Encinitas braces for 5G, amends city regulations

Encinitas residents protested 5G before the Oct. 30 council meeting.
(Luke Harold)

Encinitas residents gathered in front of City Hall Oct. 30 to rally against plans to accommodate 5G in the city due to concerns about adverse health effects to the community.

“My love of science and biology fuel my interest in what things can destroy our health,” said Justin Hoffman, an Encinitas resident and doctor of oriental medicine, one of four speakers. “I love technology and, frankly, I love my smartphone. But I now understand that it is not without serious risks to our health.”

Hours later, the City Council voted unanimously to amend city regulations to comply with a Federal Communications Commission mandate designed to streamline the implementation of 5G and other new wireless technology.

All but one of about 20 public speakers were against 5G in Encinitas. Another 79 attendees who did not speak submitted slips to the city clerk indicating their opposition.

Opposition in the community has been building since council members approved an urgency ordinance in August to put the city in compliance with the new FCC order, which was issued in 2018. A petition asking council members to halt the installation of 5G towers without protections accumulated more than 1,500 signatures. A “Stop 5G Encinitas” campaign and website also encouraged residents to voice their opposition to City Hall.

Critics have said they’re worried about headaches, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, cancer and other symptoms that they think 5G will cause for many people. The degree to which 5G radiofrequency poses health risks has long been in dispute. Many activists and scientists point to studies that claim to prove its adverse effects, while others say the body of evidence is not substantial enough to warrant any fears of 5G.

The amendments approved on Wednesday, Oct. 30, were crafted in response to the requests of many residents to add more protections. Leading up to the meeting, about 200 residents gave their input to city staff during a September workshop.

“The industry wants the world to be blanketed by cell antennas both on the ground, where people live and sleep 24/7, and in the air with thousands of satellites emitting this radiation,” said Deborah Sie, who spoke outside City Hall before the meeting and during public comment. “There is no opting out of this, no free choice. Our rights are being crushed.”

One of the main concerns was placement of the towers. The amendments passed by the council include a provision that says towers can’t be placed within 500 feet of a home or school.

Encinitas City Councilman Tony Kranz said the amendments are designed to give residents more control over their exposure, the way they have control over utilities such as water and wireless internet in their homes.

“These signals are a lot like water just pouring down on you,” he said. “Some of us just have gotten used to being wet and it doesn’t really bother us much. But others I think are obviously quite affected by it. To me, it’s more about giving people a choice.”

Council members said they will consider other possible amendments that have been suggested by the community at an upcoming meeting.