WHITTIER – Until May 25, Darrel and Edith Thede had never been to a Planning Commission or City Council meeting. That was destined to change. They became almost instant activists when they received a May 25 letter about a proposed installation of a cell phone tower at Palm Park. The Thedes and several residents from the area began working many hours a day to bring about public pressure to oppose the tower. They phoned, e-mailed and sent letters to the city and all five council members in opposition to the 60-foot tower. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPhotos: At LA County Jail, Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrates Christmas Mass with inmatesWhile unsuccessful at the Planning Commission level, the issue will be on Tuesday’s City Council agenda for a public hearing. For Edith Thede, the issue of radiation from cell phone towers has been one in which she has been interested since she was a teacher, counselor and assistant principal for the Los Angeles Unified School District. “We were concerned about radiation from the beginning,” she said. “For example, we were always told to put your computers away from the way kids are facing.” The Thedes soon joined with others, including Pat and Paul Lara and Margot Diaz. “I received that letter and I saw red,” Diaz said. “I was furious. I thought about the lives that would be jeopardized and the wildlife. Birds can’t adapt to fake trees. They run into them and fall to their death.” The proposed cell phone tower will be disguised to look like a tree. It was after the Planning Commission when the residents turned up their lobbying efforts. They asked people to call City Hall and council members, relying on the new ways of reaching elected officials. “We didn’t do a petition because that’s not the latest savvy thing to do,” Diaz said. “We e-mailed City Hall and we had fliers with e-mails addresses and phone numbers of council members.” Council members noticed the interest. “With their petitions, they’ve shown they have significant backing and a lot of people hold that opinion,” Councilman Owen Newcomer said. “We’ve gotten that message clearly.” Council members said they aren’t bothered by the lobbying effort. “I would be more bothered if they hadn’t done this if they have a concern,” said Councilman Greg Nordbak, who asked for the public hearing. Nordbak said he asked for the hearing because there was a perception by the residents they hadn’t been heard. “That’s a bad perception,” he said. “I don’t know what the outcome will be, but we need to hear them.” The residents will make their pitch on the issue of health, wildlife, noise from the tower and graffiti. The residents will face an uphill battle in terms of their main issue – health effects. Federal law doesn’t allow cities to make decisions based on health concerns if towers meet Federal Communications Commission guidelines. The study by DTech Communications found that the proposed cell tower would have emissions of .4 percent of the FCC limit. In addition, most scientific studies seem to show little if any harm from radiation effects from cell phone towers. An American Cancer Society paper says the energy level of radio waves is low, radio wave lengths are unlikely to be concentrated on a small bit of tissue and there’s not much exposure. “Public exposure near cell phone towers is not significantly different than background levels of radiation in urban areas from other sources, such as radio and television broadcast stations,” the document states. “For these reasons, cell phone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer,” it said. A study also found that the noise from tower will be below city limits. In addition, Jeff Collier, director of community development, said that wildlife would face no more problems from a tower than they would from a tall building. But no matter what happens Tuesday, the residents say they will continue fighting the tower. “We’re not giving up,” Diaz said. “We can’t be complacent as a community. We have to speak our minds and tell the City Council.” [email protected] (562)698-0955, Ext. 3022160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!