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Local Elected Leaders, Business Leaders and Community Groups Unite in Long Beach to Stop the Big Telecom Power Grab

Leaders from Long Beach, Cities in Los Angeles County and Others Urge Lawmakers to Reject SB 649

August 30, 2017
Long Beach Council Member Al Austin and representatives from the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, the Belmont Heights Community Association and the American Public Works Association of Southern California today urged the Legislature to reject SB 649 (Hueso).
Opposed by more than 215 cities and dozens of counties, this legislation would virtually eliminate cities’ authority to negotiate with telecommunications companies on the siting of wireless equipment in the public right of way and on public infrastructure. SB 649 would also cap the lease rates far below market rate, on public infrastructure. The group held a press conference this morning in Long Beach at Pierpoint Landing.

Cities support advances in technology, unique and diverse neighborhoods, businesses and closing the digital divide. Cities also have the authority to work with telecommunication companies to advance modern technology through an established discretionary permitting process, and many are doing so. Cities are responsible for updating local zoning codes to reflect land use changes, based on the evolution of local neighborhoods and residents’ needs. Discretionary control of local land use decisions is critical to preserving and supporting the unique identities of California's diverse communities. The bill has widespread opposition because it erodes local land use control, and subsidizes the telecommunications industry at the expense of local neighborhoods. 
SB 649 would give the wireless giants virtually limitless ability to install antennas, wireless boosters, and other equipment. The bill would shortchange taxpayers by capping lease rates of public infrastructure statewide. Meanwhile, Californians would still pay the same high prices for their wireless services.
Each of the speakers urged the Legislature to listen to the opposition and reject SB 649.
Long Beach Council Member Al Austin: "SB 649 would nearly eliminate Long Beach’s, and every other local government’s ability to manage the way in which telecommunications equipment is deployed in neighborhoods and around businesses, just so the telecommunications industry can have their equipment permitted more rapidly throughout California,” said Council Member Al Austin. “Our unequivocal opposition to SB 649 is 100 percent consistent with our support for diverse communities, well designed urban spaces, and modern technologies."
Austin Metoyer, a policy and research manager with the Downtown Long Beach Alliance raised concerns on the legislation’s impact: “The Downtown Long Beach community has spent over two decades working with the city to redevelop the area into the vibrant destination it has become. Our community is includes tourist attractions, such as hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues and a wide range of businesses and industry. We have worked hard to transform this area and our efforts have created a unique asset to Long Beach. SB 649 would leave communities like ours, and the elected officials who represent us, without any ability to determine how wireless technology equipment is integrated into our public infrastructure.
“We support new technology, increased bandwidth and connectivity — these are key building blocks of successful businesses. However, we must also recognize local land use decisions, such as design standards of infrastructure in the public right-of-way, on street lights, or hanging off of, or rather not hanging off of telephone wires, is equally key to the success of businesses.”
Sydney Simon, Belmont Height Community Association board member, says that this bill is a “giveaway” to the telecommunications industry at the expense of Long Beach residents. “If this bill passes, we could potentially see cell antennas and associated equipment of up to 21 cubic feet on our utility poles.”
James Biery, legislative chair of the American Public Works Association of Southern California, spoke about the impact this equipment would have on municipal infrastructure.
The speakers were joined at the podium by elected city officials from throughout Los Angeles County including:
  • Artesia Mayor Ali Taj;
  • Bellflower Council Member Juan Garza;
  • Artesia Council Member Victor Manalo;
  • La Habra Heights Council Member Kyle Miller;
  • Pico Rivera Council Member Gustavo Camacho;
  • Lakewood Council Member Diane DuBois;
  • Montebello Council Member Vivian Romero, President, Independent Cities Association;
  • Signal Hill Council Member Larry Forester;
  • Signal Hill Council Member Lori Woods;
  • Bell Council Member Ana Maria Quintana, Member, League Board of Directors;
  • Culver City Council Member Jim Clarke;
  • Palos Verdes Estates Council Member Jennifer King;
  • Palos Verdes Estates City Planner Elizabeth Corpuz;
  • Alhambra Deputy Director of Public Works Melissa Ramos; and
  • Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer, Local Government Attorney and Wireless Engineer, Telecom Law Firm, P.C.

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