Florida Senate (SB 596) and House (HB 687) are now heading to the Floors for votes. Calls to representatives are needed by Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Florida legislators contact numbers can be found at these links: (Note: These bills do not concern US reps (Rubio/Nelson)
These bills are intended to streamline deployment of 4g/5g small cells.  These are called “small cells”, but applications filed have some at 120 feet tall and some come with refrigerator sized equipment boxes. These bills were written by the wireless industry in an attempt to have the Florida state legislators preempt local siting processes and provide cheap access to public infrastructure and rights of way. This is an invasion on residential neighborhoods as public rights of way and infrastructure are impacted. Most people don’t realize it but the property in front of our homes as well as sometimes other parts (back and side yards) have public rights of way. Yes, we mow all the lawn and pay the property taxes, but certain portions of our property are not subject to our full control. These are usually areas where there are light posts, utility poles, and street signs.
Although all the cities, counties and municipalities vehemently opposed this bill, Tallahassee basically said, “tough,” and the now former (forced to resign) Senator Artiles actually told them at the end of the first meeting to “go and negotiate your best deal”. There has been little debate nor mention or concern by all sides that this is OUR property.
Admittedly, they have been negotiating, and the bill has gone through many changes. Local governments basically accepted the local preemption, got a few protective clauses inserted, brought the height limitations they can set down to 50 feet from 60 feet and now are haggling over price (annual rent). The original rent was $15 and it now stands at $150 per pole.
Other changes (since man is not created equal) – The Florida Dept of Transportation managed to get themselves exempted along with the municipal electric and cooperative electric companies. The Villages retirement community managed to get themselves exempted. Some barrier islands, less than 5 miles, 10K inhabitants who recently voted to underground (could that be Longboat Key?) got themselves exempted. And large developers managed to weigh in and properties subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions; articles of incorporation; or bylaws” got some protections if the structures do not comply with the restrictions. So its been a grande game of “Let’s make a deal” all month long.
Although these bills have been somewhat improved upon, a bad bill is a bad bill and should be opposed. You can find the bill and its analysis and read it for yourselves at the links below. Just click on the “Bill Text” or “Analysis” tabs and choose the document with the latest date. The bills change frequently, but both bills have cleared all their committees and are on the calendars for their respective floors to be voted on. This years session ends in about 11 days, so this will move quickly and I expect it to pass unless there is a large public outcry.
Some reasons to oppose these bills:
1) Home Rule – These bills preempt local authority over their public rights of way and zoning authority.
2) These bills are not necessary – locals are capable of negotiating directly with industry on what is needed for their communities.
3) These bills pick winners and losers which is not the role of the state. Wireless facilities are placed today on both public and private property. By setting a low rate for public properties you skew the market. These light poles, etc. were paid for by the people and their local representatives should be allowed to negotiate the proper price. Testimony at one House committee meeting pegged market rate at $2200/yr, and these bills only offer $150/year. Taxpayers should not subsidize private industry.
4) 50 foot mini cell towers and noisy associated equipment boxes should not be forced on residential areas.
5) These bills are discriminatory as they do not treat all public rights of way the same – namely the carve outs for the Florida Dept of Transportation, municipal electric utilities, The Villages, Barrier islands and certain PUD’s (planned unit developments).
6) The massive proliferation of small cell placements, especially in residential areas, where placement could be as close as 10 feet from a bedroom window, is a health hazard. This deployment should not be supported in light of the May 2016 release of the NTP rat/cellphone study until the FCC completes its work on FCC Docket 13-84 regarding reassessment of the RF radiation emission guidelines.
7) A good write-up, complete with pictures, was prepared by a former government local planner who is opposing a similar pending bill in California. It shows what happens when the placement and rules of wireless facilities are not well regulated and controlled. see https://medium.com/@omarmasry/sb-649-challenges-legislative-pitfalls-a61a4427651a
8) Ohio passed their bill in December and over 80 local communities are now suing the state. http://www.cleveland.com/brecksville/index.ssf/2017/04/brecksville_joins_cleveland_la.html
Please consider making some noise tomorrow. Most times these senators and representatives go along with these crazy bills because they hear no complaints from the people. Tell them to Vote NO.
For more info write to www.info@stopsmartmetersfl.org