U.S. wireless carrier Verizon has reportedly taken the California beach town of Capitola to court over what it called an “onerous and intrusive regulatory scheme” that effectively bans the installation of new wireless infrastructure.
According to Courthouse News, Verizon’s efforts to expand coverage in the area have been stymied by the city’s restrictive regulations surrounding wireless communication facilities.
In question is Capitola’s ordinance 17:98, which, among other things, specifies wireless infrastructure is prohibited within five hundred feet of residential areas, parks or public facilities. Exceptions to the 500-foot rule only grant an extra 200 feet of wiggle room for telco companies, meaning no infrastructure can be built within 300 feet of a residential structure.
The ordinance also specifies preferred antenna siting and mounting techniques.
“The ordinance is so restrictive that it effectively bars new wireless facilities in most of the city, even if they have no significant visual or other impacts,” Verizon said in its complaint.
In court documents, Verizon argued many of the specifications are “insignificant” from a land-use perspective and were impeding a “significant” upgrade for Verizon customers in the area. The carrier further charged the ordinance violates federal laws by interfering in the federal government’s regulation of wireless telecommunications technology.
The complaint follow’s Capitola’s rejection of a permit request submitted by Verizon in July 2015. The application, which sought permission to build a tower within 240 feet of a residence, was rejected after six months in the city council’s hands on the grounds it violated the requirements of ordinance 17:98.
Verizon has asked the United States District Court of Northern California to declare Capitola’s ordinance is prevented by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The carrier is also seeking a permanent ban on enforcement of the ordinance.
But Verizon better hope the court overturns the entire ordinance rather than just striking down part of it.
Capitola’s ordinance 17:98 contains a clause at the end that would exempt the remainder of the chapter from any rulings striking down only a section or portion of the ordinance.
“If any section or portion of this chapter is found to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such finding shall not affect the validity of the remainder of the chapter, which shall continue in full force and effect,” the ordinance reads.
Filed Under: Infrastructure