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AB57 Muddled Even More: Fire Station Carve-out

Yesterday, August 18th, AB 57 was amended by the authors, Verizon and AT&T Assembly Member Bill Quirk adding two new sections, and modifying one existing section.

First, prior language in the Bill that connected it to the FCC Shot Clock Report and Order was monkeyed-with so that if the FCC changes it shot clock rules, those changes will have no impact on this legislation, and will not be automatically imported into the California law. Federalism is so fun when states can ignore it.

Next, for the second change, relying on make believe language, the author(s) added the following:

Due to the unique duties and infrastructure requirements for the swift and effective deployment of firefighters, this section does not apply to a collocation or siting application for a wireless telecommunications facility where the project is proposed for placement on fire department facilities.

While firefighters have unique duties and infrastructure requirements, does anyone really believe they extend to sleeping in firestations? Ahemmm. If I’m run a hospital or an emergency care facility, are those “unique duties and infrastructure requirements” more unique and critical compared with where firefighters sleep? How about skilled-care nursing facilities? What about public schools where young minds are developed?

In reality, the authors added this section simply to pander to firefighters who have strongly opposed the bill because of their well-known and stated fears of radio frequency transmissions from towers. This fear is an issue federally preempted in the Telecom Act.

Third, tossing a two-dimensional bone to city and county governments, the authors added this language:

Except as provided in subdivision (a), nothing in this section limits or affects the authority of a city or county over decisions regarding the placement, construction, and modification of a wireless telecommunications facility.

This language is simply fluff.

Worse yet, AB 57 (still) doesn’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

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