Council to consider wireless ordinance changes

WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville City Council will consider updating a city ordinance Tuesday to comply with state and federal laws on wireless facilities.

Cellular providers have recently developed smaller wireless antennae systems that can be installed on structures such as street lights and buildings. These facilities help fill in gaps in network coverage, and are also less expensive for providers compared to installing cell towers, Senior Utilities Engineer Tom Sharp told the Watsonville Planning Commission during a meeting on March 6.

Local jurisdictions cannot deny permits based on radio frequency emissions or adopt regulations that prevent personal wireless service, as state and federal laws trump local government when it comes to approving these facilities, according to Sharp.

The state also requires jurisdictions to process permits for new wireless facilities under 150 days, or 90 days if the permit calls for collocating a facility.

Watsonville’s current policy requires a public hearing to take place for a proposed installation.

The proposed ordinance would require permits to be processed through the Public Works and Utilities Department. A notice would be posted at the site that includes contact information of both the applicant and Public Works, but a public hearing would not take place.

The ordinance would also list the city’s preferences for the facilities, with street lights on public roads at the top of the list.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council will consider approving a list of transportation projects to be completed over the next five years.

The projects, which include signage, road reconstruction and other work across various city streets, will be funded by Measure D and Senate Bill 1.


The Watsonville City Council will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 275 Main St., fourth floor. To view the agenda, visit


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