Sunday, May 27, 2001

These 4-foot-high cell phone antennas in Lanikai stand near
a hiking trail, with signs to keep people away. Residents
ask why they weren't told the antennas were being put up.

Unguarded antennas
worry Lanikai residents

By Diana Leone

Some Lanikai residents have questions about cellular telephone antennas sprouting from a hill in their seaside subdivision.

Being just 3 to 4 feet tall and painted brown or camouflage colors, the devices cannot be seen from far away. What has the neighborhood talking are the warning signs placed about 30 feet from the unassuming antennas:

"CAUTION BEYOND THIS POINT. Radio frequency fields at this site may exceed FCC rules for human exposure. For your safety, obey all posted signs and safety guidelines for working in radio frequency environments," the signs read.

The signs have a logo of a yellow triangle with a smaller black triangle inside it, emitting what could be interpreted as radio waves. At the bottom of the sign is the message, "Posted in accordance with Federal Communications Commission rules on radio frequency emissions."

There is nothing signifying who owns the antennas or what the danger is in going close to them, nor are there fences to keep people away. And nearby residents say that's what has them concerned.

Candice Pacheco said on May 7, Hawaiian Electric Co. installed a new electric line on the poles below her hillside Koohoo Place home. The lines were 10 to 12 feet higher than the existing line and affected her view of the ocean.

She also found out that the 7.2-kilovolt line was to power new AT&T antennas, which began operation May 18. It was only in asking about the new antennas that she learned Sprint antennas had been on the hillside since late 1998.

Spokeswomen from both AT&T and Sprint said their companies met all FCC guidelines for cellular transmissions, which are "very conservative."

Kathy Yonamine, Sprint PCS site development manager, said her company makes a calculation that people are required to stay 2 feet away from an antenna, even though "there are no conclusive studies at all that there are any adverse effects. At Sprint, we want to err on the conservative side."

But warning signs aren't conservative enough for Jean Malia Orque-Lee, whose children, ages 6 and 9, until recently played on the trail that leads directly past the antennas. They get there through a vacant lot that leads to a steep hillside. Other kids play up there, too, and hikers heading to the pillboxes on the hilltop pass by, Orque-Lee said.

"It's not even so much that we have this antenna farm here in our back yards, but why didn't we have a chance to voice our opinion," Orque-Lee said. "I'd still like to get them out of there. They bypassed a lot of things, including a public hearing."

Pacheco said: "I moved to Hawaii to be in a healthy environment. Now, I feel like I may have to move because of this."


Community meeting: State Rep. Joe Gomes (R, Kailua-Lanikai-Waimanalo) is hosting a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Lanikai Community Center for community members who have questions about cellular phone antennas in Lanikai. Sprint, AT&T, VoiceStream, Verizon, Hawaiian and 808 wireless companies have been invited to the meeting.

On the 'Net: For more information about cell phone antennas and related issues, you can check these Web sites:

>> Federal Communications Commission:

>> Electromagnetic Radiation Network:

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