Legal Alerts May 25, 2017

NO DEAL! SB 649 Passed Out of Appropriations Committee Without Amendment

This Small Cell Bill Curtails Local Discretionary Review and Rates

A working group formed in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee to forge a compromise on rental rates for use of public property such as street lights and traffic lights by operators of small cells failed to reach any agreement. Thursday, SB 649 passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee without amendments.
If adopted in its current form, the wireless industry would receive windfall benefits, including:

  • Privileged access to city/county-owned property such as street lights, parks and buildings.
  • Rent control on use of public property.
    • Fees for use of street lights and traffic lights capped at $850 per year, with no allowances for high-cost or high-demand areas.
    • Fees for use of other property must be at least as favorable as those provided for comparable commercial projects or uses.
  • Permitted Use in public rights of way and in all zones that include commercial or industrial use.
    • Subject only to special, streamlined permitting processes with limitations on application requirements and conditions of approval.
  • Automatic renewals for all wireless permits (not just small cells).

The bill does not give local agencies anything in return.

  • No build out commitments.
  • Nothing for disadvantaged communities.
  • Cities/counties lose control of their own property.
    • The bill requires local governments to adopt a resolution based on substantial evidence to secure the right to use space on their own property.
    • No protections for decorative street lights (only certain coastal and historic areas are excluded).

If you are concerned about the impacts of this bill, contact your senator’s office as soon as possible to express your opposition to SB 649. Floor vote will take place next week.
For more information on this proposed legislation, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Telecommunications and Government Relations practice group, or your BB&K attorney.
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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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