The war between the wireless industry and local jurisdictions took another turn today as the California Supreme Court upheld a lower courts’ rulings in favor of San Francisco’s wireless ordinance in a unanimous decision.
The original lawsuit, T-Mobile West, Crown Castle and ExteNet Systems (California) v. City and County of San Francisco, was filed after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance in 2011 that required a wireless facility site permit from the City’s Department of Public Works.
The wireless industry lost in the San Francisco County Superior Court and then again in the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Div. 5.
In 2011, the City and County of San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring that a site-specific permit be obtained before seeking to construct, install or maintain telecommunications equipment in the public right-of- way. At issue was an ordinance that established various standards of aesthetic compatibility for wireless equipment and whether it was preempted by a Public Utilities Code. Another question was whether ordinance singled out wireless equipment and was therefore discriminatory.
California is one of the states without a law streamlining small cell deployment. The court case may have ramifications at the statehouse in California as legislators attempt to pass a law streamlining small cell deployment.
“This will definitely have an impact the state legislation on small cell deployment expected to be introduced this term,” said Jonathan Kramer, principal, Telecom Law Firm, and expert witness for the cities. “It will be difficult for the legislature to walk back this decision, which is based on decades of historical precedent for the right of way use by telecoms in California.”