Very late last night (October 15, 2017), Governor Jerry Brown VETOED Senate Bill 649 (Hueso). Thank you Gov. Brown!
SB 649 was nothing more than an obscene transfer of wealth away from California citizens to wireless industry and cable TV industry shareholders by way of grossly reduced site rental fees, far below their fair market value. A diversion of funds that currently goes to offset public safety costs like police and fire services.
What did the industry promise in SB 649 to do for the incredible gifts of public funds and public property?
Perhaps a duty to provide 5G services anywhere in California? Nope, not in SB 649.
Perhaps a duty to provide 4G (or even 3G) services to under- and un-served areas of California? Nope, not in SB 649.
Maybe some duty to provide an earthquake early warning system, which the carriers told legislators could only be provided by 5G? Nope, not in SB 649.
Maybe some duty to close the ever-widening digital divide in California? Nope, not in SB 649.
Maybe a duty to provide a non-actionable report to the Legislature? Yup. This was the only actual duty on the industry in SB 649. One that was truly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
SB 649 was a multi-billion dollar sham almost perpetrated on Californians by Sen. Hueso and Asm. Quirk, the co-sponsors, on behalf of their patrons, the wireless industry and the cable TV industry. A sham that would have caused local government to raise taxes to replace the non-tax revenues paid by the wireless industry for fair-market site rentals.
SB 649 was opposed by nearly 300 local governments and government associations representing over 95% of the citizens of California who knew that they were being taken for a ride. It was also opposed by the AARP and the Teamsters.
It took the vision and courage of Governor Jerry Brown to VETO this horrible bill, and all local governments and their citizens in this Golden State thank him for his leadership and courage to buck the will of the wireless industry!
My partner, Robert (“Tripp”) May points out that Governor Brown sent us all an important message in his veto statement. Governor Brown said in relevant part:
There is something of real value in having a process that results in extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently. Nevertheless, I believe that the interest which localities have in managing the rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.
Tripp notes that this is a value proposition: Each side should get real value. SB 649 had no real value for the people of California because there were no real duties on the part of the wireless industry. Value isn’t found in a blatant wealth transfer that results in the reduction in police and fire funding. When the wireless industry gets that key point, and is prepared to discuss a true small cell bill (sorry…35 cubic feet is not small) they will find willing negotiators in California’s local government community, and among our partners.
To read Governor Brown’s veto message, click on the following link: Sb_649_Veto_Message_2017