In response to outcries from residents regarding the expansion of 5G, Palo Alto put a wireless ordinance in place that bans infrastructure in residential areas and within 600 feet of schools. However, the ordinance indicates that for retirement and senior housing, only a 20-feet distance is required, reported KPIX-TV.
The ordinance is not doing enough to protect some who are unhappy about potential exposure to 5G equipment. Chris Robell, whose parents live at Channing House, a prominent retirement home, first noticed a small 5G cell tower on the property last spring.
When Robell asked about it, he said an employee with AT&T, which owns the structure, noted, “If you’re worried about the small cell node, you ought to be a lot more worried about the macro cell tower on the roof at Channing House.” Robell said of the tower installed on the roof in 2006, “My parents and other residents had never had this disclosed to them, ever. In Palo Alto, hundreds and hundreds of people are expressing concerns about 5G and these cell towers.”
Channing House’s CEO Rhonda Bekkedahl wrote in an email to KPIX-TV, “I would be surprised if residents were not notified in 2006 given the transparent culture at Channing House…the antennas have not been a secret.” She added that “Channing House was not consulted” about the new 5G small cell.
In response to residents’ concerns, Channing House did hire a consultant in 2019 to test EMF emissions from the rooftop tower. The results came back way below the exposure limits deemed safe by the FCC, reported KPIX-TV.
According to Bekkedahl, Channing House receives $36,000 in annual revenue from T-Mobile for leasing its rooftop tower. Although residents have presented a petition to remove the tower, she said a twelve-year contract was in place with the carrier.
Chris Robell isn’t taking no for an answer regarding the infrastructure. “You can relocate this equipment somewhere else that’s not where seniors live 24/7, right? That is the issue. And they deserve that respect, and they certainly deserve to know about it,” he said.