Applicant: Vinculums, on behalf of GTE Mobilnet dba Verizon Wireless
- Project file number 17PLN-00169
- Vinculums: Mary Diesch firstname.lastname@example.org; 925-482-8563
- City Project Planner: Rebecca Atkinson email@example.com; 650-329-2596
- Application proposes 15 small cell node locations within the Mid-Town, Palo Verde, St. Claire Gardens, and South of Mid-Town neighborhoods.
- These 15 locations comprise Cluster 1, the first part of the overall proposed deployment of 93 small cell node locations throughout the City.
- CEQA Determination: Under Review
- 18.42.110 Wireless Communication Facilities
18.42.110 Wireless Communication Facilities Code
(a) Purpose and Interpretation.
The purpose of this section is two-fold:
(A) to implement within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city the applicable zoning, land use and other laws, rules, regulations and policies and procedures applicable to siting applications filed with the city by wireless communications facilities infrastructure owners and operators and wireless communications service providers, which seek to install or attach their facilities at locations in Palo Alto; and
(B) to accommodate new wireless technologies and continued improvements to existing wireless communications facilities while minimizing their adverse visual and structural health and safety impacts.
Consistent with that purpose, the provisions of this section are to be construed in a manner that is consistent with
(1) the interest of consumers in receiving the benefits of the deployment of ultra-high-speed and -capacity broadband wireless communication facilities technology and innovations and the delivery of ultra-high-speed and -capacity broadband wireless communications facilities services,
(2) the interest in safeguarding the environment, preserving historic properties, and addressing aesthetics and other local values, and
(3) the interest in promoting the public health, safety and welfare in Palo Alto.
A wireless communications facility is permitted to be sited in Palo Alto subject to applicable requirements imposed by this chapter, which may include an architectural review process, a conditional use permit application process, or both.
These processes are intended to permit wireless communications facilities that blend with their existing surroundings and do not negatively impact the environment, historic properties, or public safety. The procedures prescribed by this chapter are tailored to the type of wireless communication facility that is sought. Building-mounted wireless communications facilities and collocation of facilities are preferred and encouraged, subject to all other provisions of this section.
The following abbreviations, phrases, terms and words shall have the meanings assigned in this section or, as appropriate, in Section 18.04.030 and Section 1.04.050 of the Palo Alto Municipal Code, as may be amended from time to time, unless the context indicates otherwise. Words that are not defined in this section or other chapters or sections of the Palo Alto Municipal Code shall have the meanings as set forth in Chapter 6 of Title 47 of the United States Code, Part 1 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and, if not defined therein, their common and ordinary meaning.
(1) "Antenna" means a wireless antenna and its associated equipment. The term includes a macrocell antenna and a microcell antenna.
(2) "Associated equipment" means any and all on-site equipment, including, without limitation, back-up generators and power supply units, cabinets, coaxial and fiber optic cables, connections, shelters, radio transceivers, regular power supply units, and wiring, to which a wireless antenna is attached in order to facilitate mobile broadband service and personal wireless service delivered on mobile broadband devices.
(3) "Base Station" means a structure or equipment at a fixed location that enables FCC-licensed or authorized wireless communications between user equipment and a communications network. The term does not encompass a tower as defined herein or any equipment associated with a tower. Base Station includes, without limitation:
(i) Equipment associated with wireless communications services such as private, broadcast, and public safety services, as well as unlicensed wireless services and fixed wireless services such as microwave backhaul.
(ii) Radio transceivers, antennas, coaxial or fiber-optic cable, regular and backup power supplies, and comparable equipment, regardless of technological configuration (including Distributed Antenna Systems ("DAS") and small-cell networks).
(iii) Any structure other than a tower that, at the time the relevant application is filed with the city under this section, supports or houses equipment described in paragraphs (i)-(ii) above and has been previously reviewed and approved by the city.
(4) "Collocation" means the mounting or installation of transmission equipment on an eligible support structure for the purpose of transmitting and/or receiving radio frequency signals for communications purposes.
(5) "Eligible Facilities Request" means any request for modification of an existing tower or base station that, within the meaning of the Spectrum Act, does not substantially change the physical dimensions of that tower or base station, and involves (a) the collocation of new transmission equipment, (b) the removal of transmission equipment, or (c) the replacement of transmission equipment.
(6) "Eligible Support Structure" means any existing tower or base station that exists at the time the application is filed with the city.
(7) "Existing" for a constructed tower or base station, means that the tower or base station has been previously reviewed and approved under the applicable city zoning or siting process, or under another applicable state or local regulatory review process, provided that a tower that has not been reviewed and approved because it was not in a zoned area when it was built, but was lawfully constructed, is "Existing" for purposes of this definition.
(8) "FCC" means the Federal Communications Commission or successor agency.
(9) "Project" means a WCF to be located in Palo Alto for which a permit is required by the city.
(10) "RF" means radio frequency on the radio spectrum.
(11) "Spectrum Act" means Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act and Job Creation Act of 2012, 47 U.S.C. § 1455(a) (providing, in part, "… a State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any Eligible Facilities Request for a modification of any existing wireless Tower or Base Station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such Tower or Base Station.").
(a) Facility modifications
(1) In general. Notwithstanding section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104–104) or any other provision of law, a State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station.
(2) Eligible facilities request. For purposes of this subsection, the term “eligible facilities request” means any request for modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that involves —
(A) collocation of new transmission equipment;
(B) removal of transmission equipment; or
(C) replacement of transmission equipment.
(3) Applicability of environmental laws. Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to relieve the Commission from the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act  or the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
(12) "Substantially Changes" means, in the context of an eligible support structure, a modification of an existing tower or base station where any of the following criteria is met:
(i) For a tower not located in the public rights-of-way:
(a) The height of the tower is increased by
(I) more than ten (10) percent, or
(II) by the height of one additional antenna array with separation from the nearest existing antenna not to exceed twenty (20) feet, whichever is greater; or
(b) There is added an appurtenance to the body of the tower that would protrude from the edge of the tower by’
(I) more than twenty (20) feet, or
(II) more than the width of the tower at the level of the appurtenance, whichever is greater.
(ii) For a tower located in the public rights-of-way and for all base stations:
(a) The height of the tower or base station is increased by more than ten (10) percent or ten (10) feet, whichever is greater; or
(b)There is added an appurtenance to the body of that structure that would protrude from the edge of that structure by more than six (6) feet; or
(c) It involves the installation of ground cabinets that are more than ten (10) percent larger in height or overall volume than any other ground cabinets associated with the structure; or
(d) It involves the installation of any new equipment cabinets on the ground if there is no pre-existing ground cabinet associated with that structure.
(iii) For any eligible support structure:
(a) It involves the installation of more than the standard number of new equipment cabinets for the technology involved, but not to exceed four (4) cabinets; or
(b) There is entailed in the proposed modification any excavation or deployment outside of the current site of the tower or base station; or
(c) The proposed modification would cause the concealment/camouflage elements of the tower or base station to be defeated; or
(d) The proposed modification would not comply with the conditions associated with the prior siting approval of construction or modification of the tower or base station, unless the non-compliance is due to an increase in height, increase in width, addition of cabinets, or new excavation that does not exceed the corresponding thresholds in this section.
(iv) To measure changes in height for the purposes of this section, the baseline is:
(a) For deployments that are or will be separated horizontally, measured from the original support structure;
(b) For all others, measured from the dimensions of the tower or base station, inclusive of originally approved appurtenances and any modifications that were approved by the city prior to February 22, 2012.
(v) To measure changes for the purposes of this section, the baseline is the dimensions that were approved by the city prior to February 22, 2012.
(13) "Tower" means any structure built for the sole or primary purpose of supporting any FCC-licensed or -authorized antenna, including any structure that is constructed for wireless communications service. This term does not include a base station.
(14) "Transmission Equipment" means equipment that facilitates transmission of any FCC-licensed or authorized wireless communication service.
(15) "Wireless Communications Facility" or "WCF" means any antenna, associated equipment, base station, small cell system, tower, and/or transmission equipment located in Palo Alto.
(16) "Wireless Communications Service" means, without limitation, all FCC-licensed back-haul and other fixed wireless services, broadcast, private, and public safety communication services, and unlicensed wireless services.
(c) Types of WCF Permits Required.
(1) A Tier 1 WCF Permit shall be required for an eligible facilities request, as defined in this section.
(2) A Tier 2 WCF Permit shall be required for: (i) Any modification of an eligible support structure, including the collocation of new equipment, that substantially changes the physical dimensions of the eligible support structure on which it is mounted; or(ii) Any collocation not eligible for a Tier 1 WCF Permit.
(3) A Tier 3 WCF Permit shall be required for the siting of any WCF that is not a collocation subject to a Tier 1 or 2 WCF Permit.
(d) WCF Application Requirements.
All applications for a WCF Permit shall include the following items:
(1) Any applicant for a WCF Permit shall participate in an intake meeting with the Planning and Community Environment Department to file an application;
(2) The applicant must specify in writing whether the applicant believes the application is for an eligible facilities request subject to the Spectrum Act, and if so, provide a detailed written explanation as to why the applicant believes that the application qualifies as an eligible facilities request;
(3) The applicant shall complete the city’s standard application form, as may be amended from time to time;
(4) The applicant shall include a completed and signed application checklist available from the city, including all information required by the application checklist;
(5) Payment of the fee prescribed by the Municipal Fee Schedule;
(6) The application must be accompanied by all permit applications with all required application materials for each separate permit required by the city for the proposed WCF, including a building permit, an encroachment permit (if applicable) and an electrical permit (if applicable);
(7) For Tier 2 and 3 WCF Permits, the applicant must host a community meeting at a time and location designed to maximize attendance by persons receiving notice under this subparagraph to provide outreach to the neighborhood around the project site. The applicant shall give notice of the community meeting to all residents and property owners within 600 feet of the project site at least 14 days in advance of the community meeting. The applicant shall provide a proof of notice affidavit to the city that contains: (i) Proof that the applicant noticed and hosted the community meeting before filing the application;(ii) A summary of comments received at the community meeting and what, if any, changes were made to the application as a result of the meeting;
(8) For Tier 3 WCF Permits, the plans shall include a scaled depiction of the maximum permitted increase in the physical dimensions of the proposed project that would be permitted by the Spectrum Act, using the proposed project as a baseline; and
(9) Satisfy other such requirements as may be, from time to time, required by the Planning and Community Environment Department Director ("Director"), as publically stated in the application checklist.
(e) Permit Review ("Shot Clock") Time Periods.
(1) City review of application materials. The timeframe for review of an application shall begin to run when the application is submitted, but shall be tolled if the city finds the application incomplete and provides notice of incompleteness that delineates the missing information in writing. Such requests shall be made within 30 days of submission of the application. After submission of additional information, the city will notify the applicant within 10 days of this submission if the additional information failed to complete the application. If the city makes a determination pursuant to Section 18.42.110(e)(2)(i) that an application submitted as a Tier 1 eligible facilities request should be processed as a Tier 2 or Tier 3, then the Tier 2 or Tier 3 processing time, as applicable, shall begin to run when the city issues this decision.
(2) Tier 1 processing time. For Tier 1 WCF Permit applications, the city will act on the WCF application, together with any other city permits required for a proposed WCF modification, within 60 days, adjusted for any tolling due to requests for additional information or mutually agreed upon extensions of time.
(i) If the city determines that the application does not qualify as a Tier 1 eligible facilities request, the city will notify the applicant of that determination in writing and will process the application as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 WCF Permit application, as applicable.
(ii) To the extent federal law provides a "deemed granted" remedy for Tier 1 WCF Permit applications not timely acted upon by the city, no such application shall be deemed granted until the applicant provides notice to the city, in writing, that the application has been deemed granted after the time period provided in Section (e)(2) above has expired.
(iii) Any Tier 1 WCF Permit application that the city grants or that is deemed granted by operation of federal law shall be subject to all requirements of Section 18.42.110(i)(3), (5), (6) and (7) and 18.42.110(j)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5) and (6).
(3) Tier 2 processing time. For Tier 2 WCF Permit applications, the city will act on the application within 90 days, adjusted for any tolling due to requests for additional information or mutually agreed upon extensions of time.
(4) Tier 3 processing time. For Tier 3 WCF Permit applications, the city will act on the application within 150 days, adjusted for any tolling due to requests for additional information or mutually agreed upon extensions of time.
(5) Denial of application. If the city denies a WCF application, the city will notify the applicant of the denial in writing of the reasons for the denial.
(f) Tier 1 WCF Permit Process and Findings
(1) A Tier 1 WCF Permit shall be reviewed by the Director. The Director’s decision shall be final and shall not be appealable pursuant to the procedures set forth in Chapters 18.77 or 18.78;
(2) The Director shall grant a Tier 1 WCF Permit provided that the Director finds that the applicant proposes an eligible facilities request;
(3) The Director shall impose the following conditions on the grant of a Tier 1 WCF Permit:
(i) The proposed collocation or modification shall not defeat any existing concealment elements of the support structure; and
(ii) The proposed WCF shall comply with the development standards in Section 18.42.110(i)(3), (5), (6) and (7), and the conditions of approval in Section 18.42.110(j).
(g) Tier 2 WCF Permit Process and Findings.
(1) A Tier 2 WCF Permit shall be reviewed by the Director. The Director’s decision shall be appealable pursuant to the process for architectural review set forth in Section 18.77.070.
(2) The Director, or Council on appeal, shall grant a Tier 2 WCF Permit provided the proposed WCF complies with the development standards in Section 18.42.110(i) and the conditions of approval in Section 18.42.110(j), and all of the architectural review findings in Section 18.76.020(d) can be made.
(3) The Director, or Council on appeal, shall deny a Tier 2 WCF Permit if the above findings cannot be made.
(h) Tier 3 WCF Permit Process and Findings
(1) A Tier 3 WCF Permit shall be reviewed by the Director. The Director’s decision shall be appealable pursuant to the process for architectural review set forth in Section 18.77.070 and the process for conditional use permits set forth in Section 18.77.060.
(2) The Director or Council on appeal shall grant a Tier 3 WCF Permit provided the proposed WCF complies with the development standards in Section 18.42.110(i) and the conditions of approval in Section 18.42.110(j), and all of the architectural review findings in Section 18.76.020(d) and the conditional use permit findings in Section 18.76.010(c) can be made.
(3) The Director, or Council on appeal, shall deny a Tier 3 WCF Permit if the above findings cannot be made.
(i) Development Standards
Except as otherwise provided in this section, a proposed WCF Project shall comply with the following standards:
(1) Shall utilize the smallest footprint possible;
(2) Shall be designed to minimize the overall height, mass, and size of the cabinet and enclosure structure;
(3) Shall be screened from public view;
(4) Shall be architecturally compatible with the existing site;
(5) Shall be placed at a location that would not require the removal of any required landscaping or would reduce the quantity of landscaping to a level of noncompliance with the Zoning Code;
(6) An antenna, base station, or tower shall be designed to minimize its visibility from off-site locations and shall be of a "camouflaged" or "stealth" design, including concealment, screening, and other techniques to hide or blend the antenna, base station, or tower into the surrounding area;
(7) A building-mounted antenna, base station, or tower shall be architecturally compatible with the existing building on which the antenna, base station, or tower is attached;
(8) For any Tier 2 or Tier 3 WCF proposed to be attached on an historic structure/site, as designated by Chapter 16.49, historic review shall also be required;
(9) Except as otherwise permitted by the Spectrum Act, a building-mounted WCF may extend fifteen (15) feet beyond the permitted height of the building in the zone district;
(10) Except as otherwise permitted by the Spectrum Act, a tower or other stand-alone Tier 3 WCF Project shall not exceed sixty-five (65) feet in height; and
(11) A tower or other stand-alone Tier 3 WCF may encroach into the interior/street side and rear setback.
(j) Conditions of Approval.
In addition to any other conditions of approval permitted under federal and state law and this Code that the Director deems appropriate or required under this Code, all WCF Projects approved under this chapter, whether approved by the Director or deemed granted by operation of law, shall be subject to the following conditions of approval:
(1) Permit conditions. The grant or approval of a WCF Tier 1 Permit shall be subject to the conditions of approval of the underlying permit, except as may be preempted by the Spectrum Act.
(2) As-built plans. The applicant shall submit to the Director an as-built set of plans and photographs depicting the entire WCF as modified, including all transmission equipment and all utilities, within ninety (90) days after the completion of construction.
(3) Applicant shall hire a radio engineer licensed by the State of California to measure the actual radio frequency emission of the WCF and determine if it meets FCC’s standards. A report, certified by the engineer, of all calculations, required measurements, and the engineer’s findings with respect to compliance with the FCC’s radio frequency emission standards shall be submitted to the Planning Division within one year of commencement of operation.
(4) Indemnification. To the extent permitted by law, the applicant shall indemnify and hold harmless the city, its City Council, its officers, employees and agents (the "indemnified parties") from and against any claim, action, or proceeding brought by a third party against the indemnified parties and the applicant to attack, set aside or void, any permit or approval authorized hereby for the Project, including (without limitation) reimbursing the city for its actual attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in defense of the litigation. The city may, in its sole discretion and at Applicant’s expense, elect to defend any such action with attorneys of its own choice.
(5) Compliance with applicable laws. The applicant shall comply with all applicable provisions of the Code, any permit issued under this Code, and all other applicable federal, state and local laws (including without limitation all building code, electrical code and other public safety requirements). Any failure by the City to enforce compliance with any applicable laws shall not relieve any applicant of its obligations under this code, any permit issued under this code, or all other applicable laws and regulations.
(6) Compliance with approved plans. The proposed Project shall be built in compliance with the approved plans on file with the Planning Division.
(k) Removal of Abandoned Equipment.
A WCF (Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3) or a component of that WCF that ceases to be in use for more than ninety (90) days shall be removed by the applicant, wireless communications service provider, or property owner within ninety (90) days of the cessation of use of that WCF. A new conditional use permit shall not be issued to an owner or operator of a WCF or a wireless communications service provider until the abandoned WCF or its component is removed.
The Director may revoke any WCF Permit if the permit holder fails to comply with any condition of the permit. The Director’s decision to revoke a Permit shall be appealable pursuant to the process for architectural review set forth in Section 18.77.070 and the process for conditional use permits set forth in Section 18.77.060.
(Ord. 5340 § 1 (part), 2015)