Opposition to SB 649


SB 649 was vetoed by Governor Brown on October 15, 2017. A copy of his veto message can be found here

What is SB 649?

SB 649 – Wireless telecommunications facilities (Senator Hueso), would prohibit review of design aesthetics, placement, configuration or location of “small cell” wireless antennas, including equipment collocated on existing structures or located on new “poles, structures, or non-pole structures”, including those in the public right of way.

SB 649 would allow small antennas on public pole structures to be as large as six cubic feet, associated equipment on pole structures to be as large as 21 cubic feet, and ground mounted equipment boxes totaling 35 cubic feet, with no size or quantity limitations for the following equipment: electric meters, pedestals, concealment elements, demarcation boxes, grounding equipment, power transfer switches, and cutoff switches.

This bill will preempt adopted local land use plans by mandating that “small cells” be allowed in all zones, including residential zones, as a use by right (meaning there would be no way the City could require better design, layout, or location) if the provisions of this proposed law are met.

City of Fremont’s Opposition to SB 649:

The City of Fremont has submitted three letters of opposition to SB 649 because of the detrimental impacts to our City and its residents. The most recent letter of opposition depicts the City’s concern with SB 649 as currently written.

Some of the concerns identified in the letter of opposition are summarized below:

  • The City of Fremont will have no say in the time, place, manner or design of the “small cell” equipment.
  • SB 649 would strip Fremont of local control over clutter and aesthetic issues as it relates to wireless telecommunication facilities. The lack of local control could severely impact the aesthetics Fremont has worked to establish in Downtown, Warm Springs and the historic downtowns.
  • Fremont would be required to approve “over the counter” permits, which eliminates any local control over the wireless telecommunication facilities, and any attempt to establish conditions of approval.
  • Even if every resident complained about a particular “small cell” and its visual blight, the City and City Council would be unable to take them down, move them, or improve their appearance or any other community impacts.
  • Equipment boxes would have the potential to impede bicycle and pedestrian movement, in addition to creating line of site issues for drivers.
  • There are no requirements in this bill that telecommunication providers provide regular maintenance to the small cell sites.