Santa Cruz supervisors move forward with broadband policy initiative

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

Pioneering surfing of all sorts.

Model broadband development policies are on a fast track in Santa Cruz County. On a unanimous vote yesterday, county supervisors gave staff three months to evaluate four specific recommendations and come back with an action plan.

“This is a far-reaching agenda for increasing the region’s access to broadband by lowering the administrative barriers to entry for, and increasing coordination between, private telecommunications providers,” wrote Zach Friend, the county supervisor behind the effort.

The policies now under review in Santa Cruz include:

  • Setting standards and practices for putting broadband facilities in public right of ways.
  • Creating an online system to coordinate projects that cut into public streets, so that interested private sector companies can take advantage of opportunities to install broadband infrastructure while trenches are open.
  • Putting information about broadband facilities, public and private alike, into a database and keeping it up to date.
  • A “dig once” policy, that proactively includes broadband facilities in public projects. Examples include simply installing empty conduit whenever road construction or maintenance work is done.

This framework of model broadband policies was developed by Peter Koht at the City of Santa Cruz, which is also evaluating it. The work is part of a project undertaken by the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) and funded by the California Advanced Services Fund. It was presented to elected officials from Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties at a workshop last month that was organized by the Monterey County Business Council on behalf of the CCBC. The objective is to have local agencies in the region – which also includes San Benito County – adopt similar policies.