Mayors for three key cities in the San Francisco Bay Area have asked the FCC to explain how they can change the 700 MHz broadband spectrum lease arrangement so the airwave rights are held by the three cities, instead of a nonexistent entity represented by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, who supports the proposed change.

Last May, the FCC granted a 700 MHz waiver to use the spectrum to the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose to enable the deployment of an LTE network known as BayWEB. However, the spectrum lease with the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) was signed in August 2010 by Ahern on behalf of the “San Francisco Bay Area Urban Area” — something Ahern has acknowledged as being geographic area, not an official entity — without a vote by any of the three cities that were named in the FCC waiver.

In an effort to resolve this issue, Ahern has agreed to have the three cities listed as the holders of the spectrum lease, according to a letter sent to the FCC last week by Ahern and the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

“The cities and Sheriff Ahern agreed that the cities should be substituted for Sheriff Ahern as lessees on the de facto lease, consistent with the terms of the cities’ waiver request and the order,” the letter dated April 6 states. “The cities and Sheriff Ahern respectfully request the commission to advise us of the appropriate means, either by assignment or otherwise, by which to effectuate this result.”

FCC Spokesman Rob Kenney confirmed that the agency received the letter and is “continuing to review the issues” surrounding BayWEB.

Ahern executed the spectrum lease deal with PSST Chairman Harlin McEwen, who previously said he believed the lease arrangement was with the similarly named Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative (Bay Area UASI), but UASI staff members have said repeatedly that BayWEB is not a UASI project, because it is not funded by UASI. Although aware of the effort to resolve the dispute, McEwen said he had not seen a copy of the letter until today.

Ahern currently is listed as the executive sponsor for the BayWEB, but the UASI Approval Authority — the UASI governing body that features the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as members — recently voted itself to be a co-executive sponsor of BayWEB.

Motorola Solutions is the vendor for the BayWEB project, having received a $50.6 million federal stimulus grant to build the LTE network and having committed to providing a 30% match to the grant funding. When the Approval Authority expressed its desire to be a co-executive sponsor, Motorola Solutions Spokesman Matt Messinger noted that such a change would require a renegotiation of the public-private partnership agreement that Ahern signed with the company in March 2010.

Under the terms of that public/private partnership deal, Ahern — on behalf of the BayRICS Policy Group — is responsible for providing “all necessary FCC licenses.” Although the BayRICS Policy Group was the party to the public-private agreement needed to solicit the federal stimulus grant, Bay Area government entities are trying to forge a new joint power authority (JPA) that would sign a contract with Motorola for a 700 MHz network.

“Motorola Solutions is supportive of this solution by these four entities that closes open issues both with the FCC and with each other as they are forming a new Joint Powers Authority (JPA),” Messinger said in a prepared statement. “The formation of the JPA will pave the way for the region to use this leased spectrum for the BayWEB project.”