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Wireless Communication Facilities OrdinancePlanning Central

Summary of Proposed Ordinance

The City of Santa Barbara is proposing to amend its Municipal Code regulations regarding Wireless Communication Facilities to reasonably regulate, to the extent permitted by California and federal law, the installation, operation, collocation, modification and removal of wireless facilities in the City of Santa Barbara.

California cities are preempted from regulating various aspects of wireless communications facility siting by both state and federal law. In particular, cities cannot prohibit or effectively prohibit wireless facilities, unreasonably discriminate against wireless service providers or regulate such facilities on the basis of radio frequency emissions to the extent those emissions comply with federal standards.

Most recently, the Federal Communications Commission recently issued regulations that require cities to approve some collocations at previously approved facilities and allow for alterations to existing facilities if the alteration is not considered a “substantial change” pursuant to Section 6409(a) and the FCC’s regulations at 47 C.F.R. § 1.40001. These new federal rules are not limited to traditional telecommunications towers but apply to essentially any communications facility. In addition, California adopted new legislation that further restricts the time in which cities have to review proposed installations and collocations. 

As a result, the current regulations may be in conflict with State and federal law. The new ordinance provisions are intended to remedy any conflict and include the following:

  • Provides new definitions of technical terms, the different types of wireless facilities and City requirements that specify the types of that are allowed to include a collocation facility;
  • Outlines City requirements for a revised review process for the various types of wireless telecommunications facilities applications that include revised permit requirements and submittal procedures;
  • Defines the development standards and guidelines for new facilities and substantial changes to existing facilities regarding height, preferred locations, bulk, and size of the wireless telecommunication facility;
  • Specifies the types of wireless telecommunications facilities that are allowed to propose certain types of collocation facilities;
  • Responds to FCC’s Wireless Facility Rules Implementing Section 6409(a) rules;Lists general design and aesthetic standards and preferences for wireless telecommunications collocation facilities;
  • Lists aesthetic and concealment design requirements and preferences for wireless telecommunications collocation facilities in the Public Right of Way;
  • Establishes required findings of approval for some wireless facilities that may require a Conditional Use Permit; and
  • Allows for an administrative review process for certain wireless facility improvement projects consistent with federal laws and regulations.

Draft Ordinance

Click here to view the DRAFT Wireless Facilities Ordinance.



The proposed Draft Wireless Ordinance is currently being revised after a joint workshop held with members of the Architectural Board of Review and Historic Landmarks Commission.  An updated Draft Wireless Ordinance is expected to be available for review prior to the scheduled City Council Ordinance Committee meeting later this year which is yet to be scheduled. 


If you have additional questions contact the Design Review Supervisor at (805) 564-5507 or via e-mail at

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2018
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