Wireless Communication Facilities (WCFs) are the infrastructure our phones rely on to send/receive messages and data. They often consist of antennas, transmission cables, and other equipment, and they can be attached to various structures, such as buildings, standalone towers, or utility poles.
Although wireless technology has evolved rapidly over the years, the city’s WCF regulations had not been substantively updated since 2003. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued various rulings in recent years regarding local government authority to regulate these facilities. Because of these wide-ranging changes, the city updated its WCF regulations in the land use code (LUC).
On September 25, 2023, the City Council was introduced to the proposed land use code amendment (LUCA), along with related amendments to Title 6 of the Bellevue City Code (BCC) for small wireless facilities (SWFs) in the public right-of-way. Both sets of amendments were the third in a series of phases for updates to the city's WCF regulations on real property and the right-of-way. After review, the council directed staff to prepare the amendments for a public hearing and action. On October 23, 2023, the council held a public hearing for this LUCA. Following the hearing, the council adopted the LUCA under Ordinance No. 6759.
See the schedule below for a list of public meetings held for this LUCA, as well as links to City Council meeting materials.
The primary changes in this LUCA are related to the process for siting or modifying WCFs, in response to FCC directives limiting the amount of time local governments have to review and approve/deny WCF applications. The LUC previously required processes for certain WCFs that often exceeded these time limits, so it was necessary to change the required process for consistency with federal law.
Small Wireless Facility (SWF)
attached to existing structure
|Non-SWF collocated||90 Days|
|SWF on new structure||90 Days|
|Non-SWF on new structure||150 Days|
Additionally, new procedures have been put in place for temporary WCFs, which can be used to enhance cellular coverage or replace lost coverage in certain circumstances, as well as procedures for modifications of existing WCFs.
Existing standards for design, placement, screening, and separation requirements were maintained under the LUCA. Limited exceptions to these standards may be requested through an Administrative Conditional Use Permit (ACUP) application, which requires public notice and involvement prior to a decision. Additionally, the FCC’s existing radiofrequency (RF) emissions guidelines remain in effect and wireless facilities must demonstrate compliance with the existing FCC’s RF emissions standards.
LUCA Schedule and Public Notice
|9/25/23||City Council Study Session||Agenda Materials|
|9/28/23||Notice of Application and Public Hearing||Weekly Permit Bulletin|
|10/23/23||LUCA Public Hearing||Agenda Materials|