Marin Lipowitz: Right-of-way bill a Telecom giveaway

Thank you, Nevada County Board of Supervisors, for joining the League of California Cities in opposing SB649 (California), the Telecom right-of-way bill. It passed the California Senate and is now in the Assembly.

SB 649 is promoted by the Telecom companies. Capitol Weekly named AT&T lobbyist Bill Devine the 16th most powerful person in Sacramento last year. CTIA — the wireless industry — is the listed source for SB649.

This bill would allow powerful two-way microwave transmitters in the public right of way. The League of California Cities states the cell antennas and related equipment include “microwireless” to “small cells” to “macro-towers” as large as six cubic feet. They can be hung in clusters on utility or light poles by multiple telecom businesses. Equipment cabinets the size of refrigerators with could sit on walkways. There would be no size or quantity limitations for such accessories as electric meters, pedestals, cabinets or grounding equipment. The loading of utility poles could be as closely placed as the distance between poles at the discretion of the wireless companies.

Would you like to live in a neighborhood or go to a business district with such equipment hanging about and emitting 24/7?

This give-away also severely limits the fees cities could collect to $250 per year for use and maintenance of public right of way facilities. What a deal.

The League of California Cities further notes that SB 649 prohibits local government discretionary review of location on poles, or non-pole structures. It would preclude public input regarding aesthetic, nuisance and other environmental impacts. Governments would not have priority to reserve space for public safety or efficiency technology such as police cameras or solar panels.

It is small consolation that fires from increasing loaded power polls might be reimbursed by telecom companies, after months or years of legal proceedings. The Malibu fire of 2007, caused by utility poles…

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