Court strikes aesthetics ban on wireless towers
Municipalities cannot block construction of wireless towers in public rights of way simply because they are perceived to be eyesores, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week.
The decision is a victory for wireless operators, which often struggle to erect towers that would let them improve coverage in a given area. Many municipalities like La Canada Flintridge, Calif.—the city in this case—have opposed proposed towers, deeming them unsightly. But the appeals court unanimously said blocking a tower for aesthetic reasons was illegal, citing a California law that gives companies broad authority to locate infrastructure in public rights of way.
In October 2004, a district court judge ruled that La Canada Flintridge failed to demonstrate that wireless carrier Sprint PCS, building towers in the public right of way, would negatively impact public safety in the area but upheld the city’s ordinance to bar the towers on the basis of aesthetics. Sprint PCS appealed the decision, which led to this week’s reversal.