August, 2012’s Letters to the Editor – September 3, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

CEQA concerns

Good Morning

Thank you Randy

Note: I also filed a complaint against city for permitting contractor to demo the foundation in contradiction of the essential prohibitions affixed to the plans, imposed by law, and City Council (CC) appeal. The additional grading and demo beyond that allowed by the CC as “Ministerial” triggers discretionary review, even now. It was noted in the recent Arcata Eye “opinion” in a report made by Larry to the editor that the community development director (Larry)  and the director of Public Works reviewed the permit on file, clearly stamped with the prohibition against removing the foundation… but did no see any reason to reject contractor’s request.

In order to follow up with any further legal complaint, as you know, I am required to attempted to resolve the complaint through the city’s complaint process. So, looking for a response or a settlement. This is the full complaint.

I spoke to Larry yesterday with the permit and his comments to Kevin Hoover before both of us. He said I was confused about which building permit was at issue. As you may know the demolition was appealed (Larry’s right to make a ministerial decision was appealed), to halt the ongoing CEQA public process. His argument, upheld by the CC, was that the applicant had withdrawn the application before planning that required CEQA and applied for a new permit of limited scope, no grading, no foundation to be removed that would not trigger CEQA. Any additional work would unquestionably require planning approval. His argument for a “Ministerial” permit still implied that CEQA was deferred, or as our attorney argued that this was an attempt to segment a project to avoid CEQA, which is against the law. It was foreseeable that additional work would be necessary, and this would still trigger CEQA.

Attached is the permit and the prohibition. Larry and Dobie are at your disposal to explain what happened. The safety argument is not even close to valid, the work was done according to plans and discussion originally presented and the community objected for the same reasons that remain today.

A greater concern now is that the city authorized on site waste treatment and disposal of hazardous waste without ANY CEQA review. The site is (your responsibility to check) likely contaminated and will contaminate (or has) adjacent and abutting properties (dust, water transportation of the existing contaminated soils, now bare soil (different standard for bare soil. (> 400 ppm?).

The reason the discretionary publicly review CEQA process exists, to inform and advise the applicant, city and affected community, before the project is executed. All of the abutting neighbors will have great grounds for civil and criminal complaints against the city, CC, you, Dobie and Larry… not to mention the contractor.

The city should take immediate action to test soils and water on site. Reportedly no fill was imported, this is also untrue, even so, the surrounding soils can generally be expected to be contaminated above action levels for bare soil lead (Pb)…On site treatment requires special permits, mixing soils is onsite treatment. I picked up several of the numerous fragments of plaster (ACM) from the ivy.Rains will percolate through the disturbed soils like water through ground coffee, and flow offsite, into streets, yards, bay.

This is a lot like trying to put and egg back in a shell… you cannot correct all here, but its important that “the city” act lawfully. This is way out of line.

The AG and regulatory agencies will be notified in all cases.

I’m requesting the city, in response to complaint to:

1) resume CEQA process for 1000 A street

2) ensure all hazards mitigated according to CA law

2) promise training to senior staff

3) discuss problem, solution in open

4) review responsible employee performance (avoiding CEQA is not a city policy)

5 propose ordinance waiving fees for 3rd party CEQA challenges to CC

6) any resulting fines levied be paid to EPIC.. or CAL AWARE (although as far as record shows to date contractor and owner acted as directed by city staff)

Private enforcement of CEQA would almost certainly include attorney fees if awarded. Private action is generally how CEQA is enforced although in egregious cases the state will initiate and otherwise sanction a city at fault. This is not the worst case ever, it is one of the most deliberately executed evasions with a jurisdiction’s supervision, oversight and approval. It has also establish a precedent (repeated several times so far in Arcata, according to the community development director) to specifically avoid CEQA on major projects (more than one hazard removal). It would be surprising if the state agreed with Larry’s interpretation of when CEQA applies, how can CEQA not apply to this project?

Thank you, happy to discuss.


Marc Delany


cc CC, N Diamond, Larry, Kevin Hoover


The view from space

Your recent piece about my NASA, USGS, Landsat honor contains some misleading information that I would like to correct.

First, my only work was to thoughtfully consider the location of long-held family property that has had significant changes in the last 40 years and to submit that information to their American Landscapes contest in early June. You published that submission recently in your Letter to the Editor section, July 25 edition. NASA and USGS did the rest with a few e-mails and a phone conversation.

My submission was one of 3 winners from a group of six finalists out of 172 entries nation wide. The six finalists are showcased at NASA’s web page

I opted to travel to Washington, DC for the July 23 presentation because of my interest in space exploration and it’s important role for us here on earth. This excites me. We are part of our environment. Understanding the bigger picture can only benefit us.

A note to your readers. Landsat has in the last few years made their images available for no cost. Until 2008 each image had a price tag of $600. We can all access this invaluable archive online for free. In addition they have unveiled a new “viewer” in anticipation of the upcoming February, 2013 launch of Landsat 8. It can be found at

Good viewing,

Roger P. Eckart



Cell no, that won’t go

Dear Arcata City Councilmembers:

Regarding the proposed cell phone tower at the Arcata Ball Park, my family and I, and all of our friends here in town, and everyone I have talked with so far are absolutely opposed to the construction of the proposed tower.

The reasons for this opposition are numerous and I hope obvious to each of you.  Just one reason is that we do not need a massive increase of microwave radiation in Arcata. But basically, we don’t want it and don’t need it.

Please respect and represent the wishes of your community. That is what is wanted and needed. Please deny the construction of a cell tower at the Arcata Ball Park.

Leland Parker 



GOP gives thanks

Thank you so much for your contribution to our “Art & Other Fine Things Auction.”

Your donation of Police Log I & II and a one-year subscription to the Arcata Eye was most generous, but to make it “times two” was fantastic!

I would like to thank you on behalf of the Humboldt County Republican Party and my co-chair, Colleen Hedrick.


Gwen Morris



Lantern Float thanks

Thank you, Arcata Eye, for your generous coverage of the 30th annual Arcata Lantern Floating Ceremony.

Once again you’ve given front page attention to our community gathering for peace and remembrance, and once again you’ve published a beautiful selection of Mark Larson’s evocative photos.

Your readers who didn’t experience the event first-hand will want to join us next year.

 Maggie Shaffer, for the Lantern

Ceremony committee and sponsors


Cell tower opposition

Arcata City Councilmembers recently sent forward a proposal to place a Verizon cellular tower atop the Arcata Ball Park light closest to the Arcata Library.

This is in direct conflict with the City’s Land Use Code, which specifically requires telecommunications facilities be placed at least 1,000 feet from residences and 1,500 feet from schools, hospitals and historic districts.

In 1996, the World Health Organization formed the International EMF Project and last year classified RF/MR as a Class 2B suspected carcinogen, in the same category as lead and DDT.

This year the American Academy of Environmental Medicine released a document calling for precaution with regard to Smart Meters and RF/MR in general, “because of the well-documented studies showing adverse effects on health.”

Last month the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its radiation standards for cellular devices stating that the 1996 standards are outdated and geared towards adults and not protective of children.

The AAP has raised questions about whether exposure to radiation from mobile phones can lead to brain cancer. In June of this year, the FCC chairman formally proposed an inquiry into radiation standards in cell phones and other wireless devices.

Mounting concerns regarding both thermal and non-thermal effects of EMFs on biological resources (meaning you and me) confirms the need for government to proceed cautiously with respect to placement of cellular towers in our community.

A large amount of controversy has developed over Verizon’s proposal for a cellular tower at the Arcata Ball Park. The City Council has decided to revisit the issue at a Monday morning meeting, Aug. 27 at 9 a.m. in Council Chamber at City Hall. If you have concerns, the council needs to hear them.


Lisa Brown



Disproportionate crime

As I scan the front page of local news websites, something jumped out at me:

Northcoast Journal: about 20 articles on the front page, none of them about crime.

Times Standard: about 30 articles on the front page, two of them about crime.

Arcata Eye: about 30 articles on the front page, over half (16) of them about Arcata crime.

Now I realize the Police Log is a bit of an institution at the Eye, but your website may give the impression that Arcata news is mostly pot grows, thefts and fights.

Personally, I find the large number of these stories a bit depressing and would like to see our fair city in a more positive light.

Bill Funkhouser



18 Responses to “August, 2012’s Letters to the Editor – September 3, 2012”

  1. Ian Ray

    WHO states that "Current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields"

    There is not growing concern. The only people beating the anti-EMF drum are "scientists" who want to rise from obscurity on the backs of the gullible and hucksters who want to sell meters and tin-foil hat protective gear. No double-blind study has found any basis for EMF hypersensitivity. No cohort study has found a link between EMF exposure and health problems. To reach the level of problematic exposure, a person would have to climb a mobile communications tower as the effect drops with distance.

    In order of photon energy we have radio, microwave, infrared, visible light, UV, xray, gamma ray, etc. I simply don't understand why people are afraid of the lowest level energy radiation when we are all bombarded by higher level radiation all day everyday.

  2. Marc Delany,
    Are you implying that city staff is NOT good at their job?
    Imagine that…Where oh where have I heard that before…

  3. At Bill Funkhouser,
    The Eye poke a little fun at a serious enough situation. If you go to official sites used to track crime you will see Arcata has an incredibly high amount of low level crime (mostly involving public intoxication). The Eye has a unique view of this, relegating it more or less where it should be. A resigned sigh? If we did not laugh at it it would be oh so much more annoying. I have to applaud (mostly) the job the Eye and the police do here with this circus. If we brought back "public stocks" we could possibly do a bit more to discourage the show.. The Eye would be more effective if the miscreants read more…Public bathrooms and public stocks… maybe we could fund one with the other…

  4. There is a difference between quality and quantity… You must know there is no radiation exposure that is "safe", just an increasing hazard as the intensity (quality) increases, and an increasing hazard as the duration (quantity) increases. Profits don't justify exceeding risks levels previously agreed to, do they?

  5. Ian Ray

    What levels previously agreed to? It would be illegal for the city to establish its own safety levels for mobile phone transmission towers.

  6. Ian Ray

    I think there is some confusion about the 1,000 foot radius representing a risk level. It does not. Legally, 1,000 feet = any zoning aspect other than environmental or human health risk. It is US law that cities cannot invent their own safety limits for telecommunications.

    Arcata has a larger radius minimum for cellular towers than Davis, CA which has a 500 foot limit. Other cities have more practical 2x tower height limits whch can still be impractical in a dense environment. Some cities have transmission towers all over the place and still run into saturation which is another topic entirely.

    Other than this issue being Planck's Law vs. cranks, Arcata should not put itself at a technological disadvantage due to doubts. This county is just catching up with other regional communications networks. An unfriendly environment will only mean telecommunications providers pass on Arcata. Making it unnecessarily difficult to construct transmission towers doesn't help local business either. Strictly limiting communications networks is a losing proposition for everyone except those who are afraid of radios and want to convince everyone else that this fear is rational.

  7. Intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity. People debated the issue in a public forum, decided, and voted that 1000' was as close as we collectively decided was allowed. To then arbitrarily change allowance would be a mistake, under the law currently in effect. You want to reopen the debate, it has nothing to do with cranks…. its a matter of due process.

  8. Ian Ray
    Actually what happens is the technology changes… the telecommunication industry is not going to bypass Arcata. The carrier will rent space on a competitors tower, and make less profit. You would like to allow duplicative installations and saturate the area more than necessary so another corporation can make more? If there was the possibility of ANY health risk at all, why would you feel compelled to allow this? Also, in the spirit of the original decision which was to separate people from radiation, placing the tower at a stadium is far from ideal… technically its not a residential area, but there is certainly exposure which would be at 0 feet for those that are in the stadium, w… see inverse square law… those people would have considerably more exposure… think workers, team members….

  9. Ian Ray

    Again, it would be illegal to "collectively agree to" invented safety limits for transmission towers. The city cannot officially endorse make believe in this particular instance.
    As any effect from low-level EMF is widely agreed to be psychosomatic, I have no issue with the potential risk that some people might believe they are being affected. I do think this issue should be reopened if the 1,000 feet is primarily to appease environmental concerns of fringe believers as this is not an appropriate function of city government or public process.

    I was enthused at first regarding this subject for the city council wanting to explore a pragmatic exemption to an overly strict zoning law, but that faded once the fearmongers seemed to stop the process.

    For the record, I have no problem with people believing in physically implausible nonsense, I see this as the norm. What I do have a problem with is public process backing this kind of thinking up to everyone else's detriment.

  10. Its far from "make believe". Also there is no invented safety limit "collectively agreed to", a 1000 foot radius was agreed to. It is only "low level" if you are far enough away from the generator. You think it's safe to stay on a tower in operation? Do you own a microwave? Read the manual.

  11. "A cell phone puts out at most a couple of watts of radiofrequency/microwave radiation—often called “RF”—usually much less. A rooftop cell phone base station, on the other hand, can transmit a hundred times more energy. And if more than one company has antennas on that same roof, the radiation levels could be much higher. Many other types of transmitters may be there too: fire and police networks, terrestrial and satellite radio, TV and pagers, among others. Some of these can be very powerful, radiating thousands of watts. Not all rooftops have transmitters. But the number of active antennas is huge. There are about a quarter of a million cell sites alone in the U.S., according to CTIA—The Wireless Association, the cell phone trade group"

    "Non-Ionizing Radiation: … Includes tower erection, repairs and painting; Limits MW to 10 mW/ (no averaging); Requires Programs to provide safe work to employees and contractors; includes … RF Exposure Standards are Typically Based on 6 min. TWA " OSHA and others thinks there are concerns regarding exposure, even if you do not. however the issue is that of "due process".

    If the community decides to limit the distance to 1000 feet, it is not acceptable to then change that, without going through the full decision making process.

  12. Ian Ray

    Mark Delany, the law is that cities cannot invent new safety limits different than established levels for transmission towers. You quoted established levels which do not come anywhere near a 1,000 foot radius to antennas 50 or more feet in the air.

    You appear to buy into the idea that what we know about photon energy is wrong. I am not tryIng to debate 100+ year old established science. The key issue is people are deciding that there is potential risk in a physically implausible phenomenon, thus preventing useful things like LTE networks. I don't think Arcata should do that no matter how many true believers speak in circles about the subject.

  13. Ian Ray

    I apologize for keeping on this subject. I will try writing to the city about their cellular tower zoning policy. I think that the city will never state that the policy is based on environmental concerns or else it would be void. I still think there are pragmatic exceptions to zoning ordinances and that the ballpark tower was a good example of such a case.

  14. I'm trying to inform you that there is a decision process at work here, it has nothing to do with what levels of radiation, you or I or the current CC believes exist here, or on Mars. There was a previous public discussion and debate resulting in a collective decision by CC, informed by debate and testimony, then made law. To ignore that would be wrong. Go to CC and see if you can get the plan, or code amended if you want to reopen the debate.

  15. Ian Ray

    I have a copy of the zoning ordinance. It says nothing about "radiation" (would be illegal). Other zoning issues have been granted exemptions, I see no reason why this should be set in stone.

  16. Go get the exemption.

  17. Ian Ray

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark. I requested information from the city about how/when to open up this issue.


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