Los Angeles

Stalked By a Cell Tower: “It's Been A Nightmare”

A Tarzana couple is fighting for the removal of a noisy Verizon cellphone tower located just feet from their master bedroom window that can be spotted from nearly every part of their property.

“It’s been night and day we hear this constant humming,” Michelle Hager told the NBC4 I-Team.

In hotter weather, she and her husband Mark speculated that cooling fans are adding to the din when temperatures rise.

“Summer nights, we can’t open our windows,” said Mark Hager said.

Verizon erected the tower three years ago on a spot once occupied by a smaller utility pole. The couple says they were given no notice, that they’ve been plagued by the noise, and that they have feared for their safety and health ever since.

“We’re concerned about the placement of it,” Michelle Hager said. “It towers over our house.”

The Hagers worry that in the event of an earthquake or accident, the tower could crash on top of their home.

They’re also concerned about potential health consequences of the radio-frequency (RF) signals emitted by the tower.

“There are people (who) say this causes cancer,” Mark Hager said.

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified environmental exposures classified radio-frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” However,

the IARC concluded that the current evidence

was inadequate to draw a firm conclusion about the cancer risk.

The Hagers also fear the tower will decrease their property value.

“Who wants to move into a house that has a cellphone tower hovering over?” Mark Hager said.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Michelle Hager said.

The couple showed the I-Team a petition signed by more than 60 neighbors, requesting that Verizon move the tower.

Verizon declined the I-Team’s request for an on-camera interview, but the company emailed a statement:

“The Verizon Wireless site in Tarzana has been providing wireless coverage and data capacity to customers throughout the neighborhood since September, 2009. It complies with federal, state and local requirements. In fact, Verizon conducted a scientific noise test earlier this week and the data showed that the site’s loudest noises were within the legal requirements.

Verizon continues to upgrade its sites like the one in Tarzana to stay far ahead of rising consumer demand for data services. Planning ahead like this is why Verizon customers and first responders are able to use their phones and tablets when and where they need to — and not just today, but for years to come.

Verizon remains committed to investing in its network throughout Los Angeles to ensure that Angelenos have the mobile broadband they deserve and expect.”

The I-Team took the couple’s concerns to Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who represents their district, and has written to Verizon on their behalf.

“If it’s a nuisance for one of my constituents, it’s a nuisance for me and I want to help,” Blumenfield said.

But other than sending a written plea, the councilman said he is “powerless” when it comes to getting the tower relocated.

Health guidelines for cell towers are overseen by the federal government. The pole itself is still considered a utility pole, which is regulated by the state.

The I-Team is awaiting comment from state and federal regulators regarding the Hager’s complaints.

Blumenfield said an attempt to relocate the tower on the basis of the noise it’s making was unsuccessful.

“The noise levels haven’t exceeded what’s acceptable (according to Los Angeles city noise ordinances),” Blumenfield explained.

The Hagers say they’ll take their fight to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., next.

“If it was in the back of our house, we probably would be able to deal with that, but the fact that it’s directly in front of our house is the bigger issue,” Mark Hager said.

Unhappy about a proposed cell tower in your neighborhood? Here are actions to take:

  • Consult other neighbors, your neighborhood association and/or your neighborhood coalition.
  • Learn about your city’s ordinance and codes regarding cell towers.
  • Ask your local city leader to get involved.
  • Ask wireless company proposing tower if alternate sites have been considered.
  • Create a petition, gather signatures,
  • Live in a historic neighborhood? See if California’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will get involved.
Contact Us