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California AB 57 to be Signed by Gov. Brown Today

I have learned that Gov. Brown is expected to sign AB 57 into law later today.  The provisions of the new law will become effective on January 1, 2016.  AB 57 says that if a local government does not approve or disapprove a wireless project within 150 days for a new site, or 90 days for a collocation NOT subject to Section 6409(a), then the project is deemed approved by operation of law.

This is a major lobbying victory for the wireless industry, and firefighters who received a special carve-out in the law in trade for their support of the bill.   It’s also likely a major campaign funding victory for the Bill’s author, Assembly Member Bill Quirk (but that remains to be disclosed).

For the firefighters, their carve-out is skin deep since nothing in the law accomplishes their apparent goal of barring cell sites from being located on fire department properties.

What’s next?  I’m sure that some local governments here in California will start the process of modifying their local wireless ordinances to reflect this new–if unsettled–reality.

Here is the text of AB 57 as expected to be signed by Gov. Brown later today:

SECTION 1. Section 65964.1 is added to the Government Code, to read:

65964.1.
(a) A collocation or siting application for a wireless telecommunications facility, as defined in Section 65850.6, shall be deemed approved if all of the following occur:

(1) The city or county fails to approve or disapprove the application within a reasonable period of time in accordance with the time periods and procedures established by applicable FCC decisions. The reasonable period of time may be tolled to accommodate timely requests for information required to complete the application or may be extended by mutual agreement between the applicant and the local government, consistent with applicable FCC decisions.

(2) The applicant has provided all public notices regarding the application that the applicant is required to provide under applicable laws consistent with the public notice requirements for the application.

(3)
(A) The applicant has provided notice to the city or county that the reasonable time period has lapsed and that the application is deemed approved pursuant to this section.

(B) Within 30 days of the notice provided pursuant to subparagraph (A), the city or county may seek judicial review of the operation of this section on the application.

(b) This section does not apply to eligible facilities requests.

(c) The Legislature finds and declares that a wireless telecommunications facility has a significant economic impact in California and is not a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution, but is a matter of statewide concern.

(d) As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) “Applicable FCC decisions” means In re Petition for Declaratory Ruling, 24 FCC Rcd. 13994 (2009) and In the Matter of Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies, Report and Order, 29 FCC Rcd. 12865 (2014).

(2) “Eligible facilities request” has the same meaning as in Section 1455 of Title 47 of the United States Code.

(e) 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.

(f) 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.

-Jonathan

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