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.
Project Updates and Information
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The City adopted ordinance (SMMC 17.10) in 2018 that established a process for wireless telecommunication sites in the public right-of-way. The City’s 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, it is recommended that the City amend ordinance SMMC 17.10 and the corresponding standards to provide a streamlined process and objective standards. On Nov.12, 2020 Public Works staff will provide an update to the Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission on this recommendation. By early 2021, staff will bring the recommended changes to the commission to receive public feedback and recommendations for City Council approval. To stay informed of commission agendas, visit: www.cityofsanmateo.org/3910/Sustainability-Infrastructure.
As of January 2020, there are three companies with Master License Agreements to install small cell facilities in our City. Please reference the small cell map above for additional information on applications currently under review.
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.
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
- Fee Schedule (Updated Feb. 5, 2020)
Radio Frequency (RF) Hazard Questions
- RF Hazard Questions PDF (Updated July 10, 2018)
Public Works Department staff regularly present or attend Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission (formerly Public Works Commission) and City Council meetings to address small cell applications or community concerns. Cell providers also hold community meetings in neighborhoods. The most recent meetings, and links to presentations, are listed below:
- Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission
- Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 - Neighborhood Meeting
- July 10, 2019 - Commission: Review of Master License Agreement with AT&T
- March 18, 2019 - City Council: Review and approve Master License agreement with Verizon
- February 13, 2019 - Commission: Public Hearing to hear protest of City’s approval of telecommunication permit for small cell installation at 201 N. Amphlett Blvd., and consider recommendation to City Council regarding Master License Agreement with Verizon.
- November 14, 2018 - Commission: Review of Appeals (was rescheduled in 2019)
- October 10, 2018 - Commission: Review of License Agreement and Alternate Sites for Appeals
- September 12, 2018 - Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission
- July 16, 2018 - City Council
- June 18, 2018 - City Council
- May 30, 2018 - Public Works Commission
- May 9, 2018 - Public Works Commission Study Session
- April 11, 2018 - Public Works Commission
- March 14, 2018 - Public Works Commission
- October 11, 2017 - Public Works Commission
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.
Small Cells in San Mateo
- Modus on behalf of AT&T
Abby Reed, Land-Use Planner
- Modus on behalf of Verizon
Joanna Wang, Government Affairs Manager
James Singleton, Senior Permitting Manager
- Crown Castle
Chris L., Local Representative
City of San Mateo Project Contact
- City of San Mateo
Tracy Scramaglia, Senior Engineer