City requires 300-foot setback from public schools for wireless equipment installations

June 18, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

On June 17, City Council took a first step in responding to community concerns about the public impacts of wireless cell equipment installations in the public right of way. Under time pressure from the Federal Communications Commission, in April 2019 the city adopted objective standards to regulate the design and location of wireless cell equipment installations on light and utility poles throughout the city. Recognizing strong interest in the community for tighter controls, City Council directed staff to return within a year with an updated ordinance that could reduce perceived impacts on nearby homes and schools. Staff are in the process of analyzing additional standards to meet that timeline. Meanwhile, due to the urgency of public demands for setbacks from public schools, on June 17, staff proposed an interim standard that would require wireless equipment installations to be located at least 300 feet from any land parcel containing a public school. Paragraph

Most public comments Monday night generally favored setback requirements but, citing standards in other communities, they sought a 1,500-foot setback from any school (not just public schools) as well as a 300-foot setback from residences. A motion by Councilmember Kou to require a 1,000-foot setback from any k-12 school and a 300-foot setback from residences failed for lack of a second and staff indicated that more research was necessary to determine the maximum setbacks that would be appropriate in Palo Alto. Ultimately council voted 6-1 (Kou dissenting) to adopt the staff-proposed 300-foot setback from public schools. Staff was encouraged to bring forward additional standards as they are identified rather than waiting for a complete package of new standards.

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