Wireless Ordinance Update Meeting Wednesday

City Holds Public Workshop on Cell Tower Rules

The wireless installation ordinance hasn’t been updated in decades, Scott Vincent of the City Attorney’s Office says, and the city has rewritten it, with the help of consultants, to fall in line with state and federal regulations as well as modern times. To get public input on the proposed changes, the city is holding a meeting Wednesday, February 24. Taking place from 5-7 p.m. in the David Gebhard meeting room at 630 Garden Street, the workshop will discuss the existing ordinance — which requires a conditional use permit for nearly all cell towers — and compare it to the new, which is much more defined regarding the review process and development standards.

The city is limited by state and federal law on such things as prohibiting or regulating cell towers on the basis of emissions that are within federal standards. The recent changes to federal law, said Vincent, have mostly to do with allowing the co-location of cell antennas belonging to disparate carriers. Doubling up on existing locations would be automatically allowed at previously approved facilities as long as the alteration is not a “substantial change.” The new ordinance — largely written by Telecom Law Firm of La Jolla — also specifies preferred locations (city parcels outside residential zones), design preferences (faux architectural features like clock towers), and concealment standards for faux trees (canopy envelops all equipment).

The draft ordinance can be reviewed here. The existing ordinance is Santa Barbara Municipal Code 28.94.30 DD.

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