February 23, 2017 — The question of who has authority over small cells has now reached the California legislature with the introduction of SB-649 by Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee Chairman Ben Hueso. In short, the bill seeks to streamline small cell deployment by making it a permitted use, not subject a local discretionary permit.
“Under existing law, a wireless telecommunications collocation facility is subject to a city or county discretionary permit and is required to comply with specified criteria, but a collocation facility, which is the placement or installation of wireless facilities, including antennas and related equipment, on or immediately adjacent to that wireless telecommunications collocation facility, is a permitted use not subject to a city or county discretionary permit,” Hueso said in the bill introduction.
Therefore, the legislation seeks to have small cells treated like collocation facility and, therefore, as a permitted use not subject to a city or county discretionary permit.
The bill also includes a definition of a small cell as a wireless telecommunications facility within the volume limits established by the FCC for small wireless antennas and associated equipment in the First Amendment to Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (47 C.F.R. Part 1 Appendix B).
The measure, if passed, would prohibit the requirement of an escrow deposit for removal of a wireless telecommunications facility. It would also prohibit municipalities from placing an unreasonable limit on the duration of the permit on the telecom facility.
Bills have also been proposed in Illinois, Washington State and Florida streamlining DAS and small cell deployments by limiting local control of the right of way, as well as one in Ohio that has been passed.