Wireless Communication Facilities Information

General

Applications for Wireless Communication Facilities (WCF) are governed by Division 17.46 of the Piedmont City Code. This division is a part of Chapter 17 of the City Code which expresses the belief of Piedmont residents that it is in the welfare of all residents to preserve the beauty and architectural heritage of the City’s housing stock, the mature vegetation, and the tranquility and privacy which now exist. The Planning Division of the Public Works Department is responsible for processing applications for wireless communication facilities and working directly with the Planning Commission and City Council regarding review and consideration of the applications.


Wireless Communication Facilities Open House

On October 17, 2018, the City of Piedmont hosted a community open house for the Wireless Communication Facilities Code Revisions project. Approximately 30 people attended. Participants were asked to “gallery walk” and comment on photos of a variety of wireless communication facilities in Piedmont, Oakland, San Francisco, and in other communities. Some of the facilities received positive comments and some received only negative comments. Participants were asked to provide feedback to the City in the form of a resident survey.

Information about the FCC small wireless facilities order on September 26, 2018 and the City Council’s decision to appeal the order were provided to participants. Information about regulations used by other cities, such as Concord, Rancho Palos Verdes, and San Francisco, was provided. Before the open house, staff held presentations and discussions about the project and open house at public meetings with the Planning Commission, Park Commission, Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, and PUSD Board of Education. In addition, staff made announcements at the Public Safety Commission and Recreation Commission, informed residents through emails and flyers, and staffed a table at the Harvest Festival.

The gallery walk posters and resident survey are posted below to continue to ask for feedback from the Piedmont community. All of the responses and comments will reported back to the City Council and Planning Commission and used by staff as staff begins to prepare draft amendments to the Wireless Communication Facilities Ordinance which will be presented to the Planning Commission and the Council.


Distributed Antenna System Applications in the Public Right-of-Way

Federal Communications Commission Action

On September 26, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved sweeping new rules that require cities and local jurisdictions across the U.S.A. to allow small cell and distributed antenna system (DAS) wireless communication facilities on streets, roadways, sidewalks, landscape strips, and the public right-of-way, near homes, parks, and schools. The approved FCC rules will require cities to accept any number of small cell antennas, so long as they are 3 cubic feet each, and equipment, so long as it is 28 cubic feet or less. Under the approved rules, cities and local jurisdictions must make publically-owned structures available for small cell and DAS installations and approved FCC rules limit the amounts that local jurisdictions can charge for leases and fees. The newly approved rules apply to the City of Piedmont. The FCC webpage provides information about the approved rules at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-353962A1.pdf. Click to read the City of Piedmont's September 17, 2018 letter opposing the proposed rules.

The City of Piedmont joined a coalition of dozens of local governments across the nation that are appealing these new rules. Click to read the October 16, 2018 Press Release Anncouncing Piedmont's Appeal of FCC Rules as well as the October 24, 2018 Filed Appeal Document.

City Council Study Session

The City Council held a study session on the legal constraints and best practices for wireless communication facilities in the public right-of-way on April 17, 2018.

At the study session, Council received detailed descriptions of federal and state restrictions on the City’s authority to regulate wireless facilities, particularly those located in the public rights-of-way as well as information on the types of technology and services expected in the near future. Presentations were received from independent technical consultant Lee Afflerbach of CTC Technology and Energy and Harriet Steiner of the Law Firm of Best, Best, and Krieger.

Study Session Documents & Information

To receive updates about wireless communication facilities, please send an email to pmacdonald@piedmont.ca.gov and reference WCF in the subject line.

Many Piedmonters addressed the City Council, shared information, and asked questions directed toward staff and the City’s consultants. At the conclusion of the study session, the City Council directed staff to prepare draft changes to the Wireless Communication Facilities Ordinance with continued public participation. The City Council encouraged Piedmonters to also express their concerns regarding wireless communication facilities to state and federal elected officials. To contact your state and federal legislators, please visit see the Federal, State, & County Officials & Representatives Page.

Reference Documents

The American Planning Association offered a training on the basics of wireless communication facilities and recent case law on July 27, 2017. The training was recorded and is available at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WsOnJyCxHI

On August 21, 2017, the City Council received a presentation from the Jonathan Kramer of the Telecom Law Firm, entitled "Wireless Technology and Regulatory Setting Update." Presentation from Telecom Law Firm to Piedmont City Council on August 21, 2017.


Crown Castle Wireless Distributed Antenna System Applications

Background

Crown Castle NG West LLC filed applications in November 2016 for nine proposed Verizon distributed antenna system wireless communication facilities, located generally around Piedmont Park and Piedmont High School. Crown Castle NG West LLC is a company that builds wireless communication facilities and then leases them to wireless service providers, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. The City Council considered these applications at meetings on October 2, 2017, October 6, 2017, October 30, 2017, and November 20, 2017. At these meetings, the Council denied five applications and approved four others with conditions. Please see below for detailed information on these applications.

Crown Castle NG West LLC has filed suit in federal court challenging the denials and approvals of eight of their applications and the court process is ongoing.

Timeline

On May 2, 2017, Crown Castle constructed a mock-up to represent a proposed light pole and wireless antenna near the Wildwood Ave. entrance to Piedmont Park. The mock up was also meant to represent the wireless antenna installations at eight additional sites.

On June 7, 2017, the Park Commission reviewed the possible impacts to street trees. On June 12, 2017, the Planning Commission reviewed the proposal and made recommendations to City Council on the design and location of each proposed wireless communications facility. Please see the Park Commission Agenda Report and the Planning Commission Agenda Reports in the documents list below.

On August 4, 2017, Crown Castle NG West resubmitted plans and application forms with project revisions. The proposed revised projects included five installations on existing utility poles, three installations on the tops of existing street light poles, and one installation on a new light within Piedmont Park at the Wildwood Ave. entrance. The applicants proposed that ground equipment related to the pole top antennas be located in various locations, including inside cabinets shaped like mailboxes on the sidewalk, behind shrouds mounted on the poles, and in underground vaults. On August 29, 2017, Crown Castle submitted revised plans which superceded those submitted on August 4, 2017. This submittal caused the postponement of a public hearing scheduled to be held before the City Council on Setpember 5, 2017 as the revised plans were submitted after the public hearing notice had been posted and mailed to property owners and residents. On September 18, 2017, Crown Castle withdrew the original designs filed in November 2016. The original designs are posted below for comparison.

The City Council considered the applications at a duly noticed public hearing held at its regular meeting on October 2, 2017. The City Council continued the Public Hearing to its regular meeting of October 16, 2017 and directed staff to prepare draft resolutions approving, with conditions, the proposed sites at or near 340-370 Highland Avenue, 740 Magnolia Avenue, and 799 Magnolia Avenue. The Council directed staff to prepare draft resolutions denying the applications at or near 150 Highland Avenue, 303 Hillside AVenue, 428 El Cerrito Avenue, 352 Jerome Avenue, and 1159 Winsor Avenue. The City Council directed staff to work with the applicant to improve the design proposed for 314 Wildwood Avenue and to present the application and plans to the Park Commission before Council action on the proposal.

On October 16, 2017, the City Council held a public hearing and denied the applications for sites at or near 150 Highland Avenue, 303 Hillside Avenue, 428 El Cerrito Avenue, 352 Jerome Avenue, and 1159 Winsor Avenue. The Agenda Reports for the October 16, 2017 City Council meeting are available below.

On October 30, 2017, the City Council held a public hearing and approved, with conditions, the applications for sites at or near 340-370 Highland Avenue, 740 Magnolia Avenue, and 799 Magnolia Avenue. The Agenda Report for the October 30, 2017 City Council meeting is available below.

On November 1, 2017, the Park Commission held a public hearing on the proposed antenna installation across from 314 Wildwood Avenue. After taking public comment, the Park Commission adopted a recommendation that the City Council approve the proposed application, subject to staff recommended conditions of approval. The Park Commission also recommended that the City Council considered alternative locations for the communication equipment inside Piedmont Park and public right-of-way. The Agenda Report for the November 1, 2017 Park Commission meeting is available below.

On November 20, 2017, the City Council held a public hearing and approved, with conditions, the application for a wireless communication facilities permit for an antenna installation on a new lamppost across from 314 Wildwood Avenue. The Agenda Report for the November 20, 2017 City Council meeting is available below.

Placement of wireless communication facilities is governed by state and federal law, including the requirement that cities allow certain wireless communications facilities in the public right-of-way. Under the Federal Telecommunications Act, the federal government and FCC decide what is a safe level of EMF radiation. In addition, under these laws, cities cannot place conditions on, deny, or approve a proposed wireless facility based upon the health effects if the applicant demonstrates that the project meets federal safety requirements.

Appplication Materials

Application materials for each of the proposed installations are below. Click to view a map of the proposed sites.

1. 340 - 370 Highland Avenue

2. 505 Blair Avenue & 150 Highland Avenue

3. 799 Magnolia Avenue

4. 358 Hillside Avenue & 740 Magnolia Avenue

5. 303 Hillside Avenue

6. 428 El Cerrito Avenue

7. 355 Jerome Avenue & 352 Jerome Avenue

8. 1159 Winsor Avenue

9. 314 Wildwood Avenue & 100 Requa Road

Agenda Reports

Other Documents

Residents with questions regarding the application are welcome to contact Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald Powell via email or via telephone at (510) 420-3050.