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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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.
Adopted Ordinance and Design & Engineering Standards
- Adopted Ordinance (Updated June 7, 2021)
- Design & Engineering Standards and Application Requirements PDF (Updated Aug. 9, 2021)
Documents for Telecommunications Applicants
- Application and Checklist Packet (PDF) (Updated Aug. 9, 2021)
Adopted Fee Schedule
- Fee Schedule (Updated July 19, 2021)
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:
- Wireless Communication Permit Deposit: $4,000
- Section 6409 Permit Deposit: $2,500
- License Fee for City Pole: $270 per year
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:
- July 19, 2021 - City Council Meeting – Revisions to the Design Standards and Application Requirements For Wireless Communications Facilities and amend the fee schedule
- June 7, 2021 - City Council Meeting – First Hearing for Approval of revisions to SMMC 17.10 and Design Standards
- 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 notice and summary
- Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - Sustainability & Infrastructure Commission
- Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 - Neighborhood meeting notice and summary
- Sept. 18, 2019 - Neighborhood meeting notice and summary
- July 10, 2019 - Commission: Review of Master License Agreement with AT&T
- May 2, 2019 - Neighborhood meeting notice and summary
- March 18, 2019 - City Council: Review and approve Master License agreement with Verizon
- Feb. 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.
- Nov. 14, 2018 - Commission: Review of Appeals (was rescheduled in 2019)
- Oct. 11, 2018 - Neighborhood meeting summary.
- Oct. 10, 2018 - Commission: Review of License Agreement and Alternate Sites for Appeals
- Sept.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
- Oct. 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
Caitlin McLester, Project Manager | Modus, LLC
(510)-914-1357 | modusllc.com
Modus on behalf of Verizon
Joanna Wang, Government Affairs Manager
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