Wireless Facility & Topics

Town Seal


Public Concerns Regarding

Wireless Deregulatory Senate Bill 649


The California Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee voted to approve SB 649.  That bill will be heard next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A hearing date and time has yet to be announced, we expect that Committee to hear the bill sometime in August.


Under existing law, a wireless telecommunications collocation facility are subject to a city or county discretionary permit and are required to comply with specified criteria.  SB 649 would provide that a small cell--including the supporting antennas and related equipment--would be considered a state-mandated permitted use, and not subject to the Town’s discretionary permit or standards. The bill would define the term “small cell” for these purposes as being up to 35 cubic feet of ground equipment, 21 cubic feet of pole-mounted equipment, plus 6 cubic feet for antennas.

This bill contains the provision just described, plus additional provisions that are expected to negatively impact the aesthetics of your community. Click (here) to view more information on SB 649


SB 649 makes key changes to existing state cell site laws, the following two of which are unprecedented:

  1. It forces cities and counties to make essentially all of their public property available for cell site equipment installations.  
  2. It eliminates negotiated leases at fair market value.  Instead, SB649 places an artificial and arbitrary $250 cap and a confusing attachment rate instead of fair market value. This essentially shifts the cost of site acquisition and recurrent rent away from the shareholders and on to the backs of the citizens of the State of California.

A 3rd key change the bill makes is sweeping as SB 649:                

  • Eliminates public input, reasonable local discretion, and ability to reduce equipment blight by using state-required use permits instead of local discretionary permits.          
    Eliminates any conditional requirements to provide public benefits for use of public property outside of the public right-of-way.           
  • Specifically prohibits “in-kind” conditions for issuing a permit such as free Wi-Fi in public parks as a condition of the permit.
    Eliminates ability to deny or remove equipment that blights neighborhoods.
    These permitting changes are significant because:                             
  • The bill allows for multiple antennas as large as 6 cubic feet, associated and ground mounted equipment totaling 35 cubic feet, with no size or quantity limitations for a host of “ancillary” equipment.                           
  • To be clear, state law permits cell sites on utility poles.  SB 649 goes after street lights, stop signs, traffic signs, Town monument signs, traffic lights, and public buildings such as the Town Hall.  Currently, without SB 649, our citizens have a say in cell siting; under SB 649 most cell sites will not be subject to citizen input.                          
  • Gives the wireless industry nearly total control over the use of publicly-paid for infrastructure without imposing any meaningful requirements that they use the facilities appropriately, or pay a fair market rent for the use of the public’s property.






  • The “small cells” are not actually that small. They can be as large as six cubic feet for the antennas, 21 cubic feet for its “associated equipment” on the pole structures, and 35 cubic feet for ground-mounted equipment                  
  • The bill removes public input and meaningful design review for highly visible so-called “small cell” installations.             
  • Cities would need to adopt a resolution for each of their own street or traffic lights for uses such as police cameras or solar panels, giving “small cells” priority access to the public’s paid-for infrastructure.               
  • There are no size or quantity limitations for the “ancillary equipment” which includes electric meters, pedestals, concealment elements, telecommunications demarcation boxes, grounding equipment, power transfer switches, cutoff switches, and vertical cable runs for every small cell installed.  They all fall outside of the 6, 21, and 35 cubic foot limits.               
  • In order for these “small cells” to be reliable, they would need to be installed in close proximity (likely a 100 to 200 feet from one another) to one another and each pole/city property subject to the bill would need to be made available to every provider because of the non-discrimination clause in this bill.              
  • The bill preserves full discretionary authority only in coastal zones and historic districts, every other community will lose their full discretion, but this has no impact on the Town.              
  • Ultimately, SB 649 and its proposed amendments would unnecessarily shut out public input when a better approach would be one that encourages coordination and vision for “small cell” deployment in a way that works best for each city


Call your Assembly Member and Senator. Urge them to oppose this giveaway of community control and resources. The wireless industry lobbyists are already working on them. 

Local state elected officials that represent the Town of Hillsborough:

Senator Jerry Hill – District 13                          

  • Mail: 1528 South El Camino Real, Suite 303 - San Mateo, CA 94402                          
  • Phone: (650) 212-3313
  • E-mail

Assembly Member Kevin Mullin – District 22              

  • Mail: 1528 South El Camino Real, Suite 302 San Mateo, CA 94402              
  • Phone: (650) 349-2200
  • Email


Concerned residents may also contact the state legislators listed below to urge them to oppose SB 649 and its proposed amendments:

                                   Assembly Appropriations Committee

Committee Members Office & Contact Information
Lorena S. Gonzalez Fletcher (Chair) Contact Assembly Member Lorena S. Gonzalez Fletcher Capitol Office, Room 2114
​P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0080; (916) 319-2080
Frank Bigelow (Vice Chair) Contact Assembly Member Frank Bigelow Capitol Office
​P.O. Box 942849, Room 6027, Sacramento, CA 94249-0005; (916) 319-2005
Richard Bloom Contact Assembly Member Richard Bloom Capitol Office, Room 2003
​P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0050; (916) 319-2050
Raul Bocanegra Contact Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra Capitol Office, Room 2175
​P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0039; (916) 319-2039
Rob Bonta Contact Assembly Member Rob Bonta Capitol Office, Room 2148