AT&T sues SF over installation of utility boxes

AT&T filed a lawsuit against The City and its Public Works Department on Monday, in which the company alleges that The City has willfully denied it the permits it needs to install 26 utility boxes.

The lawsuit claims that city and state law require San Francisco either to approve the permit for a utility box installation or approve the permit for another, preferable location. “Instead, respondents have denied multiple applications on the ground that installation at another location would be more appropriate — without approving installation at any alternative location, and sometimes without even specifying where the supposedly better location might be,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also alleges that the city has failed to respond to 67 permit applications within the required 60 day period. According to the document, this "unlawful conduct has deprived many citizens of San Francisco of access to low-cost, competitive video and broadband services.”

However, citizens of San Francisco have also opposed the utility boxes and the Board of Supervisors recently approved legislation authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener that would charge the telecommunications company $1,632 for the installation of each utility box.

The legislation also imposes fines and requires box removal if AT&T repeatedly fails to remove graffiti from the box. AT&T has planned installing 700 cabinets — 4 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep — for its U-verse service.

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