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Lathrop now will have say on cell towers
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A proposed California Senate bill would permit the placement or operation of communication facilities in city right-of-way by for-profit providers without paying the local jurisdictions a fee to do so.
But that won’t be the case in Lathrop.
Thanks to the foresight of the Lathrop city staff and the council who supported the idea of working up a wireless communication facilities and infrastructure master plan with a company that only asks be paid a portion of all future contracts signed with wireless companies, Lathrop will now not only be able to charge a fee to wireless companies that want to build towers inside of public right-of-way, but also have the ability to set design guidelines limiting what can be built and where it can be placed.
Currently the City of Lathrop has no active, ongoing contracts with wireless companies who are using city land to house their structures, but that could change now that the city has partnered with XG Communities LLC – which does business as 5Bars Communities – to codify the city’s standards when it comes to the installation of towers.
But they’re not the only public agency hoping to receive some compensation from space rental contracts for cell phone tower equipment.
The Lathrop-Manteca Fire District, which has a massive communication tower at its River Islands Parkway station which covers roughly the same area that Lathrop City Hall potentially could.  The district does have open contracts with companies for tower space rental and worked with the City of Lathrop to ensure that their master plan won’t impact and affect their revenue-generation opportunities.
According to the language of SB-649, which has passed the California Legislative Committee, telecommunication companies would have the ability to place their equipment not only on city right-of-way, but on city property and infrastructure, like poles, without the express permission of the city to do so. 
Last week the Lathrop City Council approved an extension of the three-year contract that was signed with 5Bars to expand the city’s legal coverage for a period of five years. Language in SB-649 allows for existing agreements covering the placement of equipment to stand, and city staff believed that by extending the existing contract, the city’s interests would be better served as the bill works its way through the legislature.
As per the contract, 5Bars was tasked with creating the city’s telecommunications master plan under the agreement that they would receive 35 percent of all future contracts with telecommunications companies covered under the plan.
While the idea of forfeiting more than a third of revenue that can be generated from such agreements didn’t sit well with some on the Lathrop City Council initially – particularly Councilman Steve Dresser who took issue with handing over proceeds to a company that should be going to taxpayers – staff explained that there is currently no money coming in, and if the bill working its way through the statehouse were to be approved, the city wouldn’t likely have any opportunity to monetize telecommunication rentals.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.