Small Cell Infrastructure

To regulate the applications for small cell installations from telecommunication companies, we have established a comprehensive design review and approval process.

Applicants can only propose installation of equipment on existing poles and must work in conjunction with macrocells (cell towers) already in place to provide wireless coverage. Small cell antennas are not stand-alone cell towers.

Current Project Updates

San Mateo City Council will be considering revisions to the Design Standards and Application Requirements For Wireless Communications Facilities and amendments to the Fee Schedule for Wireless Permits at its regular meeting of July 19, 2021.

These changes are required based on revisions to San Mateo Municipal Code (SMMC) Chapter 17.10 "Wireless Communications Facilities in the Public Right-Of-Way" which was approved by San Mateo City Council at its June 7, 2021 meeting. 

Public Works staff will be presenting proposed changes to the Design Standards and Fee Schedule, seeking approval by the City Council.  The recommended changes are as a result of the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Order and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, as well as a letter from Verizon’s attorney that we are not in compliance with the law. The goal of the updates are to provide a clear, concise process and a comprehensive set of standards that will assist staff with issuing permits for smalls cells within the FCC shot clock of 60 days.

Find San Mateo City Council agendas at: Agendas & Minutes Public Meeting Portal | San Mateo, CA - Official Website (cityofsanmateo.org)

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Project Status

We are currently accepting new telecom permits. We review telecom permits using the Federal Communications Commission’s guidelines and our own ordinance

As of January 2020, there are three companies with Master License Agreements to install small cell facilities on our streetlights. Please reference the small cell map on this page for additional information on applications currently under review.

We adopted the ordinance (SMMC 17.10) in 2018 that established a process for wireless telecommunication sites in the public right-of-way. The ordinance and the corresponding standards were adopted shortly before the Federal Communications Commission adopted its 2018 order addressing small cell approval procedures. In September 2020, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed most of the FCC’s requirements, including that small cells be approved under reasonable standards within a 60/90-day shot clock period. 

 Given the new legislation, City Council amended SMMC 17.10 and the corresponding standards to provide a streamlined process and objective standards. 

What Does a Small Cell Installation Look Like?

The photos below show a small cell installed at the top of the light and utility poles.

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  1. Related Documents
  2. Public Meetings

Adopted Ordinance and Design & Engineering Standards

Documents for Telecommunications Applicants

Adopted Fee Schedule

Note: New fees are currently not reflected in the current fee schedule. Please see July 19, 2021 City Council agenda report for updated fee information.

    • Current application fees as of July 2021:
      1. Wireless Communication Permit Deposit: $4,000
      2. Section 6409 Permit Deposit: $2,500
      3. License Fee for City Pole: $270 per year

Radio Frequency (RF) Hazard Questions

Small Cells in San Mateo

AT&T LogoModus on behalf of AT&T
Caitlin McLester, Project Manager | Modus, LLC
(510)-914-1357 | modusllc.com

Verizon LogoModus on behalf of Verizon
Joanna Wang, Government Affairs Manager
(415) 989-1102

Crown Castle LogoCrown Castle
Jessica M. Verre
Manager, Network Real Estate - PNW and NorCal
Office: (206) 336-7408   Mobile: (563) 726-2675

City of San Mateo Project Contact

City of San Mateo
Tracy Scramaglia, Senior Engineer
tscramaglia@cityofsanmateo.org