Santa Cruz supervisors look at mandatory broadband upgrades

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Just save a little room for broadband.

Broadband upgrades – conduit, cable or other facilities – would be installed anytime any work is done on Santa Cruz County roads or other right-of-ways, if the Board of Supervisors approves a proposed telecommunications infrastructure improvement ordinance tomorrow. The key language that’d be added to the county building code is…

All construction, reconstruction or repaving of a County right-of-way will include provisions for the installation of telecommunications cable, conduit and other related equipment wherever practical and feasible…If a project includes excavation in or adjacent to a County right-of-way, installation of or upgrades to telecommunications cable, conduit or other infrastructure will be included as needed.

There’s the usual allowance for exceptions and waivers, but penalties, too, if whoever is doing the work doesn’t comply. Supervisors will also look at proposed standards for conduit that’s installed in the county in the future –that’s just one of the details that needs to be worked out to put the ordinance into effect. It’ll be a few months before that happens. A second vote by the board is required before the decision is final and then there’s a three month waiting period before it becomes effective.

It’s part of an initiative led by Aptos supervisor Zach Friend to overhaul a wide range of rules and policies that can either encourage or restrict broadband infrastructure upgrades in Santa Cruz County. Also on the table tomorrow is boilerplate contract language that’d be used anytime a telecoms company wants to lease facilities or property that belong to the county, and a progress report on the effort to strip away a thick layer of red tape by giving the public works department sole responsibility for broadband project permits, and removing requirements that now have the planning department doing its own separate review.