San Ramon’s wireless cell facility policies will be the main topic of conversation during the city council’s regular meeting on Tuesday evening when council members attempt to update the city’s own regulations to match ones recently instituted by the state and federal governments.
According to city attorney Martin Lysons, relatively new regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) require that the city review and approve small cell applications at a much faster rate than possible under previous city policies.
“On Sept. 26, 2018, the FCC adopted new rules that further limit local authority to regulate ‘small wireless facilities,’” Lysons wrote in a staff report. “These rules are part of a larger rulemaking that aims to reinterpret the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and prohibit actual and effective local moratoria on infrastructure deployment.”
Under the new rules, small cell proposals must be reviewed in 60 days for an existing pole, or 90 days for a new pole, compared to the 150 days previously allowed.
“In addition, the FCC provides that a local small cell regulation causes an effective prohibition in violation of federal law unless the regulation is 1) reasonable; 2) no more burdensome than regulations imposed on similar infrastructure deployments; and 3) objective and published in advance,” Lysons said.
FCC regulations do offer some financial respite for the installation of small facilities. According to Lysons, the FCC states small wireless providers are required to pay an annual license fee of $270 per site for using the city’s infrastructure
A hot-button issue for many Tri-Valley communities, residents have shown great concern over perceived health risks associated with the radio frequencies emitted from the facilities, some fearing the frequencies are associated with cancer.
FCC regulations are clear on this note, however, and state that no municipality can prohibit the installation of a cell facility based off of health concerns. FCC regulations maintain that it is very unlikely that a person can be exposed to radio frequency levels in excess of their guidelines.
The city council is set to discuss its wireless cell facility policies, among other issues facing the city, during its regular meeting Tuesday 7 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road.
In other business
* In recognition of the accomplishments and struggles of those in the LGBTQ community, the council is set to join communities across the country in recognizing June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
* The council will also be welcoming some new faces to city hall and will listen to a special presentation introducing the new Parks and Community Services recreation coordinators Riannon Thomas, Andrew Mendes and Amanda Tugwell.
* The overhaul of San Ramon’s election method is expected to be finalized on Tuesday when the city council considers giving approval for the permanent establishment of district-based elections.
Under district-based elections, residents in San Ramon will only vote for the lone council candidate who lives in their geographical area, as opposed to the current practice of at-large elections where residents vote for all available candidates.
“Once the ordinance is adopted, staff will work with its outside counsel and with the County Elections Department to establish District Elections in time for the November 2020 election,” city attorney Martin Lysons wrote in a staff report.
* Councilmembers will discuss the rezoning of properties located at 2610 Bishop Drive, 100 Sunset Drive and 2600 Camino Ramon, in order to ensure consistency between the city’s General Plan and zoning map.
* The council is also set to conduct interviews for candidates of the city’s Open Space Advisory Committee during a special meeting which will be held prior to the start of the council’s regular one.
The six applicants scheduled to be interviewed for the two available regular seats include Govind Gopal, Lorraine Kalich, Jon Miklos, Dave Robbins, Sarah "Sally" Scholl and Jian "Jay" Yao.
The San Ramon City Council will meet for its special meeting Tuesday 5:30 p.m., in the city hall large conference room.