The Santa Barbara City Council ended the lack of oversight of small-cell-tower installation during its Tuesday meeting.
City staff spent months crafting an ordinance that would comply with restrictive Federal Communications Commission rules yet satisfy the watchful eyes of Safe Technology for Santa Barbara County.
Safe Technology is a group of citizens who seek to “educate our community about the adverse cumulative effects of invisible wireless Radio Frequency Radiation,” according to its website.
The group hired Andrew Campanelli, principal litigator at Campanelli & Associates, which represents its business at AntiCellTowerLawyers.com. Despite the name “Campanelli & Associates,” Mr. Campanelli only lists one other attorney on the website, who is “of counsel.”
The city’s Ordinance Committee listened to the advice of Mr. Campanelli, which included an application checklist that soon became controversial.
City Attorney Ariel Calonne warned against codifying a checklist, for applications must be reviewed expeditiously or the wireless company has the right to install the tower.
“We think that putting a council-level requirement for review as a mandate will likely lead to unwanted cell towers — and that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” Mr. Calonne said. “I want to go back to a year and a half ago: I made a commitment to the city council to bring you the most protective ordinance we could.”
Councilmember Kristen Sneddon maintained interest in the checklist.
Councilmember Mike Jordan said he felt like the city “bent over backwards.”
“I think this has been a remarkably extraordinary process, none that none like I have in 10 years as a planning commissioner, frankly,” he said.
He said the ordinance can be amended if the council finds flaws.
“I would presume that while we’re doing this and while we have been doing this, installations are going on under no ordinance, and I just want to get the ordinance out there,” he said.
Mayor Cathy Murillo thanked Safe Technology members for their contributions to the ordinance.
Mr. Calonne also said he believes it improved because of community input.