Planning Commission and City Council to Consider Telecommunications Ordinance

August 9, 2018

With growing demand to support 4G and 5G technology for broadband and data services, the wireless telecommunications industry has begun to pursue the installation of smaller cell and distributed antenna systems throughout Marin County including on facilities in the public right-of-way. The City of Mill Valley is working to update our regulations to specifically address the installation, location, appearance and maintenance of wireless telecommunication facilities, with an urgency ordinance scheduled for the Planning Commission this month and City Council adoption in early September. 

The draft ordinance will prescribe clear criteria to process anticipated applications in a consistent manner and within the limits of federal and state law. 

Federal and state laws preempt local authority to regulate certain aspects of wireless telecommunications facilities, including restricting local regulations related to radio frequency or electromagnetic waves that comply with FCC regulations, the collocation on existing wireless telecommunications facilities, certain modifications to existing wireless telecommunications facilities, and the installation of wireless telecommunications facilities on existing utility poles in the public rights of way. Key among these limits is that local regulations cannot have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services. 

These laws, however, preserve local authority to regulate the placement, construction and aesthetics of wireless telecommunications facilities. Federal law also requires the City to act on an application for wireless telecommunication facilities within a limited amount of time (60-150 days depending upon the type of facility proposed).

Comments or questions may be directed to Danielle Staude, Senior Planner at (415) 388-4033 or