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Interview with Diane

May 27, 2020

Diane Saetern and her family live on Modena Way, across the street from Monterey Trail High School and the proposed AT&T cell antenna.

She found out from a flyer in March about the cell antenna and the permit application for it. She took a petition against the cell antenna and got 33 of her neighbors on Modena Way to sign it in ONE night! She also made an audio recording of her public comments which the City played during the May 13 Council meeting. (You can do that too! Please support the Modena Way residents by sending your public comment to the City Clerk. Scroll down for a suggested comment.)

Here is Mark Graham’s interview with Diane.

M: Where do you live?

D: I am a resident of Modena Way in Elk Grove, one of the very few remaining original owners of my street. A lot of families abandoned their homes during the last recession in 08-09.

M: How long have you and your family lived in Elk Grove?

D: 15 years and we are not going anywhere

M: When did you first find out that AT&T applied for a permit to install a cell antenna across the street from your house?

D: On the evening of March 17th as I was coming home from work, I was approached by an unidentified individual walking down my street. He identified himself as Mark Graham and briefly asked me if I was aware of the City and their business intentions of authorizing AT&T a 10-year permit for a cell antenna at the high school across from my home. I was completely caught off-guard and had absolutely no idea about it as the City had NEVER informed me or my neighbors about this potential business deal with AT&T and their affiliates.

M: The City approved a Master License Agreement with AT&T and a zoning code amendment last August. The MLA had a list of cell antenna facility locations identified by dots on a map and by latitude and longitude but not identified by the address. Is it true that the City never notified you and your neighbors about that list?

D: ABSOLUTELY, not a single resident of Modena Way I have been in contact with had any knowledge about it until I asked them and asked if they would support me in signing a petition so I could submit it to the City for the May 13th City Council Meeting.

M: When did you first find out about the MLA and zoning code amendments for cell antenna permitting that the City approved last August?

D: Again, I first learned about all this on the evening of March 17th when I was approached by Mark Graham.

M: Why don’t you want a cell antenna across the street from your house?

D: One, we already have enough cell antennas and towers surrounding our areas, there are towers and antennas already located right next to Sheldon Dog Groomers, Calvine Road, Sheldon Road, Waterman Road, Bond Road, Grantline Road, Point Pleasant Road, West of Eagles Nest Road and South of Gerber Road, Stockton Boulevard, Stonelake Road, Franklin Boulevard, Kammerer Road, Eschinger Road, Walmort Road and Dillard Road, Dwight Road,

This is only a short list of what I was able to research and find on the cell towers and antennas that are currently registered with the FCC. However, keep in mind, not all towers need to be registered in the FCC database, so there are several more towers that are not listed and the public is unaware of. So this already is evident that there is already sufficient coverage in the Elk Grove area.

Secondly, cell towers and antennas should absolutely not be near any residential homes, especially, NOT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ANY SCHOOL! This is absurd! AT&T is using students as their guinea pigs! UNACCEPTABLE and SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED BY THE CITY! The City MUST have the interests of their citizens of Elk Grove first, not any business deal that would harm its citizens. After all, it is the citizens who have put their trust into their city mayor and city council board as they were all elected into office.

Lastly, we have enough exposure to the harmful radiation frequencies in our daily lives already, smartphones, wifi, computers, microwaves, and I could go on, but those are things we can manage and control in our daily lives. However, if the City authorizes this 10-year permit, we, the residents, and citizens of this community will have no power or control of managing the detrimental affects it will have on our health and livelihoods. Furthermore, installation of this cell antenna will have a HUGE NEGATIVE FISCAL IMPACT on the value of our homes.

M: What has been your neighbors’ response when you told them?

D: Everyone was appalled and had absolutely no idea and were very upset to hear about it.

M: You mentioned your petitions at the last City Council meeting. How did the City respond?

D: Including my own signature, I collected a total of 37 petition signatures to submit to the City Council on the night of May 12th in preparation for the May 13th City Council meeting. Initially, I did not receive an acknowledgment from the City, even though I asked for one in my email. But I did eventually receive an acknowledgment from Mr. Lindberg indicating he received an email from me earlier that day (on May 13th) when I submitted my recorded statement for public comments on the evening of May 13th.

In our petition, we asked Mayor Ly and the City Council Members to deny the permit application for 19-07227 and put [four specific recommendations] on the agenda of a regular City Council meeting. We asked that the City require the applicant to prove that a given proposed cell antenna will require a close significant gap in coverage and will do that using the least intrusive means. Identify the type of evidence the City will require as proof; drive tests to prove a gap in coverage and dropped call logs to prove capacity shortages.

We asked the City to regulate the operation of cell antennas to protect residents’ health. Which there are several ways to do that, point antenna away from homes, require lower RF waves at all times other than peak usage, etc…

We asked the City to require semi-annual random testing of each cell antenna to determine compliance with RF limits as the cities of Davis, Burbank, and Berkeley have done – at the expense of the applicant, by an independent and neutral Third Party. And to have continuous monitoring with automatic power shut off.

We asked that if the City does not have qualified staff to evaluate an application, including an RF compliance report, the City shall amend its zoning code to require the applicant to pay the City to hire such person to conduct the appropriate evaluation of the application and RF compliance report.

M: What has been the City’s response since the City Council meeting?

D: Besides Mr. Werner reaching out to me on May 14th to arrange for a meeting in the City Hall parking lot, besides that, not much. Especially since after I submitted my public records act (PRA) request to the City on May 17th, Mr. Werner called me the evening of May 18th and informed me a meeting would not be feasible at this time since I have submitted my PRA request to the City and have submitted some information to the City about existing cell towers and antennas already located on Sheldon Road and Calvine Road, that they would have to review my email and documents I submitted to the City. That after I receive documents from the City per my PRA request, they can potentially meet or discuss further if I still have concerns.

M: Did the City really propose a meeting with you in the parking lot at City Hall?

D: I am thankful Mayor Ly acknowledged my concerns and directed his staff to reach out to me and my neighbors. But at the same time, I am very concerned as Mr. Murdoch indicated they would proceed with the application and review process while the City reaches out to my neighbors and me.

Mr. Werner reached out to me on the evening of May 14th and asked if I would be interested in a meeting with the City, and I asked how would this occur given the current circumstances of COVID-19, if this would be a teleconference meeting and he suggested: “Well we would meet in the parking lot at City Hall.” I was caught off-guard and my response was “Uh, okay, I guess that would work too.” I was not completely comfortable with, but at the same time, I was thankful the City was even reaching out to potentially address my concerns, so of course I agreed. Mr. Werner asked me what times would work best and I requested they be after 5 pm and anytime on the weekdays. He said he would reach out to Mr. Murdoch and get back to me with a date and time.

M: You have asked the City to make the permit application and related documents available online and to have a conference call with you and your neighbors. Tell us about that.

D: There is a large information gap here. Again, the City has never notified us about this application or the underlying agreement with AT&T or cell antenna policy, both new as of August 28, 2019.

We have asked the City to make certain documents available on the City’s website to close that gap. For example, the AT&T permit application, the Master License Agreement (MLA) between the City and AT&T that identified 15 locations for possible cell antennas by dots on a map and by longitude and latitude but not by address, a description of the permitting process and how local residents can participate in that process and a copy of Ordinance 19-2019 on cell antenna permitting.

We have also asked the City to make available on its website several of our questions about the City’s options for this permit and the City’s discussion of each option and explanation of why the City currently is not planning to use it.

We asked the City to schedule a conference call meeting with us to describe and explain the situation and these documents and to answer our questions, in particular our questions about the City’s options.

M: How can other people get involved and help you and your neighbors?

D: Yes people can help and my neighbors and I would appreciate it. You can email the City Clerk Jason Lindgren at with your public comments. You can also send Mr. Lindgren an audio recording of your public comments. That’s better because they play the comments for the Council Members to hear during the meeting. The next City Council meeting is on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:00 so please send in your public comments now.

A suggested public comment follows:

May 27, 2020

Dear Mayor Ly, Council Members and staff,
My name is ____________________ and I live in Elk Grove. 

The City has never notified the residents of Modena Way* that AT&T has applied for a permit (19-07227) to install a powerful cell antenna at Monterey Trail High School, 8661 Power Inn Road.  

I support the residents of Modena Way, who have asked the City to:

  • Make certain documents and information related to the AT&T cell antenna application, the law and the City’s options available on the City’s website
  • Have a conference call meeting with the Modena Way residents and answer their questions
  • Deny the application for the permit because there is no significant gap in coverage and the proposed antenna is not the least intrusive means
  • Put on the agenda of a City Council meeting the specific proposed changes to the municipal code that the Modena Way residents asked for in their petition. 

The City should understand and exercise its authority to protect its interests and residents’ interests in the cell antenna permitting process. The City can do all of these things. 

[Your name and address] 
* Or residents living near any of the other 4 sites on 19-07227