Santa Monica City Council Approves New Cell Site Rules

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The Federal Communications Commission has passed new rules regarding modifications to existing antennas, spawning the Santa Monica City Council to take a look at its own equipment laws.

The FCC’s new laws say that “an existing installation could increase in height by up to 10 feet and six feet in each direction without qualifying as a ‘substantial’ modification.”

The Santa Monica Daily Press reported that the California-based council passed new laws on July 12, regarding its own antennas, most of which are on poles in public rights of way. The FCC’s rules regarding what is “substantial” contain a clause “that defines any modification as substantial if it violates local concealment laws designed to minimize the visual impact of telecommunications equipment,” according to the Daily Press. The council voted to redefine its own concealment laws to, “specifically allow the city to maintain control over possible expansion.”  

Now equipment in Santa Monica must:

  • be a minimal size (no larger than three cubic feet or eight cubic feet depending on type)
  • use screens that match surrounding colors
  • hide wires inside existing infrastructure
  • be located among other similar kinds of infrastructure
  • utilize existing street/traffic/utility poles
  • be located in appropriate locations such as alleys and at the end of property lines

Additionally, carriers must now apply to the planning department, whose decision can be appealed to the city council, who said at the meeting that there is a “pressing need for more capacity” within Santa Monica. Carriers are working on better data and reception via installing more than 100 small cell sites per carrier in the city. Currently the new laws only pertain to cell equipment and not WiFi, the Daily Press noted.

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