Our View: Signals crossed in Nevada City over wireless ordinance | TheUnion.com

Our View: Signals crossed in Nevada City over wireless ordinance

The Union Editorial Board

The Nevada City Council and its staff aren’t getting the signal.

What started as an ordinance to regulate wireless services — with the specter of 5G looming over the discussion — ended in a series of missed calls.

Some folks likely still think the council is advancing toward a third reading and final passage of the ordinance. Instead the council already adopted the ordinance, and it’s weeks away from becoming effective.

Here’s the gist: Last week the Nevada City Council discussed the ordinance, which will regulate the installation of wireless facilities. Mayor Reinette Senum said the vote was a second reading, not a third reading, suggesting a workshop should occur before that third reading happened to provide more time to gather input.

… it seems like very little communication is occurring.

Problem is, there is no third reading. The ordinance was passed last week. City Manager Catrina Olson said the statement should have been corrected during the meeting, but wasn’t because of its contentious nature and pointed to its four-hour length.

City Attorney Hal DeGraw said he didn’t hear Senum’s error, but would have corrected her if he had.

Days later Senum said she misspoke, and knew there would be no third reading. Councilwoman Valerie Moberg said she and the other council members knew no third reading existed.

Fingers were pointed. It’s The Union’s fault. It’s the fault of Nevada City staff.

There’s always someone to blame.

Unfortunately, it’s the residents of Nevada City who suffer the brunt of these missed signals. Senum didn’t misspeak. She misunderstood and gave people the impression they would have a chance to give their input at a workshop before this ordinance was passed. The silence on the part of Olson, DeGraw and other council members only exacerbated this misinformation.

“At the City Council meeting last Wednesday a definite impression was repeatedly given that there would need to be a third reading of this ordinance and that this would take place after a public workshop had been held to discuss in detail needed improvements to the ordinance,” David Adams writes on The Union’s online story.

He’s not the only one who had that impression.

Let’s stop blaming people. It serves no good purpose. Instead let’s fix what’s wrong with our government and move forward.

For starters, acknowledge the wisdom of outside legal counsel Baron Bettenhausen when he says the federal government limits the power local city councils have in the regulation of wireless technology. Local governments have power over aesthetics and a bit of leeway over mounted locations, he said. That’s about it.

Nevada County is hamstrung in its ability to forbid this technology. Keep that in mind during any future workshops.

Second, we should expect more from our local government. The residents of Nevada City don’t care that the contentious meeting was four hours long, or that the city attorney failed to hear the mayor say something wrong, or that other council members kept their mouths shut when voting on this ordinance. The residents also invested four hours into that meeting. This isn’t supposed to be Noh theater. Take the time, slow down and explain what’s happening.

And finally, the residents of Nevada City need to demand answers to why this sloppy show happened in the first place. An ordinance strongly opposed by many will become effective in weeks. What’s the point of having a workshop after the fact? Will it even happen?

For all this talk about a communications ordinance, it seems like very little communication is occurring.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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