Friday, July 9, 2010

T-Mobile Cell Tower Planned in Ner Tamid Synagogue Dome at 1250 Quintara Street

We are a concerned group of Sunset neighborhood residents who are trying to prevent the Ner Tamid Synagogue at 1250 Quintara from becoming a cell-tower site. The synagogue is owned by the Sunset Jewish Institute, and they have signed a lucrative contract with T-Mobile to install four cellular antennas in the synagogue dome and four radio base station cabinets (12’ x 28’) on the northside of the building, just outside of the Russian-American International School and a number of Sunset residences.

T-Mobile representatives first informed us of these plans on Monday, November 17, 2009. The Synagogue has made no attempts to consult the members of this community and gain our support. We have begun collecting signatures on petitions opposing these plans, and we need many more.

Why Should You be Concerned?

Health risks: There continues to be considerable debate and uncertainty within the scientific community as to the potential health effects to individuals, especially children, from exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic and radio-frequency (RF) radiation. Some adverse health effects show up immediately, but it can take 3 to 10 years or more for the longer-term effects of RF illness to appear, such as cancer. More research is needed to provide a definitive answer. We should not be forced to act as guinea pigs in a bio-effects experiment for the next 20 years. The maximum effective radiated power proposed by T-Mobile in any direction would be 2,560 watts.

Improper zoning:
The Ner Tamid Synagogue and its surrounding neighborhood is zoned RH-1: single-family residential. We value our neighborhood as a safe, community-oriented place to live and raise our children. We oppose using our neighborhood as the site of an installation originally approved only for industrial or mixed-use areas. The proposed installation emits RF radiation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This site would be within a 300 foot radius of numerous residential homes, the Russian-American International School, Little Star Preschool, and Lincoln High School.
Happy Times Nursery School, Vika’s Garden Daycare, Nineteenth Avenue Healthcare Center are within 500 feet. And the French School-Lycee Francais is within 1500 feet.

The cell phone tower at the Ner Tamid Synagogue will require a conditional use permit to bypass our residential zoning. Sunset Community members need to protest issuance of this permit and take a strong stand to preserve the residential character of our neighborhood.

More towers after this one:
Once a cell tower is approved at this location, it becomes the “preferred site” for additional cell antennas. A law passed by the California State Legislature in 2006, S.B. 1627, would require that any additional antennas proposed for the Synagogue be administratively approved by the Planning Department without a public hearing or possibility for denial.

Effect on property values:
The mere perception of a health risk can lower property values for those living near a cell site. The Appraisal Institute is the largest global professional membership organization for appraisers with 91 chapters throughout the world. The Institute spotlighted the issue of cell towers and the fair market value of a home and educated its members that a cell tower should, in fact, cause a decrease in home value. It has been noted that property value could be impacted by as much as 20%, depending of the proximity of the residence to the cellular tower/antenna.

Inadequate, outdated federal guidelines: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Guidelines have not been changed since 1997. The FCC is not a public health agency, and has been criticized as being “an arm of the industry.” The current U.S. standard for radiation exposure from cell phone towers is among the least protective in the world. In 1996 the cell phone industry lobbied Congress with $39 million to pass a law that took away citizen’s rights to oppose cell towers based on health reasons (Section 704 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996). San Francisco Supervisor David Campos has put forth a resolution that calls for the repeal of Section 704. A growing number of local governments throughout the country have passed similar resolutions. (More information is available at

What Can You Do?

1. Sign a petition to present to the SF Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and the Ner Tamid Synagogue Board.

2. VERY IMPORTANT!! Write to the decision-makers noted below. Call on them to reject T-Mobile’s application for a Conditional Use permit at 1250 Quintara (be sure to reference Case #: 2009.0534C):

Carmen Chu, District 4 Supervisor - Board of Supervisors
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244, San Francisco, CA 94102 or Telephone: (415) 554-7460

Ron Miguel, President - San Francisco Planning Commission
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103

John Rahaim, Director – San Francisco Planning Commission
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103

Linda Avery, Recording Secretary - San Francisco Planning Commission
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103

Adrian Putra, Case Planner – San Franscico Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103

Angela Calvillo, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244, San Francisco, CA 94102

3. Email us at to get involved. We need help with collecting signatures on petitions, organizing protests, and conducting field tests. We are also looking for lawyers in the neighborhood who are willing to take some time to look at the rules and contracts.

4. Send Rick Hirsch, T-Mobile’s project sponsor, your questions and concerns. Rick can be reached at 415 377 7826 or via email at

5. Write or call the Presidents of the Ner Tamid Synagogue with your concerns and objections.

Gerry Spindel, Co-President
Beverlee Hassid, Co-President
Ner Tamid Synagogue
1250 Quintara Street, San Francisco, CA 94116
Phone: (415) 661-3383

6. Attend the Planning Commission hearing (tentatively scheduled for September; exact date is TBA). We need your support!!

Thank you!!

Sunset Neighbors Against Cell Towers in OUR Community

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