Is it possible for smart parking meters to adversely affect your health? As noted by ABC Radio News, one Santa Monica, Calif., woman firmly believes so and has filed suit, asking for $1.7 billion in compensation.
What are the plaintiff's claims?
The plaintiff claims that radiation given off by the parking meters is responsible for ear infections, irregular menstrual cycles and back pains. When asked about the large sum of money noted in the suit, the plaintiff told the news outlet "I figured that's the value of my life and health considering how much I had to go through as a child."
Is it possible that Santa Monica's smart parking meters emit too much radiation?
Recounting a conversation with the City of Santa Monica's assistant finance director, the Santa Monica Daily Press highlights that the suit is the first recorded complaint about health problems connected to parking meters. While he acknowledges that the meters do use Wi-Fi technology, he points out that the radius of communication is only between five and eight feet. Moreover, communications only takes place when cars arrive, depart or consumers engage in credit card transactions.
Are the local smart parking meters a new phenomenon?
KABC TV reported in May on the changes in Santa Monica's parking meter technology. Rather than allowing the meters to tick down -- even if a car had departed -- meters would reset to zero automatically as soon as a driver left. These capabilities were already programmed into the meters when they were installed in March 2011.
Have there been consumer protests focusing on California's smart parking meters?
Whereas the Santa Monica lawsuit alleges physical ailments as a direct result of parking meter technology, prior to this incident there were already consumer protests in the Golden State. CBS San Francisco reported last year that a resident was arrested when she protested the installation of new smart meters. The protestor was associated with Stop Smart Meters, a group that warns about inconsistencies in utility company reporting on smart meter radiation emissions.
Is there any scientific merit to the idea that smart meters could cause health problems for Californians?
A lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz has enlisted the aid of graduate students, Smart Meter Dangers reports, to point out the errors in safety assurances for smart meters. His findings have prompted critics to call smart meters "worse than cell phones."
What happens next?
Information obtained by ABC Radio News shows that Santa Monica's liability adjuster has launched an investigation into the merits of the lawsuit. Pending this investigation, the $1.7 billion suit may result in either a payout or a rejection of the claim.
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.