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Key Senate Committee Votes with the Wireless Industry to Strip Public Input, Full Local Review, and Ability for Cities to Negotiate Public Benefits for Installation of “Small Cell” Equipment on City Property

City Officials Encouraged to Call Senators Immediately to Oppose SB 649

May 26, 2017
SB 649 (Hueso) cleared the Senate Fiscal Committee on Appropriations and now heads to the Senate Floor.
The bill now heads to the Senate Floor where it will be voted on next week. The League opposes this measure that strips public input, limits full discretionary review and removes the ability for cities/counties to negotiate leases for the installation of “small cell” technology on public property.

Despite promises made in public that stakeholders would have the ability to negotiate provisions in the bill, SB 649 passed on a 6-0 vote on Thursday, May 25 without any amendments or resolution to address local government concerns.
While the wireless industry promises SB 649 will allow it to rapidly deploy 5G technology throughout the state to create thousands of jobs while maintaining local discretion, it is clear from the bill language that the intent is elsewhere.
The bill does not contain a requirement that the technology to meet 5G or any standard. It does not require the wireless industry to build their networks in unserved or underserved communities. Instead of jobs, communities will lose their ability to control for blight. This in fact makes it tougher for cities to attract business and because cities lose full discretion. If SB 649 becomes law, there will not be anyone left to hold the wireless industry accountable to ensure they even maintain their equipment or provide any negotiated public benefit.
Last week, the League testified in opposition to SB 649 and is calling out the wireless industry for the empty promises they’re making to the legislature in the name of “streamlining.” Please see SB 649 — A “Small Cell” Bag of Empty Promises, CA Cities Advocate, May 16, 2017.
Next Step
SB 649 will be up for a vote on the Senate Floor next week. Cities are urged to call their senators immediately to voice their opposition to this measure.
A sample letter, along with the League’s opposition letter is available at by plugging SB 649 into the search function.

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