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 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:

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:


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. 

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.

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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
    Armando Montes, Project 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