Cell tower guidelines updated

OCEANSIDE — There are more than 60 cell phone tower sites in Oceanside and with the high demand for cell phone service, more sites can be expected. To streamline the process to approve cell phone
tower installation, the Telecommunications Ad Hoc Committee met on March 26 to update the Design Guidelines for Cellular Facilities.
Cell phone tower sites are good business for Oceanside. Carriers pay a fee to property owners when they install a site that houses numerous cell phone towers.
Sites clustered on city property can bring in sizable revenues.
“It can be very significant,” Robert Ross, telecommunications chair, said. Ross compares potential cell phone tower site revenues to the annual $3.4 million in Cox Communication franchise fees that the city collects.
Some residents voiced concern about numerous cell phone towers going in close to homes and schools. Oceanside resident Nancy Gregory said she can see at least 75 cell phone antennas from her home in south Oceanside.
Oceanside residents Gregory and Holly Hargett said they are worried about the safety of residents living near clusters of cell phone towers and prefer sites to be located away from residential areas. “The jury is still out on health risks,” Gregory Hargett said.
Another concern is the lack of information
on carrier operations. Residents have observed adjustments being made to towers under the cover of night. Some question whether carriers are paying the required fee when they add additional towers to a site.
Ross said about 25 percent of the cell phone tower sites are in residential areas and residents who live by the sites are safe.
There is danger if people have direct contact with the towers, Ross said. The FCC requires warning signs and fencing to be put around towers to keep people away from direct contact with nonaccumulative radio frequency waves.
Since the waves are nonaccumulative, being around more of them is not a danger unless the waves intersect, Ross said. Carriers make sure this does not happen because intersecting waves cancel each other out and do not provide service. The FCC also has guidelines on the radius and directionality of wave transmission that prevents wave intersection. When carriers adjust the direction of cell phone tower transmission they must stay within the permitted guidelines.
The more cell phone towers there are in an area the shorter their allowed transmission radius. This makes radio frequency waves safer and cell phone reception better, Ross said.
The ad hoc committee is developing a mapping grid and database of cell phone tower sites. Once the database is developed the city will request that cell phone providers submit information on their operations and radio frequency transmissions. The FCC oversees cell phone tower regulations. The city will collect information to check that tower transmissions and paid fees fit regulations.

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