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 oPublic_Works_logof 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 January 29, 2019)

In February 2018, Modus submitted encroachment permit applications for the installation of small cell equipment at the following locations:

1. 3178 Greenoak Court
2. 2207 Flores Street
3. Across from 520 42nd Avenue
4. 1536 York Avenue
5. 701 Harvard Road
6. 2801 Mason Lane
7. 3030 Hacienda Street
8. 3355 La Selva Street
9. 1100 South Amphlett Boulevard
10. 951 South Delaware Street

The applications for these locations were submitted prior to the City’s Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance, which took effect on August 16, 2018, and are being processed as encroachment permits. Encroachment permits do not require neighborhood meetings and all ten (10) sites meet the current Design and Engineering standards. The City has found that the encroachment permit applications are complete and the installations meet applicable City code and standards. The City is therefore approving these encroachment permit applications and notices of these approvals will be sent to adjacent properties.

Please direct any questions regarding the construction to Modus at 415-989-1102.

Please note that there are several upcoming Sustainability & Infrastructure Committee meetings regarding a variety of small cell-related items. More information on upcoming meetings is listed below under Meeting Information.

Ordinance history:

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:

SmC
SmC2

Meeting Information 

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 (Commission)
  • October 10, 2018 - Commission: Review of License Agreement and Alternate Sites for Appeals
  • November 14, 2018 - Commission: Review of Appeals (will be rescheduled in 2019)
  • 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 (City Council action required for approval). 
  • March 18, 2019 - City Council: Review and approve Master License agreement with Verizon
  • June 12, 2019 (tentative) Commission: Review changes to the Design & Engineering Standards and Application Requirements

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.

Related Documents

List of Existing/Current Small Cell Applications (updated regularly)

Adopted Ordinance and Design & Engineering Standards

Documents for Telecommunications Applicants

Adopted Fee Schedule

Radio Frequency (RF) Hazard Questions

Contact Information

Small Cells in San Mateo

  • AT&T LogoModus on behalf of AT&T
    Abby Reed, Land-Use Planner
    (650) 274-5042

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

  • Mobilitie LogoMobilitie
    James Singleton, Senior Permitting Manager
    (650) 814-0564

  • Crown Castle LogoCrown Castle
    Chris L., Local Representative
    (888) 632-0931

City of San Mateo

For project information, please contact Tracy Scramaglia, Senior Engineer, at tscramaglia@cityofsanmateo.org.