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T-Mobile’s New Bill in California

sb1252 padlockT-Mobile, the wireless telephone carrier, has sourced a Bill carried by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles, 20th District) that would, during proclaimed emergencies or upon the declaration of an emergency by the President, allow wireless telecommunications carriers to enter onto public property and set up emergency re­placement cell sites for existing sites that are “significantly impaired or rendered inop­erable by the conditions causing that emergency” (although neither term is defined, and presumably are up to the wireless carrier to self-determine).

Under Gov. Code § 830 ‘Public property’ means real or personal prop­erty owned or controlled by the public entity, but does not include easements, encroachments and other property that are located on the property of the public entity but are not owned or controlled by the public entity. Generally speaking, public property includes all real property owned by the local government or public agency including, for example, a local government’s offices; a public agency’s offices; schools; corporation and maintenance yards; pump stations; wells, water tanks; parks; open space; police and fire stations; government training facilities; jails; municipal airports; etc.

Emergency wireless sites allowed under SB 1252 would be “temporary” installations, however the term ‘temporary’ is not time-defined in the Bill. There is a minimal (and potentially ineffective) prior notice requirement of the wireless carrier’s entry of the public property. There is a post-occupancy notice requirement, and a permit process commencement requirement, but no procedure other than judicial to eject an uncooperative occupying carrier if the permit is denied.

The Bill provides a severely time-restricted opportunity for a limited class of public property owners to opt out of the requirements of SB 1252 at existing radio sites, but not at all public prop­erty sites. The time restriction is limited to within 6 hours of the declaration or procla­mation of an emergency. To be effective, the actual notice must be received by the wireless carrier within that time.

There is no compensation requirement for the carrier’s occupancy of the public property.

The Bill provides that the wireless carrier will indemnify and hold harmless a limited class of public property owners, but no defense of the public property owner is pro­vided for in the Bill.

This Bill has cleared the California Senate, and is now in the Assembly, where it is cur­rently being held at the desk. It needs to stay there, or to be dramatically altered.

As of May 14, 2008, the following groups have officially supported the Bill: T-Mobile (source); California Chamber of Commerce; CTIA – The Wireless Association; the League of California Cities; and the Sheriff-Coroner of San Bernardino County.

A section-by-section analysis of the proposed legislation is available online. CLICK HERE to download the PDF file.

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