Frequently Asked Questions - Wireless Communication Facilities
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
What is Verizon proposing?
Palo Alto. Verizon has partnered with at least two different contractors, Vinculums and Crown Castle, to process these 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. The status and plans for each application are viewable via this webpage: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/pln/new_projects/development_proposals.asp
The webpage has each wireless application noted; current information about each application can be viewed by clicking on this link: https://paloalto.buildingeye.com/planning and entering ‘250 Hamilton’.
Cluster 1 is going to the Architectural Review Board for a first formal review on Dec. 7 and is scheduled to go back to the ARB on
Cluster 2 application link is here: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4000&TargetID=319; the Jan. 18, 2018 ARB date is targeted for a first formal review of this application.
Cluster 3 application link is here: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4058&TargetID=319. No meeting date has been targeted (as this is an incomplete application).
Verizon submitted a preliminary architectural review application (17PLN-00193), through their Crown Castle contractor, for 16 small cell nodes in Downtown North, University South and near Town & Country. The formal application(s) for these small cell nodes are anticipated to be submitted in What is AT&T proposing?
AT&T recently submitted a preliminary architectural review application (17PLN-00398) viewable here: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4094
What is the process for approval?
The proposed small cell nodes are subject to the City’s Tier 3 Wireless Communication Facility review process. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) will hold public hearings before making a recommendation to the Director of Planning and Community Environment (PCE). The PCE Director will then issue
All of the nodes that are approved will also need a permit(s) from the City’s Public Works Department and will have to conform with the Council-approved Master License Agreement governing installation on City poles.
What’s the status of the formal applications and the City’s schedule for considering them?
The Verizon small cell nodes are being processed in groups or “clusters” of 15-20 individual sites in different geographic areas of the City.
Vinculums/Verizon Cluster 1 involves locations in the Midtown area, Cluster 2 in Barron Park area and Cluster 3 in Old Palo Alto and surrounding areas.
Dec.7 is the first public ARB meeting for the Verizon’s Cluster 1 formal application. A second ARB meeting on Jan. 18, 2018 is targeted for the continued hearing. The ARB is requested to make a recommendation to the PCE Director. The PCE Director’s decision is final with respect to each individual
What’s the status of the informal/preliminary review application and what is the City’s schedule for considering them?
The ARB held a preliminary review
- Architectural Review Board Regular Meeting Agenda: September 21, 2017 - http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/61859
- 17PLN-00193 Crown Preliminary Architectural Review Staff Report - http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/61856
- Architectural Review Board Regular Meeting Video: September 21, 2017 -
- Architectural Review Board Regular Meeting Minutes: September 21, 2017 - http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/61851
What do small cell facilities look like?
All of these small cell nodes are proposed to be installed on existing/replacement poles and some may involve placing boxes similar to utility cabinets along sidewalks. A non-functioning example of Vinculums/Verizon’s small cell node and equipment has been installed near 1320 Newell Road. This is not necessarily the final design.
Can the City reject all of the applications and just say “no”?
Both state and federal law
State law grants telecommunications companies a general right to construct facilities in the public right of way, so long as these fixtures do not inconvenience the public. The City may
Federal law also provides that the City cannot prohibit, or effectively prohibit, the provision of wireless telecommunications services. Under this law, if the City denies an application under its permit review process, a wireless carrier may attempt to show that its proposal is necessary to address a significant gap in coverage and that the denial would effectively prohibit wireless service. Federal law also limits the City’s ability to consider RF emissions and sets a “shot clock” of 90 days for collocation on existing facilities and 150 days for new facilities. The shot clock begins when an application is filed. The City has asserted that these applications are for new wireless facilities, subject to a
When will I be able to provide comments?
The City is actively receiving public comments on all pending applications. ARB meetings are open to the public, as are City Council hearings. You are welcome to attend any of their noticed meetings and provide oral comments or to send written comments in advance of the meetings. Small cell comments may be directed to the Project Planner, Rebecca Atkinson, at email@example.com. As always, comments may also be directed to the ARB and the City Council.
Will I be noticed of public hearing(s)?
When a formal application is first submitted, an initial notice is sent to all neighbors within 600 feet of a proposed
ARB agendas and staff reports will be available on the ARB webpage.
Public hearings may also be viewed online here.
How can I appeal a decision by the PCE Director?
The Director’s decisions on each of the wireless communication facility nodes become final and effective fourteen (14) calendar days from the postmark date of a decision letter and/or notice card mailing (or on the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday), unless appeal(s)
What are additional ways to follow these projects?
Information on major Planning applications
All Planning applications are available on the City’s Building Eye webpage.
Note – As these small cell nodes are grouped into clusters and located within the right-of-way, the City has chosen to aggregate the nodes under the placeholder address of “250 Hamilton."
How can I contact Verizon directly?
- For Vinculums/Verizon, contact Mary Diesch, Site Acquisition Manager, Small Cells, 415-730-3700, firstname.lastname@example.org
- For Crown Castle/
Verizon ,contact Rochelle Swanson, Project Manager, 916-801-3178, email@example.com
How can I contact AT&T directly?
- For Sure Site/AT&T Mobility, contact Laura Meiners, Site Development Specialist, West Region, Sure Site 949-278-2962, firstname.lastname@example.org