California SB 649: A Bill Streamlining Wireless Facilities in Neighborhoods Preempting Local Control


California SB 649

Update: October 16, 2017 California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed  SB 649.   Read California Governor Brown’s Letter.

Governor Brown Letter VETO SB649

California SB 649 would strip the local control of communities to determine wireless facility placement in their rights of way.  The State of California Department of Finance has made the recommendation to oppose SB 649 stating,  “this bill goes too far by usurping city and county zoning authority for infrastructure development, and it potentially imposes reimbursable, state-mandated costs on cities and counties.”

The AARP, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Working Group oppose this Bill. Over 200 cities, and the League of California Cities are opposed to SB 649. 45 out of 58 California Counties  are in opposition to this bill. 

This page maintains an updated list of news reports, videos and factsheets related to SB 649. Please scroll down to see the wealth of material generated by this ill advised bill that would streamline 5G cell antennas into neighborhoods and increase exposure to wireless frequencies.

Read SB 649: Wireless telecommunications facilities

On this page EHT is maintaining documentation on letters of opposition sent to the State, videos of news reports and videos of testimony given to the State lawmakers. Please check in regularly. 

If you want to join others in California working to stop this bill please contact Californians For Safer Tech.

Click here to download a PDF of over 60 pages of letters on 5G by scientists and organizations such as the Sierra Club, the AARP and Environmental Working group.


Many organizations have issued Factsheets on SB 649 to educate the public. See below several examples.

EHTs One Page Scientific Factsheet on 5G and Health

Read an Issue Brief “State Legislation on Wireless Small Cells”  January 2017

One-page flyer for  parents and teachers re SB 649. Firefighters got an exemption for their stations; not kids.

Read an 8 point FactSheet on SB649 by California Alliance for Safer Technology  

Read “The Firefighters Wake Up Call To Us All” By Susan Foster RE: SB 649 Opposing Cell Towers In Rights Of Way

EMF Safety Network One Page Flyer 

5th Generation (5G) Wireless Communications Fact Sheet Grassroots Environmental

Read July 2017 League of California Cities Factsheet on SB649 which states SB649:

  • Forces cities and counties to lease out their public property for wireless equipment;
  • Eliminates negotiated leases, and places a $250 cap on what they call an attachment rate instead;
  • Eliminates public input, full local discretion, and ability to reduce equipment blight by using encroachment and building permits instead of discretionary permits;
  • Eliminates ability to remove equipment that is blighting neighborhoods.

See more videos  of the Senate Assembly testimony/discussion/vote on SB 649 at EHTs Youtube Playlist. 

The Editorial Boards of Four Major California newspapers Oppose SB 649

A brazen cell phone power grab” Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle

“An audacious 5G power (pole) grab” Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“Democratic legislators take bold stands, except when they don’t” Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee, July 9, 2017

“California should butt out of cities’ deals with telecom companies” East Bay Times July 17, 2017

Noteworthy News Coverage

New York Times Op-ed “Why Does Verizon Care About Telephone Poles?” October 3, 2017

“Big Telecom and its allies in the White House have quietly carried out a campaign to secure rapid and cheap access to those poles, at taxpayer expense. Here in California, state legislators recently advanced a bill introduced by Senator Ben Hueso that would allow wireless service providers to install their equipment on public street poles at below-market rates — and to do so nearly wherever and whenever they choose — all in the name of “streamlining” local permit approvals.”

“California: Bill to ease permits for cell phone towers could affect health” Mercury News August 31, 2017

Read the article by Susan Foster in Fearless Parent entitled  “Cell Tower hypocrisy: Rescuing firefighters and not kids.

“Local leaders oppose state law that could turn utility poles into cell phone towers” Daily Breeze 8/30/2017



The State of California Department of Finance has made the recommendation to oppose SB 649.

The analysis report defines that SB 649 is likely to create a million dollar unfunded mandate, fails to cure basic wireless digital divide issues; and is fails to address important issues of community aesthetics.

The Environmental Working Group is in strong opposition to SB 649. 

Read the EWG post on SB649. “Cellphone Safety: Industry Pushes to Strip Local Control of High-Speed Networks” by  Olga Naidenko Ph.D., Senior Science Advisor for Children’s Environmental Health.

Letter from Environmental Working Group June 26, 2017

Letter from Environmental Working Group July 26, 2017

Letters sent to California State in Opposition To 649

Letter from the Sierra Club

Letter from Greenlining Insitute

Letter from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), July 19, 2017 “This bill undermines the authority of local government..”

Letter from the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments

Law Office of Harry  Lehmann“Mass casualties are likely in District 10 from passage of 648, July 6, 2017

Law Office Of Harry Lehmann, Second Letter To The State Of California Liability for Damage From Microwave Radiation Exposure Sustained by Senate Bill 649 Will Be Shifted to California State , July 19, 2017

Law Office of Harry Lehmann  letter dated August 24, 2017,  SB 649 will  disproportionately effect the poor in California. 

Letter From EMF Safety Network and Ecological Options Network

August 14, 2017 Letter by Susan Foster Assembly Appropriations Letter – Fire Station Exemption from SB 649

Radiation Research Trust  Letter of Opposition

Letter from the Marin California Council of Mayors and Council Members Opposing SB 649

Scientists For Wired Technology, 5/30/17: front and back Scientists For Wired Technology 5/31/17:front and back

Letters from the City of Palos Verdes Estates April 12, 2017July 20, 2017

American Planning Association Opposes SB 649 

Berkeley City Council Opposition Letter 

Scientist Letters

Letter from Dr. Lennart Hardell To Governor Jerry Brown on SB649

Letter from Dr. Joel Moskowitz To Governor Jerry Brown on SB649

Beatrice Alexandra Golomb, MD, PhD Lettter in Opposition to SB649

Letter from Dr. Martin Pall in Opposition to SB649

Attachment to Dr. Pall Letter – 142 Microwave Radiation Review Studies

Letter from Dr. Cindy Russell in opposition to SB649 

Letter from Physicians For Safe Technology in opposition to SB649

Letter from Dr. Devra Davis to Chair Aguiar-Curry on SB 649

Letter from Dr. Devra Davis to Governor Jerry Brown on SB649 

Letter from Dr. Paul Ben Ishai in Opposition to SB 649
Letter from Frank Clegg, former President of Microsoft, Canada

Letter from Dr. Sam Milhelm 

Letter from Dr.  John West

Letter From Susan Foster To Governor Brown About Firefighters

FCC Comments by Susan Foster About Firefighters

8/20 National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy Letter to Appropriations Committee

8/21 National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy Letter to Assembly

8/24 National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy Letter to Governor Brown.

See PSA’s below created by organizations calling for a veto to SB 649

Californians for Safe Technology have created a PSA video below.

Read more letters from cities below.

Guest Blog: ‘Health Exemption for Firefighters sends a Message to the World’ by Susan Foster

A sample of today_s 81 tailored Assembly letters(2)


SB 649 UPDATE 7_6_2017

City of Azusa Letter of Opposition 

City of Humboldt Letter of Opposition

City of  San Bernardino Letter of Opposition

City of Palos Verdes Estates Letter of Opposition

California Contract Cities Association Letter of Opposition

The City of Long Beach Letter of Opposition

Westside Regional Alliance of Councils Letter of Opposition


Groups Working To Halt SB649

California Alliance for Safer Technology

 Go Fund Me Californians Against SB 649


Action Alert Documents

City of Placerville ACTION ALERT!! SB 649 (Hueso) Small Cells 

Memo From RCRC California Council of Rural Counties to Oppose SB 649


News Stories

Fox 5 La Jolla residents battle Crown Castle cell phone tower in yards.

The Union: Nevada City opposes state effort to control cell phone infrastructure, May 3, 2017

San Francisco Gate: Antenna permitting bill sparks clash between state, local officials

Letter to the editor, The Mercury News, Sep 19, 2017 Governor should veto cell antennas bill

Los Angeles Times Editorial on 5G Small Cell Streamlining Bills “An audacious 5G power (pole) grab”

CBS News Story “Cell Phone Towers Outside Your Window – Why You Don’t Have The Right To Fight”

Cities fight bill to streamline cell antenna installations, July 5 2017, Mercury News

SB 649 to Sen. Hueso 7-26-17 pdf (1)




In the Press


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and science from Environmental Health Trust. We email our subscribers with a newsletter just once a month and never share your email with anyone.

Thank you for signing up for our newsletter!