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From Tucson City Council Member Steve Kozachik’s Feb 22, 2021 Newsletter
Small Cell Poles Our study session on cell poles is tomorrow. I have some ideas that will require the cooperation of city staff, the telecom providers, TEP and the fiber companies. Right now, I’m being told that AT&T and T-Mobile have the attitude that they don’t need to engage with anyone.
According to law, they’re right. You can thank our state legislature for that.
But each of my constituents is their potential customer. Pay attention to how this goes so you know which companies to support – or not. While this mess is unfolding in many of your front yards, the state legislature continues to demonstrate how tone-deaf they are to the whole issue.
Even as we’re wrestling with how we gain a voice in siting decisions, the state is considering yet two more bills that preempt city authority on this issue. Right now, we can charge a fee to a telecom company for trenching in our right of way (ROW) and laying their fiber. We can’t discriminate and charge one kind of company one fee and different fees for a different sort of use (fiber vs. electric, for example), but we have the right to charge a fee based on linear feet they’ll be using the ROW. HB 2108 contains this new language:
So if this passes, the state is saying we not only have no voice in where they trench and install their systems, we cannot even treat the cell companies the same as we treat any other company when they use our Right of Way.
HB 2711 relates to installing antennas on private property. This will completely take the city’s voice out of locating an antenna on private property. Here’s the language they’re adding to state statute if this passes:
The ‘Authority’ they mention would be the city. And if the state is preempting us from being a part of these arrangements, the ability of a neighborhood association or HOA to craft terms related to the installation of poles is similarly preempted. If there was a way to get some of these poles installed in front of some legislators’ homes, that might help change the course of the conversation. Failing that, I’ll try to move the local needle on Tuesday.