Update on Nevada City Wireless Ordinance, 6/15/2020

Update on Nevada City Wireless Ordinance, 6/15/2020

Since last September, the Nevada City Public Working Group (PWG) on Telecommunications has been working with the City Council of Nevada City, their attorneys, consultants and staff to advocate for stronger public safety protections in the Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Ordinance (WTF).

On May 27, 2020, the PWG recommended three essential Ordinance revisions that would protect the health and safety of people and communities:

1) Insurance: “All permittees are required to have general insurance that includes pollution insurance by a third-party insurer, not a self-insured indemnity substitute by a telecommunications company or any company listed on a License Agreement.”

2) Permit Applications: “Any and all information on a permit application must be supported with substantive and verifiable evidence and is deemed to be true under oath and subject to perjury, and/or subject to applicant having their permit(s) and Master Agreements/Franchise Agreements revoked.”

3) Random Testing for RF Compliance. “The municipality shall have the right to employ a qualified RF engineer to conduct an annual random and unannounced test of any Permittee’s wireless installations located within its jurisdiction to certify their compliance with all FCC radio-frequency emission limits as they pertain to exposure to the general public. The reasonable cost of such tests shall be paid by the Permittee.”

On June 1, the last two of our recommendations were accepted, but the language approved by Council on June 10 was weakened to limit enforceability and industry accountability. The Council claims the City is protected from litigation by the Telecom industry, but chose to ignore public safety concerns, leaving people and communities vulnerable to effects of unregulated, untested wireless facilities. This City Council chose to approve an ordinance that protects the wireless industry instead of the City’s inhabitants. The public bears the responsibility to monitor emissions and violations, and if necessary, independently sue the industry for violations and harms.

For the record, the PWG submitted comments for the June 10, City Council meeting, stating the PWG does not approve the weakened language. However, this Council chose to approve the second and final reading of the current form of the Wireless Ordinance with weakened provisions.

The PWG remains committed to appeal to the incoming Council to strengthen the wireless Ordinance. The City of Nevada City has paid more than $40,000, in questionable legal fees for a vague and confusing ordinance that doesn’t adequately protect its communities, property, taxpayers and voters.

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