Nevada City adds protections to 5G ordinance; final vote still needed |

Nevada City adds protections to 5G ordinance; final vote still needed

John Orona
Staff Writer

After having to postpone its meeting last week due to technical issues, the Nevada City Council on Monday passed the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s 5G wireless telecom ordinance.

Following months of discussion, the 5G working group tasked to come up with amendments that would satisfy both the city’s health and legal concerns reached agreement on about a half dozen notable changes.

Amendments include adding the ability for the council to randomly test radio frequency radiation up to every two years on an applicant’s telecom facility, adding a section in which an applicant must attest under penalty of perjury that their statements are true, changing standards imposed on applicants to make them more objective and updating distancing requirements between facilities.

While the city’s attorney warned that the random testing frequency may put them in a legal gray area, the council agreed to make the testing complaint-driven and to give itself discretion to back off the rule if challenged legally.

A second reading of the ordinance, which could occur June 10, will need to be passed before the ordinance takes effect 30 days later.

The city also directed staff to allow some businesses to use the sidewalk and parking space in front of their property to expand outdoor dining or curbside pickup operations. The move was an attempt to increase capacity for businesses that have had to limit indoor seating and make more space for customers to distance themselves.

The city will also allow businesses to erect temporary A-frame signage no larger than 12 square feet, so long as they do not impede pedestrian access.

Businesses will need to submit a site plan to the city manager detailing how they will use the space and keep it safe, and must show proof of standard insurance.

While an encroachment permit will still be needed to use public property, the filing fee will be waived.

Businesses with off-street parking may use that space similarly.

While traffic and safety were concerns, the council moved forward saying they will test and monitor the rule change’s effectiveness as it develops.

“People have to get back to business,” Vice Mayor Erin Minett said.

During the meeting the city also voted to implement an unenforced smoking area program, allowing people to smoke in three Historic District parking lots.

The Historic District prohibits smoking in streets, sidewalks and parking lots, but residents and council members felt the restriction went largely unenforced.

According to the staff report, the new rule may be more effective since it gives people an alternative option rather than confronting smokers.

Parking lots on Commercial, Spring and Nevada streets have installed cigarette butt receptacles where people can smoke.

The city originally planned for a smoking area pilot program in 2016 that was never executed.

An agenda item that would allow for businesses to make use of more space by closing some downtown Nevada City streets did not move forward.

The council, however, passed a resolution as part of that agenda item suspending parking meter fee enforcement until the first council meeting in July.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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