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  • Writer's pictureLinda Bogue

Small cell towers: Do you care where they're located or how they look in your neighborhood?

Sacramento may take away more local rights, unless we speak up. The telecommunications industry, with its powerful lobbyists, is again working the state legislature to further reduce already limited local authority about where small cell towers can be located and what the towers can look like. They want the rules for San Mateo County (and everywhere else) to be drafted in Sacramento. If this concerns you, then local voices need to be heard, urgently, as hearings on these bills are coming up. Speak up now – before April 19 and again if these bills move forward -- or we could end up with no say about unsightly versions of cell towers that may be installed too close to our homes. (Find info. about how to reach our legislators below.)

Right now, two worrisome bills that would impose rules unfavorable to cities are being pushed through the legislature - Assembly Bill 537 and Senate Bill 556. You can see these bills at:


Improved cell coverage is needed in places, but these bills grease installations with little regard or recourse for residential neighborhoods’ concerns about cell tower proximity or appearance. If you’re not comfortable with that disenfranchisement, take a minute to email and/or call State Senator Josh Becker and State Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, San Mateo County representatives in the state legislature. Ask them to vote “No” on these bills. Action steps are simple: just convey “Please vote “No” on AB 537 and SB 556.” (Their contact info follows.) The hearing on SB 556 is coming up on April 19th, so it’s important to act quickly!

Please also email and/or call State Senator Ben Hueso, who is chair of the committee hearing SB 556 on April 19th.

Contact information: Senator Becker (Click on “Contact,” and fill in the form.) Local telephone number: 650-212-3317

Assemblymember Mullin (for San Mateo, Hillsborough, Burlingame): (Click on “Contact” and fill in the form.) Local telephone number: 650-349-2200

Senator Hueso, Chair, Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications: (Click on “Contact” and fill in the form.) Sacramento telephone number: 916-651-4040 District telephone number: 619-409-7690

Note: Verizon et al. succeeded in getting comparable legislation passed a couple of years ago, only to have Jerry Brown veto it. But Governor Brown is no longer in office, which is why the telecommunications industry is going for a second bite at the apple. They like their chances, especially if these bills remain under the radar of local constituents.

See the City of San Mateo website for applications currently pending before the City:

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