Location and Aesthetics
Under 332(c)(7)(B)(i)(II) of the federal Telecommunication Act of 1996, the City may not regulate the placement, construction, or modification of wireless service facilities in a manner that effectively prohibits the provision of personal wireless services; however, local governments may review a proposal for aesthetic considerations and require a design that is visually compatible with the surrounding area.
Furthermore, on January 14, 2019, FCC Regulatory Order 18-133 was issued rejecting the prior interpretation of “effective prohibition” that allows cities to make decisions on a small cell proposal based on a “significant gap in coverage” and the “least visually intrusive” design and location. Instead, the FCC adopted a lower threshold. Thus, “effective prohibition” occurs when a City “materially limits or inhibits the ability of any competitor or potential competitor to compete in a fair and balanced legal and regulatory environment.”
Health and Safety
Pursuant to Mobile Services provisions of the Telecommunications Act, 47 U.S.C 332(c)(7)(B)(iv), a local government may not regulate the site of wireless telecommunication facilities on the basis of the perceived health effects of radio frequency (RF) emissions if the proposed facilities comply with FCC regulations concerning such emissions.
Any small cell facility proposed in the City is required to comply with Title 47 - FCC’s rules and regulations, including those related to FCC Radio Frequency Safety Guidelines. Within 30 days of the installation of a telecommunications facility, the City requires each applicant to submit to the City Development Services Department an in-field Radio Frequency (RF) analysis from an RF Engineer which details the amount and location of emissions from the telecommunications facility measured in field. The RF Engineer must certify that the facility, as installed, complies with all applicable RF-related FCC regulations.
FCC has adopted “shot clocks” that establish specific deadlines within which local governments must complete their review and approve or deny a wireless facility proposal. Per FCC Order 18-133, the City must process small cell facilities within the required 60-day and 90-day shot clocks for colocations and new facilities, respectively, or the facility is automatically approved.