Credit: courtesy Ronald Buckley

A trifecta of three Wireless Telecom California State Bills stand to negatively change the landscape of our communities forever if they pass in Sacramento. Sponsored by the wireless telecom industry, bills SB-556, SB-378 and AB-537 will shift the decision power over where small wireless telecommunications facilities (aka small cell towers) will be located in our communities from the local planning departments to the telecom industry itself.

You’ve heard that right. Should these bills pass, the wireless telecom industry will then have full control over where those small cell towers are located: which street light pole, which traffic light pole. They will all be fair game for them, no matter how close to your residence they are located. How would you like to have a small wireless facility installed within feet of your bedroom window? This will happen to many if these three bills go through. 

All three bills are Telecom industry-friendly bills that aim at rushing the development of the wireless broadband infrastructure, permit process, etc. bypassing the local government authority to decide what is best for each community. Much of the provisions included in the bills have cost-reduction and profit motives for the wireless industry, and strip away local control from the decision process over new projects. These bills are touted as remedies to bridging the internet divide and ensuring better access to internet for all. Yet, they do not solve many of these problems, and will create new ones that communities will have to bear for decades to come.

Who should be in charge of where small wireless facilities should be installed in communities? Who should be in charge of how the fiber network should be installed in communities (underground, aerial, etc.)? Who should be in control of the permitting process? Who should be in charge of reviewing compatibility with communities’ efforts to protect the well-being of residents, aesthetics (which include the quiet enjoyment of our streets and homes), property values, the environment, fire risks, etc.?

We believe this power should remain at the local level by the local planning departments, and the local community instead of the industry itself.

The City of Santa Barbara is currently in the process of drafting a new relecom ordinance that will include protective clauses for all city residents. These three state bills would simply render these protections moot.

Approving these three bills will basically give free reign to the telecom industry to have control over the planning, and the execution of all projects involved in the installation of small wireless facilities. Local communities will no longer have any say in that process, and will suffer the consequences for decades to come. 

Please contact your elected officials and request that they join the League of Cities in opposing SB-556, SB-378, AB-537.

Over 50 California Communities have already done so. Our local elected officials need to do the same and protect the residents’ interests, per their Oath to Office. Their silence would mean they support this egregious power grab of the wireless telecom industry.

Send an email to the Santa Barbara City Council and County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors asking them to express their opposition to these bills.

They will not get to vote on them, but they can have their opposition stated in Sacramento.

At the state level, our assemblymember and senator will get to vote on these bills. Please ask them to vote against all three bills that will remove all local control over the placement and permitting process of small wireless facilities:

Assemblymember Steve Bennett at Tel: (805) 564-1649, or by Fax: (805) 564-1651

Senator Monique Limon at Phone: (805) 965-0862, or Fax: (805) 965-0701

For more information on the impact of the deployment of the wireless network in our communities, go to the Safe Technology for Santa Barbara County website at


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