We promote model legislation in support of closing the digital divide with safer wired fiber-optics instead of harmful wireless infrastructure.

Model Ordinances Protecting Communities

Several cities have passed very good ordinances regulating placement and operation of new or upgraded wireless telecommunications facilities. These are just a few of them:

  • Malibu, CA
  • Encinitas, CA
  • Elk Grove, CA
  • Scarsdale, NY

There is currently a battle over revisions to the Los Angeles County Code, Titles 16 and 22. Lawyers and consultants for Fiber First LA have redlined the proposed changes to the LA County Code with the aim of passing very protective ordinances that will be models for other cities across the country. See documents here.

Protective model ordinances include:

  • advance public notice of proposed new or upgraded wireless telecommunications facilities
  • public hearings prior to approval of applications
  • setbacks from homes, schools, and any facility that would be challenging to evacuate in case of fire
  • safety reviews to mitigate fire hazards
  • environmental and Coastal Commission reviews
  • protections for historical landmarks
  • aesthetic requirements to maintain local standards and protect property values
  • minimum distances between cell towers
  • requirements for regular emissions testing to ensure WTFs are operating within FCC safety limits

Good news! We Won! SB-556 Vetoed

Governor Newsom vetoed the worst of the Terrible Telecom Takeover bills, SB-556.

Thank you for your all efforts to help to defeat these bad Telecom bills.  Please know your efforts made a difference!  Governor Newsom vetoed the worst of the Terrible Telecom Takeover bills, SB-556.

Members of our group spent hours on the phone calling in to committee hearing after committee hearing, and waiting on hold for their turn to speak in opposition to each of the four bills as they wound their way through California State Senate and Assembly committee hearings: SB-556, AB-537, SB-378, and AB-955.

Our group members also sent emails to legislators, called in directly to offices of state Senators and Assembly Members to express opposition via phone, and lodged “position statements” via a very unfriendly website designed to receive constituent feedback ahead of legislative committee meetings.

We met with elected officials and their staff at the local, state, and federal levels to educate them about 5G and demand their help in stopping the roll-out.  We organized meetings between constituents and their representatives in as many districts as we could.

Some of you wrote Letters to the Editor to your local papers. Many of you shared details on the fight via email or social media, or helped pass out informational flyers, growing our numbers of voices expressing dissent to state representatives.

When the final floor vote of the full state legislature was counted, we all had convinced enough legislators to vote against or abstain from voting on SB-556 that Governor Newsom decided there was sufficient public disapproval to veto SB-556.

Talking Points Against SB-556

It would have shortened the FCC’s shot-clock, which would have further undermined the ability of local officials to adequately review telecom applications. It claimed to address the digital divide, but did nothing to address the underlying economic reality.

1. SB-556 shortens the FCC’s already-short shot-clocks, seriously undermining the ability of local governments to adequately review and safely integrate new wireless telecommunications infrastructure into their communities.

  • According to the California League of Cities, “SB-556…requires local governments to make space available to telecommunications providers without recognizing local authority to manage the public right-of-way preserved in federal law.” As such, the League opposes SB- 556.
  • The FCC currently requires localities to respond to applications for the placement of small wireless facilities within 60 to 90 days, depending on the proposed project. This bill shortens that time frame by between 15 and 45 days.
  • Local authorities should not be forced to rush through evaluating up to 300 applications in 45 days. Their careful consideration over the placement of these antennas is critical to reducing the risk of personal injury, damage to homes and property, or catastrophic fires.

2. Telecom corporations have reneged on their promises to bridge the digital divide for decades.

  • There are two ways to access the internet. “Broadband” access can be delivered either via wired (fiber) to the premises or via wireless technology. SB-556 is misleading because it equates the term “broadband” solely with “wireless broadband.” Wireless broadband is the most expensive type of broadband service for consumers, the least reliable type of broadband connection, but is the most profitable for telecom corporations.
  • The investment required to bring broadband services to rural and underserved communities has proved financially unattractive to telecom corporations. This bill does nothing to address broadband access and affordability issues.
  • According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the best solution to bridge the digital divide for underserved communities is safe, reliable, affordable community fiber connections to homes, schools and businesses. SB-556 diminishes opportunities for local governments to take advantage of this option, with the State putting its thumb on the scale in favor of wireless broadband.