Unanswered Questions

If Sebastopol’s City Council voted against SMART meters and WiFi in Sebastopol, why would they consider approving an antenna tower that exposes their West County neighbors to an infiltration of cell towers by AT&T, Verizon, and anyone else?

Health, safety and welfare of residents are clearly important Sebastopol community values and goals, and we hope they would be extended to county neighbors whose homes surround the city-owned reservoir site. The telecommunications industry is continuing to grow explosively, with a concurrent need for more and more towers and antennas.  Allowing a 70 foot antenna tower at the reservoir site could open the gate to a potential Antenna Farm.

If you would like to read more about the City of Sebastopol’s emergency Ordinance to stop SMART meters, see this link. If you would like to understand the City’s reasons for turning down sonic.net’s offer of free WiFi for downtown Sebastopol, see this link. If you would like to better understand new collocation regulations, see this link.

Why is KOWS presenting irrelevant and misleading EMF measurements as justification for the “harmlessness” of their antenna tower?

In 2006, predicted radiation exposure (Non-Ionizing Eletromagnetic Radiation or NIER)  calculations were configured for the transmitter currently in use at the OAEC.  KOWS members presented these measurements to the Sebastopol Planning Commission as proof of the harmlessness of the proposed transmitter at the reservoir site. 

The power densities of EMFs produced at the reservoir site are typically 100 times higher than at the OAEC. They are up to 5000 times higher in certain cases at the reservoir site, and significantly more potentially harmful to our neighborhood, and to workers who take care of the vineyards and orchards close by. 

As the most recent KOWS NIER states,

“The effects of electromagnetic radiation on humans are unlikely to be fully understood at this time, and these safety limits may well change as research proceeds, nevertheless the limits are based on the accepted best practices at this time.”

To read a brand new study on the effects of electromagnetic fields on biological systems from the March 2016 Issue of IEEE Power and Electric Magazine, see this link. A summary of the findings is available here.

For more information about sources and safety of EMFs, non-thermal vs thermal bio effects, and the FCC’s guidelines, see this linkthis link, and this link. 

To see the KOWS NIER report for the proposed reservoir site, see this link. To see an NIER review of the OAEC site as reported by KOWS, see this link.

Why did KOWS report to the Planning Commission that they had to leave the OAEC immediately?

KOWS current site is in fact secure.

Dave Henson, Director of the OAEC, says:

“The OAEC is giving KOWS all the time it needs to make their independence happen. Their place in the tree (the antenna and transmitter) is secure and can be used until they find another location.”

To read the KOWS Steering Committee notes which include the above quote, see this link.

KOWS statement that they will lose their station if they do not move suggests an attempt to create a dramatic “desperation scenario” in hopes of gaining the sympathy of city officials.


Why can’t KOWS just operate as an internet radio station?

Terrestrial radio is being phased out by internet radio and its more interactive technology. KOWS understands this, and is currently streaming from a website. If KOWS reason for leaving the OAEC is to reach more people, their money and efforts would be much better served by focusing on their internet streaming audience and website. Why not spend the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to purchase and erect a soon-to-be-obsolete structure on local and international outreach, web site, management, and quality programming?

If you would like to read more about the future of terrestrial radio, see this link and this link.

Why did KOWS try to mislead neighbors into thinking that its antenna tower would be surrounded by tall trees and therefore would hardly be visible? Why didn’t KOWS and the City of Sebastopol loft a balloon to see how and to what extent such a tower would be visible from neighboring areas and from our homes?

A KOWS  information packet regarding their proposed antenna contained a photo of the site with a photoshopped 70 foot tower.  Residents immediately noticed that eucalyptus trees positioned to appear to be behind the tower are actually about 900 feet away, and could in no conceivable way mitigate a tower at the staked site.

We created our own simulation with a balloon lofted to 70 feet. Photos of that balloon, taken from yards, porches and roadways around our neighborhoods, proved what we feared.

SHARP believes that KOWS deliberately presented this strategic shot in order to hide the fact that the tower would loom nakedly against open sky.


Jenkins property

Balloon at same location

KOWS has also persistently described the proposed tower as  “transparent”, “see-through”, essentially invisible.  Our neighbors who live on English Hill have a different perception entirely, based on actual experience. We believe that a 70 foot, industrial steel grid tower has a tremendous impact.

Vineyard owl houses (20 feet) and vintage hops towers (25 feet) are in keeping with the rural, agricultural heritage of our neighborhood. KOWS has said that their proposed tower is no more degrading to the views and vistas of our area than these structures. SHARP leaves that to the viewer:


Vineyard Owl House


Vintage Hops Tower


English Hill

Why is KOWS trying to create the impression that it is the only radio station in the West County providing EAS (Emergency Alert System)?

There are already several AM and FM stations that provide EAS to the West County. In fact, the FCC requires all broadcast stations to install and maintain FCC-certified EAS decoders and encoders. KOWS is  attempting to scare people into thinking that unless KOWS steps into the breach, Seebastopol will be without information during an emergency.  If this were actually true, the city of Occidental would be left high and dry without KOWS radio during an emergency.

If you would like to know more about EAS and how it works, see this link.

If you would like to see more information on EAS in Sonoma County, see this link.

These links will direct you to the Radio Locator predicted coverage area maps of these local EAS stations: KZST, KSRO, KBBF, KCBS.

Does it make sense for the city of Sebastopol to invite, at $1/month, a group of amateur broadcasters to erect an essentially obsolete, potentially harmful 70 foot infrastructure where it will eventually become a cell tower collocation target?

The City of Sebastopol has repeatedly gone out of its way to protect the safety, health and well-being of its residents by restricting sources of ambient electromagnetic radiation. The city has made it a goal, as can be read by anyone in the General Plan, to protect the scenic vistas of the western hills surrounding the town. The city understands that cellular companies are determined to find sites and will use all legal strategies available to them to do so.

This tower provides only an extension in range for a tiny, unproven radio station. It will not provide excellent programming, skilled and dedicated programmers, meticulous record keeping and accounting, financial stability, or good management practices, which KOWS struggles with now.  It cannot turn the tide of changes in technology that make the medium itself obsolete.

There are no guarantees that KOWS will be able to improve its performance and achieve its goals with a costly new tower at the water tank site. Another available site, at Respini Ranch, allows KOWS an opportunity to expand at a much reduced cost with far less impact on the neighboring community.

To allow KOWS to experiment with its unproven business, at the permanent expense of the health, safety, and welfare of our entire neighborhood, seems unethical and unwise.


Collocated Tower Occidental Road









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©2019 SHARP Watch

SHARP - Sebastopol Hills Alliance for Rural Preservation Preserving the natural beauty and character of the West Sonoma County Hills, for today and for future generations. Next action: Limit the proliferation of CELL PHONE Towers in the Hills of Sebastopol.

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