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Solana Beach prepares for new wave of telecom technology

With the next wave of wireless telecommunications technology in progress, the Solana Beach City Council took action recently to comply with recent federal mandates responding to the phenomenon.

The technology, commonly called 5G for “fifth generation,” enables highly complex wireless operations, such as driverless vehicles, that the last generation of cellular telecommunications equipment cannot enable.

The Federal Communications Commission describes the equipment needed for 5G functions as “small wireless facilities.” The antennas and accessory equipment don’t take up as much as space as the last generation of wireless technology.

Nor do the antennas need to be located as high, but since they have shorter wavelengths, they have to be placed more closely together.

To comply with the FCC’s April 15 deadline for local governments to have rules in place on siting wireless facilities in the public right of way, the council voted 5-0 on Wednesday, April 10, to authorize the city manager to establish the policy.

The FCC constrains the ability of cities and counties to limit telecommunications infrastructure so that local agencies cannot in effect prohibit them.

Solana Beach’s proposed policy for the city manager to enact includes a variety of provisions. Applicants must submit a description of the project, construction drawings, a site survey and radio frequency report, pole license agreement and fees, among other requirements.

The community development director would review the applications, notify property owners within 300 feet of the site, and act on the application. Those opposed to the project could appeal the decision to the city manager.

The proposed policy sets forth preferences for locations and support structures.

Under the new federal requirements, the city must take final action on an application within 60 or 90 days depending on the type of small wireless facility.