California's New Guidelines for Cell Towers Upends Planning Process
In an article on Medium, which originally appeared in the February 2016 newsletter of the Northern California chapter of the APA, Omar Masry and Robert May write that AB 57 "grants wireless site projects a free pass irrespective of environmental or constitutional concerns."
The bill, which became effective on January 1, 2016, installs a 150 day review period for new cell sites and 90 days for co-location sites. If a decision isn't reached within that time period, the project is deemed approved. Masry and May identify several important and unanswered questions about the new expedited process, including what happens when greater environmental analysis is required? What happens when greater review and attention is required due to the impacts on historic buildings? Further, if a public hearing is required, the time required for public notification, hearings and review can create a significant hardship on communities attempting to include the public in the decision making process.