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An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also known as in-law units, second units, cottages, or granny units, is a smaller living unit on a property that has a single-family residence.
An ADU is an attached or detached residential dwelling unit which provides independent living facilities for one or more persons, is accessory to the primary single-family residential dwelling unit, and includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking facilities, and sanitation on the same parcel as the primary residential dwelling unit.
A JADU is an additional, independent living unit created through the conversion of an existing bedroom in a single-family dwelling.
No. An accessory dwelling unit is habitable, while an accessory building is not (i.e. shed, covered porch, etc.). However, accessory buildings have the potential to be converted into an ADU, if it conforms to current ADU code requirements.
ADUs can be detached, attached or within the primary residence. Most ADUs are converted from existing storage or garage space.
In the City of San Mateo, one ADU or JADU is allowed per parcel.
ADUs cannot be rented for less than 30 consecutive days.
No. The property owner must record a deed restriction with the city of San Mateo restricting the sale of an ADU from the primary dwelling.
The Accessory Dwelling Unit Code (Section 27.19 Articles 1 and 2) of the City of San Mateo Zoning Ordinance, establishes the development regulations and other criteria that must be met to construct any type of ADU/JADU. See: ADU resource page for all critical ADU resources.
No, if the ADU meets exemptions from parking requirements (living within a ½ mile of transit stop, etc. SMMC 27.19.50 (k/5)). Remember, you can always contact the City Planning department to help your project conform to the SMMC code.
Yes. Any covered structure is counted as floor area (i.e. sheds, covered porches, etc.).
Yes, depending on the type of ADU. Please contact the SMC Fire Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 522-7900
Yes, for both ADU and JADU.
They are required for ADUs, but not JADUs.
Property taxes are assessed by the County of San Mateo Assessor’s Office. Like other development projects in the City, the County collects information from the City when building permits are issued to a property. Please contact the County Assessor’s Office for more information about how the information is used.
An unregistered ADU cannot be registered until it fulfills current ADU city standards in the SMCC code i.e. parking, setbacks, facility standards etc. Unregistered ADUs are subject to code enforcement.
Check with the Building Division to see if your property has past building permits for a garage. If none are found, you will need to conform to the SMMC Building and Planning code and then apply for a garage permit with the Building Division.
The City of San Mateo recommends using the Peninsula Builders Exchange Construction Finder or call 650-591-4486.
You may contact our Planning and Building staff by email, phone, or by visiting our counter for further questions on your project.
General Zoning Inquiries:
Call Planner on Duty: (650) 522-7212
Planning Counter Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 8:00am - 4:45pm and Tuesday 12:30pm - 4:45pm
Building Permit Application and Fee Inquiries:
Building Counter Line: (650) 522-7172
Building Code Consultation (Building Plan Checker) Hours: Monday through Friday 9:30am - 11:30am
Fire Prevention Inquiries:
Justin Ho: (650) 522-7940
Fire Code Consultation Hours: Monday through Friday 9:30am-11:30am
Parks and Recreation Inquiries:
Call (650) 522-7400
Heritage Tree Preservation Inquiries:
Call (650) 522-7420
2. Plan review services...of construction documents including plans, engineering data, energy conservation reports, fire sprinkler and fire alarm plans for compliance with applicable codes and ordinances.
3. Permit issuances...for building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, fire sprinkler and fire alarm construction, alteration or installation work.
Other services provided by the Building Inspection Division include off hour inspections, time extensions for building permits, inspection of fire sprinkler systems for one and two family dwellings, code interpretation consultation, and inspections of daycare facilities located in single family dwellings for 14 or fewer children.
The Citizen Self-Service (CSS) Portal let’s you search records by address, date range, permit number, or parcel number – you can also use the interactive map search feature. You no longer need to call or come into City Hall during business hours to request inspections or look up current and past records – everything’s online and available to you 24/7 from any electronic device.
Hours of Construction*:Monday - Friday: 7:00am - 7:00pmSaturday: 9:00am. - 5:00pm.Sunday and City Observed Holidays: 12:00pm - 4:00pm*Work is to be performed during these hours only.
Foundation: A foundation inspection shall be scheduled when the trenches are excavated, forms and steel reinforcing bars are in place, but prior to concrete being poured.
Under Floor: An inspection shall be scheduled after all under floor framing, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical is complete and before insulation and the sub-floor is installed.
Roof Nail: A roof nail inspection is required after the roofing deck is installed and before applying any roofing materials.
Exterior Shear Nail: A shear nail inspection is required after the shear walls are installed and before any exterior protection in applied.
Fire Inspection: A residential fire sprinkler system inspection is required for piping, hangers and sprinkler location before the rough framing inspection.
Rough Frame: The rough framing inspection shall be scheduled after the roof and walls are weather tight. All rough framing, rough electrical, rough plumbing, and rough mechanical shall be completed prior to the inspection. Also, if automatic fire sprinklers are installed, a fire inspection shall be completed prior to a rough framing inspection.
Electrical: A rough electrical inspection shall be scheduled after all the electrical wiring is run and before the receptacles are installed. If a rough framing inspection is required, the electrical system will be inspected at that time. After all the work is completed, a final inspection shall be scheduled and the electrical fixtures and receptacles will be inspected.
Plumbing: • Under floor plumbing: When all under floor work is installed, at under floor inspection. Drainage systems shall be tested and inspected while under 10 foot headwater test and water piping shall be tested under working pressure. • Rough plumbing: A rough plumbing inspection shall be scheduled after all the plumbing systems (drainage, vents, water and gas piping) are completed. If a rough framing inspection is required, the plumbing system will be inspected at that time. Drainage and vent systems shall be tested and inspected while under 10 foot headwater and water piping shall be tested under working pressure. • Main Sewer Line: The main sewer line and its connection to the public sewer shall be scheduled for a water test inspection. • Gas Lines: All gas lines and systems require an inspection before connections are made to the supply lines. If a rough framing inspection is required, the inspection for the gas line shall be inspected along with the rough frame. For the inspection, the installer shall supply equipment to conduct an air pressure test of ten pounds for 15 minutes to be verified by the Building Inspector.
Mechanical: • Under floor inspection: An inspection is required for under floor ducts or vents. If an under floor inspection is required, the mechanical ducts and vents will be inspected at that time. • Rough mechanical: A rough mechanical inspection shall be scheduled after the mechanical system, heat ducts, exhaust and vent ducts are installed. If a rough framing inspection is required, the inspection for the mechanical system shall be inspected along with the rough frame
Lath and Plaster: An inspection shall be scheduled to inspect the attachment (screwing or nailing) of all firewalls and water-resistant wallboard. An inspection shall also be scheduled to inspect the attachment for all exterior lath. • Insulation: All required insulation shall be inspected after installation and before the material is covered.
Final Inspection: When all work is completed a final inspection shall be scheduled prior to occupancy or use of the area. If automatic fire sprinklers were installed, a final inspection from the Fire Inspector shall be scheduled and approved prior to scheduling the final Building inspection.
The Property owner must supply the Building Official with a "notice of final inspection" by the special inspection agency before your job can be "finalized" by the City Building Inspector.
If you have any questions about the special inspection requirements you should contact the plan checker assigned to your project. Field problems with special inspection should be brought to the attention of you City Building Inspector.
A certificate of occupancy is required for all:
Please call the San Mateo Consolidated Fire District at 650-522-7940.
Many permits also require review by the Planning Division. The Planning Division reviews the height, size, and occupancy type of your project, as well as neighborhood concerns.
For over the counter Permits/Plan Check visit the Building Division Monday-Friday 9:30am-11:30am.
Building counter hours are:Monday*, Tuesday*, Wednesday*, and Friday*: 8:00am to 4:45pmThursdays*: 9:00am to 4:45pm*Note: No monetary transactions will be done after 4:00pm. We will continue to accept resubmittals until 4:45pm. Building Permit Application
Submit the completed application forms along with the appropriate fee. The plans are then reviewed by a Building Plan Checker. Once approved by all Divisions/Departments, a permit is issued. A building permit issued while you wait is called and "Over the Counter Permit". Types of work that can be done over the counter are: - Existing bathroom and kitchen remodels - Repair of existing stucco or siding - Most types of termite repair work - Exterior stair repair - Roof sheathing repair - Replacement of existing windows
To fax your permit: (650) 522-7171
To mail your permit: Building Division330 W. 20th AvenueSan Mateo, CA 94403 Building Permit Application
A complete plan should illustrate the following items: - Building location and relationship to the street, sidewalk, property lines and other items on or near the property. - Distance(s) between the house walls and the front, back, and side lot lines. - Exterior elevations illustrating the addition or the change being made. - Plans for each floor being remodeled or added to show both the existing and proposed work. - Type and size of all building materials to be used. Show connections/attachments. - Structural drawings and calculations if required. - Title 24 Part 6 Energy Calculation for new living areas.
Information and forms that have been glued, pasted or taped onto plans are not acceptable, nor is "white-out" allowed on permit drawings.
If any department has comments on your project they will issue a correction notice which will be faxed or mailed to the individual who submitted the plans. The applicant should make the corresponding corrections on a new set of plans and re-submit the plans. The plans are put back into the routing system and reviewed a second time.
Once the plans are approved by all departments, we will package your permit for issuance and call the applicant to come pick up the permit. Only the contractor or the homeowner may pull the permit at this time. An agent for the owner or contractor must have a letter from the owner stating that the agent has been given permission to pull the permit.
A Building Permit fee is paid at the time the permit is picked up. This fee is based on the construction valuation and any plumbing, mechanical, or electrical work being done.
However, special structural components such as engineered foundation or shear walls, retaining walls over four feet high, underpinning, rigid frames, structural steel or reinforced concrete or wood trusses, glu-laminated beams, columns and arches shall be designed and signed by a licensed architect, civil engineer or structural engineer.
The Green Building Code requires a construction and waste management form to be completed prior to permit issuance and a minimum of 65% of nonhazardous construction and demolition waste to be recycled. The City of San Mateo holds a deposit until the end of the project. When the recycling receipts are turned in and it is verified that 65% or more was recycled, a reimbursement will be issued.
The city’s code may be found on the San Mateo City Charter and Municipal Code website.
No, the City Attorney’s Office may only provide advice and representation to the city and its officials and employees. Residents in need of legal assistance may contact San Mateo County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at 650-369-4149 (for either English or Spanish.)
Claim forms may be obtained online or by visiting the City Attorney’s Office at 330 West 20th Avenue.
Birth, death, and marriage certificates and marriage licenses are issued by the County of San Mateo. Please contact the County Clerk's Office at (650) 363-4000 or see their website for more information about obtaining a certificate. San Mateo County Clerk's Office, 555 County Center, First Floor, Redwood City, CA 94063-1665
Agendas are posted by the end of the day on the Thursday before each City Council meeting.
Agendas are posted by the end of the day on the Thursday before each City Council meeting. You can also subscribe for agenda updates by email.
City Council meeting minutes are available on our Council agendas and minutes page. Minutes are listed after the agenda items for each meeting.
All of the City Commissions and Boards are listed here, along with information about current vacancies and how to apply. Community residents interested in serving on a board or commission may obtain an application online. Commissioners and board members are selected by the full City Council through a competitive process.
You can also apply online through the U.S. State Department at http://travel.state.gov/
The City’s Finance Department processes all business tax certificates (i.e., business licenses). More information is available at www.cityofsanmateo.org/304/Business-License
Voter registration information is available through the San Mateo County Election website or http://registertovote.ca.gov. The San Mateo City Clerk’s Department provides voter registration forms during office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm. We can assist you in locating vote centers as Election Day approaches and on Election Day.
A claim must be filed with the City of San Mateo within six months of the incident. Completed forms must be mailed or hand-delivered to:City Clerk, City of San Mateo, 330 West 20th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403
Go to the official election website for the County of San Mateo www.smcacre.org/elections or call (650) 312-5222 for up-to-date information. State-wide elections are held on even numbered years.
All conflict of interest statements (Fair Political Practices Commission's Form 700) for candidates, elected officials, and select officers of the City are available our website.
The Municipal Code is a published compilation of City laws and their revisions organized according to subject matter (arranged by title, chapter and section). The Municipal Code is updated periodically as new ordinances are adopted by the City Council. The Municipal Code for the City of San Mateo is available online at: https://sanmateo.ca.us.open.law/
San Mateo’s City Charter is available online at: https://sanmateo.ca.us.open.law/ San Mateo is one of two cities in the county that is a charter city. The San Mateo City Charter formulates the basic rules for governing the city. The charter can be changed or additions made by amendments, which must be approved by a majority of the voters. San Mateo was incorporated as a city on September 4, 1894.
The Ralph M. Brown Act is codified in Government Code Section 54950 et seq. The entire Government Code is available online at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
The Public Records Act is codified in Government Code Section 6250 et seq. The entire Government Code is available online at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. To submit a request to access any of the City's public records, go to the San Mateo Public Records Request Center www.cityofsanmateo.org/PublicRecords.
Council Member NameSan Mateo City Council330 West 20th AvenueSan Mateo, CA 94403
Fax: (650) 522-7041
Yes, City Council meetings are televised live on SMTV. Cable subscribers can watch meetings being televised on the following cable channels: Channel 26 (Astound) Channel 27 (Comcast) Channel 99 (ATT U-Verse) You can also watch online and find a schedule of televised replays through our website.
Staff reports are posted online in the agenda packet for each City Council meeting. You may also request a specific staff report by contacting the City Clerk’s Office: (650) 522-7040 or email@example.com
Please be prepared with specific information, such as: the address of the property, detailed description of the situation, and the length of time you have observed the situation.
We require that you leave your name and contact number or your complaint will not be assigned to a Code Enforcement Officer. All contact information is strictly confidential.
You are encouraged to take 2 actions:
Active recruitment with the City of San Mateo can be found on the Human Resources webpage and on CalOpps.org.
It is highly encouraged and preferred that applicants complete an on-line application. It is very important to thoroughly complete the employment application, including any supplemental questions that may be included. A resume may be attached to the employment application. Carefully review the job announcement for application requirements.
To prepare for the testing process, it is helpful to review the job announcement and job description to identify the responsibilities, knowledge, skills and abilities related to the position. You should also conduct a self-assessment of the related competencies you possess which are transferable to the position for which you will be interviewing.
You might find that gathering information about the City, Department, and Division is helpful, and much information is available on the City of San Mateo’s website.
Finally, practicing your interviewing skills with a family member or friend can be helpful.
There may be internships in specific departments, based on the needs of the City - explore internship opportunities.
Please visit the MOUs and Compensation Resolution section of our website for more information.
The City of San Mateo's Human Resources Department is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
We are located in City Hall, 330 W 20th Ave, San Mateo, (650) 522-7260.
Free parking is available in the parking lot in front of City Hall or on the street (2-hour limit on the street).
Please visit the Salary Schedules section of our website for more information.
Yes, except for police and fire safety employees and per diem employees.
Please visit the Employee Benefit Portal for more information.
Marriage and birth certificates are obtained through the San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder's Office which is a separate agency from the City of San Mateo. For information please visit their website at: http://www.smcgov.org/
CalFresh is a California Department of Social Services program which is separate from the City of San Mateo. For information please visit their website at: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/
To apply for unemployment benefits, you may apply on-line www.edd.ca.gov
You may contact the Social Security Administration to make an appointment or ask questions. You can visit their website at: www.socialsecurity.gov
You may contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you feel that you have been discriminated against based on a protected status. You may visit their website at www.eeoc.gov
Please following the link below and complete the online form. Librarians responsible for that subject area will review your request and consider it for purchase.
The Main Library has an underground parking garage for library customers. Parking is free. There is a 2 hour time limit enforced Monday – Saturday from 8:00am - 5:00pm. Violators will be ticketed. The parking garage closes when the library closes. Library Parking FAQs
Yes, it is available throughout the building. Simply connect to "San Mateo Public Library."
You can keep most items for 3 weeks (21 days). DVDs can be kept for 7 days. Renewals: Most items may be renewed 5 times except for Quick Pick items which cannot be renewed.
Rental rates depend on your organization's status (nonprofit, resident, non-resident) and the size of the room.
Library cards are FREE. Bring photo identification and proof of current address to the accounts desk. For anyone under the age of 18: A parent's signature and proper identification are required. Students over 14 may use their current San Mateo school ID card as identification.
Most Link+ books will be renewed once through the automatic renewal program one day prior to the due date if they are not in demand. If you have opted out of the automatic renewal program, renewals can be made online, through the online catalog. Most media items cannot be renewed.
All LINK+ items must be returned to staff at an Accounts Desk. Please hand Link+ items directly to a library staff person at the desk. Returning Link+ items to any other library or in the book drop may result in late charges.
• You will be asked, “With which institution are you affiliated?” Click the down arrow, select “San Mateo City Public Library”, and click the “Submit above information” button.
• Enter your name (first and last), your library card number (all 14 digits).
• Select your pick-up location (San Mateo Main Library, Hillsdale Branch, or Marina Branch) and click the “Submit” button. You will see a confirmation message that your request was placed. Link+ Catalog
• Click on “HOLDS” to see if your items are ready to be picked up. Library Account Login
Most Link+ books will be renewed once through the automatic renewal program one day prior to the due date if they are not in demand. If you have opted out of the automatic renewal program, renewals can be made online, through the online catalog using the following steps:
• Log in to your library account.
• Click on “Checked Out”. Your checked out items will be listed.
• Select the item(s) you wish to renew by checking the box beside the title. You cannot renew items any sooner than 3 days before and no later than 2 days after the original due date.
• Click the “Renew Selected” button. This does not automatically renew your item(s) but rather forwards a renewal request to the loaning library on your behalf. You must check your LINK+ account at a later date to see if the renewal request has been approved.
• The item you’ve requested to be renewed will have one of these statuses:- A New Due Date – Your renewal has been approved.- Renewal Pending - Your request is still in process. Please check again at a later date.- Renewal Denied - Your renewal request was not approved. Please return the item(s) by the original due date to avoid the $1 per day overdue fee.Note: It may take several minutes for the LINK+ software to confirm your renewal. LINK+ items may not be renewed more than once, nor may they be renewed if someone else has requested them.
• Click on “HOLDS”.
• Check the “Cancel” box next to the title of the request you want to cancel.
• Click on the “Cancel” button to activate the cancellation.
Note: You cannot cancel a request that has been received or is in transit. Library Account Login
Yes, at most parks inflatable jumpers are permitted. However there are restrictions: jumpers must be no more than 15 x 15 and no slides or balls are permitted. The rental company must provide a generator for the jumper. The jumper permit is $25. There are only specific areas in which a jumper can be placed. Inflatable jumpers are not permitted at Parkside Aquatic Park or Laurelwood Park.
If you are calling about a report that is already on file, and there is no emergency, dial (650) 522-7650, M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you prefer not to be contacted, you may also call the "Secret Witness" number, which is (650) 522-7676 and leave anonymous information.
The San Mateo County Narcotics Task force deals with drug-related problems outside the city limits and jurisdiction of the City of San Mateo. If your information applies to these areas, please call them at (650) 573-3991 to leave a message.
Free mediation services are available by contacting the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center at (650) 513-0330 or the San Mateo County Mediation Program at (650) 373-3490. Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center
For general questions regarding detectives or investigations, call (650) 522-7650 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
The most recent active FEMA flood zone map will take effect on April 5, 2019. For these maps and previous maps, click here.
Copies of the maps are available here. All FEMA maps, map amendments, and associated documents are available in the FEMA Map Service Center, https://msc.fema.gov/portal.
Past experience is one of a number of factors used when determining flood potential. Another factor that will significantly change your flood risk over time is the amount of new development that has occurred in your watershed which will increase the speed and quantity of the storm runoff and greatly increase the extent of flooding. Inadequate levees can be very effective for smaller storm events but may fail dramatically in places when faced by a really major storm. The flood hazard areas were determined using analyses of records of riverflow, storm tides, and rainfall; information obtained through consultation with the community and topographic surveys. The Flood Insurance Study also assumes the free flow of floodwaters through bridge openings and culverts. During an actual flood event, these openings may become plugged and other areas not shown as floodprone may be flooded.
This Flood Insurance Study represents the best technical information on the current flood risk in your community.
Central/North Central/North Shoreview: Improvements must be made to the North Levees near Coyote Point, and the Coyote Point and Poplar Avenue Storm Water Pump Station must be rehabilitated to address the tidal and stormwater flooding problems in these neighborhoods.There have been some discussions with the North Shoreview and North Central residents currently in the high-risk zone AE, and the City began working with a consultant to send out surveys in 2017 to gauge the interest in forming an assessment district.
In addition, San Mateo has been working to enter into FEMA's Community Rating System Program which will provide discounted insurance based on flood plain management activities that the City takes above and beyond National Flood Insurance Program minimum requirements. We are working on being certified to meet the minimum requirements, and anticipate that once we are accepted by the program, the initial insurance discount rate will be between 5% to 10%. The discount will apply to all policy holders within the City of San Mateo. Once we are in the program, the discount will apply when you renew your insurance. While we continue to work with FEMA, we are not able to estimate when San Mateo will be accepted into the discount program.
In the case of the South Bayfront Levee Improvements, the project cost of $7.5M was spread over the 8,000 parcels that receive the direct benefit of protection from tidal flooding, resulting in a relatively low cost per owner.
The remaining flood improvement projects in other areas of the City are relatively more expensive when considering the number of property owners who would share the burden. This makes the formation of additional assessment districts unpractical and in some areas would cost more than flood insurance.
Contact a local insurance agent;
Call the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) toll-free number, 1-800-427-4661, to request the name of an insurance agent in your area who sells flood insurance
For additional information on flood insurance, please visit the NFIP website or call the Flood Insurance Information Hotline, toll free, at 1-800-427-4661.
As an alternative, FEMA established procedures by which an interested community may compile appropriate data and request a map revision. Map revisions are often completed in less than 90 days from the date all data are received.
The request must include the surveyed elevation of the lowest grade adjacent to the structure or the lowest enclosed level of the structure and certain other information, as described in the MT-1 forms package entitled "Amendments and Revisions to National Flood Insurance Program Maps." The instructions in the forms package will assist property owners in compiling the information required to support a LOMA or LOMR-F request.
If, based on its review of the required information, FEMA determines that a home should be removed from the floodplain, FEMA will issue a LOMA or LOMR-F. LOMAs and LOMR-Fs are effective on the date they are issued and have the effect of revising the effective NFIP map without physically revising and reissuing the affected map panel. FEMA usually responds to such requests within 30 days of the date all required information is received.
For more detailed information, contact the National Flood Insurance Program toll-free number 1-888-379-9531.
Corrects a mapping or study analysis error;
Is based on the effects of natural changes within a SFHA;
Is based on the effects of a federally sponsored flood-control project where 50 percent or more of the project's costs are federally funded;
Is based on a detailed hydrologic or hydraulic study conducted by a Federal, State, or local agency to replace an approximate study conducted by FEMA and shown on the flood map; or
Is based on flood hazard information meant to improve upon that shown on the flood map or within the flood study, and does not partially or wholly incorporate manmade modifications within the SFHA.
Visit the MyStreet online tool to find your sweeping day. You can view your street sweeping schedule by entering your address. You can also call (650) 522-7300.
To report a non-functioning parking meter, please call (650) 522-7283, Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm; After hours, please leave a voicemail message.
A small cell is a single small antenna placed on existing utility poles or street lights along with small pole-mounted radios and other accessory equipment. Small cells on utility poles will typically consist of one 4-foot tall by 14-inch diameter antenna mounted on top of the pole and a number of small boxes consisting of radios, electric meter, a disconnect switch and a fiber box. Small cells on street light will typically consist of an antenna, similar to that of utility poles, mounted on top of the pole. Two small radio boxes may be placed on the pole further down, or within the base of the pole. Other equipment may also be placed within the base of the pole. Small cell facilities will help wireless service providers in meeting the continuously increasing demand for wireless services. The increased use of smart phones, tablets, health monitors and other wireless devices in every-day life relies on a robust wireless network. A small cell network will add capacity and improve in-building coverage in San Mateo neighborhoods. Also, small cell networks will improve voice quality, reliability and data speeds for San Mateo residents, businesses, first responders and visitors using the wireless networks.
A typical wireless facility on a pole consists of one or more antennas and one or more equipment boxes. To meet CPUC requirements, the antennas will be mounted either at the top of the pole. The equipment boxes will be attached to the pole, or in the case of new steel streetlight installations, potentially in the base of the pole itself. While every system varies, the equipment boxes typically include an electric meter, a disconnect switch, and computers to control the antennas. Some wireless facilities may also feature an equipment box, on the same pole or in a box near the pole, that contains batteries used to provide temporary emergency power to the facility in case of a power outage.
Public right of way refers to a strip of land, which is used as a roadbed, either for a street or railway. The land is set aside as an easement or in fee, either by agreement or condemnation. May also be used to describe the right itself to pass the land of another. The public right of way general consists of the roadway, sidewalks and a strip of land behind the sidewalk (which varies by neighborhood).
A number of factors dictate the range of small cells, including objects that can potentially block the signals such as trees or buildings. On average, these systems have an approximate range of 150 to 500 feet, due to their low mounting height and low power output (either 66, 100, or 174 watts). For comparison purposes, a typical “macro” facility, with higher power usage (e.g. 10,000+ watts), and a higher mounting location; can have a range of a mile or two.
No. Under State law, telecommunications carriers have a right to install wireless facilities in the public right-of-way. The City, however, can regulate certain aspects of the design, location, and placement of those facilities.
No. The City's preference is for wireless carriers to install wireless telecommunications facilities on street light poles because they are generally less visually intrusive than wood pole-mounted facilities.
5G is the fifth generation of mobile communication networks. Most consumers now use 3G or 4G/LTE networks, which were introduced to the public in 2001 and 2009, respectively. AT&T shuttered its 2G system in early 2017. Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint have said they’ll continue to operate their 2G networks through 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. It is anticipated that 5G systems will use existing cell towers and installation of additional small cells.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in consultation with numerous other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has developed safety standards. The FCC explains that its standards “incorporate prudent margins of safety.” It explains further that “radio frequency emissions from antennas used for cellular and PCS transmissions result in exposure levels on the ground that are typically thousands of times below safety limits.” The FCC provides information about the safety of RF emissions from wireless telecommunications facilities on its website.
The FCC provides information on its safety standards and determinations on its website.
Questions regarding potential RF hazards from FCC-regulated transmitters can be directed to the Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau:
455 12th Street SWWashington DC, 20554Phone: 1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL-FCC)Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 contained provisions relating federal jurisdiction to regulate human exposure to RF emissions from certain transmitting devices. In particular, Section 704 of the Act states that, “No state or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emission.” Further information on FCC policy with respect to facilities siting is available from the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and in the Local Government Official’s Guide to Transmitting Antenna RF Emission Safety (PDF).
Yes. The Department of Public Works (DPW) issues permits for the installation of wireless facilities in the public right-of-way.
The Department of Public Works engages with each applicant for a wireless facility permit to consider a design that is appropriate for the proposed location and meets our Design and Engineering Standards. In addition, City staff continually engages with wireless carriers and equipment manufacturers to seek designs that are less visually intrusive.
Installation of small cell facilities on existing street light poles are categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to Sections 15302 and 15303 of the Guidelines for CEQA.
Streetlight poles are owned and maintained by the City of San Mateo. The majority of wooden poles are operated by the Northern California Joint Pole Association (NCJPA). Utility poles may have several owners on a joint pole, including electric, telephone, and cable providers.
The technology today does not operate efficiently with two small cell antennas on a single pole. It is unlikely at this time that, for example, both Verizon and AT&T would share a pole. Also, the City limits the volume of all equipment to 9 CF for a Minor Permit, making it difficult for telecoms to share a pole. If an applicant wishes to exceed 9 CF, approval from the Sustainable & Infrastructure Commission is required.
Generally, the installation of the antennas and equipment on the pole, and painting (if needed to match equipment to the pole) can be accomplished in a few days. Additional work may be required at sidewalk level to connect power and fiber-optic cables (used to transmit signals) to the pole-mounted equipment and antennas.
Wireless carriers have proposed similar networks in cities throughout the Bay Area.
For information regarding moratoriums of small cell installations, please review the City Attorney’s memorandum to Public Works dated April 6, 2018 as presented to the Public Works Commission on April 11, 2018.
We are not aware of any cities, including those mentioned, with an outright prohibition on installations in residential zones. In fact, to do so would violate the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. The recommended practice is to require carriers to demonstrate that no other more-preferred locations are technically feasible. If a carrier cannot make that demonstration, cities can reject applications for installations proposed for residential zones. Each of the cities mentioned, including the City of San Mateo, have rejected proposed installations on the grounds that more preferred locations are available. The City of San Mateo’s ordinance provides that residential zones are the “least preferred” location. (San Mateo Municipal Code Section 17.10.090.)
If the current draft of the ordinance is adopted, the San Mateo Public Works Department will have the ability to approve small installations of antennas, pole-mounted equipment, and underground equipment. Residents within 500 feet of such an installation will be notified of the department’s pending approval and will be able submit a written protest requesting a hearing to the Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission. The Commission will render a decision on both protests of department decisions and applications for larger installations as well as installations of ground-mounted equipment. Decisions of the Commission could be appealed to the San Mateo City Council.
Please refer to the City’s “Wireless Communications Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way” ordinance Section 17.10.070 for the appeal process.
By order of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), The City is allowed to recover costs for review and issuance of a telecom permit, as well as $270 annually per City-owned streetlight pole.
The San Mateo Public Works Department applies the City’s adopted Design and Engineering Standards.
Per state and federal law, the City must allow telecommunication companies to use public right-of-way, which includes islands. However, the City design standard has indicated residential zones, schools and parks are least preferred.
Improvements will vary depending on location and carrier. If you are interested in additional information please contact your service provider.
The City limits telecommunications infrastructure to 9 cubic feet per pole, which generally means no more than one (1) small cell will fit on each pole.
If PG&E has an easement authorizing telephone service, it has a property right to allow the installation, but the installation is still subject to review by the City’s Planning Division.
If a small cell is proposed near your home, the first step is to request and attend a neighborhood meeting hosted by the telecom. Residents have the right to appeal approved application per the City’s “Wireless Communications Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way” ordinance Section 17.10.070 for the appeal process.
Information on all cell towers in San Mateo can be found at:
Information on all antennas registered with the FCC can be found at:
Information on existing small cells in the City can be found at:
No locations have been approved near 401 Occidental. Typically, if a telecom must move a location, it will be nearby due to design constraints.
The City has received one (1) application in the San Mateo Park neighborhood for a small cell (not a tower) and it was denied on July 25, 2018. As of November 2018, no other applications at that location have been received.
The San Mateo Public Works Department is responsible for reviewing Small Cells in the public right-of-way within the City. Citizens and interested parties should go to the Small Cell Infrastructure webpage for updates and a list of proposed sites located at: https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/3865/Small-Cell-Infrastructure.
Residents are encouraged to sign up for notifications of changes to the small cell web page to stay up to date. The Small Cell Infrastructure notify me list can be found here: https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/list.aspx.
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