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Council adopts federal 5G site guidelines

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution to update the Guidelines for Site Selection, Visual Impact and Screening of Telecommunications, to create a comprehensive set of design criteria for small wireless facilities.

They had little choice. Had they chosen not to adopt the guidelines, the City would default to the government regulations pertaining to the facilities, certain portions of which are related to design criteria, which took effect Monday. City staff expects worldwide deployment of fifth generation wireless infrastructure to begin in 2020, with 5G phones currently on the market.

“These are going to happen,” said Matt Lawson, chair of the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee. “We don’t have that much control.”

Asked how much discretion the City has, City Attorney Philip Kohn said, “The short answer is very little.”

There will be even more 5G installations than the current number, according to Associate City Planner Anthony Viera, who made the presentation to the council. Neighborhoods that have undergrounded their utilities might see new poles installed, he said.

“A dim light at the end of the tunnel is based on the House of Representatives working on restoration of some local control,” said Mayor Bob Whalen.

He said the City’s best hope in legislation is based on a previous court challenge by the City some years ago regarding its control of telecommunications installations – but it hadn’t gone well for Laguna.

Six residents urged the council to take whatever steps possible to gain control of the sites.

Fabiola Kinder was especially concerned about locations near schools.

“I hope we will be hypervigilant about this,” said Councilwoman Toni Iseman.

The council will be further updated on the current state of 5G and other new technologies on May 7. The presentation will include a discussion on the impacts and opportunities of the deployment 5G small cell sites in town.