Cities, Counties Urge Gov. Brown to Veto the Big Telecom Rip-off

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Contact: Mike Roth, 916.444.7170
CSAC: Gregg Fishman, 916.342.9508
League of CA Cities: Eva Spiegel, 530.400.9068
RCRC: Tracy Rhine, 916.205.7795
Sep. 14, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 

Cities, Counties Urge Gov. Brown to Veto the Big Telecom Rip-off

Legislature passes SB 649 (Hueso) over Department of Finance opposition. Bill would Hand Local Power, Public Funds, to Wireless Industry


Local leaders from throughout California urge Gov. Jerry Brown to veto a bill that guts local control and puts the interests of the wireless industry over those of California residents.
 
A broad coalition of cities, counties, environmental and consumer advocates opposes SB 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego). The opposition stems from the fact that the bill would give wireless providers unfettered ability to install bulky cellular equipment on any street light or traffic signal as well as public libraries and other public buildings without permission from local governments, input from the public or fair compensation for city and county residents. The industry already has broad authority to use readily available public and private utility poles to attach their equipment.
 
The Department of Finance (DOF) opposes the measure and warns that SB 649 could create a new unfunded mandate that would cost the state millions. In its opposition letter, DOF stated: “this bill goes too far by usurping city and county zoning authority for infrastructure development, and it potentially imposes reimbursable, state-mandated costs on cities and counties.”
 
DOF also said the measure creates “equity and access concerns,” noting that the bill allows wireless providers to “cover high-demand neighborhoods first, while low-income neighborhoods may be left underserved.”
 
The bill has received strong opposition from the League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties, Rural County Representatives of California, Urban Counties of California, the San Francisco Public Utilities Committee and more than 260 cities, 42 counties and other organizations.
 
"SB 649 is a handout to the wireless industry, said League of California Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman.  "The bill shifts power and resources from local governments and our residents to the telecommunications industry. We urge Governor Brown to swiftly veto SB 649."
 
“This bill silences local voices and will cost taxpayers around the state,” said Greg Norton, President and CEO of the Rural County Representatives of California.  “SB 649 is a giveaway from Sacramento to the wireless industry without requiring that the industry deliver any meaningful public benefits or ensure that all communities have access to the latest technology.  With the passage of SB 649, rural California is once again left behind.”
 
“The wireless industry has not demonstrated an actual need for this bill,” said California State Association of Counties Executive Director Matt Cate. “Cities and counties already approve wireless infrastructure permits in short order. We want to work with the industry to increase deployment for the benefit of our constituents, but this bill tips the balance way too far in the industry’s favor.”

Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.
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