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New Bill Introduced in Sacramento Seeks to Curtail Local Authority Over Wireless Siting

Legal Alerts

AB 162 Would Mandate Approval of a Broad Array of Collocation Applications and Expedite Approvals

MARCH 25, 2013

Very troubling legislation (AB 162) was introduced in Sacramento late last week -- legislation that would have a severe impact on local authority to regulate the placement of certain wireless facilities.

BB&K will be holding a free webinar to discuss these developments shortly. Watch for an email with further details soon. If you don’t currently receive our Telecommunications legal alerts and would like to be added to the seminar invitation, sign up here.

Under the proposed bill:

  • a request for a modification of an existing wireless telecommunications facility that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of the facility must be approved.
  • eligible requests are broadly defined to include installations in the rights of way (on utility poles, for example) as well as sites outside the rights of way (a typical macro cell site).
  • "substantially change" is defined in a manner that could mandate local approval of very significant modifications to existing facilities. For example, a local authority could be compelled to allow a previously approved distributed antenna system (DAS) running down Main Street to place additional appurtenances “that would protrude from the edge of” the existing facilities for 20 feet in any direction.
  • unless an eligible application is deemed incomplete, it would be "deemed approved" if not acted upon within 45 days.
  • local authorities would not be able to consider whether the requested facilities are needed to fill in a gap in service coverage.

This bill comes on the heels of, and builds on, similar federal legislation adopted last year to mandate local approval of certain wireless facilities collocation requests. That legislation was followed by pro-industry "interpretative guidance" issued by the FCC's Wireless Bureau in late January of this year.

For more background on the federal efforts that preceded this state bill, see our previous legal alerts on the federal law and on the federal guidance.

For more information regarding how AB 162, the federal legislation and the FCC guidance may impact your city, county or special district, please contact Gail A. Karish or Harriet Steiner in the firm’s Municipal Law practice group, or your Best Best & Krieger attorney.

Disclaimer: BB&K e-Bulletins are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

Related Event:
BB&K Webinar: New FCC Guidance Impacts Local Control of Wireless Facilities

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