Local Governments Take Back the Power: Watsonville Bares Teeth with Law Banning Smart Meters

Now normally, we try to keep things a little light, and not delve into lengthy legal documents here at Stop Smart Meters!  But after reviewing the ordinance that Watsonville passed unanimously on August 24th, we believe it is worth it for citizens and their elected representatives to take the time to read this law.

Perhaps your local city or county has not yet passed a law banning installation of ‘smart’ meters (only Fairfax and Watsonville have done so, though many others are considering it).  Why not go ahead and send your councilmembers or supervisors an e-mail with this link and encourage them to follow Watsonville’s lead?

ORDINANCE NO. 1262-10 (CM)


WHEREAS, the City of Watsonville (the “City”), through its police powers granted
by Article XI of the California Constitution, retains broad discretion to legislate for public
purposes and for the general welfare, including but not limited to matters of public
health, safety and consumer protection; and
WHEREAS, Article XI1 of the City Charter expressly grants the City authority to
regulate public utilities within the City of Watsonville; and
WHEREAS, the Council adopted a franchise agreement with PG&E1s
predecessor, Coast Counties Gas and Electric Company by Ordinance 435 on or about
September 25, 1945; and
WHEREAS, in addition, the City retains authority under Article XII, Section 8 of
the Constitution to grant franchises for public utilities, and pursuant to California Public
Utilities Code section 6203, “may in such a franchise impose such other and additional
terms and conditions …, whether governmental or contractual in character, as in the
judgment of the legislative body are to the public interest;” and
WHEREAS, Public Utilities Code section 2902 reserves the City’s right to
supervise and regulate public utilities in matters affecting the health, convenience and
safety of the general public, “such as the use and repair of public streets by any public
utility, the location of the poles, wires, mains, or conduits of any public utility, on, under, or above any public streets, and the speed of common carriers operating within the
limits of the municipal corporation;” and
WHEREAS, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&En) is now installing
SmartMeters in Central and Northern California and will be installing these meters in the
City of Watsonville in the very near future; and
WHEREAS, concerns about the impact and accuracy of SmartMeters have been
raised nationwide, leading the Maryland Public Service Commission to deny permission
on June 21, 2010 for the deployment of SmartMeters in that state. The State of Hawaii
Public Utility Commission also recently declined to adopt a smart grid system in that
state. The CPUC currently has pending before it a petition from the City and County of
San Francisco, and other municipalities, seeking to delay the implementation of
SmartMeters until the questions about their accuracy can be evaluated; and
WHEREAS, major problems and deficiencies with SmartMeters in California
have been brought to the attention of the City of Watsonville City Council, including
PG&E’s confirmation that SmartMeters have provided incorrect readings costing
ratepayers untold thousands of dollars in overcharges and PG&E1s records outlined
“risks” and “issues” including an ongoing inability to recover real-time data because of
faulty hardware originating with PG&E vendors; and
WHEREAS, the ebb and flow of gas and electricity into homes discloses detailed
information about private details of daily life. Energy usage data, measured moment by
moment, allows the reconstruction of a household’s activities: when people wake up,
when they come home, when they go on vacation, and even when they take a hot bath.
SmartMeters represent a new form of technology that relays detailed hitherto
confidential information reflecting the times and amounts of the use of electrical power
without adequately protecting that data from being accessed by unauthorized persons
or entities and as such pose an unreasonable intrusion of utility customers’ privacy
rights and security interests. Indeed, the fact that the CPUC has not established
safeguards for privacy in its regulatory approvals may violate the principles set forth by
the U.S. Supreme Court in Kyllo v. United States (2001), 533 U.S. 27; and
WHEREAS, significant health questions have been raised concerning the
increased electromagnetic frequency radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless
technology in SmartMeters, which will be in every house, apartment and business,
thereby adding additional man-made EMF to our environment around the clock to the
already existing EMF from utility poles, individual meters and telephone poles; and
WHEREAS, FCC safety standards do not exist for chronic long-term exposure to
EMF or from multiple sources, and reported adverse health effects from electromagnetic
pollution include sleep disorders, irritability, short term memory loss, headaches,
anxiety, nausea, DNA breaks, abnormal cell growth, cancer, premature aging, etc..
Because of untested technology, international scientists, environmental agencies,
advocacy groups and doctors are calling for the use of caution in wireless technologies;
WHEREAS, the primary justification given for the SmartMeters program is the
assertion that it will encourage customers to move some of their electricity usage from
daytime to evening hours; however, PG&E has conducted no actual pilot projects to
determine whether this assumption is in fact correct. Non-transmitting time-of-day
meters are already available for customers who desire them, and enhanced customer
education is a viable non-technological alternative to encourage electricity use timeshifting.  Further, some engineers and energy conservation experts believe that the
SmartMeters program–in totality–could well actually increase total electricity
consumption and therefore the carbon footprint; and
WHEREAS, because the potential risks to the health, safety and welfare of
Watsonville residents are so great, the City Council wishes to adopt a twelve (12) month
moratorium on the installation of SmartMeters and related equipment within the
Watsonville City limits. The twelve (12) month period will allow the CPUC petition
process referenced above to be completed and for additional information to be collected
and analyzed regarding potential problems with SmartMeters; and
WHEREAS, there is a current and immediate threat to public health, safety and
welfare because, without this urgency ordinance, SmartMeters or supporting equipment
will be installed or constructed or modified in the City without PG&E7s complying with
the CPUC process for consultation with the local jurisdiction, the City’s Code
requirements, and subjecting residents of Watsonville to the privacy, security, health,
accuracy and consumer fraud risks of the unproven SmartMeter technology; and
WHEREAS, the City Council hereby finds that it can be seen with certainty that
there is no possibility that the adoption and implementation of this Ordinance may have
a significant effect on the environment. This Ordinance does not authorize construction
or installation of any facilities and, in fact, imposes greater restrictions on such
construction and installation in order to protect the public health, safety and general
welfare. This Ordinance is therefore exempt from the environmental review
requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to Section
15061 (b)(3) of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations.


Section 1. No SmartMeter may be installed in or on any home, apartment,
condominium or business in the City of Watsonville, and no equipment related to
SmartMeters may be installed in, on, under, or above any public street or public right of
way in the City for twelve (12) months from the date of this Ordinance, at which time the
Watsonville City Council, shall consider whether to extend or terminate this prohibition
in light of the then-current data on SmartMeter privacy, safety, accuracy and health
Section 2. Violations of the Moratorium may be charged as infractions or
misdemeanors as set forth in Section 1-2.10 of the Watsonville Municipal Code or
otherwise as set forth in Article 1 of Chapter 2 of Title 1 of the Watsonville Municipal
Code in the discretion of the City. In addition, violations shall be deemed public
nuisances, with enforcement by injunction or any other remedy authorized by law.
Section 3. The City Manager is hereby authorized on behalf of the City of
Watsonville to direct all City Departments, to facilitate compliance with the purpose and
intent of this Ordinance using the enforcement powers described in the preceding
Section 4. This City Council finds and determines that: (a) there is a current
and immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare; (b) the moratorium must
be imposed in order to protect and preserve the public interest, health, safety, comfort
and convenience and to preserve the public welfare; and (c) it is necessary to preserve
the public health and safety of all residents or landowners adjacent to such uses as are
affected by this interim ordinance as well as to protect all of the citizens of Watsonville
by preserving and improving the aesthetic and economic conditions of the City.
Section 5. Any provision of the Watsonville Municipal Code or other
ordinances of the City inconsistent herewith, to the extent of such inconsistencies and
no further, is hereby suspended during this interim ordinance.
Section 6. If any provision of this interim ordinance is held to be
unconstitutional, it is the intent of the City Council that such portions of such ordinance
be severable from the remainder and the remainder be given full force and effect.
Section 7. The interim ordinance is declared to be an emergency measure
adopted pursuant to the provisions of Section 602 of the Watsonville City Charter and
California Government Code Section 65858 and is necessary for preserving the public
peace, health, safety, and property, and the general welfare and urgency for its
adoption are set forth in the findings above.
Section 8. This interim ordinance shall take effect and be in force immediately
upon its adoption and shall remain in effect until August 25, 201 1, unless otherwise
modified by ordinance; and on August 26, 201 1, it shall be of no further force and
Section 9. The City Clerk is hereby directed to cause this interim ordinance to
be published once in the official newspaper within fifteen (15) days after its adoption.
The foregoing ordinance was introduced and adopted at a regular meeting of the
Council of the City of Watsonville, held on the 24th day of Auqust , 2010, by
Member Rivas , who moved its introduction and adoption, which motion being duly
seconded by Member Martinez , was upon roll call carried and ordinance adopted,
ordered printed and published by the following vote:
AYES: COUNCIL MEMBERS: Bersamin, Bilicich, Caput, Martinez,
Petersen, Rivas, Alejo
ri 8/24/2020 10:14:05 PM

This entry was posted in Citizen rebellion, Democracy, Environmental Concerns, Health studies, PG&E. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Local Governments Take Back the Power: Watsonville Bares Teeth with Law Banning Smart Meters

  1. Bob Dickson says:

    The telecommunication industry for decades has been covering up the known science of danger of these RF radiation transmissions. And wireless RF radiation (as in these “not smart-at-all meters) result in significantly more exposure and harm than RF signals sent by wire.

    Watsonville has finally broken through the continuing lies of PG&E and the apathy of many people that don’t understand that things your eyes can’t see can still destroy the health and lives of your own children.

  2. Pingback: Digest 9-8-2010 | eon3EMFblog.net

  3. Pingback: Opting Out of “Smart”Meter is not an Option: PG&E, CPUC Plan to Roll Over Citizen, City Demands « Norcaltruth

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