Laguna Beach city ordinances have been implemented to maintain our city’s character and charm and protect residents’ rights. Recent and ongoing interpretations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines by city staff threaten to make those protections obsolete and the transparency they provide.
As city staff continue to give administrative approvals to wireless facility expansions, which they feel do not represent substantial changes, they approve increasing the height of buildings by as much as ten feet, even when it exceeds height ordinances. In other instances, city staff have considered expanding a wireless facility by as much as 400% to be less than substantial.
The result is that neighbors are not notified, staking does not take place, views are compromised, and the public is not made aware of any increased electromagnetic radiation exposure that can be expected from additional wireless equipment.
FCC has been clear that wireless facility modifications and expansions should remain subject to municipal and zoning codes set by local governments. By granting administrative approval, Laguna Beach city staff have played into the hands of wireless carriers and property owners who choose to lease their roof space to them. With every rubber-stamping of a wireless facility, our city staff circumvents and weakens the normal processes we rely on as a community.
Today, more wireless facilities are being expanded or built on the rooftops of existing structures. Some have even been approved on the roofs of personal residences. Until the city becomes more transparent in how it grants administrative approval to these, I believe that all residents should expect a free-for-all of wireless facility expansions that will rival some of the abuses with alternative dwelling units (ADUs). I encourage those concerned to reach out to our City Council members and let them know that they would like greater transparency around these administrative approvals.
Ryan Miller, Laguna Beach