Can you hear me now?
I’ve never heard anyone complain about cell service in downtown Seattle. Well if you live in the Chinatown-International District neighborhood, especially if you live in or near the Publix Seattle Apartments (on 510 5th Avenue South), or next door at the Uwajimaya Village Apartments (on 521 South Weller Street), you should be aware and concerned that you and your family may soon be bombarded by radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — all thanks to AT&T and the Moriguchi family who run Uwajimaya and Publix. For some future rent money from AT&T, the Moriguchis will be granting access to the rooftop on the Publix apartments to install an array of 9 cellular panel antennae and more than two dozen other peripheral cell transmitters — all for the possibility of an extra bar or two on some peoples’ smartphones.
There have been many battles to stop placement of these antennae all across the country. I note the recent local battles in Alki and Medina. Some have won this fight, others have not. Firefighters around the globe, out of concern over long-term exposure and the lack of safety data, have been one group who have mobilized and have generally been successful in forbidding the placement of these transmitters in fire stations. So why can’t residents in our neighborhoods prevent installation of these things near our homes for the same concerns? Because the outdated 1996 FCC guidelines still in effect prohibit our ability to use health concerns as a reason for denying installation location.
Really? Yes, really. This despite the fact that the Federal Interagency Working Group on Radiofrequency Radiation considers existing safety standards for radiofrequency radiation of the type emitted by these transmitters and devices as “not protective of human health.”
I’ve been in communication with Mayor Tim Burgess’ office, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, and the International Special Review District Board about this issue. Here is what I asked:
— Can we justify stopping the installation of these transmitters because we’re concerned about having 24/7 continuous exposure to this amount of radiofrequency radiation, which has not been proven to be safe in the long term? The answer: NO.
— Can we justify stopping the installation of these devices because property values nearby will decline when people find out about them and their whereabouts and don’t want to live or work near them? The answer: NO.
— Can we demand that AT&T provide proof that there is a genuine need to improve a deficiency in cellular coverage in this geographic area? The answer: NO.
— Can we demand that AT&T conduct an analysis showing there are no alternative locations for placement of these antennas that are further away from residential areas, but can achieve the desired improved cell coverage? The answer: NO.
Apparently, there are three ways we can help to stop the installation of these multiple cellular antenna facilities:
— One way is through the International Special Review District (ISRD) Board. They can deny based on adverse effects on aesthetics — in other words, the installation of these devices are judged to cause enough negative impacts on the visual character and design of this building (formerly the historical Publix Hotel) and the surrounding neighborhood. I urge the ISRD Board to deny installation based on these reasons. You will be able to clearly see the harm to the aesthetics of this historic building and to my neighborhood by viewing from a seat at Hing Hay Park.
— A second way is to ask the Moriguchis to rescind their planned deal with AT&T. The monetary gain for renting the rooftop at The Seattle Publix Apartments will never compensate for the loss of goodwill, the loss of trust, the harm to the neighborhood and to renters, and the negative impacts on property values and rental incomes in the future. I urge the Moriguchis to reject AT&T’s blood money and DO THE RIGHT THING. Cancel your agreement with AT&T.
— A third way is for readers to take up the fight with communications carriers, real estate owners, the FCC, the Seattle government. LET’S FIGHT THE FIGHT. YOUR HEALTH MATTERS. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW???
— From a concerned citizen residing in the Chinatown/International District