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A depiction of what new proposed telecommunications poles in San Juan Capistrano would look like. The photo on the left is an existing pole. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano
A depiction of what new proposed telecommunications poles in San Juan Capistrano would look like. The photo on the left is an existing pole. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano

By Brian Park

San Juan Capistrano will begin negotiations with a wireless infrastructure company that is looking to build three new poles on public right-of-way to support additional telecommunications equipment.

Irvine-based Crown Castle is proposing to rebuild two city-owned poles with newer ones that could support wireless nodes mounted on top. The two existing poles are located on the south side of La Zanja Street, west of Camino Capistrano, and on the north side of Calle Lorenzo, east of Camino Capistrano. A new pole would also be built on the west side of Aguacate Road, north of Via Quebrada.

City staff will negotiate the terms of a right-of-way agreement with Crown Castle to determine the time, place and manner of the work. If an agreement is reached and approved, Crown Castle would still have to apply for a conditional use permit, which would need the Planning Commission’s approval.

If the work meets the city’s approval, Crown Castle would pay for the poles but the city would still own them.

Crown Castle would also assume maintenance responsibilities for the poles and pay the city up to $1,000 for each pole annually for access to them.

Jeff Melching, an attorney from the city’s contracted law firm Rutan and Tucker and an expert on land use planning and entitlement activities, described Crown Castle as “a carrier’s carrier.” The additional nodes the company proposes to build would primarily help MetroPCS deliver wireless telecommunications and data services to a large portion of south Orange County, where the carrier currently experiences a significant gap, according to an analysis by Crown Castle.

“It effectively is a company that puts up an antenna and sells spectrum to somebody else,” Melching said.

Stephen Garcia, a representative from Crown Castle, said minimal ground work would be required for fiber installation.

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