Here’s a Story Idea: How a Church Snuck a Cell Tower Under Our Nose
I have a story idea about an important public safety issue impacting the health and wellbeing of children and adults — not only here in San Pedro, but across Los Angeles.
There is a cell site located in the bell tower of First Presbyterian Church at 8th Street and Averill Avenue. The church is home to Kids Kingdom, a newly-opened preschool enrolling about 30 students between the ages six months to six years old. The playground and classrooms are less than 40 feet from the cell site, which is partially hidden from public view in the bell tower.
There are broad concerns about the safety of cell sites and the emission of radiation, especially for residents who live and work near communications equipment. I am concerned about the health and wellbeing of my little boy, who is a student at the school, along with his classmates and teachers. Independent research has shown that prolonged exposure to cell site radiation can damage DNA inside cells, disrupt cognitive development and cause cancer. I have included links to letters from a Harvard physician and the American Academy of Pediatrics outlining a few of the health concerns.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has banned cell sites from being located at and near their schools. Private schools, however, are another matter. It’s common for churches to house private preschools and kindergartens. And as you can imagine, housing a cell site is big money for these churches. Cell phone companies pay tens of thousand of dollars each month for the facilities to house their communications equipment.
Parents were never notified about the cell site at First Presbyterian. The cell site, which is owned by AT&T, is not listed on any public database.
I believe the church and school have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to notify parents about the cell site and potential health hazards, so that they can make informed decisions. Despite my repeated requests, they have not yet notified parents.
I’ve asked Councilman Buscaino to introduce policy requiring all new cell sites be constructed at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds and parks in Los Angeles, and that all impacted residents and parents be notified of existing cell sites that exist within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and parks.
A copy of the letter to the councilman’s office is attached. His office has not responded to my letter.
I am happy to talk more about this important issue, and go on record stating my concerns.
Thank you for your work and coverage of our city!
Doug Morino, San Pedro
We appreciate the tip, but your neighbors, or at least the neighbors who lived in the vicinity of First Presbyterian in 2010 and 2011, fought this battle and ultimately lost. The arguments then mirror the ones you made above. The placement of the cell towers were intended to remedy the number of dropped calls, particularly amongst emergency personnel. There were a number of community meetings at which AT&T representatives explain the impacts of the towers.
AT&T argued at the time that the radio frequencies emitted were far below the legal limit and that there’s no evidence of harm due to long-term exposure. Many of the activists who protested the cell towers said they would pick-up their stakes and leave if the towers remain.
Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
Sergeant Schultz played a Master Sergeant in Hogan’s Heroes T.V. series, as it ran from 1966-1971. Schultz was constantly encountering evidence that the inmates of the stalag prison camp were planning mayhem, as he frequently uses ignorance with the catch phrase, “I see nothing”, “I hear nothing,” and “I know nothing!”
Donald Trump does the same thing as he distances himself with anyone that breaks the law and says that he doesn’t know the person.
John Winkler, San Pedro
I thought your readers would be interested in sharing the news that the Federal Bureau of Prisons recently selected Seven Corners as the medical services contactor for the inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Terminal Island, in addition to renewing their contract with FCI Estill in South Carolina.
The five-year contract with FCI Terminal Island will begin on Dec. 1, 2019 and will continue through 2024. An all-male prison, FCI Terminal Island houses 1,129 total inmates and is one of thirteen federal prisons in the state of California. The new contract is the third facility awarded to Seven Corners in California this year.
In addition to the FCI Terminal Island win, Seven Corners has also renewed their contract with FCI Estill in South Carolina, an all-male federal prison that holds 1,234 inmates. The renewed contract will begin Dec. 1, 2019 and continue through 2024. FCI Estill is one of four federal prisons South Carolina.
FCI Estill is the company’s 21st contract to provide comprehensive health care services for more than 29,000 inmates in the federal prison system.
Natalie Webber, San Pedro