The Arcata City Council is preparing to discuss a hefty packet of items during tonight’s meeting, including how the City can regulate the installation of small cell wireless transmitters to accommodate 5G technology.
The discussion comes after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld several Federal Communications Commission orders, including the Small Cell Order — which was issued by the FCC in 2018 to streamline 5G development and limit local government’s ability to regulate the installation of small cell infrastructure.
This is the second time the issue is coming before the council, after council members asked staff to provide more information during a council meeting in January. During that meeting, many community members spoke against the development of 5G technology, some citing health concerns about the small cell towers.
“I am here to voice that I do not consent to the radiation exposure levels associated with 5G,” Arcata resident Matt Landman said to the council during the January meeting.
The American Cancer Society has said that there is currently “no strong evidence that exposure to [radiofrequency] waves from cell phone towers causes any noticeable health effects.”
Though the FCC order limits the City’s ability to prevent the installation of small cell infrastructure, the council may still be able to regulate aesthetic aspects of the facilities, the staff report says. There may also be some other options to prevent the installation of the transmitters. For example, Mill Valley banned the development of 5G technology in 2018.
The council will look at the scope of its options tonight and direct staff on how to move forward with developing the City’s regulation on 5G infrastructure.
The council will also receive its monthly progress report from Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn on the department’s policy reform plan, prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and racism.
This monthly report includes updates on APD’s use-of-force policy and de-escalation training techniques, which both require greater scrutiny as a part of the city’s police reform plan. According to the staff report, the department is developing extensive de-escalation training that includes classroom training on use-of-force principles, recent use-of-force legislation, case law, legal update, use-of-force policy review and practice applying theories and techniques through a virtual simulator.
As part of the reform plan, the APD is also working closely with the Arcata Public Safety Committee and the committee is in the process of reviewing the APD’s use-of-force policy to make recommendations. But, according to the report, the policy was recently revised by an outside agency Lexipol and the Public Safety Committee may need more time to review the “extensive” revisions.
In other business, the council will consider endorsing Measure F, which would increase the existing special tax used to fund the Arcata Fire District. It is similar to Measure R, which failed by a pretty narrow margin in the March election. Shortly after the measure failed, Arcata Fire District began closing one station on a rotating basis. The district says that if Measure F does not pass then it will have to close one of its stations permanently.
The Outpost will surely have more in-depth information on Measure F closer to the November election. But for now, you can read more about it on the county website here.
Water Rate Agreement with Redwood Curtain Brewery
The council will also review an agreement between the city and Redwood Curtain Brewery, deferring the company’s water rate increase for two years.
The City of Arcata recently set water and wastewater rate increases for the next five years and also established a new use category called “Significant Commercial User.” According to the staff report, Redwood Curtain is currently the only business in the city that meets the criteria for this category.
Redwood Curtain determined that under the new rates, it would see a fee increase of approximately 350 percent over the next five years and that this would not be financially sustainable for the business.
“To support the business and provide time for the business to either lower the discharge strength or plan for the fee increase, the City entered into an agreement to defer the new fee classification charges until July 1, 2022,” the staff report states.
You can view the agreement between Redwood Curtain and the City here.
The Arcata City Council will discuss these items and more at its regular meeting tonight at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.
The council will discuss lawsuits related to the death of David Josiah Lawson during a special meeting at 5 p.m.
You can view the full agenda and directions on how to participate in the virtual meeting here.