San Rafael, CA – A draft version of an ordinance addressing fifth-generation cellular wireless technology – commonly called 5G – is available for viewing on the County of Marin website, and there are tentative plans for the Board of Supervisors to discuss the topic at its July 9 meeting. Residents have until the end of June to share viewpoints about the draft.
The installation of 5G technology includes the addition of smaller short-range antennas in more locations, and the Community Development Agency regulates such installations in unincorporated Marin.
Earlier this year, the Supervisors decided to create a Board subcommittee to investigate ways that the County could retain maximum regulatory control over new wireless telecommunications facilities in unincorporated Marin. Supervisors Damon Connolly and Dennis Rodoni were appointed to the subcommittee and worked with County attorneys to identify potential amendments to 5G policies.
The Board of Supervisors hosted a public workshop in February 2019 to hear resident suggestions and concerns about 5G and shared a report about federal-level intentions on 5G facilities. Connolly, Rodoni and staff from the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) met with representatives from AT&T and Verizon, independent wireless permitting firms, health experts, and concerned residents before collaborating on the draft ordinance.
The draft regulations outline the requirements for 5G application and installation procedures, establish the County’s location preferences and design standards, lay out the public notification procedures, and cover the appeal process. CDA staff would oversee local implementation of new equipment designed to deliver 5G service.
The County joined a court action in 2018 to take a stand with other public agencies against the Federal Communications Commission’s seizing of local control on the deployment of 5G and its limitations on how implementation costs can be recovered by local government agencies. Although the FCC order has been supported by court decisions, U.S. House of Representatives Bill 530 introduced in January 2019 seeks to halt the FCC order.
Unlike the network of microwave dish and panel antennas, 5G technology requires the installation of a greater number of smaller antennas because they have shorter range compared with existing 4G. A potentially denser network of closely spaced antennas would be installed much closer to the cell phone users. In most cases, 5G devices are affixed to existing light poles, utility poles, and traffic light poles within the public right-of-way, including in residential districts.
The California Department of Public Health has shared information about cell phone technology as it relates to health and included links to other key sources such as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
To ensure community engagement, CDA created an online survey in December 2018 to measure support and concerns for 5G. More than 800 people took the survey, and it will remain open until the Board hearing of July 9, 2019.
Residents may send an email, mail a letter or attend a public meeting to share thoughts about 5G with County officials. Emails may be sent to Immanuel (Manny) Bereket, Senior Planner. Mail letters to him at Community Development Agency, Marin County Civic Center, Suite 308, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903.
All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held at accessible sites. If you are a person with a disability and require information or materials in alternative formats – or if you require accommodation to participate in a county program, service or activity – please contact department staff by email or at (415) 473-7331 or (415) 473-4381 (voice/TTY).