Woman Files ADA Grievance with City

Daniel Pineda

On Sept. 7, Moira Hahn, a resident of Long Beach, filed a complaint with the Long Beach Citywide Accessibility Coordinator, stating that the city had misused the protections of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Hahn is a 66-year-old, disabled, retired college professor, who has been medically diagnosed to have Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS): a medical condition caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields.

“Electromagnetic sensitivity causes me regular migraine headaches, cluster headaches and ear pain when I’m exposed to Wi-Fi or other sources of electromagnetic radiation, including prolonged proximity to transmitting cell towers.” Hahn told the Beachcomber, describing her life with EHS.

Hahn added, “I recently experienced insomnia, heart palpitations and jitters, when we had to stay at a hotel with a Wi-Fi access point near our bed. I could not sleep. It felt like I was having a heart attack all night.”

Hahn’s grievances with the city began when the Long Beach City Council approved for the telecommunications company, AT&T, to replace a light post near Hahn’s home with one that would include a new cell tower; something that would cause continuous injury to Hahn, and potentially others with EHS.

In response, Hahn, as well as her husband Mark Hotchkiss, would go to the Long Beach Department of Public Works, this past March, to appeal the approval of the new cell tower.

Hahn talked to the Beachcomber about the appeal she made to the Department of Public Works, as well as shared letters containing some of the arguments made in said appeal.

One of the arguments she made was that Long Beach’s decision to add the new AT&T cell tower was in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), in which “the city failed to consider cumulative impacts of the one thousand pending cell tower installations, as CEQA requires cumulative impacts to be taken into consideration.”

Hahn also argued that the city had avoided an environmental review, by calling the new cell towers “streetlights,” another violation in the CEQA.

“They claim that over 1,000 cell towers being installed are substantially the same as the streetlights they replace,” Hahn said. “Cell towers produce negative environmental impacts not limited to health, safety and flammability, that the original streetlights do not.”

Hahn’s appeal also included a letter from her physician, Dr. Richard Wexler, which included details on how symptoms in relation to EHS can cause serious migraines for Hahn and were even the reason she had to retire from teaching.

“Certain people are more sensitive to wireless radiation than others and those hypersensitive patients often experience an exacerbation of their underlying medical problems when they are exposed to continuous doses of wireless radiation,” Dr. Wexler wrote.

Dr. Wexler continued: “In my medical opinion, if a wireless telecommunications facility is located in close proximity to Ms. Hahn’s house and transmits wireless radiation continuously – even at levels within the existing FCC guidelines – Ms. Hahn may be physically harmed by the wireless radiation.”

Hahn had hoped her arguments to the Department of Public Works would be more than enough for their appeal to be accepted. However, the city clerk would notify the appellants, later that April, that her appeal would be denied.

The final conclusion made by Administrative Hearing Officer Larry Minsky would state: “Hence, while issues of cumulative harm caused or potentially caused to appellants and the community appear to be a real danger, for the reasons noted supra such concerns do not and cannot serve, in this instance, as a viable argument to overturn the City’s approval of the AT&T’s Permit application.”

To Moira Hahn, this was not the outcome she was looking for.

“We were, of course, very disappointed, only in part because the Hearing Officer had seemed sympathetic to our situation at our hearing,” Hahn said. “We weren’t, however, surprised by the outcome.”

However, the story doesn’t end there.

According to a letter written by Hahn’s attorney, Kathryn Pettit, the city also stated their interpretation of the ADA, in which it would only acknowledge individuals with disabilities requiring wheelchairs; something Pettit describes as discriminatory to those with other disabilities that fall under the protection of the ADA, like EHS.

“Yet the city did not even attempt to comply with the ADA because it argues it is ‘preempted’ from doing so,” Pettit said in the memorandum. “The city explicitly stated at the hearing that it did not consider Ms. Hahn’s disability in approving the Wireless Telecommunication Facility (WTF) permit.”

Hahn also believes that the city’s interpretation of the ADA is highly unreasonable, as it excludes all disabilities that don’t require the use of a wheelchair.

“The city’s interpretation of the ADA is illogical and unfair,” Hahn said. “not just to me, but to all Long Beach residents with legitimate disabilities not requiring the use of a wheelchair, including the sight impaired, hearing impaired, neurologically impaired and cancer patients.

According to a panel decision of a similar case held in the District of Columbia Circuit, it is stated that, a regulation can no more preempt a federal statute than a federal statute could preempt a provision in the Constitution.” In other words, a city cannot rely on a chapter of its local zoning code to preempt something like the ADA. And yet, that seems to be what is happening here in Long Beach.

Despite this, Moira Hahn and her husband are not giving up. The two will be having an opportunity to present their appeal once more, at a Long Beach City Council meeting on Oct. 18. However, a new roadblock seems to be in their path.

According to an email written by Moira Hahn and shared with Beachcomber, Daniel Ramirez of the Long Beach Department of Public Works submitted an invoice to Hahn, stating that she must pay a $400 fee, to have their hearing with the City Council not be canceled; something that Hahn questions the legality of.

“Prior to receiving Mr. Ramirez’ email, we had been unaware that there was a fee due, in order to exercise our right to be heard in front of the City Council,” Hahn said. “Well-informed local friends who have lived here longer than we have (more than 21 years) have told us they’ve never heard of this before.”

Hahn told the Beachcomber she could find no statute or ordinance in the city that supports this fee. She’s looking into having the fee be waived, in order to proceed with her hearing.

But if worse comes to worse, Hahn says she’s willing to pay the $400 fee, if it means her voice being heard by the city council.

“It seems huge to us at the moment,” Hahn said. “But it’s nothing compared to the alternative of just walking away and letting the city win without trying one more time to explain the legal basis by which our appeal should be upheld and the cell tower installed elsewhere.

[During the writing of this article, Hahn had informed the Beachcomber, that she’s been notified that the $400 fee would be refunded to her by the City, according to an email she received from Daniel Ramirez].

She also hopes that, during the council meeting in October, the city will follow the regulations of the CEQA, as well as reinterpret and follow the regulations of the ADA to the fullest.

“We hope that the city will follow CEQA, which also requires it to address the project’s impacts on sensitive individuals such as me,” Hahn said. “We also hope the city will recognize its obligation to follow the ADA, without limiting its responsibility to only the disabled requiring wheelchair access.”

The ADA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such an individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.”

For more information about the ADA, you can visit the official website at ADA.gov.



I am in strong support of the appellants Moira Hahn and Mark Hotchkiss. [Woman Files ADA Grievance with City, Oct. 7]

During the March 18, 2022 hearing, Doug Carstens, the appellants’ attorney, stated: “So on the city's Appendix of Authorities, 007, it does state in the city's ordinance itself that one of the requirements is to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I will read it verbatim. ‘The proposed wireless telecommunication facility and its location shall comply with the Americans with Disability Act.’”

Jeff Melching, the outside council for the city, later responded: “That is to say, all we're reviewing is whether there's been compliance with the ordinance. And I understand what Mr. Carsten said about the lone reference to the Americans with Disabilities Act that appears in the ordinance. And what that meant is that you need to make sure that the pole isn't in the middle of the sidewalk so that it would block the pathway for somebody that was in a wheelchair. It has to do with the actual design of the facility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

As someone who has provided interpreting services for deaf people, services mandated under the A.D.A., I can attest that this federal law encompasses far more than wheelchair accommodation. Deaf people are at a disadvantage in a society in which most people cannot communicate with them in their preferred mode of communication. Therefore, they are entitled to accommodations via sign language interpreters. In the same way, Ms. Hahn is entitled to accommodations due to her bona fide disability, Electromagnetic Sensitivity (EMS), as has been attested by a medical doctor.

By what authority does the City of Long Beach narrow the range of disabilities accommodated under the A.D.A. to people who use wheelchairs? EMS is a disability covered under the A.D.A. A city’s ordinance cannot override a federal law. Ms. Hahn’s disability must be accommodated, and that could only mean by not having a Wireless Transmission Facility (WTF) mere feet from her home, emitting harmful radiation that has been defined as a pollutant by telecom companies themselves.

Sheila Resseger
Co-founder of 5G Free RI


Thank you, Ms. Hahn, your determination is likely saving the lives of many. A lot of children and adults are experiencing EMS/microwave symptoms but would never question whether the cause is their own wireless devices or infrastructure mounted near their homes.

The damage is cumulative with dose; the longer one is exposed, the greater the harm as the body never gets a break to do proper cell repair and regeneration.

The wireless industry has been very effective at keeping the facts of biological harm from municipalities. That is changing though. Just last week the New Hampshire legislature voted to support the introduction of bills to educate the public on the pros and cons of wireless radiation, and to provide municipalities with facts to develop local zoning code that protects citizens and the environment so that no citizen should have to fight for her rights to be safe in her own home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ouXi42sbh8&t=1532s

Close-range cell towers and antennas should never be allowed. Instead, municipalities should invest in far superior fiber-optics to and through the premises.

Care to learn more about how to transition to responsible technology? Join us for free educational webinars at https://www.ma4safetech.org/events. Thank you for your time and consideration.

In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Verizon put a cell tower on top of a neighborhood and 20 children and adults got so sick they have had to abandon their homes. One whose cancer had been in remission is now dead. Two others have gotten cancer. The pets were vomiting too, and the pollinators have disappeared.

The Pittsfield Board of Health is the first in the nation to do an independent investigation. They spoke to diagnosing doctors, scientists, engineers and others to determine the facts. They listened to industry "experts" and did their own investigation only to find the "experts" had no qualifications on the biological effects of wireless radiation.

Then the Board of Health documented their findings and issued Verizon an Emergency Order asking them to come to the table to work out a solution else they would issue a cease and desist order.

Instead of being a good corporate citizen, Verizon took it to the courts to get an injunction. There is now further legal action, including a civil suit against Pittsfield and Verizon to get these families safely back in their homes. It's been a two-year battle so far.

This is not something Long Beach wants to find itself embroiled in. You'd be well advised to prohibit any kind of close-range wireless infrastructure to begin with, and get your zoning code as strong as it can be to protect your community.

You can read the Pittsfield Board of Health Emergency Order here documenting the science, harm, industry disinformation and more: https://alpaca-chinchilla-x6xf.squarespace.com/s/Pittsfield-Health-Board.... Thank you for covering this important issue.

Local governments have been misinformed by their lawyers about what constraints the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) imposes on local governments on the irresponsible installation of cell towers and other wireless infrastructure. A federal district court in New York on July 29, 2022, ruled that an FCC order which attempted to strip local authority from the ability to regulate the placement of wireless infrastructure “is not binding” in New York jursidictions (Extenet Systems, Inc. v. The Village of Flower Hill).

It is instructive that, as the Court determined, the FCC does not have the power to strip local governments of the authority provided to them by the TCA nor to change the law. That would require an act of Congress. Therefore, local governments have wide latitude, as provided under the TCA, to determine the number and placement of cell towers. Any other interpretation of the TCA, i.e., that local government has no power over the number and placement of cell towers, would not be correct.

Coupled with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the US Access Board has already recognized electro-magnetic sensitivity as a disability since 2002. To be even more accurate, this is a physiological injury caused by exposure to electro-magnetic radiation. It is also dose-dependent, in that if one is exposed to a cell tower that emits 24/7, the likelihood of radiation sickness is greatly increased. It is well-established by industry, experts and the insurance industry that this radiation is a pollutant (e.g., as disclosed in consumer device protection policies) and is typically not insurable for personal injury from such radiation. That should make it abundantly clear that anyone affected by any disability or injury arising from such radiation should be accommodated, as required under the ADA. Ms. Hahn certainly requires accommodation under the ADA. To do otherwise would be a constructive eviction from her home of many years.

Putting this situation in perspective, if one is in a smoke-filled room, one can choose to leave. But if one is surrounded by radiation 24/7 and it penetrates into their home, there is no alternative of escape. In common law, when there is an unwanted or offensive contact with one’s physical being, that is called an assault. If one thinks in those terms, then granting accommodation under the ADA becomes an imperative. It is imperative in Ms. Hahn’s instance and Ms. Hahn should be granted accommodation without further delay.

Odette Wilkens
President & General Counsel
Wired Broadband, Inc.

Esteemed decision makers,

My name is Courtney Gilardi and my children, neighbors and I became sick when a cell tower was constructed in our neighborhood. It was terrifying and heart breaking to see my normally healthy, active and vibrant children feel "headachy, dizzy and buzzy," break out in skin rashes, vomit in their beds, stop eating, and suffer with insomnia to the point they couldn't fall asleep or stay asleep.

This was a very personal experience that was publicly chronicled through news reports, media coverage, interviews and public comments at our City Hall and Board of Health meetings. After seven months of suffering, we began sleeping on the floor of an unrenovated tiny cottage to get relief from the symptoms we were experiencing at home. Several of our neighbors were forced to sell their beloved family homes when help was not coming quickly enough and they, too were sick. A year in, our Board of Health decided to ask Verizon to relocate the cell tower. A year after that it issued a legal cease and desist after an 18 month investigation showed harm and that our homes were rendered uninhabitable from the cell tower's RF radiation.

I am asking you, as the leaders, to stand with Ms. Hahn and to protect her health within her own home. Please do not knowingly expose her to a toxin and carcinogen that she is already allergic to and has symptoms in the presence of and has provided medical documentation for.

EMS is a medically diagnosed condition that is a recognized disability. If Ms. Hahn needed a handicap parking spot, as city officials, you would not only provide her one, but you would fine or tow any vehicle that blocked her way to the spot needed for her health. Ms. Hahn needs her home to be accessible, the same way those in a wheelchair need their homes, parking spots and both public and private businesses to be accessible.

Ms. Hahn is not asking for all places everywhere to be free of wireless radiation despite the fact it would improve her health. She is simply asking to be protected in her own home.

Please reconsider the small cell placed outside her home. Please relocate it to a spot where the RF radiation will not impact her home and cause debilitating symptoms.

We have a constitutional right to the quiet enjoyment of our homes and protections from hazards, nuisances and emerging health risks.

Your hands are not tied, rather, you are as municipal leaders, bound to protect the health and safety of your residents. Re-siting a tower as other communities have done is not just a wise move, but a necessary one.

Please reach out to me anytime with any questions. We are grateful for you finding solutions to keep Ms. Hahn safe and at home.

Courtney Gilardi
Pittsfield Injured and Concerned Citizens

Hi, I'm also sensitive and am currently working on a related ballot initiative in Massachusetts via Last Tree Laws.

For Moira, the city has a duty not only under federal law but under California laws.

Please look at the wireamerica dot org website, followed by /2019-ca-supreme-court-decision-t-mobile-v-san-francisco/

On that page there is a ruling and on page 8-9 from the ruling it states:

. . . the City has inherent local police power to determine the appropriate uses of land within its jurisdiction. That power includes the authority to establish aesthetic conditions for land use . . . We also disagree with plaintiffs’ contention that section 7901’s incommode clause limits their right to construct [telephone] lines only if the installed lines and equipment would obstruct the path of travel. Contrary to plaintiffs’ argument, the incommode clause need not be read so narrowly.

As the Court of Appeal noted, the word “ ‘incommode’ ” means “ ‘to give inconvenience or distress to: disturb.’ ” (T-Mobile West, supra, 3 Cal.App.5th at p. 351, citing Merriam-Webster Online Dict.,....8 The Court of Appeal also quoted the definition of “incommode” from the 1828 version of Webster’s Dictionary. Under that definition, “incommode” means “ ‘[t]o give inconvenience to; to give trouble to; to disturb or molest in the quiet enjoyment of something, or in the facility of acquisition.’ ” (T-Mobile West, supra, 3 Cal.App.5th at p. 351, citing Webster’s Dict. 1828—online ed., .... [as of April 3, 2019].)

For our purposes, it is sufficient to state that the meaning of incommode has not changed meaningfully since section 7901’s enactment. Obstructing the path of travel is one way that telephone lines could disturb or give inconvenience to public road use. But travel is not the sole use of public roads; other uses may be incommoded beyond the obstruction of travel. (T-Mobile West, at pp. 355-356.) For example, lines or equipment might generate noise, cause negative health consequences, or create safety concerns.

All these impacts could disturb public road use, or disturb its quiet enjoyment.

Comments on the Long Beach City Council agenda item regarding the 5G cell tower referenced in Application # PWRW48749-8

I am a property owner, tax payer and registered voter residing at 4344 Clark Ave, Long Beach, across the street from the proposed site of a 5G cell tower at 4351 Clark. I am also an R.N. with a background in occupational and public health.

Those who govern the city of Long Beach have the obligation to stop the installation of that cell tower.

Many objections to 5G cell towers have been raised; among them are the documented health risks, fire hazards and the diminution of property values. While these all apply to this particular situation, I am writing to remind you of your obligation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Moira Hahn who currently resides at 4351 Clark Ave, Long Beach, has provided the necessary proof to the city that she will be (not “might be”) adversely affected by the installation and activation of this tower. There is documentation from her physician that she has diagnosed Electromagnetic Sensitivity (EMS). Therefore, in compliance with the ADA, you must stop installation of this tower.

Numerous city employees have written and said on the phone that the city cannot stop the installation of this cell tower because the city has “no choice” but to comply with the FCC. The FCC does not require that Long Beach permit a cell tower to be installed where none already exists. Section 1455 (a) of the Telecommunications Act (TCA) does provide that a local government may not deny any eligible facility request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station… There is now no cell tower or base station at the proposed location, therefore this section does not restrain the city from acting to deny the permit. The TCA further states that “this Act shall not be construed to modify, impair or supersede Federal (read ADA), State or local law unless expressly so provided…

The California Supreme Court issued an opinion ( 4/4/2019, T Mobile West v City and County of San Francisco) stating that cities cannot evade their responsibility to protect public safety regarding placement of cell towers.

The U S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (EHT et al v the FCC) ruled that the 12/2019 decision by the FCC to retain its 1996 safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation was “arbitrary and capricious.” No one wants to use 26-year-old safety standards in any other important aspect of life, why would the city accept it in this case?

Electromagnetic Sensitivity is real. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) code which is the standard system to classify recognized diagnoses, authorized by the World Health Organization, includes a code for it. Medicare accepts ICD-10 codes for exposure to “other nonionizing radiation.”

The Long Beach Municipal Code (chapter 15.34) states that the city must abide by the ADA. At a hearing 3/18/22, the city stated that “only wheelchair access would be considered.” This is totally illogical; there are numerous disabilities that do not require the use of a wheelchair (e.g. EMS, blindness, deafness, Down Syndrome, etc.).

The city's ethical, moral and legal obligation is to deny the permit to install this 5 G tower

With regard to the article by Mr. Daniel Pineda about the cell tower scheduled to be installed adjacent to our home, last night (October 12, 2022) I had an unexpected opportunity to discuss our situation privately with Mayoral candidate Rex Richardson. He had exited a LBCC meeting hall just in time to catch my questions. Before abruptly bolting from our conversation, he told me he would recuse himself on the vote about the 4G/5G cell tower to be installed at our address, because he works for the telecommunications industry. While we appreciate that small gesture, which almost hints at ethics or morality, we are all but certain that his vote is irrelevant, because the other eight members of the city council will deny our appeal, as their officer was hired to do, and did, in March, and as their staff report for the agenda item recommends that they do again, on October 18th. We do not understand how Mr. Richardson, as a primary (six figure salary) Southern CA lobbyist for Crown Castle, the country's largest telecommunications corporation, can in good conscience serve on the city council, less be a candidate for Mayor. He told me last night that he was 'neutral' about our great losses, which include our home, unreimbursed home VALUE (due to the cell tower in front of the house), community (of 40 years), proximity to work, family and doctors, due to this cell tower, because he works for the telecom industry. I would NOT describe his perspective as 'neutral', but as violently opposed to protecting the well being of Long Beach citizens, and to following the ADA, indeed only concerned about corporate profit (i.e. HIS paycheck). 'The industry' does not care about the health or safety of city residents, even those of us with ADA qualified, serious disabilities that even the city's hearing officer wrote will exacerbate my disability. Nor does 'the industry' care about our animals, the environment, pollinators, trees or birds. Why is this city evading a legally mandated CEQA environmental review, not just on the project that will un-home my family, but will adversely affect the families near the other 1,000 cell towers due to be built in the city ? (see link). Thanks again for drawing attention to this issue, which may seem distant to readers this week, but could crop up on their doorstep, tomorrow.

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