley has on the Conejo

Valley?

Great cellphone coverage.

For years, local residents who regularly crisscross the Conejo have bemoaned the spotty cell reception in pockets of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Westlake Village, not to mention Agoura Hills and Oak Park. People who love their cellphones—sports fans, soccer moms, business men and women, neighborhood gossipers—have taken their frustration to their wireless providers only to be told the problem isn’t service-related, it’s about an insufficient number of towers.

The solution, unlike the voice on the other end of the cellphone, seemed crystal clear to most cell users: Build more towers.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done in the Conejo Valley, where real estate prices are high and most homeowners don’t want to see anything that might negatively effect their property values.

Time and time again, residents have spoken out against these wireless antennas—which are commonly attached to light poles, street lights or the tops of buildings—failing to realize they might be jeopardizing the cellphone coverage of thousands of others who also need to use their gadgets in that several mile radius.

While labeling the antennas “unsightly” is a matter of opinion— and one we can accept for argument’s sake—the fear-mongering with regard to the safety of the towers is misleading and misplaced.

The fact is no one can say with 100 percent certainty whether the wireless stations and their radio frequency waves are harmful to humans or not, just like we don’t know yet the health impacts of many other technology age creations, such as iPods, Xboxes and LCD screens.

The preeminent authority on cancer in the United States, the American Cancer Society, sees very little evidence pointing to the dangers of cell towers, reporting on its website that “most scientists agree that cell phone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer.” So until they say otherwise, or until a definitive study is released, we think it’s best to take that argument off the table.

We’re not saying the wireless companies should be allowed to put the antennas just anywhere. Cell providers and city planners must still do their due diligence in choosing sites. But with the amount of money we spend on our monthly cellphone bills, wouldn’t you say we’re at least entitled to some decent coverage?

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