Wireless Communication Facilities (WCFs)
Wireless Communication Facilities (WCFs) are the antennas, support structures and other equipment or apparatus necessary for providing personal wireless services and information services. The Development Services Department Telecom and Utilities Division reviews applications for conventional WCFs, as well as applications to use City of San Diego streetlight and traffic signal poles for small cell WCF (SC-WCF) deployment for compliance with the City's Land Development Code.
For information on conventional (“macro cell”) WCFs, all SC-WCFs outside the public right-of-way, and discretionary (non-City-standard) SC-WCFs in the public right-of-way, please contact one of the Telecom project managers below:
For information on ministerial SC-WCFs in the public right-of-way (on existing City infrastructure, proposed City-standard infrastructure, or non-City infrastructure), please contact:
San Diego Municipal Code 141.0420(d)(10) requires wireless providers and telecom site management companies to submit site listings annually by January 31. Please use one of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheets below for annual reporting and follow the detailed instructions.
If reporting for a wireless carrier such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon or similar, download City of San Diego Annual WCF Reporting - Wireless Providers.
- Site Management Companies
If reporting for a telecom site management company such as American Tower, Crown Castle, Mobilitie, SBA, Wilcon or similar, download City of San Diego Annual WCF Reporting – Site Management Companies.
Applicants should refer to the WCF Guidelines when designing WCFs in the City. These:
- Outline three unifying principles that govern WCF design: The Principles of Balance, Context and Least Visibility;
- Describe the specific design and processing requirements the City has instituted to implement all WCF policies and regulations, including state and federal law; and
- Comprehensively address the design, location, facility type, levels of and incentives for concealment, the Spectrum Act, Substantial Conformance Review, small cells and standards for what should be shown on plans.
- General Plan - Urban Design Element, UD-A.15 (Wireless Facilities), Pages 14-15 – Provides general principles for WCF design in the City of San Diego.
- Community Plans - Most community plans do not contain requirements for WCFs, relying instead on the General Plan. Recent community plan updates do contain WCF-specific requirements, and all community plans contain goals and policies for urban design and land use that also apply to WCFs.
- Council Policy 600-43, "City of San Diego Wireless Communication Facilities Policy" – Provides policy guidance for the review and processing of applications for the placement and design of WCFs.
- Wireless Communication Facility Regulations (Land Development Code, 141.0420) – Contains permitting, design and administrative requirements for WCFs in conformance with the General Plan, community plans and Council Policy 600-43.
The Wireless Communication Facilities Supplemental Application and Checklist will help you determine the relevant City decision process and shot clock. Projects are then submitted for review per Information Bulletin 536, "Wireless Communication Facilities," which describes the submittal requirements for WCFs, including Spectrum Act applications and links to the City Consent Application Form for WCF application on City property.
Downtown San Diego Projects
As of July 22, 2019, all WCFs in the Downtown area are processed by Development Services. Civic San Diego no longer accepts, processes or reviews WCF applications. Attempted submittals at Civic San Diego will not constitute the start of the applicable shot clock.
Facilities on City Property, Including the Public Right of Way
The City's Real Estate Assets Department invites wireless communication carriers to expand network infrastructure on City property and on City-owned property throughout the County of San Diego. Please contact Carla Gresham at email@example.com or 619-236-6729.
Council Policy 700-10, "Disposition of City-owned Real Property" – Outlines requirements for leasing City property
Consent Form – Required for all WCF applications on City property and within the public right of way
Small Cell Wireless Communication Facilities (SC-WCFs) Construction Plan Review Checklist – Use this checklist in conjunction with Information Bulletin 545 to prepare submittals for Small Cell WCFs on City property and the public right-of-way.
Small Cell Supplemental GIS Tool (link is external) – This tool is a full-service, real-time GIS application to help search for small cell sites and processing of applications.
Important: Use of this tool is entirely at the applicant’s risk and should not replace field verification, record search or due diligence. The City will not be held liable for incorrect information. The tool is still under development and is currently limited to helping locate City assets and pole numbers only. All submitted coordinates will still require City review and quality control. Future updates to the tool will include the ability to identify existing pole occupants, submitted applications with permit information and show traffic signals and assets with existing sensors.
- Master Use and Occupancy Agreement – This agreement is required for small cell installations on City-owned poles.
Radio Frequency (RF) Safety
The Federal Communications Commission (link is external) (FCC) regulates safety related to cell phones and antenna facilities. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (link is external) prohibits the City from evaluating applications based on health-related concerns, as long as RF emissions are within FCC limits. Wireless carriers must submit a report demonstrating compliance with FCC regulations.