Petaluma officials recently took proactive measures to rework the telecommunications chapters of the municipal code, implementing zoning ordinances with strict regulations for when wireless carriers try to expand in the city, specifically related to small cells, reported the Argus Courier.
After a 2016 ruling by the state Public Utilities Commission mandating utilities provide access to “any pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way” they owned or controlled, some local governments were motivated to form their own guidelines.
The Courier reported the council unanimously adopted a series of stringent regulations that limit how close small cell towers can be to residential areas—at least a distance of 500 feet and no less than 1,500 feet from another tower—and established guidelines aimed to reduce their physical and visual impact.
Residents concerned over the health effects of telecommunications infrastructure and “ulterior motives” of providers applauded the decision. My Street, My Choice! co-founder Helen Grieco said she had done research of her own and struggled to find a significant gap in cell service within the city limits.
Grieco commented on the telecommunications industry. “They want to make money,” she said. “They want to be able to have kids with their devices to be able to stream movies on every street and corner in our neighborhoods — at the expense of our health, at the expense of our safety, at the expense of our constitutional rights.”
Conversely, economic development manager Ingrid Alverde and assistant city attorney Lisa Tennenbaum pointed to potential economic development that wireless broadband could enable. Residential areas would have access to 5G networks, IoT and autonomous vehicles.