Broadband infrastructure gets another green light in Santa Cruz

18 March 2014 by Steve Blum
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Come on. Don’t you want more cute kitten videos?

Santa Cruz County supervisors edged closer to opening up a fast track for broadband infrastructure development this morning. With four yes votes and a no, they blessed a progress report from the planning department, which is trying to get out of the business of deciding whether broadband facilities meet arcane and contentious land use rules. That process is better suited to figuring out where to build businesses and homes, for example, than designing broadband networks. The job would be given to the public works department, which already handles design and construction standard reviews for other utility projects.

A big part of the work is focused on adapting old rules to new technology, such as…

Updating the types of wireless facilities that are exempted from development review and use permit requirements, including newer technology such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and other utility pole-mounted microcells that would be no longer subject to land use permit approval if installed in public rights-of-way.

Santa Cruz County’s rules governing wireless facilities would also be brought into conformance with new state and, particularly, federal rules.

It was a small step in the process and, all things considered, the fact that only three people spoke against it might also be reckoned as minimal opposition. As usual, they weren’t terribly specific about their concerns, which ranged from WiFi to fluorescent lights to dirty electricity (whatever that is) to microchips in kittens.

The man behind Santa Cruz’s broadband push, Aptos supervisor Zach Friend, was joined by Neal Coonerty, Bruce McPherson and John Leopold in voting yes. As usual, Watsonville’s Greg Caput voted no, saying he didn’t have enough information to make up his mind. Maybe a faster Internet connection would help?