The emergence of 5G has brought more public attention to cell sites — devices some may desire to be nearby for increased connectivity while others despair for fear of radio waves.
The Santa Barbara City Council Ordinance Committee may approve new regulations regarding the installation of small wireless facilities during its meeting today at 12:30 p.m.
Small wireless facilities are often added to public property, like streetlights. Lately, neighbors have been voicing concerns to the City Council about the proposed additions.
One resident appealed a city decision to approve the addition of a 4G facility in a neighborhood, concerned it would upset her garden. Others worry about cancer or other health risks from being exposed to radiofrequency fields.
The World Health Organization does not expect public health consequences from exposure to 5G. International guidelines are to stay below radiofrequencies 300 GHz, no matter what generation the connectivity.
“To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies,” the WHO says on its website.
The city’s Small Wireless Facilities Ordinance has been under review for months. City staff initially released a draft in December 2020.
Resident input, meetings with wireless companies and a 42-page analysis from a law firm guided changes.
The Federal Communications Commission prohibits cities from controlling wireless facilities on the basis of alleged health effects. Appeals must also avoid mention of health.
The city of Santa Barbara may only rule on the time, place and manner (including aesthetics) of the antennas.
The proposed ordinance sets preferred locations and allows applicants to justify less convenient locations. Preferred places would avoid residential or historic neighborhoods, schools and hospitals and have a reduced aesthetic impact on the community.
Installed devices must submit confirmation that they comply with federal radiofrequency law.
The ordinance also specifies aesthetic standards so the device blends with the area. In one previous case, an antenna was disguised as a faux decorative light fixture to blend in with the streetlights on State Street.
Additional provisions, such as fire standards and insurance are included.
The Santa Barbara City Council will hear a proposal from the Library Department to transfer its integrated library system from Black Gold, a program the library pays to manage the files, to an independent program.
The first-year cost is $50,530, and each additional year is $21,900. The migration is estimated to take six months.
Library staff believe the change is integral to service improvements.
The City Council will also begin the planning process for a solid waste disposal contract. The 10-year contract with MarBorg Industries expires June 7, 2023.
Laws have changed since the last agreement, so the next contract will likely look different.
Meetings are streamed live on City TV Channel 18.
To watch the City Council meeting online, go to santabarbaraca.gov/cap. To join the meeting and make a public comment, visit attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8435190843049644301.
The Ordinance Committee meeting is online at santabarbaraca.gov/gov/cityhall/council/ordinance/videos.asp. To join the Ordinance Committee meeting and make a public comment, go to attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1303526428363398157.