Ordinance proposed to mitigate neighborhood impacts of utility boxes

Reacting to a backlash against the installation of hundreds of AT&T utility boxes on sidewalks, city officials have proposed new measures such as allowing the community to paint murals on them and requiring the telecommunications company to pay more than $1,600 in fees per proposed site.

Legislation drafted by Supervisor Scott Wiener would seek to mitigate neighborhood impacts by establishing a clearer notification process for when a box is proposed, allowing artwork to be painted on the structures and requiring AT&T to maintain landscaping to screen them. [jump]
On Monday, Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee members said they expect to approve the legislation next week in time for a May 13 vote by the full board.

Any utility box application would come with city fees totaling $1,632, the cost of having several city departments review the plan. The City would also study the feasibility of underground installations each year and utility boxes would be placed underground where feasible.

The legislation would also impose fines and require box removal if utility companies repeatedly fail to keep a box free of graffiti. In total, AT&T has planned installing 700 cabinets — 4 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep — for its U-verse service.

State law permits utility companies to use public rights of way for installation of equipment for services. But The City can establish a public process and guidelines for regulating such structures.

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