Possible New CA Law would Take Away LA’s Right to Regulate Phone Towers

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Imagine if a company you never heard of showed up one day and placed an antenna on a street light near your house or even right next to your window, with several bulky cabinets, lead acid batteries, noisy cooling fans, and untidy cabling. (See photo above.)


If Senate Bill 649 passes through the State Capitol, that may become a reality. The bill would eliminate many types common sense local review to protect neighborhood character when wireless carriers propose equipment and antennas along streets, sidewalks, or on poles near your house.  

Wireless carriers argue that they need these measures to meet the growing consumer demand for data capacity, but these same consumers are also residents of communities who experience the negative externalities associated with haphazard and poorly-planned wireless deployments.

Since residents are not able to directly negotiate with wireless carriers, they pay taxes and rely on localities to represent them, which isalso a manifestation of market demand where no other means exists to influence the architecture and design of their physical surroundings.

This bill is simply not necessary to unleash “5G” connectivity because it is possible for wireless carriers to work constructively with California cities and counties to build “Small Cells” that are actually small, quiet, and respectful of their surroundings.

In fact, cities up and down the State already allow for wireless carriers to install Small Cells on City-owned poles and utility poles that are small, quiet, and well-designed. Whether it’s cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, or even historic residential neighborhoods in San Francisco like Telegraph Hill.

Yet, the incoherent and inconsistent language of SB 649 would represent the folly of allowing Sacramento politicians to dictate what gets built in your neighborhood with extreme legal overreach on local review and burden taxpayers with costs of protracted court battles that are likely to follow. SB 649 removes nearly all common-sense input by neighbors and allows for designs that look like something put together using the parts bin at the back of a Radio Shack (bundles of wiring, large industrial type brackets, carrier logos, etc.). (Read the rest.)