Cell phone tower in Oregon • Photo by M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons

If you live in the Chinatown International District neighborhood—especially if you live in or near the Publix Seattle Apartments (on 510 5th Ave. S), or next door at the Uwajimaya Village Apartments—you should be aware and concerned that you and your family may soon be bombarded by radio frequency electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation 24 hours/day, 7 days/week all thanks to AT&T and the Moriguchi family who run Uwajimaya Inc. and Publix LLC. For some money from AT&T, the Moriguchi’s have granted access to the rooftop on the Publix Seattle Apartments to install an array of 9 cellular panel antennas and 24+ other peripheral cell transmitters all for the chance for an extra bar or two on some peoples’ smartphones.

There have been many battles to stop placements of multiple cellular antenna installations all across the country. I note the recent local battles in Alki and Medina in Seattle. 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 near our homes for these same concerns? Because the outdated 1996 FCC guidelines still in effect prohibit our ability to use health and safety concerns as a reason for denying installation location.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 pulsed radiofrequency radiation of the type emitted by these transmitters and devices as “not protective of human health.”

I’ve been in communication with Mayor 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 AT&T to 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 AT&T to 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 stop the installation of these multiple cellular antenna facilities:

  • One way is through the International Special Review District Board.  They can deny based on adverse effects on aesthetics—in other words, the installation of these devices are deemed to cause enough detrimental impacts on the visual and design standards of the historical building (formerly the Publix Hotel) and to the character and feel of the surrounding Chinatown-International District neighborhood.  I urge the International Special Review District 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 the neighborhood by viewing from a seat at Hing Hay Park.
  • A second way is to ask the Moriguchi’s and the Uwajimaya Company to rescind their planned deal with AT&T.  The monetary gain for renting your rooftop at The Seattle Publix Apartments will never compensate for the loss of good will, the loss of trust, the harm to the neighborhood and to your renters, and the negative impacts on property values and rental incomes in the future.  I urge the Moriguchi’s to return AT&T their 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.

From a concerned neighbor,

Jimmy Lee

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