Noe Valley Voice March 2005

Letters to the Editor

Cell Phones May Endanger Health


Noe Valley cell phone users who deplore "dead zones" are ignoring a more important cellular issue: health effects on their brain cells ["Clear Winner in Cell Survey," February 2005].

A steady stream of research reports shows a link between cell phone use and various health effects, ranging from headaches, memory loss, and insomnia to DNA damage in brain cells, and brain tumors. In January, the National Radiation Protection Board in the UK issued a strong warning that children under 8 years of age should never use cell phones. The report also cautioned about the health risks of exposure to cell phone antennas (referred to as "base stations): "[T]here remain particular concerns in the UK about the impact of base stations on health, including well-being. Despite current evidence which shows that exposures of individuals are likely to be only a small fraction of those from phones, they may impact adversely on well-being." (See

Cell phone users who complain about dead zones aren't clear on the concept of how the devices work. It's not magic. Cell phones use radio technology, which requires users to remain within "line of sight" of antennas. Cell phones, transmission towers, and antennas emit radio-frequency radiation. Thus, transmission towers and antennas are sprouting everywhere--on rooftops, hilltops, and commercial and residential buildings, even on hospitals and churches (tucked out of sight in the steeple, perhaps), exposing those nearby to radio-frequency radiation every minute of every day. Yet the Telecommunications Act of 1996 preempts the right of local communities to interfere with the siting of these towers on the basis of health risks. Were it not for the actions of Noe Valley families in 1997 and 1998, there would be an antenna on the Noe Valley Ministry (Noe Valley Voice, May 1998). How quickly we forget.

In November 2004, the European Union released a major research analysis showing that radio-frequency radiation from cell phones and antennas damages DNA in human cells ( index_hotnews.html).

Also in 2004, researchers in Sweden and Austria analyzed nine studies from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Germany and found that all studies showed an increased cancer risk associated with cell phone use.

Using a cell phone is a personal choice. If it's an informed choice, then it's a voluntary exposure--like smoking cigarettes. But the public is not informed because mainstream U.S. media continue to jam the danger signal. Like the national media, Bay Area newspapers consistently focus coverage on the benefits and proliferation of wireless technology while ignoring the possibility of health risks. And the telecom industry continues to hype this potentially hazardous technology while dismissing any research that suggests otherwise.

Knowing the health risks of cell phones, especially for children, may cause some people to take a precautionary approach and limit their use of cell phones.

Those who don't change their ways may find another dead zone--this one, between their ears.

Nancy Evans

Cesar Chavez Street

Like Throwing Darts at a Clock


Regarding your story "Tracking the J-Church" in the February 2005 issue: NextBus would be a great tool to avoid those frustrating waits at the streetcar stop if it were reliable. I access NextBus on my computer before leaving the house in the morning or on my Treo at the J-Church stop. Maybe one time out of five, NextBus says that the next train is due in 10 or 20 minutes but a train rolls up two or three minutes later. Evidently, the GPS system doesn't work on every train.

Also, I have found that checking NextBus before entering the Market Street subway is no more accurate than throwing darts at a clock. Even the platform announcements are often wrong. Last night, a J-Church that was due in "six minutes" arrived 20 minutes later.

Walter Rask

Church Street

True Graffiti Revolves Around Art


I agree that what "ROC" did was wrong and stupid. [The Voice published several stories in 2002 about a tagger named "ROC," including "'ROC' Strikes 24th Street Shops Again" (Sept. 02) and "'ROC' Sentenced to Eight Months in Youth Facility" (Dec. 02).]

However, calling this act graffiti is demeaning and wrong. Furthermore, it is not even accurate definitionally. Graffiti is the art of spoken word, written in mural form; it has been distorted to include this sort of "tagging." I, as a graffiti artist, am offended by the assertion that scrawling one's name upon private property is graffiti. True graffiti revolves around the art, not the crime.

Not only is this act not graffiti, it is strongly looked down upon by the graffiti community at large. People such as the one your article focuses on are referred to as "toys," who are either very bad at the art or disgrace the rest of the community by "scribbling," that is to say, just writing one's tag everywhere without regard to anything in particular.

I understand that this distinction may seem arbitrary to you, as both acts are crimes, regardless. But I like to think that I am making the city look better, not worse. And that my art somehow affects people. And the wanton destruction of private property (graffiti is supposed to center around public property) is something that distracts from that, and I would have appreciated it if your article had made it clear that not all artists are similar to this person.

It means a whole lot to me, and I wanted to set the record straight.

Shea Strausman

Via e-mail

When Free Papers Become Litter


I operate a restaurant in Noe Valley. With all the recent attention to sidewalk littering (deputizing city employees), as well as attention to conservation (surcharge on grocery bags), I find it appalling that the S.F. Examiner and the S.F. Independent newspapers can continue to litter the sidewalks with their publications. Every day, I arrive at work to find at least six "free" papers scattered in front of my business, often thrown into my planter boxes crushing my flowers. If these were aluminum cans or cigarette butts, the city would be up in arms. I have no interest in these publications and have made several attempts to contact these papers' circulation departments with no success. Why is this not considered littering?

Why are these papers not in boxes like our other free papers (the Guardian, S.F Weekly, etc.), where people can take them if they want them? Look down 24th Street any day, and you will find hundreds of these papers in their ugly pink plastic (unrecyclable) wrappers. I hope when our city employees are deputized to issue tickets, they will use these tickets to litter the offices of these neighborhood pests.

Bradley Levy

Owner, Firefly Restaurant

Right Street, Wrong Car


There's a point of no return when your printed corrections contain errors of their own. But just for future reference, the top photo caption on page 11 of the February issue is still wrong. Duncan Street may be properly identified, but the automobile in the photo isn't. A roadster is defined as an open two-seater; one of my dictionaries adds "vintage." In contemporary terms, it's a convertible without a back seat (although some roadsters had rumble seats). The vehicle in the picture is a convertible sedan, called a touring car or tourer in olden days.

Denis Wade

Glen Park resident


THE VOICE welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.