Wireless Communication Facilities

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March 21, 2019 Update:

Draft Wireless Administrative Standards: 
Cities are required to adopt reasonable and objective aesthetic administrative standards for small wireless facilities under the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s September 2018 Order. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) discussed draft administrative standards for facilities proposed on streetlight poles and wood utility poles at the March 21, 2019 ARB meeting. Videos of the City of Palo Alto’s public hearings can be accessed at the Midpen Media Center website, when released. 

Draft Update to Wireless Ordinance (PAMC Section 18.42.110)
The Planning & Transportation Commission (PTC) will review a draft ordinance to update Section 18.42.110 of the Palo Alto Municipal Code on March 27, 2019. The PTC agenda and staff report will be published on the PTC webpage. The PTC had reviewed an initial draft of the ordinance on December 12, 2018. The ordinance will reference the administrative standards the ARB reviewed and discussed.

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to review the administrative standards and the draft ordinance on April 15, 2019. Following adoption, the ordinance would become effective 30 days after the second reading. The Council will also have the opportunity to adopt the administrative standards by Resolution (to be effective April 15, 2019).  Adoption by Resolution allows the Council to make modifications to the standards going forward. The City Council agenda and City Manager’s report will be published on the Council Agendas/Minutes webpage

 

March 14, 2019 Update:

Draft Wireless Administrative Standards: 
The City is required to adopt reasonable and objective aesthetic administrative standards for small wireless facilities under the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s September 2018 Order.  

The Architectural Review Board will discuss the draft standards for facilities proposed on streetlight poles and wood utility poles at the March 21, 2019 meeting. The ARB agenda and staff report will be published on the ARB webpage when released. Staff seeks feedback on wireless facility designs to inform the development of these standards. The ARB is requested to recommend whether:

  • each proposed facility design is appropriate for Palo Alto’s public right of way, 

  • a design may be appropriate only in some neighborhoods or locations, or 

  • a design would not be appropriate in any context.

In addition, staff seeks public and ARB feedback on siting criteria, including whether the standards should specify minimum distances between poles with WCF equipment. Staff welcomes the submittal of additional wireless facility designs that members of the public, the ARB, wireless carriers, and others would like to send for consideration. 

The standards would be used instead of the Architectural Review findings and WCF development standards for review and approval of WCFs in the public rights of way. Following the ARB’s recommendation, staff will present these standards to the City Council along with an ordinance updating the City’s wireless code. A draft ordinance with further revisions will return to the Planning & Transportation Commission (PTC) on March 27, 2019. Following the PTC’s review, the Council is tentatively scheduled to review and adopt the draft ordinance on April 15, 2019. If Council directs, these standards may be repealed in the event the FCC Order is overturned by a court or by federal legislation. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the standards would be revised from time to time in order to remain current with the evolving designs.

Vinculums/Verizon “Cluster 2” - Seven WCF Nodes, Various Neighborhoods:
The PCE Director approved seven nodes January 23, 2019, with implied denial of three alternate nodes (File #17PLN-00170). These decisions were not appealed. Public Works received street work and encroachment permit applications for five of the seven nodes. 

Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 1” – Three WCF nodes: 
Crown Castle proposes three WCF nodes near Town & Country Village (File #17PLN-00416). Plans for three streetlight nodes and three wood utility poles were submitted November 11, 2017 and November 6, 2018, respectively. Plans and other application materials remain incomplete at this time. A tolling agreement between Crown Castle and the City extends the shot clock to 60 days after application materials are resubmitted. The resubmittal is anticipated to clarify which set of WCF nodes Crown Castle intends to pursue. 

Crown Castle “Cluster 2” – Seven WCF Nodes, University South:
On February 4, 2019, City Council held a public hearing on the appeals to the PCE Director’s January 4, 2019 decisions to conditionally approve five WCF nodes and deny two WCF nodes in the University South neighborhood (File #17PLN-00433). Public Works has not received updated street work or encroachment permits for the conditionally approved five WCF nodes. An agreement between Crown Castle and the City tolls the statute of limitations for Crown Castle to file suit challenging the conditional approval to May 22, 2019.

Crown Castle “Cluster 3” - Six WCF Nodes, Downtown North:
The ARB conducted a hearing on January 17th regarding Cluster 3 (File #17PLN-00450). A tolling agreement between Crown Castle and the City extends the shot clock to April 25, 2019. PCE Director decisions, anticipated within the coming weeks, will be posted on this webpage and will be appealable to Council. The decisions will also be uploaded to the project webpage.

AT&T Preliminary Review - 16 WCF nodes, Downtown North, University South, Next to Town and Country Village: 
The ARB conducted a study session February 21, 2019 regarding AT&T’s preliminary designs for 16 WCF nodes (File #17PLN-00398). No formal applications have been submitted to date. 

 
January 24, 2019 Update:

Appeals of Crown Castle “Cluster 2” - Seven WCF Nodes, University South:
The City Council is scheduled to conduct a public hearing February 4, 2019 to consider two timely appeals of the PCE Director’s decisions.  The appellants are: (1) Crown Castle, appealing seven Director’s decisions (19-AP-01) and (2) United Neighbors, appealing five Director’s decisions (19-AP-02). The Council agenda and linked City Manager’s Report are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/cou/council_agendas.asp. The project webpage is viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4120&TargetID=319
    
Vinculums/Verizon “Cluster 2” - Seven WCF Nodes, Various Neighborhoods:
The PCE Director approved seven nodes January 23, 2019, with implied denial of three alternate nodes. The project webpage, viewable here https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4000&TargetID=319 contains a link to the decision letter describing the approvals and providing basic information about appeals. 

Crown Castle “Cluster 3” - Six WCF Nodes, Downtown North:
The ARB conducted a hearing on January 17th of the Cluster 3 proposal.  The PCE Director decisions, anticipated within the coming weeks, will be posted on this webpage and will be appealable to Council. The decisions will also be uploaded to the project webpage, viewable here https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4192.

AT&T Preliminary Review - 16 WCF nodes, Downtown North, University South, Next to Town and Country Village 
The application is tentatively scheduled for the February 21, 2019 ARB meeting. The project webpage provides project information: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4094&TargetID-319

 
January 7, 2019 Update:

Crown Castle “Cluster 2” Application for 7 WCF nodes:

On January 4, 2019, the PCE Director conditionally approved five WCF nodes and denied two WCF nodes in University South neighborhood (File #17PLN-00433). The two denied nodes are: (1) Node 26, CPAU Streetlight # 32 (adjacent to 345 Forest Av) and (2) Node 28m1, New Pole Structure (adjacent to 905 Waverley St (formerly 400 Channing Av)). The five approved nodes are: Node 25, CPAU Streetlight #23 (adjacent to 275 Forest Av); Node 27, CPAU Streetlight # 82 (adjacent to 248 Homer Av); Node 29, CPAU Streetlight # 76 (adjacent to 385 Homer Av); Node 30, CPAU Streetlight # 86 (adjacent to 845 Ramona St (West corner of Channing Ave and Bryant St); and Node 31, CPAU Streetlight # 16 (adjacent to 190 Channing Av). The approval conditions require the antenna, cabling, and radio equipment to be concealed and screened within a custom green painted, cylindrical shroud mounted atop the replacement streetlight pole. The project webpage is viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4120&TargetID=319; it contains the decision letter describing basic information about appeals. Notices were mailed to property addresses within 600 feet of the approved nodes. 

Vinculums/Verizon “Cluster 2” Application for 7 WCF nodes:

The Director of Planning and Community Environment is reviewing the record and is in the process of making decisions on the proposed nodes. The Director also has the discretion to refer the decisions to the City Council.  The decision is expected to be made and posted on this webpage in the coming week. The proposed nodes are located in Barron Park, Palo Alto Orchards, Charleston Meadows neighborhoods, and adjacent to Stanford Shopping Center (File #17PLN-00170). The plans submitted October 31, 2018 are viewable here:https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4000&TargetID=319. The staff report (published December 13, 2018) is viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/boards/architectural/default.asp

Crown Castle “Cluster 3” Application for 6 WCF nodes:

  • The ARB is scheduled to hear Cluster 3 proposal at the January 17, 2019 ARB meeting; the ARB continued the hearing from December 6, 2018 date.
  • Antennas and equipment are proposed to be attached to six existing wood utility poles in the Downtown North neighborhood (File #17PLN-00450).  

AT&T Application for 16 WCF nodes: 

December 2018 Update:

AT&T Application for 16 WCF nodes: 

Vinculums/Verizon “Cluster 2” Application for 7 WCF nodes:

  • Antennas and equipment are proposed to be attached to seven existing wood utility poles in Barron Park, Palo Alto Orchards, Charleston Meadows neighborhoods, and adjacent to Stanford Shopping Center (File #17PLN-00170). Three of the seven poles have alternates.
  • The plans submitted October 31, 2018 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4000&TargetID=319
  • The December 20, 2018 ARB hearing was the first hearing for Vinculums/Verizon “Cluster 2;” the staff report (published December 13, 2018) is viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/boards/architectural/default.asp.
  • The Director of Planning and Community Environment is reviewing the record and is in the process of making decisions on the proposed nodes. The Director also has the discretion to refer the decisions to the City Council.

Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 1” Application for 3 WCF nodes: 

  • Antennas and equipment are proposed to be attached to three streetlights adjacent to Town and Country Village (File #17PLN-00416).
  • Plans for these streetlight nodes submitted November 11, 2017 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4191
  • On November 6, 2018, the applicant submitted plans for three alternative locations on wood utility poles at the following locations:
  • Two existing wood utility poles located on Alma Street in the Caltrain right of way (across from 102 Kingsley and 103 Kellogg).
  • One existing wood utility pole located in the right of way near 63 Encina Avenue.
  • The City has determined that the nodes submitted November 6, 2018 constitute a new application; the applicant has disputed this determination.
  • The plans submitted November 6, 2018 are viewable here:  https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4191

Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 2” Application for 7 WCF nodes:

  • Crown Castle’s “Cluster 2”: Seven Antennas are proposed to be attached to six replacement streetlights plus one new streetlight, with adjacent faux mailbox equipment storage units in the University South neighborhood (File #17PLN-00433), and 
  • The plans for Cluster 2 submitted November 19, 2018 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4120&TargetID=319
  • The December 6, 2018 ARB hearing was the first hearing for Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 2.” The staff report (published November 30, 2018) is viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/boards/architectural/default.asp.
  • The Director of Planning and Community Environment is reviewing the record and is in the process of making decisions on the proposed nodes. The Director also has the discretion to refer the decisions to the City Council.

Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 3” Application for 6 WCF nodes:

  • Crown Castle’s “Cluster 3”: Antennas and equipment are proposed to be attached to six existing wood utility poles in the Downtown North neighborhood (File #17PLN-00450).  
  • The plans for Cluster 3 submitted October 30, 2018 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4192
  • At the December 6, 2018 ARB hearing, the ARB moved to discuss “Cluster 3” at the December 20, 2018 ARB meeting. The December 6, 2018 staff report (published November 30, 2018) is viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/boards/architectural/default.asp.
  • At the December 20, 2018 ARB hearing and at the applicant’s request, the ARB moved to discuss “Cluster 3” at the January 17, 2019 ARB meeting.
 
November 2018 Update:

AT&T Application for 16 WCF nodes: 

Vinculums/Verizon “Cluster 2” Application for 7 WCF nodes:

Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 1” Application for 3 WCF nodes:

  • Antennas and equipment are proposed to be attached to three existing wood utility poles. The previously proposed Town and Country Village streetlight nodes are removed from consideration.
    •  Two existing wood utility poles are located on Alma Street next to Caltrain right of way (across from 102 Kingsley and 103 Kellogg).
    • One existing wood utility pole is located at 63 Encina Avenue.
  • The plans for Cluster 1 submitted November 6, 2018 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4191

Crown Castle/Verizon “Cluster 2 and Cluster 3” Applications for 13 WCF nodes:

  • Crown Castle’s “Cluster 2”: Seven Antennas are proposed to be attached to six replacement streetlights plus one new streetlight, with adjacent faux mailbox equipment storage units in the University South neighborhood (File #17PLN-00433), and 
  • Crown Castle’s “Cluster 3”: Antennas and equipment are proposed to be attached to six existing wood utility poles in the Downtown North neighborhood (File #17PLN-00450).  
  • The plans for Cluster 2 submitted November 19, 2018 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4120&TargetID=319
  • The plans for Cluster 3 submitted October 30, 2018 are viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4192
  • The December 6, 2018 ARB hearing will be the first hearing for both Clusters; the staff reports (to be published November 30, 2018) will be viewable here: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/boards/architectural/default.asp.
  • Below maps and images are from Crown Castle/Verizon’s proposals for Cluster 2 (left column) and Cluster 3 (right column).

CROWN CASTLE/VERIZON CLUSTER 2

BELOW LEFT MAP SHOWS UNIVERSITY SOUTH LOCATIONS (CLUSTER 2)

CROWN CASTLE/VERIZON CLUSTER 3

BELOW RIGHT MAP SHOWS DOWNTOWN NORTH LOCATIONS (CLUSTER 3)

   
BELOW LEFT IMAGE: UNIVERSITY SOUTH PROPOSED STREETLIGHT NODES 25-31

 

BELOW RIGHT IMAGE: DOWNTOWN NORTH TYPICAL WOOD POLE NODE

   

 

BELOW LEFT: TYPICAL NODE DESIGN FOR THE UNIVERSITY SOUTH (CLUSTER 2) 

 

BELOW RIGHT: TYPICAL NODE DESIGN FOR DOWNTOWN NORTH (CLUSTER 3)

   

 

October 2018 Update:

Members of the public may view electronic files for the below applications on Palo Alto Citizen Portal by entering the cluster’s application number (bold text numbers above) and looking under ‘Record Info’ and ‘Attachments.’ 

Vinculums/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00169): City staff issued encroachment permits and street work for 10 nodes. Review of Node 138 near 836 Colorado Avenue is in process.
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00170): The applicant resubmitted materials October 31, 2018. Note that the resubmittal includes new node location alternatives.
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00228): The application is still incomplete and City staff awaits the applicant’s resubmittal. 

Crown Castle/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00416): The applicant intends to resubmit plans in early November 2018. 
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00433): The applicant resubmitted materials October 30, 2018. 
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00450): The applicant resubmitted materials October 30, 2018. 

AT&T Application:

  • Multiple Clusters AT&T (17PLN-00398): The applicant intends to resubmit materials in November for this Preliminary Architectural Review application.
 
September 2018 Update:

Vinculums/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00169): Public Works Engineering review of encroachment permits and street work permits is in process.
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00170): A tolling agreement is in effect and a resubmittal is anticipated to complete the application. 
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00228): A resubmittal is anticipated to complete the application.

Crown Castle/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00416): A resubmittal is anticipated to complete the application. 
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00433): A resubmittal is anticipated to complete the application.
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00450): A resubmittal is anticipated to complete the application.

View the Mayor’s Letter Regarding Pending Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Vote on Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment.

June 2018 Update: 

Vinculums/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00169): May 2018 Council approved 11 small cell WCFs are under review by Public Works Engineering for encroachment permits and street work permits.
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00170) and Cluster 3 (17PLN-00228): There have been no submittals, changes or updates since the March 2018 update (below).

Crown Castle/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00416): The first cluster WCF permit application remains incomplete (no change since March 2018 update below).
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00433): The applicant team resubmitted application materials on June 27, 2018, which are viewable online by application number, as noted on this webpage.
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00450): The applicant team resubmitted application materials on June 27, 2018, which are viewable online by application number, as noted on this webpage.
May 2018 Update:

Vinculums/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00169): On May 21, 2018, City Council conducted a public hearing on the seven (7) appeals of the Planning and Community Environment (PCE) Directors decisions to approve eleven wireless facility nodes of the Cluster 1 Vinculums/Verizon Tier 3 application (file 17PLN-00169). The meeting agenda can be found here. The City Manager Report on the appeals can be found here. The approved Record of Land Use Action is found here.

April 2018 Update:

Vinculums/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00169): On April 9, 2018, the City received seven (7) appeals of the Planning and Community Environment (PCE) Directors decisions to approve eleven wireless facility nodes of the Cluster 1 Vinculums/Verizon Tier 3 application (file 17PLN-00169). The City Council will conduct a public hearing to consider the appeals on Monday, May 21, 2018. The Council’s options for a final decision include upholding, overturning, or modifying the approvals for each wireless communication facility node. Planning staff will continue accepting and compiling written public comments on this project (file 17PLN-00169) until the day of the Council hearing.  Please refer to the City Council website for more information. City Council Agendas, City Manager Reports, and other materials are available here. The City Council Procedures and Protocols Handbook is available here.
March 2018 Update: 

Vinculums/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00169): On March 26, 2018, the Planning and Community Environment Director approved 11 small cell, Tier 3 wireless communication facility (WCF)  nodes under file 17PLN-00169. The decision letter describes basic information about appeals, including the deadline, fees, and required form. Notices were mailed to property addresses within 600 feet of the approved nodes.
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00170): The current tolling agreement for WCF permit application is still in effect (extends until April 30, 2018). The current project plans and application materials are from October 2017.
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00228): The WCF permit application is incomplete. The current project plans and other application materials are from June 2017. 

Crown Castle/Verizon Applications:

  • Cluster 1 (17PLN-00416): The first cluster WCF permit application is incomplete (no resubmittal to date). The current project plans and other application materials are from November 2017. 
  • Cluster 2 (17PLN-00433): The second cluster WCF permit application is incomplete. The updated application materials submitted March 2, 2018, were deemed incomplete on March 12, 2018.
  • Cluster 3 (17PLN-00450): The third cluster WCF permit application is incomplete. The updated application materials submitted March 2, 2018, were deemed incomplete on March 12, 2018. 
February 2018 Update: Vinculums/Verizon Applications

Cluster 1: Vinculums/Verizon and the City have an updated ‘shot clock’ tolling agreement for the Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1 Tier 3 Wireless Communication Facility Permit application (17PLN-00169). The updated tolling agreement extends 11 of the 15 small cell nodes until April 4, 2018, specifically Node 129, Node 130, Node 131, Node 133, Node 134, Node 135, Node 137, Node 138, Node 143, Node 144, and Node 145. In parallel, Vinculums/Verizon submitted supplemental information during the week of February 5th for these 11 small cell nodes. This supplemental information is under review, including vaulting feasibility studies and shrouding design options for the pole-mounted equipment and the antenna bayonet. This information may be viewed on the City’s Planning application portal under the address ‘250 Hamilton’ (application file number 17PLN-00169). 

Vinculums/Verizon has elected not to proceed with the remaining 4 nodes (Node 136, Node 140, Node 141, and Node 147) in Cluster 1 at this time to permit additional analysis of vaulting feasibility.  These nodes may move forward at a later date following the submittal of additional application materials. The updated tolling agreement suspends the shot clock for these 4 nodes until the applicant provides additional material, at which point the City will have 60 days to process the applications. 

The Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1 Tier 3 Wireless Communication Facility Permit application (17PLN-00169) is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing by the Architectural Review Board on March 15, 2018 at 8:30 am and a staff report will be prepared and is tentatively scheduled for release via the City’s website on March 9, 2018. The ARB agenda and staff report will be uploaded to the ARB webpage.

Cluster 2: The current tolling agreement for Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 2 Tier 3 Wireless Communication Facility Permit application (17PLN-00170) extends until April 30, 2018.

 
December Applications and Resubmittals

1. Crown Castle/Verizon, Cluster 2 in University South Neighborhood (five small cell nodes on existing streetlights and two small cell nodes on two new poles in city rights-of-way) received December 4, 2017. File number 17PLN-00433. http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4120&TargetID=319. For more information, go to the City’s website https://aca.accela.com/paloalto/ and search under the project file number 17PLN-00433 to see project plans.

2. Crown Castle/Verizon, Cluster 3, WCF’s on wood utility poles in Downtown North Neighborhood (six small cell nodes on wood utility poles in city rights-of-way) received December 13, 2017. File number 17PLN-00450. For more information, go to the City’s website https://aca.accela.com/paloalto/ and search under the project file number 17PLN-00450 to see project plans.

3. Vinculums/Verizon, Cluster 1 Resubmittal received December 21, 2017 (following the December 7, 2017, ARB meeting). File number 17PLN-00169. For more information, go to the City’s website https://aca.accela.com/paloalto/ and search under the project file number 17PLN-00169 to see project plans.

 
"Shot Clock" Update
11/27/2017

We have received three formal applications – from Vinculums on behalf of Verizon. The shot clocks for nodes in Verizon/Vinculums Cluster 1 have been extended to February 14, 2018. This anticipates ARB hearings on December 7 and January 18, followed by the Planning Director’s decisions. If there is an appeal of a decision, the parties would discuss a further extension of the shot clocks for Cluster 1.

The shot clocks for nodes in Verizon/Vinculums Cluster 2 have been extended to March 30, 2018, with an expectation that Verizon/Vinculums will modify its proposal and resubmit materials in early January 2018 based on feedback from the December 7, 2017, ARB hearing on Cluster 1. In the event the applicant submits materials after this date, the shot clock is automatically extended to April 30, 2018. This allows for one or more ARB hearings on Cluster 2, followed by a Director’s decision. Again, in the event of appeals, we’d need to agree to further extensions.

The shot clocks for nodes in Verizon/Vinculums Cluster 3 are currently tolled at approximately 30 days because the application has been deemed incomplete. The City has 30 days after a formal application is filed to review it for completeness. If an application is deemed incomplete, the shot clock is tolled from that day until the application is resubmitted. Upon receiving a resubmittal, the City has 10 days to determine whether the resubmittal responded to the incomplete items identified in the first notice of incompleteness. If the application remains incomplete, the shot clock is once again tolled.


November Applications
  1. AT&T submitted a preliminary architectural review application on November 13, 2017, through their contractor, Sure Site, for 16 small cell wireless communication node facilities, 15 of which are located between Alma and Waverley Streets and Everett and Forest Avenues. The ARB will conduct a preliminary review of this proposal in early 2018. For more information, please visit the City’s website at https://aca.accela.com/paloalto/ and search under the project file number 17PLN-00398 to see projects plans and the 2012 master license agreement.
  2. Crown Castle submitted an application for wireless communication facility permits on Nov. 21, 2017, through the contractor Sure Site, for three small cell node installations on streetlights in the Embarcadero Road public right of way, for use by Verizon. These three locations, adjacent to Town & Country Village, are identified as Cluster 1 of Crown Castle’s proposal to deploy a total of 16 small cell nodes in Palo Alto. The Crown Castle proposal received a preliminary review by the Architectural Review Board on September 21, 2017. For further background information, please visit the City’s website at aca.accela.com/paloalto/ and search under the project file number 17PLN-00416. The project plans provide information on proposed equipment configurations.

Upcoming Events

Hearing Dates

ARB hearing dates have been targeted for Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1, originally filed May 23, 2017. The first hearing date was December 7, 2017, when the ARB was asked to provide feedback on the plans filed September 12, 2017. The plans are viewable at https://paloalto.buildingeye.com/planning under the file number 17PLN-00169. None of the other filed applications have been scheduled for hearing as of this posting, December 21, 2017.

The December 7th ARB agenda that links to the staff report for Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1 project is viewable at http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/62426. Public comments on the Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1 application are viewable at http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4106

Vinculums showed several options to the ARB on December 7. These options have been uploaded to https://paloalto.buildingeye.com/planning in file 17PLN-00169 in a document entitled “17PLN-00169 Cluster 1 Resubmittal Applicant Statement 11-30-17”. Videos and minutes of ARB meetings are searchable by address at this page http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/boards/architectural/default.asp.


To view a larger version of the above map, click here.   

Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1: 15 Nodes #17PLN-00169 (orange)
Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 2: 10 Nodes #17PLN-00170 (blue)
Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 3: 12 Nodes #17PLN-00228 (purple)
Vinculums/Verizon Anticipated Cluster: Nodes # Unknown Prelim #17PLN-00193 (green)

Crown Castle/Verizon Cluster 1: 3 nodes #17PLN-00416 (maroon) - Link Coming Soon                 

Crown Castle/Verizon Cluster 2: 7 Nodes #17PLN-00433 (maroon) 
Crown Castle/Verizon Cluster 3: 6 Nodes #17PLN-00450 (maroon) - Link Coming Soon

 

In addition to Verizon nodes, AT&T submitted a preliminary review application for 16 small cell nodes:

 

 

AT&T: 16 nodes #17PLN-00398 (brown)

 

Background: Wireless Communication Facilities

Verizon is currently proposing to install approximately 100 small cell nodes on existing wood utility poles and street lights throughout the City. The small cell nodes are being grouped into geographic clusters for review and consideration by the City as six or more separate applications.

To date, Verizon has submitted formal applications for three clusters, through their Vinculums contractor, covering Midtown, Palo Verde, South of Midtown, Barron Park, Old Palo Alto, Triple El and other adjacent areas.

Verizon has also submitted a preliminary architectural review application through their Crown Castle contractor, for 16 small cell nodes in Downtown North, University South and near Town & Country. The ARB conducted a preliminary review on September 21, 2017. The ARB staff report can be found here. The ARB meeting minutes can be found here

Verizon is also considering submitting formal applications for small cell nodes in Crescent Park, Community Center, and Downtown North neighborhoods but has not yet submitted any applications for the project.

 

Why are these applications being filed now? 

Small cells are the most recent progression of wireless radio technology and are quickly becoming part of the strategy by the wireless service operators to “densify” their networks to improve coverage and capacity. Small cells and DAS (distributed antenna systems) are low-power antennas, typically mounted on utility poles, streetlight poles, buildings and street furniture. Small cells and DAS are expected to play key roles in improving network density, allowing wireless networks to support more users and faster mobile broadband speeds. Small cells bring the operator’s network closer to the user. Small cells improve coverage and capacity in high traffic areas and ensure mobile broadband capacity to serve the needs of data-intensive users. Over the next few years, the roll-out of next-generation 5G wireless will require the deployment of many more antennas, including macro-cellular towers, small cells, and DAS.                   

Process

All of the applications for each node/pole location (or cluster of locations) will go through a process as outlined in the City’s Municipal Code. First, the applications will go through the City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) process, after which the Director of Planning will issue a tentative decision. These may be appealed to the City Council. The appeal form, which contains brief instructions and the appeal fee, is found here. More information about appeals is found on the FAQ page

 

All of these are open to the public and you are encouraged to provide comments and/or attend the meetings. Given this process, it is likely that the City Council will be the final decision maker on many of the proposed installations.

Authority

In terms of authority, both state and federal law place constraints on the City’s regulatory authority in this area. State law guarantees telecommunications companies access to the poles in our rights of way, so long as they do not cause public inconvenience. Federal law grants wireless companies a right to provide services, sets timelines on City review, and limits the ability of the City to consider health issues or radio frequency emissions associated with such installations. However, that does not mean we are entirely without regulatory authority; the City can and will review these applications for aesthetic compatibility and noise impacts under established noise thresholds.

Our understanding of rulings that several municipalities have received in this area have been based on the type of review the City will apply to these applications. We understand that this type of case-by-case review may not provide meaningful relief for those who are hoping for a systemic way to address their concerns. We will continue, however, to reach out for further understanding.

The City had written a letter urging the Governor to veto SB 649, which attempted to further limit local government discretion over such installations and was pleased that the Governor recently did so.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to view the FAQ for Wireless Communication Facilities. 

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