Small Cell Infrastructure
To regulate the applications for small cell installations from telecommunication companies, the City of San Mateo has 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.
LATEST NEWS (Updated November 14, 2018)
Verizon/Modus has requested a continuance of its appeal hearing scheduled for the Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission meeting of Wednesday, November 14, 2018. The agenda item will be rescheduled in the new year. The company made the request to allow additional time to evaluate the best possible network solutions in the areas of the proposed facilities, specifically:
1. 1409 South Railroad Avenue
2. 506 N. Delaware St.
3. 100 De Anza Blvd.
4. 451 West 20th Avenue
5. 2500 Delaware St.
6. 715 North San Mateo Drive
7. Across from 550 31st Avenue
The public is welcome to attend the commission meeting and speak on this, or any other, agenda item during the Public Comments section. The Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission Meeting is at 7:00 pm in the San Mateo City Hall Council Chambers, 330 W 20th Avenue, San Mateo, California, 94403.
Want to view historical or pending applications for small cell installations? Click below to view the latest application list, updated regularly:
Cities are bound by state and federal laws to allow small cell installations, thus San Mateo staff developed an ordinance to govern small cell installations to the extent possible. According to California's Public Utilities Code (PUC 7901), companies defined as telephone corporations are allowed to have installations in the public right-of-way, but municipalities "shall have the right to exercise reasonable control as to the time, place, and manner in which roads, highways, and waterways are accessed."
Radio frequency emissions levels are currently preemptively regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Cities can require applicants to meet the FCC standards, but cannot require lower radio frequency emission.
A license agreement - and annual fee - will be required for installations on City-owned structures. The City aims for a common aesthetic and encourages approved installations to maintain a standardized look within the City.
The Public Works Commission considered the draft ordinance during public hearings on October 11, 2017 and March 14, 2018, and discussed the City's ability to enact a moratorium on small cell applications on April 11, 2018. A study session was held on May 9, 2018 to answer questions from the public. On May 30, 2018, the Commission held a final public hearing and voted to recommend that the City Council enact the draft ordinance. Council conducted the first reading of the ordinance on June 8, 2018, and after minor revisions, approved the ordinance on July 16, 2018.
For more information, visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Here are some examples of what small cell installations might look like:
Staff met with the Public Works Commission (now the Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission) and City Council several times during the course of developing this ordinance regulating small cell installations. Click on the meeting date below for information and documents from that session.
- October 11, 2017 - Public Works Commission
- March 14, 2018 - Public Works Commission
- April 11, 2018 - Public Works Commission
- May 9, 2018 - Public Works Commission Study Session
- May 30, 2018 - Public Works Commission
- June 18, 2018 - City Council
- July 16, 2018 - City Council
- September 12, 2018 - Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission
- October 10, 2018 - Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission: Review of License Agreement and Alternate Sites for Appeals
- November 14, 2018 - Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission: Review of Appeals (will be rescheduled in 2019)
If a meeting above does not have a link to its agenda/documents yet, you can check the Public Meetings Calendar to see if those documents have become available.
Want to receive updates regarding small cell infrastructure? Sign up for email notifications here.
List of Existing/Current Small Cell Applications (updated regularly)
Adopted Ordinance and Design & Engineering Standards
- Adopted Ordinance and Resolution PDF (Updated July 30, 2018)
- Design & Engineering Standards and Application Requirements PDF (Updated July 30, 2018)
Documents for Telecommunications Applicants
- Application and Checklist Packet (PDF) (Updated August 15, 2018)
Adopted Fee Schedule
- 2018-19 Fee Schedule PDF (Updated July 30, 2018)
Radio Frequency (RF) Hazard Questions
- RF Hazard Questions PDF (Updated July 10, 2018)
Small Cells in San Mateo
- Modus on behalf of AT&T
Abby Reed, Land-Use Planner
- Modus on behalf of Verizon
Armando Montes, Project Manager
James Singleton, Senior Permitting Manager
- Crown Castle
Chris L., Local Representative
City of San Mateo
For project information, please contact Tracy Scramaglia, Senior Engineer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.