California Enacts Legislation Facilitating Collocation of Wireless Facilities
Obtaining local government approval for new wireless facilities has been very difficult in many cities in California. However, some good news comes in the form of a new state statute.
California recently enacted provisions intended to facilitate the collocation of new wireless facilities at the sites of existing facilities by limiting local discretion over approval of collocated facilities. The provisions are contained in new Sections 65850.6 and 65964 of the Government Code, enacted by Senate Bill 1627. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on Sept. 29, 2006.
Section 65850.6 requires localities to approve, through the issuance of a non-discretionary permit, applications to place wireless facilities on structures where such equipment already is located, provided that:
- The new facilities are consistent with local requirements for the existing installation; and
- The existing installation was subject to a local discretionary permit issued on or after Jan. 1, 2007 and subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Section 65850.6 further provides that the existing installation must comply with local requirements for such facilities (including aesthetic and design criteria) as well as local Planning and Zoning law. This section also requires the city or county to hold at least one public hearing on the discretionary permit for the initial installation and limits local review of issues regarding RF emissions to that authorized under 47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(7).
Section 65964 provides that a local government may not do any of the following as a condition of approval for an application to construct or reconstruct a wireless facility:
- Require an escrow deposit for removal of the facility or any component thereof (the locality may require a performance bond or similar if the amount is rationally related to the cost of removal);
- Unreasonably limit the duration of any permit for the facility (a limit of less than 10 years is presumed to be unreasonable absent public safety or substantial land use reasons); or
- Require that all wireless facilities be limited to certain geographic areas or sites owned by particular parties within the jurisdiction of the city or county.
This section also states the Legislature’s intent that a development project for a wireless facility is not subject to a permit to operate from a local government.