Bills to scrap local cell site review and California Public Utilities Commission delayed

22 June 2016 by Steve Blum
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Don’t have to look far to find a horse in Sacramento.

Afternoon update: There’s a growing consensus that AB 2788 is dead, rather than just delayed. Resurrection is always possible while the legislature is in session, though. We’ll know its status for sure, at least its current status, by Monday, if not before.

A proposal to allow mobile carriers to install cell sites pretty much anywhere they want – including on publicly owned property – without meaningful review by local government has been bumped by a week. Assembly bill 2788 will be heard next Monday in the senate energy, utilities and commerce committee, instead of as originally scheduled for today. Likewise, a proposal – assembly constitutional amendment 11 – to ask voters whether they want to eliminate the special status given to the California Public Utilities Commission by the California constitution was also pushed back until Monday.

No reason was given for the delays, however it’s worth noting that both bills are being carried – authored is the term of art – by Los Angeles assemblyman Mike Gatto, who chairs the assembly utilities and commerce committee, which in turn will be considering bills next week by San Diego senator Ben Hueso, who chairs the senate energy, utilities and commerce committee. Since next week is also a notional deadline for getting bills out of committee and a hard deadline for getting measures on the November ballot, it’s a fair guess that there’s some horse trading going on.

Hueso just amended a bill of his own and made it about extending the deadline for the CPUC to spend money set aside to pay for broadband facilities in public housing. Senate bill 745 previously dealt with some arcane aspects of the California Advanced Services Fund, so it’s not quite a gut and amend maneuver, but it is a sharp change of course. He’s also a co-author on a bill – SB 215 – that would tighten rules for how regulated utilities and other interested parties communicate with the CPUC about matters before it. Both of those bills are scheduled to be heard by Gatto’s committee on Tuesday.