USF Cell Towers

The University of San Francisco has, without consulting with the neighborhood, entered into a deal with AT&T Mobility (Cingular Wireless) to construct a new extremely powerful cell phone tower on top of Gleeson Library and a tower on the USF School of Education. Unfortunately, we believe that USF failed to consult with students, faculty, staff, or neighbors. Recently, USF committed to improving communication / relations with neighbors. We are disturbed by the fact that the Vice Chancellor of the USF Board of Trustees is the former CEO and President of AT&T West. The current plan is to build NINE transmitters ON EACH BUILDING. AT&T will tell you not to worry because the emissions fall below the FCC limit… Not so. Non-thermal, long term and cumulative effects of this radiation have not been considered and significant peer reviewed science shows a link between this radiation and cancer. Last May, the World Health Organization classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields possibly carcinogenic to humans. This includes emissions from cell towers. The telecom industry does not have your best interest at heart and is unwilling to admit this radiation is harmful. When a cell tower is placed near a school, students, faculty, staff, and neighbors are involuntarily exposed to continuous and prolonged RF emissions. Many countries have banned, or are in the process of banning, the installation of cell towers within 1500 feet of schools. Israel has banned 4G. In stark contrast, the United States has been engaged in ongoing efforts to empower the wireless industry to install cell towers/antennas virtually anywhere they desire. We need to work together to encourage USF to do the right thing by not following through with this deal despite the monetary gain. The proposed new Radio Base Stations (RSB) are to date the most powerful RSB cell towers in the world. AT&T is refusing to disclose how much they are paying USF. We are contacting you and other members of the local community because we believe that you should be extremely concerned with such powerful new sources of RF radiation emitting continuously from the USF campus. Young adults are more vulnerable to microwave radiation thus putting cellular antennas near schools, or on school premises, is a mistake. Cancer, brain tumors and other solid tumors have a long latency period.

These towers should not be located in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Your neighborhood, which is zoned residential, is one of the least favored sites for a cell tower under the Planning Department’s Wireless Guidelines. Unfortunately, the wireless carriers, USF, and the Planning Department are attempting to take advantage of a loophole that permits cell towers on “Public Buildings” in a residential area. Even though a “Public Building” is defined in the Planning Code as a building owned by the government or held open to the general public (such as a public library), the Planning Department, together with the wireless carriers and USF, is taking the position that a private educational institution such as USF should be characterized as a “Public Building” in order to permit these cell towers. In addition, the cell towers must be placed in the area of least intrusion and the wireless carrier must prove a significant gap in current coverage from an independent company hired by the city and paid for by the applicant. The fact of the matter in this instance is that the wireless carrier and USF have submitted TWO separate conditional use applications for the same area and each application ignores how the other would impact both coverage and the amount of radiation in the neighborhood. These applications are therefore clearly deficient and the wireless carrier and USF should at the very least go back and propose a unified application for the entire area. The California Board of Realtors recently added cell towers to the list of Seller disclosures. This will affect property values. USF must take that into account and be a good neighbor. USF consulted with AT&T in picking these sites and authorizing the application for permits but USF did not consult with the neighborhood, even though USF has previously and publicly stated that it will treat its neighbors as “stakeholders” in these sorts of decisions. We ask USF to revoke its authorizations to AT&T to pursue permits and to first have a true consultation with the neighborhood and with students, faculty, and staff so that all stakeholders can weigh in on this before permits are pursued with the City of SF.