Board to Vote on 5G Antennas on Badger Building

Two 6-foot faux chimneys are proposed to house 5G wireless antennas atop the Badger Building in the Village. Rendering by author.

The Rancho Santa Fe Association Board will be deciding this Thursday whether to allow two 5G antennas to be built atop the Badger Building on La Granada in the historic village of Rancho Santa Fe. The meeting will be held at 10 am, Thursday, May 11, at the Golf Club, 5827 Via de la Cumbre.

The proposed installation of two 6-foot antennas and one 5-foot power equipment apparatus on the Spanish-style Badger Building has sparked concern among tenants and residents. The installation of 5G towers is a hotly debated topic in communities all over the world. While the technology has been touted to revolutionize the way we live and work, numerous studies are finding serious negative health effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from exposure to electro-magnetic frequencies (EMFs).

Insurance companies concerned of EMF’s “unforeseen consequences”

The insurance industry keeps track of relevant emerging risk topics to make sound business decisions to reduce their exposure and costs. In 2013, Swiss Re, the second largest reinsurance company in the world, listed electromagnetic fields in the highest casualty risk due to “unforeseen consequences” beyond 10 years, similar to asbestos. This distinction is shared with endocrine disruptors and nanotechnology due to their long latency period for harm. In their 2019 report, they again listed EMFs in the high risk category along with artificial intelligence and the existential threats of climate change.

This is one of the reasons why insurance companies will not insure telecommunication companies from harm from radiofrequency radiation (RFR) and require special coverage for this and other “pollutants” deemed harmful. Fire risk is another. Comprehensive insulation and electrical wiring have been deemed a fire hazard due to the flammability of extreme heat generated coupled with insulation. What’s more, electrical fires are problematic and require power to be shut-off before firefighters can use water to extinguish the flames.

The Badger Building houses nine businesses, including Surf Cleaners, B+W Architects, Style Salon in the Ranch, Gemini Finance Corporation, Berkshire Hathaway, Best Practices of America, and American National Insurance. Several of the tenants have expressed concern about the health effects of having the antennas so close to their workspace – in this case – right over their heads.

Cell towers abound in RSF Historic District

But they’re not alone. The first 5G antenna in the Rancho Santa Fe village was installed in a 6-foot faux chimney atop the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) on Linea Del Cielo. The result is an unattractive chimney jutting out of the arched Latin building just across from the historic Lilian Rice-design office building. The installation of the antenna did not require approval from the Art Jury or the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board as the SFID was not part of the Protective Covenant. Several other wireless cell antennas were installed in the Village; one atop the JP Morgan Chase Building on La Flecha, and one atop the Culver Building on El Tordo, which houses new office space for Association staff. A cellular antenna was even constructed on top of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire station on El Fuego, despite FCC regulations later mandating cellular antennas be 300 feet away from hospitals, schools, childcare centers, churches, and sheriff and fire stations.

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Station cellular tower with the R. Roger Rowe School Kindergarten play structure in foreground.
In an attempt to disguise the six-foot 5G wireless antenna, an oversized stucco chimney juts out of the roof on the Santa Fe Irrigation District offices on Linea Del Cielo (chimney colored red to highlight).

The San Diego County regulations stipulate that façade-mounted antennas should be integrated into the architecture so that no change to the building’s design is apparent and no part of the wireless facility can be seen from public view. And they won’t approve installation on historic buildings. Although the Badger Building is not nationally registered as a historic building, it is a central building in Rancho Santa Fe’s historic district. Similar to the unsightly Santa Fe Irrigation district building, the two proposed faux chimneys are a far cry from matching the original architecture and would look out of place like the chimney on the SFID building.

Like power lines, cell towers could reduce property values

Since the insurance industry is in the business of calculating and limiting their financial risks for casualty claims, we would do well to pay attention when they weigh in on a subject. The Willis insurance company published an article titled: “Electromagnetic Fields: More than just an eyesore” stating, “Owning, buying or selling a property with EMFs nearby can turn into a financial disaster – particularly as more science and studies further demonstrate rising health concerns in addition to potential diminution in value claims.”

Does the Badger family want to risk a potential value loss on their long-term commercial investment for a monthly financial gain? What’s more, because the Badger building has a real estate value over $500,000, the permit for the antennas will be valid for a minimum of 15 years. Once the antennas are built, there is no going back, and it will be up to the tenants, nearby businesses, and residents to deal with the potential negative consequences including health concerns, unsightly chimneys, increased fire risk, and a long-term commitment.

The Rancho Santa Be Association Board must carefully weigh the benefits and risks before allowing the installation of these antenna towers in our Village. To provide member input, residents are encouraged to attend the Board meeting this Thursday at 10 am, at the Golf Club or mail member input to

The stucco facade atop the Culver Building on El Tordo was built on top of a traditional Latin hacienda-style building to house a wireless antenna (false color red to highlight stucco).