Los Altos man leads effort to keep AT&T wireless nodes away from daughter's bedroom, neighborhood

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- In the South Bay, AT&T wants to improve wireless connectivity across Los Altos by putting devices, called "nodes" in neighborhoods.

Resident Carey Lai mistook a letter from AT&T for junk mail, but the company was letting him know it had plans to put a wireless communication device on the pole outside his home.

Lai said he reached out to city leaders who were seemingly unaware anything was sent out to residents.

"The equipment to be initially installed includes one (1) antenna, two (2) radio units and one (1) emergency power shut off," the letter read.

Immediately, Lai thought about health impacts, and what the short distance to his home might mean for his young daughter.

"It's really close to my daughter's bedroom," he told ABC7 News. "And we don't know what the health effects are over the long-term."

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website, some studies have examined the possibility of a link between radio-frequency exposure and cancer. However, results to date have been inconclusive.

Lai said he was told by a city official that AT&T's application was incomplete because the company failed to notify residents.

One mile from Lai's home, ABC7 News found a wireless node. Off-camera, neighbors in the area explained their similar concerns before it was put on a utility pole. Long-after installation, neighbors said those concerns remain.

"We welcome 5G, but can we place them in the downtown area and on main corridors-- not next to our homes," Lai said.

The venture capitalist said he loves tech, and often invests in tech companies. However, the unknown is concerning.

Lai posted signs on the pole, eyed by AT&T. His note reads, "NO CELL TOWER." He also created a Change.org petition urging that no cell towers should be installed next to homes and schools in Los Altos.

Others agree and suggest AT&T consider installing devices near businesses.

"They're not living there. They're not continually exposed," Joseph Borau said. "It's transient exposure."

Borau is not only a concerned neighbor but a physician with a degree in Public Health. He wants the FCC to reevaluate radio-frequency radiation and how it impacts humans.

He hopes new research will determine whether the nodes should even be installed near homes.

"We don't want to be the ones that said, 'Yeah, we discovered that having these small nodes on every block corner does cause cancer,'" he said. "We don't want to be the ones educating our future. We actually want to be a little more proactive."

ABC7 News reached out to Los Altos city leaders. City Manager Chris Jordan declined an on-camera interview. City council members did not return our request for comment.

City council will meet on July 30 to bring back an Urgency Ordinance. It would help establish rules for wireless provider applications, moving forward.
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