Chapter 9.44
Telecommunications Facilities


9.44.010    Purpose

9.44.020    Definitions

9.44.030    Applicability

9.44.040    Permit Requirements

9.44.050    Limitations on Location

9.44.060    Facility Design and Development Standards

9.44.070    Operation and Maintenance Standards

9.44.080    Discontinuance and Site Restoration

9.44.010 Purpose

This Chapter establishes development standards consistent with Federal law to: regulate the placement and design of telecommunications facilities to promote an aesthetic appearance to preserve the historic, cultural, and archaeological values of Arcata, and to ensure public safety and welfare; pursue additional benefits from the facilities to the public by encouraging the leasing of publicly owned properties where feasible for the development of communication facilities; acknowledge and provide the community benefit associated with the provision of advanced communication services within the City; and to implement General Plan Policy PF-5d.

9.44.020 Definitions

The technical terms and phrases used in this Chapter are defined in Article 10 (Glossary) under "Telecommunications Facilities."

9.44.030 Applicability

A.    Applicability of Chapter. The location, permit requirements, and other provisions of this Chapter shall apply to all telecommunications facilities within the City, except as provided in Subsection B. All telecommunications facilities shall also comply with all applicable requirements of State and Federal law.

B.    Exceptions. The following are exempt from the requirements of this Chapter.

1.    The replacement or modification of previously permitted facilities or equipment determined by the Director to be of a minor nature, and that do not increase the number or height of antennas or significantly change or enlarge the ancillary related equipment at the site.

2.    An antenna that is one meter (39.37 inches) or less in diameter or diagonal measurement, that is designed:

a.    To receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, as defined by Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Code of Federal Regulations Title 47, and any interpretive decisions thereof issued by the Federal Communications Commission; or

b.    For subscribing to a multipoint distribution service.

3.    A satellite earth station (SES) antenna of two meters (78.74 inches) or less in diameter or diagonal measurement, located in a commercial or industrial zoning district, that is designed to transmit or receive radio communications by satellite or terrestrial communications antenna. These antennas may require a building permit and approval of the placement by the Director to ensure maximum safety is maintained. In order to avoid tripping hazards and the creation of an attractive nuisance, these antennas shall be placed whenever possible, on the top of buildings as far from the edge of rooftops as possible.

4.    An amateur and/or citizens band antenna operated by a person holding a license issued by the FCC in compliance with 47 C.F.R. Part 97, and used solely in connection with that license; provided that there shall be no more than one antenna support structure on a single parcel and that the antenna structure complies with the height limits of the applicable zoning district.

9.44.040 Permit Requirements

A.    Use Permit required. Use Permit approval is required for all telecommunications facilities subject to this Chapter.

B.    Application requirements. In addition to the information required for a Use Permit application by Chapter 9.70 (Permit Application Filing and Initial Processing) the application for a telecommunication facility shall include, but may not be limited to all of the following information and materials.

1.    General information.

a.    A notarized statement signed by the applicants that all information included in the submittal is materially accurate, true, complete, and verifiable. Inaccurate, untrue, misleading or false information submitted in pursuit of a Use Permit by the applicants, the provider company, or their agents may be grounds for denial of a Use Permit.

b.    The exact legal name, address or principal place of business, and phone numbers of applicants and any co-applicants, as well as any agents for the applicants or co- applicants. The landowner of the subject property, licensed carriers, and tenants for the facility shall be considered co-applicants.

c.    The name, title, address and phone number of the person to whom correspondence or communication regarding the applicants are to be sent.

d.    Original signatures for the applicants and all co-applicants applying for the Use Permit. If the applicants or co-applicants will be represented by an agent, original signature authorizing the agent to represent the applicants and/or co-applicants.

e.    Copies of all submittals pertaining to: FCC licensing; environmental impact analysis; FAA notice; aeronautical studies; and all data, assumptions, and calculations relating to service coverage and power levels.

f.    Details of proposed method of finance surety.

g.    Required plans and engineering plans, prepared, stamped and signed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in California.

2.    Siting information. Applicants shall provide a zoning or assessor’s map that clearly locates all existing and proposed facilities for their carrier in the City and outside the City within one mile of its corporate limits. Applicants shall also provide a vicinity plan at a scale of one-inch equals 40 feet that shows at a minimum the following (additional materials may be required):

a.    Property lines for the site;

b.    Property lines of all properties adjacent to the site within 300 feet;

c.    Existing tree cover on the site and adjacent properties within 300 feet, by dominant species and average height, as measured by or available from a verifiable source;

d.    Outline of all existing buildings, including purpose (e.g. residential buildings, garages, accessory structures, etc.) on the site and all adjacent properties within 1000 feet;

e.    The proposed location of the facility, including mounts and equipment shelters;

f.    Proposed security-barrier, indicating type and extent as well as point of controlled entry;

g.    The location of all roads, public and private, on the subject property and on all adjacent properties within 500 feet including driveways proposed to serve the facility;

h.    Distances, at grade, from the proposed facility to each building on the vicinity plan;

i.    Contours at each two feet above mean sea level for the site and adjacent properties within 500 feet;

j.    All proposed changes to the existing site, including grading, vegetation removal, and temporary or permanent roads and driveways;

k.    Representations, dimensioned and to scale, of the proposed mount, antennas, equipment shelters, cable runs, parking areas and any other construction or development attendant to the facility; and

l.    Lines representing the sight line showing viewpoint (point from which view is taken) and visible point (point being viewed) from the sight lines.

3.    Additional visuals. Applicants shall submit sight lines and photographs as follows.

a.    Sight line representations should be drawn from the closest public roads and the closest residential buildings (viewpoint) to the highest point (visible point) of the facility. Each sight line should be depicted in profile, drawn at a scale of one-inch equals forty 40 feet. The profiles should show all intervening trees and buildings. The number and locations of the representations shall be determined by the Director.

b.    Each sight line should be illustrated by one, four-inch by six-inch color photograph of what can currently be seen (also called an existing or before-condition photograph).

c.    Each of the existing-condition photographs should have the proposed facility superimposed on it to show what will be seen from public roads if the proposed facility is built, including antennas, mounts, equipment shelters, cables as well as cable units, and security barriers, if any, for the total height, width and breadth.

4.    Cross-sections. Applicants shall submit cross-sections through the site which illustrate the following:

a.    Antennas, mounts and equipment shelters, with total elevation dimensions and average ground level of the highest point;

b.    If the security barrier will block views of the facility, the barrier drawing should be cut away to show the view behind the barrier;

c.    Any existing structures on the site to remain;

d.    Existing trees and shrubs at current height and proposed trees and shrubs at proposed height at time of installation, with approximate elevations dimensioned;

e.    Grade changes, or cuts and fills, to be shown as original grade and new grade line, with two-foot contours above mean sea level; and

f.    Construction sequence and routes used to transport materials and equipment to the site.

5.    Radio frequency radiation (RFR) information. Applicants shall provide a statement listing the existing and maximum future measurements of RFR from the proposed facility for the following situations.

a.    Existing, or ambient: the measurements of existing RFR.

b.    Existing plus proposed facility: maximum estimate of RFR from the proposed facility plus the existing RFR environment.

The certification shall be signed by a RF engineer, stating that the RFR measurements are accurate and meet FCC requirements.

6.    Operational characteristics.

a.    Certification acceptable to the Director that the proposed facility will at all times comply with all applicable health requirements and standards pertaining to electromagnetic and/or radio frequency radiation;

b.    A report, as required by the Police Department, to evaluate the potential for interference (e.g., HF, UHF, VHF, 800 mHz). The applicant shall be responsible for paying any costs incurred by the City, including the costs of retaining consultants, to review and analyze the report.

C.    Master Use Permit. A service provider who intends to establish multiple wireless telecommunications facilities within the City is encouraged to apply for the approval of all facilities under a Master Use Permit. Under this approach, all proposed facilities may be acted upon by the City as a single application, ensuring feasibility of long range company projections. An application for a Master Use Permit in compliance with this Chapter shall include the following information.

1.    Written documentation of any facility sites in the City and in other adjacent cities and unincorporated areas in which the applicant has a legal or equitable interest, whether by ownership, lease, or otherwise.

2.    Written documentation for each facility site identified in Subsection C.1 that none of the sites is already providing, or does not have, by adjusting the site, the potential to provide adequate coverage and/or adequate capacity to the City.

3.    Written documentation that specifies potential adjustment to the existing facility sites, including changes in antenna type, orientation, gain, height, or power output.

4.    Written documentation demonstrating that the applicant has examined all telecommunication facility sites in the City and in the other adjacent cities and unincorporated areas in which the applicants have no legal or equitable interest, whether by ownership, lease, or otherwise, to determine whether those facility sites may be used to provide coverage and/or adequate capacity to the City.

5.    Written documentation demonstrating that the applicant has analyzed the feasibility of repeaters in conjunction with all facility sites to provide adequate coverage and/or adequate capacity to the City. Radial plots of all repeaters considered for use in conjunction with these facility sites shall be provided as part of the application.

D.    Communications consultant required. At the time of filing a Use Permit application for a telecommunication facility, the applicant shall hire independent consultants whose services shall be paid for by the applicants. These consultants shall each be qualified professionals with a record of service to municipalities in one of the following fields: telecommunications engineering; structural engineering; monitoring of electromagnetic fields; and if determined necessary by the Director, other consultants. The applicants shall grant permission for the City’s independent consultants to conduct site visits as the consultants deem necessary.

E.    Required findings for approval. The approval of a Use Permit for a telecommunication facility shall require that the review authority first make the following findings, in addition to those required for Use Permit approval by Section 9.72.080 (Use Permit and Minor Use Permit):

1.    The telecommunication facility complies with all applicable requirements of this Chapter;

2.    The telecommunication facility will not adversely impact the character and aesthetics of any public right-of-way;

3.    The proposed location is the most appropriate for the neighborhood;

4.    The facility is of the minimum size necessary for the intended use; and

5.    The facility will be set back and screened to effectively reduce visual and safety impacts.

9.44.050 Limitations on Location

A.    Zoning district priorities. A telecommunication facility shall not be approved or located within other than the PF (Public Facility) zoning district; except that the review authority may approve a facility within the CG, CC, CV, IL, or IG zoning districts if it first determines that the applicant has demonstrated that all PF zoning district options are infeasible, and that there is no site within a PF district where the telecommunication facility would provide adequate coverage.

B.    Co-location required. A new telecommunication facility shall be co-located with existing facilities and with other planned new facilities whenever feasible, and whenever determined by the review authority to be aesthetically desirable. A service provider shall co-locate a new telecommunication facility with non-communications facilities (e.g., light standards, water tanks, and other utility structures) where the review authority determines that this co-location will minimize the overall visual impact.

1.    A service provider shall exhaust all reasonable measures to co-locate their telecommunications facilities on existing towers or with or within existing ancillary support equipment facilities before applying for a new telecommunication facility site.

2.    Each service provider shall provide the City with responses from contacts with all other potential providers who have, or who are reasonably likely to be installing facilities within the vicinity of the proposed facility and have offered to participate in a joint installation project on reasonable terms.

3.    In order to facilitate co-location, Use Permit conditions of approval for a new facility shall require each service provider to cooperate in the siting of equipment and antennas to accommodate the maximum number of operators at a given site where determined by the review authority to be feasible and aesthetically desirable.

C.    Siting on historically significant structure prohibited. No telecommunication facility shall be sited on a structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the California Register, identified as an historic structure in a local historic survey or registry or as determined by a qualified architectural historian as having significant historic contribution to the area.

9.44.060 Facility Design and Development Standards

Each proposed telecommunication facility shall comply with all of the following standards.

A.    Facility placement.

1.    A telecommunication facility located on the roof of a structure that complies with applicable height limits shall be set back from the nearest roof edge the equivalent of the height of the tower or a minimum of 10 feet, whichever is greater.

2.    Telecommunication facilities other than towers and antennas shall be located either within a structure, underground, in a rear yard (not visible from a public right-of-way) or on a screened roof top area. A ground-mounted facility that is located within a front or side setback or within a public right-of-way shall be underground so that the facility will not detract from the image or appearance of the City.

3.    A telecommunication facility shall be at least 1000 feet from any residence, and shall be at least 1,500 feet from any historic district, school, or hospital.

B.    Height limitations.

1.    The height of all telecommunication facilities shall be established through the use permit process and shall be of a minimum functional height to facilitate the co-location of at least three providers.

C.    Colors and materials. All antennas, poles, towers, or equipment, including ancillary support equipment, shall have a non-reflective finish and shall be painted or otherwise treated to match or blend with the primary background and minimize visual impacts. Antennas attached to a structure shall be painted or otherwise treated to match the exterior of the structure or the antenna’s background color. All ground-mounted equipment shall be covered with a clear anti-graffiti type material of a type approved by the review authority or shall be adequately secured to prevent graffiti.

D.    Screening, landscaping. All ground mounted equipment, antennas, poles, or towers shall be sited to be screened by existing development, topography, or vegetation. Ground mounted facilities shall be located within structures, underground, or in areas where substantial screening by existing structures or vegetation can be achieved. Additional new vegetation or other screening may be required by the review authority. The applicant shall use the smallest and least visible antennas possible to accomplish the owner/operator’s coverage objectives.

E.    Additional screening and landscaping. As part of project review, the review authority may require additional screening and/or landscaping, undergrounding, an alternative color scheme, or relocation of a tower or ancillary equipment to a less obtrusive area of the site where it would have a less prominent visual presence due to slope, topography, size, or relationship to public right-of-ways.

F.    Power lines. All power lines to and within a telecommunication facility site shall be underground.

G.    Backup power supplies. A backup power supply (i.e., generator) located in an industrial zoning district shall be enclosed within a structure and operated in compliance with Subsection 9.44.060.D (Screening). In any zoning district, ancillary power supplies and fuel storage tanks to support backup power supplies shall require Use Permit approval. (Ord. 1452, eff. 2/20/2015)

9.44.070 Operation and Maintenance Standards

A.    Contact and site information. The owner or operator of any facility shall submit and maintain current at all times basic contact and site information. The applicant shall notify the City of any changes to the information submitted within 30 days of any change, including change of the name or legal status of the owner or operator. This information shall include the following:

1.    Identity, including name, address, and telephone number, and legal status of the owner of the facility including official identification numbers and FCC certification, and if different from the owner, the identity and legal status of the person or entity responsible for operating the facility;

2.    Name, address, and telephone number of a local contact person for emergencies;

3.    Type of service provided; and

4.    Identification signs, including emergency phone numbers of the utility provider, shall be posted at all communication facility sites.

B.    Facility maintenance. All telecommunications facilities and related equipment, including lighting, fences, shields, cabinets, and poles shall be maintained in good repair, free from trash, debris, litter, graffiti, and other forms of vandalism, and any damage from any cause shall be repaired as soon as reasonably possible so as to minimize occurrences of dangerous conditions or visual blight. Graffiti shall be removed by the service provider from any facility or equipment as soon as practicable, and in no instances more than 48 hours from the time of notification by the City.

C.    Landscaping maintenance. All trees, foliage, and other landscaping elements on a telecommunication facility site, whether or not used as screening, shall be maintained in good condition at all times in compliance with the approved landscape plan. The facility owner or operator shall be responsible for replacing any damaged, dead, or decayed landscaping as promptly as reasonably possible. The review authority may also require a landscape maintenance agreement.

D.    Noise. Each telecommunication facility shall be operated so as to minimize the generation of noise that is audible from off the site. Backup generators shall only be operated during periods of power outages, and shall not be tested on weekends or holidays, or between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on weekday nights. At no time shall equipment noise from any source exceed an exterior noise level of 60 dB at the property line.

E.    Site inspection required. Each owner or operator of a facility shall routinely and regularly inspect each site to ensure compliance with the standards identified in this Chapter.

F.    Exterior lighting. Any exterior lighting shall be manually operated and used only during night maintenance or emergencies, unless otherwise required by applicable Federal law or FCC rules. The lighting shall also comply with Section 9.30.070 (Outdoor Lighting).

9.44.080 Discontinuance and Site Restoration

All equipment associated with a telecommunication facility shall be removed within 30 days of the discontinuance of the use and the site shall be restored to its original pre-construction condition, to the approval of the Director. The service provider shall provide the City with a notice of intent to vacate a site a minimum of 30 days before site vacation. This removal requirement, and appropriate bonding requirements, shall be included in the terms of a lease for a facility on public property. A private lease for a facility located on private property is encouraged to include terms for equipment removal, since the property owner shall be ultimately responsible for removal of the equipment.