CA SB.556 Opposed by Mayor of Petaluma

April 6, 2021

The Honorable Ben Hueso
Chair, Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee
State Capitol Building, Room 4035
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: SB.556 (Dodd) Street Light Poles, Traffic Signal Poles, Utility Poles, and Support Structures: Attachments Notice of OPPOSITION

Dear Senator Hueso:

As the Mayor of Petaluma, who has long championed efforts to

  • bridge the digital divide and
  • address the issues of ethical and social justice,
  • address other critical issues, such as, the aesthetic integrity of our historic city and its iconic neighborhoods, and
  • the health and safety of our community,

. . . I oppose, wholeheartedly, SB.556.

This legislation goes even further than the Federal incursions into local control and denies our community a voice in what happens here in Petaluma. We want critical infrastructure, including expanded internet access to reach everyone, and we want the right to choose how and where that should happen in Petaluma. We think we have been able to make that happen and we would like to improve it, but in a way that addresses our community’s needs while addressing access to all.

SB.556 requires local governments to make space available to telecommunications providers for wireless infrastructure without recognizing local authority to manage the public rights-of-way, preserved in the Federal law. This change would give telecommunications companies in Petaluma unfettered access to local infrastructure including, but not limited to, street light poles, traffic signal poles, and utility poles without requiring any proven improvement in access to service for those who need it the most, the unserved and underserved, while needlessly degrading our residential communities which are already adequately served.

This is the opposite of the bill’s claim of helping the unserved and underserved first, it is allowing companies to grow their networks at public expense, exposure and risk, without providing any relief to those who already have no, or unaffordable, access to the internet.

Who pays for the upgrades to those poles and signals? Not the telecommunications companies, but the taxpayers in our community. To protect the investment of the residents of Petaluma, the control of the public rights-of-way must remain local where it was paid for, will be maintained, and where it has local effects.

In addition, SB.556, creates ambiguity in the fees we can charge for access to the infrastructure. The already troublesome Federal law explicitly outlines conditions for valid fees, limiting fees to costs to maintain a structure within the right-of-way, process an application or permit, and review a siting application. Nowhere does it address the free access to the internet at an acceptably high-speed level that even begins to address the ethical gaps it purports to promote.

Where are the public benefits for the City? For the residents? For the ratepayers? For those who cannot pay the market rates for internet services?

This bill is NOT a win for Petaluma.

Respectfully submitted,

Teresa Barrett
Mayor of Petaluma

Senator Bill Dodd
Assemblyman Mark Levine
Nancy Hall Bennett (
League of California Cities (<