Sebastopol Cans SmartMeter Moratorium but Supports “Opt Out” Bill AB 37

by George Snyder   source: Sonoma West Times    Feb 18, 2011

A united city council had no problem supporting AB 37 — which would allow electric customers to opt out of having a SmartMeter installed in their homes — but divided sharply in turning thumbs down on a local moratorium on the controversial devices.

AB 37, introduced by Marin County State Assemblyman Jared Huffman, would allow Pacific Gas & Electric customers to “opt out” on SmartMeter installation in favor of using alternative devices to measure their electric energy use and also calls for a study from the California Council on Science and Technology to determine whether Federal Communications Commission standards for the wireless meters are sufficiently protective when taking account current exposure levels to radio frequency and electromagnetic fields.

Councilmember Kathleen Shaffer, in introducing the agenda item calling for a letter of support for the Huffman bill from the city, said, “Installation of the SmartMeter has become a controversial issue. There have been many questions raised about the accuracy and health effects of the SmartMeter, and the lack of response from the CPUC (California Public Utilities) and PG&E has exacerbated the situation.”

She said the bill has been introduced and will be assigned to committee after Feb. 18, adding that such a bill would relieve local jurisdictions of passing anti-SmartMeter legislation that in fact could not be enforced because of jurisdictional problems.

The vote, which was unanimous, followed several speakers who thought the Huffman bill to be a good idea.

That unanimity vanished a short time later when councilmember Michael Kyes introduced a subsequent agenda item calling for the city council to reconsider its decision last October to drop plans to impose a moratorium on the PG&E meters, a step that has been taken by a number of cities and counties including Marin, Santa Cruz and Mendocino counties as well as Watsonville, Capitola and Rio Dell in Humboldt County.

Last October the council voted 4 to 1 to not impose a moratorium, largely because the majority believed passing a moratorium would only be symbolic because the city had no legal jurisdiction over such matters and they said the city would be open to possible litigation as the result of such a vote.

Mayor Sarah Gurney was the only person to vote in favor of a moratorium at that time.

This time around Gurney, who once again voted in favor of a moratorium, even suggested a moratorium that would let people who wanted a SmartMeter to have one if they so desired in order to have one passed.

“We have been involved in this for a year and we have more and more information on the concerns about SmartMeters,” she said. “I’m ready to take an action even if it is unenforceable. If we do nothing, we are not protecting our citizens.”

Kyes, the only other vote in favor of a moratorium, said, “I do support a moratorium. We do other things, like passing the medical marijuana ordinance which is clearly against federal law.”

“Even if it is symbolic and not enforceable PG&E doesn’t want bad publicity. It’s to do, the risk factor is small, they will go somewhere else to install the meters,” he said.

Councilmembers Shaffer, Patrick Slayter and Mayor Guy Wilson, meanwhile, while heartily supporting the Huffman bill, nonetheless voted against the moratorium.

Slayter said he couldn’t vote for a moratorium, even if there was an opt out clause, that seemed to contradict “freedom of choice.”

“If you don’t want one, then you shouldn’t have one,” he said, adding, “If you do want one then you should also have one.”

Wilson maintained the situation was the same as it was back in October.

“We do not have the jurisdiction,” Wilson, an attorney, said. “It’s not the most popular sentiment here tonight but the law hasn’t changed since last October.”

He said passing such a local law without having the legal authority “may or may not have consequences for the city but we must make a distinction between a letter of support” and local action.

“I feel it’s not appropriate for Sebastopol to pass a law it can not enforce or have the jurisdiction,” he said. 

Shaffer, for her part, said she was “very supportive” of the Huffman bill “because that’s the legal way to do it. It’s very important I support the law. The city attorney says the moratorium is not enforceable. I hope that is going to change.”

The council vote followed a lengthy chorus of anti-SmartMeter speakers, all of whom supported a moratorium and cited concerns such as health and invasion of privacy as a reason to forbid the wireless meters.

In other news, the council honored Sebastopol Firefighter Tim Hale as Firefighter of the Year, Reserve Sebastopol Police Officer James Richter for 35 years of service and voted to support Sebastopol’s own Earth Day Celebration on April 30 with a $600 donation from the city’s coffers.

In addition, the council proclaimed April 22 as Earth Day everywhere else in addition to the city’s observance of the event

3 Responses to Sebastopol Cans SmartMeter Moratorium but Supports “Opt Out” Bill AB 37

  1. RobertWilliams says:


    What law does the mayor think was followed when America imposed its independence over England.

    What law did the Egyptians follow in removing the dictator?

    What law was followed to the letter to achieve getting the vote for women or ending segregation.

    The Mayor is NOT in a court of law – he is supposed to be in a court of Life.

    He is supposed to be protecting the safety and welfare of the people of Sebastopol above all else.

    The Mayor is thinking in isolation.
    There are seven other cities and counties in California making a difference, challenging a dangerous and inappropriate Wireless meter program.

    The Mayor is thinking in isolation. The Mayor is telling his children not to remove their shirts as they may get sunburn, yet 700 other children are already swimming safely without shirts in the pool and all are fine.

    Seven cities and counties have implemented Ordinances influencing the committee reviewing Huffman’s AB37 bill.

    Seven cities and counties have implemented Ordinances making PG&E pause and these cities and counties are pressuring the PUC to do the correct thing, rather than give away the ranch to PG&E, as they have been.

    Seven cities and counties have implemented Ordinances that are motivating other cities to step up and join and care for their people.

    Mayor Guy Wilson is finding his place and limiting his boundaries with the separation of powers and jurisdictions with the most limited interpretation, ignoring the circumstances and congratulating himself.

    In other words, Mayor Guy Wilson is doing exactly what PG$E wants him to do.

    Mayor Guy Wilson – when the courthouse is on fire, get outside and take care of things.

    Your precise narrow interpretation of the law and jurisdiction is inappropriate under some circumstances.

    Your precise narrow interpretation is simply a pile of excrement and your self-absorption is despicable in the position that you are holding intended to look out for the welfare of the people of Sebastopol.

    Mayor Guy Wilson – swallow your pride and step up and do something and PROMOTE an Ordinance, or step aside so that someone else with courage and commitment can do the Mayor’s job.

    It’s Never Too Late To Do The Right Thing.

  2. Thomas Thurman says:


    My Aunt was killed in a German death camp during WWII and my Uncle was jailed, but lived through the war and long afterwards.

    They were both in College but at different colleges about 90 miles (150 Km) apart. They were both German Christians active in causes for humanity and that was NOT appreciated by those in power.

    So my aunt was pulled out of a library while studying and put in jail and then placed in a death camp just minutes from her college and some months later she was executed. I am told that she was very pretty, always smiling and with a sincere natural caring for others from deep in her heart.

    My uncle was arrested and also put in jail. But the town where he was jailed had earlier resisted a death camp in the jurisdiction of that town, even though the town had NO LEGAL STANDING OR JURISDICTION within the existing law to resist. But resist the town did and they also kept (protected) my uncle in jail and did not release him nor transfer him to a death camp as was requested on numerous occasions.

    The situation in Sebastopol is not as dire as it was in Germany in WWII, but there is an unjust and harmful program being forced onto the people by the Corporate Management of a powerful cutthroat monopoly, PG&E.

    An Ordinance may, to some extent, protect the people in Sebastopol, but with almost no jeopardy to the city or mayor or council members, nothing close to the personal sacrifice or risk that the leaders of the town took where my uncle’s life was saved. Seven other cities and counties that passed Ordinances in the last year have NOT had problems, expenses or any negative consequences from doing so.

    Yet the Mayor of Sebastopol, Mayor Wilson, said, “I feel it’s not appropriate for Sebastopol to pass a law it can not enforce or have the jurisdiction.” Councilwoman Shaffer said, “The city attorney says the moratorium is not enforceable.” That is precisely what the local officials felt and said and acted in the town where my Aunt was jailed and where murdering scum, not much different than PG&E Corporate Management, but under different circumstances, came in and executed (murdered) my Aunt.

    In the U.S. it is easy to talk concepts, but I have always wondered what I would have done and if I would have had the courage to fight or challenge anything in such a place as Germany in WWII.

    Mayor Wilson and the other two council members that voted against the Ordinance – the bar is not set so high for you to simply vote for and pass an Ordinance, nothing compared to the courage that others have shown in the story I shared with you above.

    Legitimate scientists, not Public Relations “Scientists” from PG&E have shown us the damage, the harm that Wireless meters do to children.

    Legitimate Economists have shown us that energy use will NOT go down and utility bills WILL go up after installation of the PG&E Wireless meters.

    Government officials have confirmed that the PG&E Wireless meters were chosen by PG&E Corporate Management for PG&E’s financial benefit and that the Wireless meters are NOT required by the countries Energy program.

    If we look closely, we find that almost everything PG&E has told us is false and that PG&E’s program not only isn’t a good one, but it prevents and blocks a proper and effective program from being implemented.

    Common sense indicates that ALL related to the Wireless meters is for PG&E and at the expense of and harm to the people.

    Mayor and two council members – stand up and show that you have a spine in your body.
    Break away from your self-imposed chains. Do not let PG&E continue to herd you into their corral.

    Do not let my Aunt die again.

    As the previous commenter said: “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

  3. led gu10 says:

    because the city had no legal jurisdiction over such matters and they said the city would be open to possible litigation as the result of such a vote.

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