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
At upcoming meetings, Public Works staff will bring proposed changes to San Mateo Municipal Code and Design Standards to the Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission to receive public feedback and recommendations. To stay informed of commission agendas, visit: www.cityofsanmateo.org/3910/Sustainability-Infrastructure.
Please note, Verizon will be presenting five 5G applications for review and approval in accordance with SMMC 17.10.070(c) at the March 10, 2021 meeting. The 5G applications do not comply with the existing standards and require an exception to be granted by the commission as long as the applicant meets the required findings.
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As of January 2020, there are three companies with Master License Agreements to install small cell facilities on City-owned 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, it is recommended that we amend 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.
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 10, 2021- Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission
- 5G Wireless Communications Facilities Permit Applications -- Exception from Design Standards.
- Wednesday, April 14, 2021- Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission
- Wireless Communications Facilities in the Public Right-Of-Way -- Update to SMMC 17.10 and Design Standards
- Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 - Modus Neighborhood Meeting
- 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