S.F. board signals antenna oversight

The City is cracking down on the installation of so-called microcell antennas after residents complained that they have popped up around The City with no public review.

On Monday, the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee sent to the full board two pieces of legislation that would provide residents as well as The City with more say about where and how these microcell antennas are installed.

The legislation was criticized by telecommunications companies who said the controls could result in poor cell phone service or higher rates for cell phone users.

There are six cell phone providers in San Francisco and firms typically use the microcell antennas to fill in pocket areas that have sketchy service. There are about 530 sites in The City with wireless telecommunications antennas.

North Beach resident Robert Hinish has complained that three microcell antennas were placed on his apartment rooftop without any notification and the wiring created a safety hazard.

The wiring, he said, could impede fire fighters. Others cited concerns about health, claiming that the antennas emit frequencies (which are allowable under federal guidelines) that could cause health risks.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin introduced legislation that would require notification of the installation of antennas and allow residents to have a public review of the installation, which would be handled at the Planning Commission and Board of Appeals level.

Proponents of the legislation, however, wanted tougher legislation, such as requiring a conditional use permit, which comes with a more extensive public notification and also allows an appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

“It is my belief this is a big step in the right direction,” Peskin said. “I think this is the appropriate step at this time.”

The Departmentof Public Works introduced legislation that establishes a permitting and notification process for microcell antennas on The City’s public rights of way, such as light and telephone poles.

Under the legislation, an antenna would require a permit from DPW and three other city departments, including the Recreation and Park Department. Each department would charge a permit fee ranging from $75 to $155 per antenna.

Permit issuance would be based on a number of factors, including whether it would impact a “valued scenic” view.

“Obviously, the people want good [cell phone] service and this makes it extremely difficult for carriers to provide it in a way that it should be provided,” said Paul Albritton, an attorney representing wireless companies in San Francisco. Albritton said the process would be burdensome and expensive, which could result in poor service or higher cell phone rates.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on both pieces of legislation Aug. 14.

jsabatini@examiner.com


Is the microcell antenna legislation fair?

Share your comments below.

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (a mural by artist Jamie Treacy is pictued) has a lineup of free online programming including activities for youngsters scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. (Courtesy Demetri Broxton/Museum of the African Diaspora)
Stanford, Museum of the African Diaspora host MLK Day activities

Online offerings include films, music, discussion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides the US House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol, January 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. - The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on January 13 opened debate on a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump over his supporters' attack of the Capitol that left five dead. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
House votes 232-197 to impeach Trump a second time

Focus shifts to Senate, where McConnell has signaled he may not stand by president

Most Read