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Wireless telecommunications equipment policy approved by Del Mar council

The next wave of wireless communications technology is arriving.

Del Mar council members took action Monday, April 1, to ensure the city is prepared for the trend.

They approved a policy setting design standards for the installation of small cellular wireless facilities within the city’s public right-of-way.

The technology, known as 5G for “fifth generation,” enables functions such as the operation of driverless vehicles and the ability of motorists to locate vacant parking spaces.

In contrast to the towers that support the last generation of wireless technology, 5G antennas don’t have to be located as high and the supporting equipment is not as bulky.

However, the facilities employ shorter wavelengths, so they have to be placed more closely together.

Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland calculated that for Del Mar to have total coverage, nearly 500 systems would have to be installed. She wondered if the city could systemize the placements.

The installations, however, now stem from applications from telecommunications providers, including Verizon and T-Mobile.

The policy adopted by the council limits where the facilities could be located and how their aesthetic impact must be minimized.

Council members passed a resolution establishing the policy to meet an April 15 deadline imposed by a Federal Communications Commission ruling.

To ignore the deadline would put the city at risk of losing control over design considerations, which could be superseded by laxer federal regulations. The FCC strictly limits the ability of local government agencies to prohibit or restrict telecommunications facilities.

Putting the policy in place now enables the city to process applications, while its staff develops a more comprehensive approach.

“It’s somewhat of an important step for us to have 5G connectivity,” Mayor David Druker said.

Among the requirements established in the policy:

*Small cell wireless facilities must be located at least 350 feet apart.

*They should not disrupt public views in residential zones.

*They should not be located on structures higher than 26 feet.

*Antennas and associated equipment should be concealed.

*Accessory equipment should be placed underground where possible.

Several residents sent letters raising concerns about the policy to the city after the council agenda had been published and urged postponement of action. No one from the public appeared at the council meeting to speak on the issue.


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