The City of Santa Rosa is exploring the need for an ordinance to regulate certain aspects of the location, design, and placement of small cell antenna. Small cell antenna (also known as small cells or single small antenna) are small short-range cellular transmitters placed on existing utility poles—mainly steel street lights and wood powerline poles—to provide cellular service for wireless devices such as smart phones, tablets, health monitors, among others.
In general, there are three types of poles in the public right-of-way in the City that can have small cells attached: (1) PG&E-owned poles, most of which are made of wood; (2) City-owned poles for traffic and street lighting, most of which are made of steel; and (3) those where the City has joint ownership. A small cell ordinance would expand design guidelines, align and improve noticing requirements, streamline the review process, and build a public process to address small cells inclusion on City-owned or joint-owned poles in the CIty.
In addition, in response to several telecommunication company inquiries, the City is considering a pilot program to test the general aesthetics and the placement of small cells on poles. This pilot program would limit small cell antenna to commercial areas to start.