Inverse Square Law Lost Upon Board of Sups

Bernalwood has done a fine job highlighting the NIMBY, faux-science opposition to new cell and data towers in San Francisco, and the rather pathetic response by our Board of Sups, using graffiti as NIMBY cover:

All it takes to kill an effort to provide Bernal Heights and our surrounding neighborhoods with some 21st century wireless technology is a group of addled NIMBYs and a thin veneer of recently applied graffiti. But improving service requires a master plan. Which may get written. After some research. Someday. Perhaps.

And there’s a hearing today on cell phone towers and “the City’s beauty”:

The next battle will take place in the lame-duck chambers of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where progressive Supervisor John Avalos will hold public hearings today on a piece of legislation he introduced (with backing from Bernal Heights Supervisor David Campos) to “regulate the placement of [mobile antennas] in order to prevent telecommunications providers from installing wireless antennas and associated equipment in the City’s rights-of-way either in manners or in locations that will diminish the City’s beauty.”

Even if you don’t read the rest of my diatribe, at least go to Bernalwood to see what you can do.

Unsurprisingly, stupid spreads. Note this recent entertainingly hysterical petition against a proposed cell tower on 24th & Harrison:

To:  San Francisco Planning Commission
24th Street Neighborhood Against Cell Tower on 24th & Harrison

T-Mobile is trying to install an Industrial 6-Panel Facility (Antenna Tower) that is unnecessary, undesirable and not compatible with our predominantly residential neighborhood.

This type of antenna tower contains hazardous materials and equipment. This equipment is going to be installed on a residential building in this densely populated neighborhood.

The backup batteries are made with hydrogen gas, a very explosive substance, and under certain conditions can ignite and explode.

Lower 24th Street Association has done field studies in the surrounding area and has found the coverage is already “good” to “excellent” in our neighborhood, therefore this facility is unnecessary.

The Planning Commission Hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 13, 2011 beginning at 1:30pm or later in City Hall, 1 Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 400

For more information please email Beth at

ZOMG EXPLOSIVE GAS.  And SIX panels!  The end is nigh. (I suggest that you go to this petition and indicate your support for the tower.)

Uptown Almanac recently smacked their collective foreheads upon T-mobile’s spinelessness upon encountering fake-science NIMBYsistance:

Remember back when we laughed at a completely ludicrous protest of NIMBY neighbors claiming that making cellphones work in the northwest corner of the Mission would hurt the children?  Well, guess what, the protest actually fucking worked.  In spite of the fact there is no scientific proof backing their claims that the celltower would cause you to turn into a swamp monster, T-Mobile backed down and withdrew their permit application.

As for AT&T, their poor reception in the Mission is legendary.  A modern day Data Bermuda Triangle, it’s the Sargasso Sea for 3G. I created this animated map from an app that measures signal strength on the iPhone.

Note how the towers are few and far between compared to the rich electromagnetic fields of La Lengua.  (I tried this around Dolores Park and down 18th but it was pointless as I could barely get any meaningful signal.)

Here’s the deal, NIMBYs.  I know you didn’t pay any attention in high school, but it’s been well known since the 17th century that electromagnetic radiation (which has nothing to do with scary Three Mile Island radiation, you nitwits) dissipates according to the inverse square law.

  • Unless you are standing right next to the tower, the “radiation” pales in comparison to the energy transmitted by your cell phone.
  • The fewer cell phone towers there are, the harder your cell phone has to work to talk to them.  Which means your phone starts beaming EVEN MORE ENERGY INTO YOUR SKULL.
  • More cell phone towers means your phone uses LESS energy to transmit (and your battery lasts longer too, which does me little good as I then am more likely to have to listen to whatever hypocritical conversation you happen to be having on your radiation transmission device).

And Board of Sups, be forewarned: San Francisco has 7081 bachelor and college degrees per square mile, the highest in the country. Even in your district, Mr. Campos: the 94110 holds over 18,000 residents (34%) with at least a 4 year degree that are capable of the most rudimentary critical analysis of your record and not voting for you again. (Not that you need a degree to figure this out.)

(image via Bernalwood)

As Senator Daniel Moynahan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Corollary:  Science: it works, bitches. (XKCD)

As for what you can do, follow the lead of Bernalwood:

Supervisor Avalos will hold a hearing on his proposal today at 1 pm in front of the City’s Land Use Committee. If you can’t attend the meeting (because you have, you know, a job and a life) public comment can be submitted via Alisa Somera in the Clerk’s office at 415.554.4447 or (NOTE: Be kind to Alisa, please. The legislation isn’t her idea, nor her fault.)

Diatribe off. Back now to your regularly scheduled hipster news.