WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS ORDINANCE UPDATE

    

The purpose of the proposed ordinance is to exert maximum protection of residential areas and open space. As such, section 17.12.050(C)(3)(c) of the proposed ordinance expressly prohibits wireless telecommunication facilities in residential zones. Because the 1996 Telecommunications Act states that local jurisdictions cannot prohibit a carrier from providing wireless service (i.e., from closing a significant gap in its signal coverage), a facility may be approved in a residential zone only in the extreme case that a carrier can prove that the facility is the least intrusive means to close a significant gap in its wireless coverage and no less intrusive alternative exists which can provide the necessary coverage. This language is not a loop-hole; rather it is required to ensure that the City complies with Federal regulations, and both the City Attorney and Mr. Campanelli recommend it be included. Furthermore, the language is consistent with the City’s previous wireless facility ordinances that were enacted in 1998 and 2010, which allowed for the same exception.

In order to strengthen the City’s authority to protect residential areas, this draft adds section 17.12.050(C)(3)(e) to establish residential zones as the lowest priority (least desirable) location to construct any new wireless facility. This section gives the CTC a better set of tools to make the finding that proposed wireless facilities (if submitted) in residential zones are not the least intrusive means to close a significant gap; and creates an additional standard to protect residential areas, that did not exist in our previous ordinances. Finally, section 17.11.010 of the CMC (land use table) does not permit wireless telecommunication facilities in the OS and OS-DR zoning districts, and there are no exceptions to this prohibition in the proposed ordinance. As a result, the proposed ordinance will provide increased protection (to the maximum extent allowable under State and Federal law) for residential areas and will not allow any wireless facility in an open space zone.

The proposed ordinance amendment represents a change in policy, and includes regulations to implement that policy on a city-wide basis. Accordingly, review for potential environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is limited to a programmatic level of analysis. The draft Negative Declaration indicates that the proposed strengthening of the City’s regulatory processes and standards for wireless facilities will not negatively impact the environment. This conclusion is specific only to the proposed ordinance, and does not have any bearing on potential environmental effects that may be identified at a future time in regard to any proposed wireless telecommunications facility (e.g., a specific facility/project on a specific site). For any future proposed wireless facility CEQA review must still be accomplished at a project level; and that review could range from a Categorical Exemption to a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), depending on the nature of the proposed project, site conditions, surrounding neighborhood characteristics, etc.

Notice of Intent to adopt a Negative Declaration - Wireless Telecommunication Facility Ordinance /File No. 120000070

Wireless Telecommunication Facilities Ordinance - Proposed Initial Study/Negative Declaration

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