Santa Barbara County

Take Action regarding the Santa Barbara County Telecom Code

Before December 2019, Santa Barbara (SB) County had a protective Telecom Code.  Since then, the code has been seriously eroded and gives a free pass to the telecom industry to install Wireless Telecom Facilities (WTFs) within close proximity to residences, throughout the county. 

We want to restore the original code that prohibited WTFs in residential areas and required proof of a gap in telecommunication coverage, before installing WTFs.  

We want the most protective possible SB County Telecom Code. We encourage all County residents to make public comments during the regular SB County Board of Supervisors meetings. 

Note: The County Telecom Code and associated County Telecom Ordinances are different than the telecom ordinances in the various cities within SB County.

Instructions on how to make written and audio public comments to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors

Board Of Supervisors meetings usually take place on Tuesdays, starting at 9:00am. Meeting schedules, Agendas and Minutes, District Maps, etc., can be found on the SB County Board of Supervisors website.

Meetings are currently being held virtually, broadcasted either from Santa Barbara, or Santa Maria. You may observe the live stream of the Board of Supervisors meetings on

    (1) Local Cable Channel 20

    (2) online at: http://www.countyofsb.org/ceo/csbtv/livestream.sbc; or 

    (3) on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/user/CSBTV20

If you wish to make a general public comment or to comment on a specific agenda item, the following methods are available:

  • Distribution to the Board of Supervisors: Submit your comment via email prior to 5 p.m. on the day prior to the Board meeting. Please submit your comment to the Clerk of the Board at: sbcob@countyofsb.org . Your comment will be placed into the record and distributed appropriately.
  • By phone: If you would like to make a comment by phone, please call (805) 568-2240 and state your name, your phone number and which item you would like to speak on and the clerk will call you at the appropriate time. Please make every effort to be available and mute all streaming devices once it is your turn to speak.

To find your County District, you can use the link “Find My District” on the SB County Board of Supervisors website. 

Talking Points for public comments regarding the Santa Barbara County Telecom Code

SafeTechSBC has outlined some of the key issues that should be included in the County Code. Please use these Talking Points to keep the public comments relevant and on-point. We suggest that you personalize your comments, if possible.  

  • Your hands are not tied! The Telecommunications Act of 1996 grants you, our public officials the authority to regulate the location and radiative power of Wireless Telecom Facilities (WTFs). We call on you to establish protective measures for our residents, workers and tourists in our County Code.
  • Prohibit cell antennas and towers in residential areas: It is important that local residents are protected from having small cell facilities installed close to their residences. Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable is the best option to provide internet services.
  • Create more restrictive regulations for residential and mixed use zones: We have mixed zones throughout the county, including residential, commercial, schools, hospitals, parks, etc.
  • Require telecoms to prove a gap in coverage before applying for a Wireless Telecommunication Facility (WTF): Telecom companies are only required to provide wireless telecommunication or cell phone services.  Telecom companies can measure the real-time gap in coverage and address that as needed. Data transfer is not required by the Telecom Act of 1996.  Data can be provided by Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable. Limiting the scope of coverage to just what the Telcom Act requires will help limit the power and create less radiation toxicity.
  • Cap the power. Telecom companies are only required to provide telecommunication service (not data, which can be provided via Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable.   0.01 watt of power is needed to provide this service which delivers 5 bars on a cell phone. This is a tiny fraction of what the current small cell towers are radiating.  Telecom companies are using 250 million times 0.01 watt of radiative power, which is unnecessary, excessive and toxic. The FCC regulations are obsolete and not protective. 
  • Public Notices: Require telecom companies to provide timely and effective notification before installing facilities. A Master Plan and detailed map, with specific addresses for proposed installations should be provided by the County. Neighboring residents within 1000-1500 feet of a planned Wireless Telecom Facilities (WTF) installation should be clearly notified, in writing, at their specific address and given ample time to protest the facility.    
  • Field Testing and Regular Monitoring: It is important that the code include the requirement for continuous monitoring of all cell antennas, provided by an independent RF engineer and paid for by the telecom companies. Unannounced field testing should also be required twice a year at unmanned sites, to determine the various frequencies, whether an antenna is active or passive, exact start and stop times of frequencies, “beam forming” or not, and if “beam forming” can be switched on via software updates. This will help protect residents from fire danger and excessive and unnecessary microwave radiation. No such monitoring currently exists.       
  • Stop the densification of Small Cell Antennas: The County Code and associated ordinances allow for more densification of WTFs. This creates a huge footprint in the county. The cumulative radiative power will be tremendous, especially when it is compounded with the radiation generated by 5G satellites, associated earth stations, cell towers, cell antennas on buildings, street lights and power poles, cell phones and wireless devices.  Protect our residents, workers and tourists from the impact of this cumulative toxic radiation. 
  • Promote Fiber To The Premises (FTTP): Fiber optic is safer (no microwave radiation), faster (speed of light downloads), more reliable and secure (preferred for data security and privacy). In Santa Barbara County, we have mostly coaxial cable which is similar to FTTP.  Make FTTP or coaxial cable accessible and affordable to everyone at home and at work. 
  • No cell towers in high fire and severe fire zones: Due to the combustible nature of these towers and their vulnerability to lightning strikes, seismic events and collisions, and the fact that their backup systems are more likely to be diesel fuel, we strongly recommend no towers or the minimal number of towers necessary. Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) or coaxial cable should be used in high to severe fire risk areas. 
  • Protect property values: Real Estate values are significantly impacted by a nearby cell tower. HUD refers to them as a “nuisance” and many property analyses and professional real estate publications state property values are dropping between 20-30%. The County Code should include protection for property values. 
  • Signage: Wireless companies need to be required to provide clearly visible signage in English, Spanish and symbols, warning residents about the radiation being emitted by their equipment. Residents should be informed so they can take action to protect themselves from radiation exposure.                                                               
  • Insurance: The Telecom Industry cannot get insurance.  The County Code leaves the City exposed to lawsuits from residents who are injured from Electro Magnetic Frequency or Radio Frequency Radiation (EMF/RFR). The city will also be exposed to lawsuits from fires caused by WTFs, lower property values, surveillance and privacy breaches, and other health and environmental damages. The should demand that the Telecom Companies obtain the highest level of insurance available in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Respect all Federal Acts: ADA, FHA, NEPA: The Draft Ordinance should ensure that wireless companies follow all regulations included in the above Federal Acts.