Wireless facilities in the public right-of-way

Wireless facilityThe City of Santa Ana regulates the use of wireless facilities in a  uniform and comprehensive  manner to provide opportunities to supply  wireless communication services in the City. The following  information is for wireless facilities in the public right-of-way. Wireless facilities installations not within the public right-of-way, such as on privately owned property or on City owned property, including parks, are regulated by the City's Planning and Building Agency.

Legal authority of wireless carriers

Small cell wireless facilities are subject to various federal, state, and local laws.  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorizes local governments to regulate the placement, construction, and modification of wireless facilities but sets specific limitations on that authority (47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(7)). The limitations are that the City:

  • Shall not regulate the placement, construction, and modification of wireless facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions if the site is FCC compliant
  • Shall not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services
  • Shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of wireless services.

In addition, wireless carriers are public utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) . As public utilities, wireless carriers possess legal authority to install wireless facilities and wires, such as fiber optic lines, in the public right-of-way (Public Utilities Code 7901). However, the City has the right to exercise reasonable control as to the time, place, and manner that the public right-of-way is accessed (Public Utilities Code 7901.1).

Local regulations

The City has adopted Article X of Chapter 33 of the Santa Ana Municipal Code on wireless facilities in the public right-of-way  to establish standards and guidelines for wireless facilities.  The Municipal Code also authorizes the Public Works Director to amend the design guidelines and standards as may be necessary.

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