Wireless and Small Cell

This website is your starting point for any wireless related questions for the City of Seattle. Providers looking to deploy wireless equipment in Seattle will find access to process information and key departmental contacts for deployment of wireless facilities. Residents will find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about wireless deployments in Seattle. 

This website also offers contact information for submitting questions or issues related to wireless activity. 

RESIDENT RESOURCES

96% of US adults own a cell phone. In the past eight years the number of people owning smart phones has grown from 35% to 81%. With this increased reliance on mobile connectivity comes the need for increased capacity in cellular networks. Wireless carriers are meeting this need by supplementing their macro cell sites (towers) with antennas referred to as "small cell technology". 'Small cells' are lower power antennas that cover smaller geographic areas to target where more network capacity is needed. 

FAQs: 5G, Wireless, Small Cell

WIRELESS PROVIDER RESOURCES

Below are departments involved with deploying wireless facilities in Seattle, with links to information on the processes and key contacts at each department.

Process

Seattle City Light's Joint Use engineering team is responsible for the management, engineering, design, construction, regulatory, legal and contractual oversight of all third-party communications and power space attachments. 

Before a pole attachment will be allowed you:

  • Must have a signed wireless attachment agreement with SCL Joint Use Engineering
  • Must have approval for each attachment
    • Pole attachment approvals are determined on a pole-by-pole basis as part of the Joint Use Engineering application and review process.

A full guide to City Light's pole attachment process is here: Joint Use Handbook

Policy/Standards

City Light standards for to the co-location of wireless equipment or pole attachments are available on the SCL Standard Publications website. 

Some of interest for wireless and small cell deployments are:

  • Attachments on Wood Poles: Construction Standard 0093.04
  • Communication Enclosures on SCL Wood Poles:  Construction Standard 0094.01
  • Working in the Vicinity of Wireless Communications Antennas: Construction Standard 0095.04
  • Pole Attachment, Small Cell Antenna and Distributed Antenna System Below Distribution Conductors, and Pole AttachmentConstruction Standard 0095.15 
  • Pole Attachments, Pole Top Cellular Antennas: Construction Standard 0095.20 
  • Collocated Small Wireless Facilities on Metal Streetlight Poles:  Construction Standard  0095.60 
  • Pole Attachments, Identification and Tagging: Construction Standard 0093.12

Contacts

Seattle City Light Joint Use Engineering for wireline attachments: SCL_JointUse@seattle.gov or 206-684-0564 

Joint Use Engineering for wireless attachments:  SCL_JointUseWireless@Seattle.gov

The Department of Transportation (SDOT) is responsible for management of the use of public right-of-way (ROW), including wireless-related work. 

Process

What specific permit(s) do you need for utility work in the ROW?  Visit SDOT's Utility Permits page.

For information on permitting process, fees and contacts, visit the SDOT's permit page

Project Coordination Resources

Project & Construction Coordination Office  

www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/project-and-construction-coordination-office  

Project Coordination Groups  

www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/project-and-construction-coordination-office/project-coordination-groups 

Contact

For questions related to ROW use permits contact Judy Connors at 206.615.1130 or Judy.Connors@Seattle.gov

Seattle's Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) issues land use and building permits related to the minor communication utility installations, including placements on private property, utility poles in the right-of-way, and on public property non in the right-of-way. To better understand Seattle's Land Use and how it applies to an installation proposal (e.g., what are the required setbacks?) zoning coaching from SDCI can be requested. 

Process

A full overview of SDCI minor communication utility permit framework is provided in TIP Minor Communications 211-C

For any SDCI forms related to permitting for a wireless facility see SDCI Permit Forms

  New Deployments 

Director's Rule 19-2013 clarifies terms for minor communication utilities (facilities for cell phones and other hand-held devices) in land use zones. 

  • Commercial/Industrial zones - minor telecom, especially on rooftop, is generally permitted outright if it meets development standards, including height (SMC 23.57)
  • Residential zones - although sometimes permitted outright, often permitted only if least intrusive (Conditional Use Permits - see SMC 23.57 )
  • Certain projects in South Seattle (usually limited to extra height added to towers or new towers) may need FAA approval and an Airport Height Exception from DPD (see SMC 23.64)
  • Accessory Cabinet Equipment  - If accessory cabinet equipment is proposed on private property adjacent to a pole, a SDCI Master Use Permit (MUP) and a Building Permit with a Zoning review will be required. An Administrative Conditional Use (ACU) Permit may also be required.
  • For deployments on Seattle City Light poles in the right-of-way, the process starts with Seattle City Light. 
    • Apply to SDCI for ACU-like Recommendation only if directed by SCL.

General information about the types of land use permits, the time and approximate costs associated with them, and the processes involved in these permits. see TIP Minor Communications 211-C

  Collocations

For guidance on applying for a wireless collocation under the FCC's 6409 Order, see TIP Minor Communications 211-C

  Shoreline areas

Per Washington State mandated shoreline code, siting locations within 200 feet of a shoreline will typically require a shoreline permit, whether the location is in the public right-of-way or on private property. Shoreline permit information, including process and costs, is here: Land Use / Master Use Permit - Shoreline

  Deployments on Landmarks or in Special Review Districts

There are extra steps when applying for a permit to do a project that:

    • Is located in a landmark or special review district
    • Involves a designated City landmark
    • Includes property that may be eligible for landmark designation

See FAQs for information on the reviews required to place a wireless facilities near a landmark or in a special review district, or visit the Historic Preservation Program contact page 

Contacts

SDCI: For questions related to land use or building permits for construction on private property, or for land use applications related to City Light poles, contact Jerry Suder at 206.386.4069 or Jerry.Suder@Seattle.gov

Seattle Design Commission: For questions related to the aesthetic, environmental and design principals for projects that will be required to have a Design Commission recommendation, contact Michael Jenkins at 206.386.4024 or Michael.Jenkins@Seattle.gov

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Real Property Services team administers deployments of wireless facilities on SPU water towers and monopoles. The team serves as the point of contact for all wireless and cellular carriers. This includes King County and other municipal agencies. 

Process

All interested parties are required to complete a Request for Service to initiate a proposed work assignment. See [BRYAN: Need RS link]  The Request requires:

  • a written scope of work
  • proposed concept/design drawings
  • signature authority
  • business contact information
  • business license information

Rates

There are fees associated with preparing a lease agreement. See Preparation of Legislation in Director's Rule FIN-220.4 

There are leasing rates for deploying on SPU real property. See [BRYAN: Need Lease rate link] The SPU Policy Board approved 2019 wireless site rates for the 2 types of sites it hosts:

  • Water Tanks: $30,000 Annual with a 2.5% annual escalation rate
  • Monopoles: $24,000 Annual with a 2.5% annual escalation rate 

Cellular Lease Agreements are authorized by the SPU Real Property director and Chief Financial Officer. 

For list of all SPU Real Property Charges (e.g., Utility Use in SPU Tunnels, Utility Crossings Permits, Annual Land Use Fee, etc.) see SPU Director's Rule FIN-220.4

Contact

SPU's Real Property Agent assigned to wireless and cellular requests is Bryan Solemsaas at 206.684.5971 or bryan.solemsaas@seattle.gov

The Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) Property Management group (part FAS's Facility Operations Division) manages the placement of wireless facilities on City buildings or parking garages. The Property Management team make all initial arrangements associated with site selection and approval, and the Real Estate Services team creates and administers all agreements and leases associated with the placement of wireless facilities.  

Process

  • Contact FAS Property Management (FAS-PM) regarding interest in a specific property
    • Provide the proposed address, a list of equipment to be installed, and a map of the proposed location.
  • FAS-PM conducts initial internal review and coordinates a property site visit.
  • If site is viable, FAS-PM provides list of additional documents required for full approval review (plans, reports, pictures, etc.)
  • FAS-PM arranges for key decision makers to be involved regarding approval for the antenna/equipment install.
  • Once site approval is granted, Property Management forwards to the Real Estate Services for drafting of a lease agreement.

Policy

Seattle City Council Resolution 29344 allows City facilities to be used for wireless communication facilities, and establiehd three criteria for evaluating proposals for use of City property:

  • Wireless facilities shall not unreasonably interfere with the intended City use of its real property or structures.
  • Such use of City real property must not violate any laws or impose limitations on the use of the City property nor any limitations on the structure established for the protection of the neighboring community.
  • Any City structure proposed for wireless facility shall have adequate physical capacity for the wireless facility. The lessee may propose and install renovations to a City structure, at its own expense and only after the City's jurisdictional department has given written approval.

More information on policy related to allowing City facilities to be used for placement of wireless communications equipement is here

Contact

Siting Process: FAS Property Management Manager Nancy Stachey at 206.684.0690 or nancy.stachey@seattle.gov

Lease Management: FAS Real Property Agent Loretta ('Ret') Alake at 206.615.1713 or Loretta.Alake@seattle.gov