Cell Tower Permitting Bill Vetoed by Jerry Brown
In a win for local governments, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have streamlined the permitting process for high-speed wireless services in California.
Senate Bill 649, authored by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and co-authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), was heavily backed by the cell phone industry. Supporters claimed it would significantly increase connectivity, improve cell phone service, and create a number of jobs around the state. But local governments were opposed to the legislation from the outset because it would have diminished their power in determining where equipment for new 5G cellular service would be placed.
“This proposal unnecessarily and unconstitutionally strips local authority over public property and shuts out public input and local discretion by eliminating consideration of the aesthetic and environmental impacts of ‘small cells,’” warned the League of California Cities.
The governor agreed. In vetoing the legislation, he said SB 649 would have taken too much power away from cities and counties. Had it been signed, critics worried that as many as 50,000 new cellular antennas would have been installed on public buildings and utility poles without the say of local governments. In addition to their unsightliness, they worried that the flurry of new devices could have exposed California towns to excessive radiation.