Verizon Files Suit Against California Beach Town Over Tower Ban

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ca beqchVerizon Wireless woke up the sleepy West Coast beach town of Capitola, CA Monday when it sued the town of 9,918 persons for its ordinance prohibiting construction of wireless facilities within city limits. Verizon alleged in Federal Court that Capitola’s de facto ban on towers, antennas and wireless facilities is a violation of the U.S. Communications Act.

“The ordinance is so restrictive that it effectively bars new wireless facilities in most of the city, even if they have no significant visual or other impacts,” the complaint says, according to Courthouse News.

“The city’s onerous and intrusive regulatory scheme violates federal law, both on its face and as applied to Verizon Wireless in this case,” the complaint said. “Local governments may not ‘interfere with the federal government’s regulation of technical and operational aspects of wireless telecommunications technology, a field that is occupied by federal law.'”

The dispute arises from the communication company’s attempt to install a new antenna in the heart of Capitola, a quaint tourist town in Santa Cruz County along the scenic Monterey Bay. Being prevented from building new facilities, Verizon said it cannot keep up with customer demand and improve its service, and cannot remain competitive in the mobile market.     

According to Courthouse News, Verizon said it submitted a permit request in July, 2015, and waited six months for it to be processed before the application was denied by Capitola on grounds it violated the wireless ordinance which stipulates that no antenna or structure may be build within 300 feet of a residential structure.

“While this upgrade is significant to Verizon Wireless and its customers, it is utterly insignificant from any legitimate land-use perspective,” Verizon’s complaint said. “Placing small antennas and ancillary equipment on the roof of a commercial building, with the antennas concealed inside a faux chimney, would not cause any significant visual, noise, or other impacts properly regulated under the Capitola zoning code.”

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