Proposed Cell Sites Threaten Santa Cruz Wildlife Area; Demonstration at Verizon Wireless

Residents of Santa Cruz County concerned about health, privacy, and the environment, as well as those who enjoy the beaches of the north coast free of cell towers and other industrial equipment, demonstrated in front of Verizon Wireless’s retail store on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz on Saturday July 21. The protest raised awarenesses about the company’s plans, along with NextG corporation, to install six new cell sites along Highway 1 and Swanton Road in the county’s remote north coast region.

Demonstrators say the North Coast Cell project is a threat to views, endangered species and resident safety. The California Coastal Commission is expected to decide whether to issue a coastal permit for the project at its meeting on Aug. 10 at the Santa Cruz County building. A large community presence is anticipated.

Stop Smart Meters!, an advocacy, media outreach, and direct action organization, reports the following:

Cell phone, wi-fi, and smart meter emissions were labelled by the World Health Organization in May 2011 as a Class 2B carcinogen, and many are reporting symptoms from exposure to these devices. Despite this, California utility customers are being charged a large fee to avoid this carcinogen. Verizon is a partner with PG&E and receives wireless data pulses from PG&E SmartMeters containing residents’ private data.

Mockups of the cell sites that are currently in place have been obstructing views and cluttering the landscape for months. Residents were given little notification and many wondered about the strange cylindrical and rectangular objects suddenly mounted on the poles. The equipment will directly interfere with views from Swanton Rd. to the coast and the pristine redwood valley in between, a designated and protected special scenic area. “What do ‘protected areas’ mean if we are not going to defend these areas from industrial development? We expect the Coastal Commissioners to take a hard look at this project, how it violates the Coastal Act, and undermines public access to the coast” says Joshua Hart, spokesperson for the local group opposing the project.

Local environmentalists have raised the alarm over impacts from cell towers that studies indicate may have deadly consequences for endangered species in the area. Organizations like the Sierra Club’s Santa Cruz Group have come out against the plan. The northernmost tower is proposed to be constructed only feet from Big Basin State Park, adjacent to wetlands that are home to federally endangered species such as the Red Legged Frog and Western Pond Turtle. Studies have shown a 90% mortality rate for tadpoles exposed to cell tower radiation at the distance that tadpoles in Waddell Creek wetlands would be exposed.

Fire risk is also at issue. NextG Corp. is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by residents of Malibu who suffered nearly 15 million in damages from a 2007 wildfire caused by power poles overloaded with telecommunications equipment that blew over and sparked in high winds. Opponents of the project are saying that the last thing the Bonny Doon area needs is another wildfire. NextG Corp. has already strung miles of cable between the proposed sites which community members say they have done without a permit and in violation of the Coastal Act.

Many local residents are opposed to the project, and see the cell sites as an existential threat to their quality of life and the pristine nature of the local environment. High speed wired DSL service is available widely throughout the area at residences, so the need for a series of power gulping cell sites emitting pulsed microwave radiation 24/7 has been questioned – particularly in the proposed locations, sending a carcinogenic substance into Big Basin, California’s first state park and still home to a thriving ecosystem.

More info and project documents can be found at:

Text from a flyer distributed at the July 21 demonstration:


NextG, a provider for Verizon Wireless, wants to construct 6 new 4G cell sites between Santa Cruz and Big Basin State Park along Highway One and Swanton Rd. Several of these cell sites are very close to critical habitat for endangered species, including one just yards from Waddel Beach and wetlands in Big Basin State Park. Studies show serious and fatal consequences for wildlife and for people from wireless infrastructure.

Keep our North Coast pristine! Together we can stop Verizon!

The other proposed cell sites are at:

  • 3 mile beach
  • 4 mile beach
  • Scaroni Rd.
  • Laguna Rd.
  • 1.1 miles north of Swanton Berry Farm on Swanton Rd. (ruining the first view of Swanton Valley)

What You Can Do:

  1. Write to the CA Coastal Commission by the first week of August- c/o Susan Craig 725 Front Street, Suite 300, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Include all the reasons to oppose the project: safety, aesthetics, and health / environmental protection. Brief is okay.
  2. Speak out at the CA Coastal Commission meeting in Santa Cruz on Aug. 10 at 9:00 a.m. at the County building.
  3. Spread the word to those who live in the area, or anyone who loves the North Coast- as it is!
  4. If you are a Verizon customer, switch to another provider (and tell them why!) or even better, lose the cell entirely- protect your health! Call Verizon customer service at: 1.800.837.4966
  5. Learn more about the project by visiting:
    Questions? [email protected] or PO Box 30 Davenport, CA 95017