Conduit Street Podcast: Headlines & Happenings – Education, #NG911, Goucher Poll, Disaster Response, & Small Cells

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Michael Sanderson and Kevin Kinnally discuss the latest news and happenings around Maryland.

Listen in to hear updates on the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland, interesting tidbits from the most recent Goucher Poll, mutual aid in the wake of natural disasters, and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC)proposed order intended to streamline and reduce industry’s costs for the deployment of small cells in local right of ways at the expense of local authority.

Listen here:

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Conduit Street Podcast: Keeping up with Kirwan

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Kirwan Commission Aims to Revamp “At-Risk” Funding Formulas

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Commission to Advance #NG911 Holds First Meeting

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Questions About #NG9-1-1? MACo Has You Covered

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Submits Concerns to FCC Over Small Cell Order

MACo Submits Concerns to FCC Over Small Cell Order

MACo submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a proposed order intended to streamline and reduce industry’s costs for the deployment of small cells in local right of ways at the expense of local authority. The FCC will vote at its September 26, 2018 open meeting on the order.

From MACo’s letter:

Expanding broadband access is an essential component for a county’s economic development and for the socio-economic advancement of its communities. However, MACo is concerned that the proposed language significantly impedes local authority over the expansion of broadband in public rights of way. It does not properly balance industry desires and public welfare.

Local governments are owners and guardians of taxpayer-funded infrastructure inside the local rights of way. Local authority and community decision-making are crucial to the deployment of small cells or any facilities in the local rights of way. Local governments must be able to protect the safety and interest of their communities.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, that the proposed FCC order would create new categories of “shot clocks”, limit application fees for all small wireless facilities, limit recurring fees for small cells in public rights-of-way, and limit allowable local aesthetic requirements among other limitations on local governments. Local governments are bound to manage deployments under FCC requirements.

Prior coverage from Conduit Street:

NACo Prompts County Action to Comment on FCC Small Cell Order

NACo Prompts County Action to Comment on FCC Small Cell Order

Small Cell TowerComments are due to the FCC no later than 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19. NACo has provided instructions and a template letter to help counties voice their concerns. 

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote at a September 26, 2018 open meeting on an order intended to streamline and reduce industry’s costs for the deployment of small cells in local right of ways at the expense of local authority. The order is modeled after preemption legislation that has been enacted in 20 states nationwide and has been pursued in other states with varying levels of success.

NACo explains that the proposed FCC order would create new categories of “shot clocks”, limit application fees for all small wireless facilities, limit recurring fees for small cells in public rights-of-way, and limit allowable local aesthetic requirements among other limitations on local governments. NACo remains concerned that the proposed order would impede a county’s ability to address public health and safety issues associated with deployment. Local governments are bound to manage deployments under FCC requirements:

If approved at the FCC’s September 26 open meeting, the new regulations would go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Counties would then face enforcement action if wireless providers or other small cell applicants challenge them in court based on noncompliance with the above requirements.

To help protect local zoning authority, you can send a letter to the FCC expressing your opposition no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 19. NACo has provided detailed instructions and a template letter to assist with registering your opposition with the FCC. Please be sure to customize this letter to provide information about your county before submitting your comments.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro-cells (traditional cell towers) allowing them to be placed on shorter poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings to enhance broadband connectivity. Counties own substantial amounts of public rights of way therefore local authority and community decision-making is crucial to the deployment of small cells and any facilities in the local rights of way. While counties embrace innovation and the advancement of broadband technology, MACo opposed statewide legislation introduced last session that similarly would have significantly preempted local authority and also had inequitable impacts on local communities.

For more information:

America’s counties fight to protect local authority in broadband deployment (NACo)

Instructions and Template Letter (NACo)

FCC Announces New Order to Guide Small Cell Deployment (Conduit Street)

Streamlining Deployment of Next Generation Wireless Infrastructure (FCC)

FCC Announces New Order to Guide Small Cell Deployment

New order to restrict fees, set timelines, and place other parameters on local government requirements for small cells. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote at a September 26, 2018 open meeting on an order proposed by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr intended to streamline and reduce costs for the industry’s deployment of small cells in local right of ways. The order is modeled after legislation that has been enacted in 20 states nationwide and has been pursued in other states with varying levels of success.

In Maryland, a hearing on controversial bill that would have established statewide regulation of small cells was cancelled last session. While counties embrace innovation and the advancement of broadband technology, MACo opposed the legislation as it significantly preempted local authority and had inequitable impacts on local communities. Local authority and community decision-making is crucial to the deployment of any facilities in the local right of ways. Currently, local governments across the state are operating under the requirements of the FCC and have passed or are working on passing local legislation, ordinances, or agreements to guide the deployment of small cells.

An FCC News Release outlines the proposed orders’ provisions:

Carr’s plan has four main components:

1. Implements long-standing federal law that bars municipal rules that have the effect of
prohibiting deployment of wireless service
2. Allows municipalities to charge fees for reviewing small cell deployments when such fees are
limited to recovering the municipalities’ costs, and provides guidance on specific fee levels
that would comply with this standard
3. Requires municipalities to approve or disapprove applications to attach small cells to existing
structures within 60 days and applications to build new small cell poles within 90 days
4. Places modest guardrails on other municipal rules that may prohibit service while reaffirming
localities’ traditional roles in, for example, reasonable aesthetic reviews

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro-cells (traditional cell towers). This allows them to be placed on shorter poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings. The technology is proliferating in part to increase network capacity and coverage as the demand for wireless services has increased and the advancement of 5G technology is closely on the horizon. Proponents for the order argue the restrictions on local laws are needed to expedite small cell deployment.

For more information:

Carr Announces Next 5G Order in Indiana Statehouse Speech (FCC)

Statewide Small Cell Bill Falters; Focus on Local Efforts (Conduit Street)

Big Discussions on Small Cells at MACo Symposium (Conduit Street)

Montgomery County Sets Zoning Standards for Small Cell Antennas (Conduit Street)

Smart Talks on 5G Technology and Small Cells at #MACoCon

“On average each household has 13 connected wireless devices. In the near future it is estimated that each household will have upward of 50 connected wireless devices.” – Michelle Painter, Sprint

Attendees of the MACo Summer Conference session “Surf’s Up! Small Cell Tsunami” got a double dose of information from two prominent groups of players on the small cell field: (1) wireless service  and infrastructure providers and (2) local government attorneys.

Michelle Painter (Sprint) and LaTara Harris (AT&T)
Michelle Painter (Sprint) and LaTara Harris (AT&T)

A panel of wireless services and infrastructure providers shared their perspective on the importance the advancement of small cell technology will have on Maryland and how they are working to deploy the technology around the state. The speakers included Michelle Painter, Counsel and Government Affairs for Sprint; Genese N. Thomas, Network Real Estate for Verizon Wireless; Richard Rothrock, Government Relations Manager for Crown Castle; and LaTara Harris, Regional Director of External Affairs for AT&T.

Richard Rothrock (Crown Castle)
Richard Rothrock (Crown Castle)

Painter provided an overview of what small cells and the future of 5G technology can bring to a community. She also brought an example of a Sprint small cell. Rothrock highlighted the role infrastructure developers play and the successful collaborations they’ve had with local governments. Thomas shared a video and some points explaining how small cells work. And Harris outlined four pillars of what is being sought through statewide legislation: (1) streamlined application processes; (2) shot clocks; (3) reasonable fees; and (4) appropriate access to the right of way. Statewide legislation was introduced last session, but a hearing on the bill did not occur. It is anticipated that some form of statewide legislation will be introduced last session.

Johnny Mautz (Maryland House of Delegates)
Johnny Mautz (Maryland House of Delegates)

A panel of local government attorneys from Baltimore City and Montgomery County shared need to know information about a county’s role in small cell approval and implementation as well as lessons they’ve learned working on small cell regulation within their respective jurisdictions. The speakers included Victor Tervala, Chief Solicitor of Legal Advice & Opinions for the Baltimore City Department of Law; and Jeffrey Zyontz, Senior Legislative Analyst for the Montgomery County Council.

Victor Tervala (Baltimore City)
Victor Tervala (Baltimore City)

Tervala shared four principles local officials need to consider: (1) you cannot prohibit or effectively prohibit the deployment of small cells; (2) you cannot discriminate between services providers providing the same service; (3) you have to allow competition to address gaps in services; (4) you cannot regulate small cells on the basis of health concerns.

Jeffrey Zyontz (Montgomery County)
Jeffrey Zyontz (Montgomery County)

Zyontz went through a list of specific issues counties should consider as owners of the public right of way. These included: the differences between public utilities and the telecom industry; regulation through zoning and through franchise agreements; bonding and insurance coverage; fees charged for access and use; authority over property you own in the right of way and property owned by someone else in your right away.

The session was moderated by Delegate Johnny Mautz and held on Wednesday, August 15 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.

Maryland’s Military Takes “All Hands” Approach to Cybersecurity

Several branches of the Maryland Military Department are working together on cybersecurity simulators and demonstrations to improve the security of critical infrastructure.

The Maryland Military Department’s work on cyber issues is a partnership between representatives of the MD Air National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force. Together, these divisions have developed simulations of SCADA systems under cyber attack. SCADA systems may be used in critical infrastructure, such as water systems and 9-1-1 Call Centers.

Screenshot 2018-08-06 10.45.53
Click for video coverage from WBALTV

As reported by WBAL TV, Maryland’s Air National Guard’s cyber capabilities are growing:

Two new Air National Guard units have been activated in Maryland. At full strength, the units will employ more than 300 full-time and traditional airmen, focusing on federal and state missions. The Maryland Air National Guard’s new 175th Cyber Operations Group is one of only two Cyber Operations Groups in the Air National Guard.

For more, see WBALTV, Md. Air National Guard cyber security units activated

Daniel Molina, Commander, 275th Operations Support Squadron, and Colin Patrick, Branch Chief, Information Systems are both members of the cyber project and also handle cyber-related duties for their respective divisions.

Lt Col Molina’s squadron is part of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group, 175th Wing in Baltimore Maryland. He is responsible for synchronizing operations and preparing combat- ready cyberspace forces to conduct global operations in support of Air Force, Joint Task Forces, and Combatant Commands.

Colin Patrick, Branch Chief, Information Systems is part of the Maryland Defense Force. First Lieutenant Colin Patrick is responsible for network engineering, help desk management and voice-over-IP systems at Maryland Defense Force Headquarters. Currently, Lieutenant Patrick is a Senior Network Engineer for the Defense Information Systems Agency in the Mobility division, which provides smartphones capable of operating on government networks at multiple security levels.

For more information, join us for the MACo Summer Conference Session, All Hands On Deck: Cybersecurity for County Governments. In this session, speakers will share a demonstration of what happens during a cyber-attack and provide advice for counties on securing personal information and critical infrastructure including public water and wastewater systems, transportation, and energy systems.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Howard Will Protect Pups from Extreme Temps, Penalize Negligent Owners

Bill defends dogs from the dog days of summer and the dead of winter.

The Howard County Council passed a bill that would penalize dog owners from keeping them outside during times of extreme weather.

From The Baltimore Sun:

The County Council passed a bill Friday mandating that dogs must be protected from weather that could harm or kill them. It also requires proper shelters for dogs left unattended by owners for 30 minutes or more, specifying the size, type of bedding and access water at all times.

The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by County Executive Allan Kittleman, gives flexibility to animal control officials to determine what constitutes as too hot or too cold for the particular kind of dog. Owners in violation of the law are subject to fines ranging from $100-$500.

For more information read The Baltimore Sun.

Local Governments Across the Nation Respond to Airbnb & Short-Term Rental Challenge

A Sustainable Cities Network article (2018-07-18) highlighted the actions some local governments have taken across the United States in response to the burgeoning growth of Airbnb and similar short-term rental models. Short-term rentals, such as those offered through services like Airbnb, offer both positives and negatives. They can encourage tourism and provide homeowners with extra income, both of which can help a local economy. However, they can also attract commercial investors and when the concentration of short-term rentals reaches a tipping point, actually destabilize residential neighborhoods, reduce long-term rental options, and threaten jobs in the local hospitality industry.

MACo has supported addressing both the regulation and taxation issues posed by short-term rental properties. The Maryland General Assembly has considered legislation on short-term rentals for several years but nothing has passed to date. The article looked at how several local governments in other states have tried to address this challenging and complex issue.

Boston (Massachusetts)

The article focused on the efforts of Boston, which saw a dramatic spike in commercial investors purchasing residential properties to use as short-term rentals starting around 2013. The issue was brought into focus after a coalition of advocacy groups provided research from the University of Massachusetts showing the increasingly negative effects the short-term rental trend was having on the city’s workers and residents.  After being presented with the data, the city’s elected officials took action:

In June 2018, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance eliminating investor unit listings and regulating other short-term residential rentals. It established a registration and data collection system that will allow the city to more effectively monitor the impacts of this industry on its residential housing supply. “At the same time, it continues to allow owner-occupants to rent out extra rooms on AirBnB for as many as 365 days, or their entire home while on vacation,” the ordinance explains.

[Fenway Community Development Corporation representative Colleen] Fitzpatrick says that having data about who owns properties and how they are managed as rentals is a very important piece of the puzzle for city leaders to possess. It would be helpful, but not practical, to access the databases of companies such as AirBnB, which has a very sophisticated registration platform. Without access to information, it can be difficult for communities to move from registration to enforcement.

Fitzpatrick also noted in the article that the purpose of the ordinance was not to eliminate short-term rentals but rather find the balance between allowing short-term rentals and having stable communities and housing/long-term rental options.

Miami Beach (Florida)

The article discussed how Miami Beach has struggled to enforce its short-term rental regulations, which limit the location of short-term rentals based on tourist appeal and neighborhood character. For rentals less than six months and one day, homeowners must: (1) submit an affidavit stating that their home is located in an approved short-term rental area; (2) obtain a business tax receipt and resort tax account; and (3) if part of a condo association, show that the association allows short-term rentals. Single-family homes are prohibited from engaging in short-term rentals. Violations result in the eviction of tenants and fines for the owner starting at $20,000.

Denver, Estes Park, and Larimer County (Colorado)

The article noted that Denver has imposed both regulations and taxes on short-term rentals, which generated $1.1 million in the first eight months of 2017. The property registration rate is estimated at around 70 percent.

Nearby Estes Park and Larimer County jointly developed short-term rental regulations to ensure consistency within their jurisdictions. All short-term rental property owners must register and pay an application fee of $200 plus $50 per bedroom. The joint ordinance: (1) sets caps on rentals within residential zones and limits occupancy to eight people per home unless exempted after a review process; (2) requires the designation of a local representative of property manager to handle complaints; and (3) prohibits employee housing, attainable housing, and accessory dwelling units from being registered.

Walla Walla (Washington)

The city of Walla Walla passed a controversial ordinance that prohibited short-term rentals for properties that were not owner occupied for at least 275 days per year and limited rentals to 29 days at a time. Owners must also register short-term rentals as a business and pay applicable taxes. The article described the controversy surrounding the ordinance and the implementation challenges as many short-term renters could not meet the short timeline for the registration and taxation requirements.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Airbnb Issues



Baltimore Holds Hearing on Short-Term Rental Regulation

Hotel industry and short-term rental hosts clash on caps at city hearing on new regulations. 

The Baltimore City Council held a hearing Thursday on a bill that would regulate and tax short-term rentals such as Airbnb.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun:

The nearly 1,300 hosts renting out 2,105 units in Baltimore that generated $11.3 million last year in revenue [sic] not subject to the same taxes applied to hotels — which brought in roughly $30.5 million in taxes in fiscal year 2017.

The bill, introduced by Councilman Eric Costello and Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, would levy Baltimore’s 9.5 percent hotel tax on short-term rentals, as well as introduce licensing requirements for these properties.

According to the article, the most contentious provisions of the bill involve caps on the number of properties and days hosts can rent out. Under the bill as introduced short-term rentals would generate between $587,000 and $1 million in hotel tax revenues annually. Under amendments to the most contentious provisions they would generate between $1.6 million and $2.2 million under the proposed amendments. The city council will hold another hearing, with hopes of generating a compromise, before moving forward with the bill.

Baltimore City is not alone in trying to address these issues. Montgomery County passed legislation that went into effect July 1, 2018 to regulate short-term rentals. Additionally, MACo supported statewide legislation during the 2018 general session that would have required short-term rental platforms and their hosts to be registered with the Comptroller. The legislation did not pass.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Montgomery to Regulate Short-Term Rentals

Short-Term Rental Bill Dies in House Committee

Case Study Depicts Small Cells on the Streets

An infrastructure firm releases a report showing small cell technology and describing how small cells can support neighborhood revival based on their use in Baltimore City.

Crown Castle is an infrastructure provider for small cell technology offered by wireless technology companies, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Baltimore City is ahead of other jurisdictions in Maryland implementing small cell technology.

Screenshot 2018-07-16 10.32.07
A small cell installed in Baltimore City, as portrayed in the case study released by Crown Castle.

As described in a recent report by Crown Castle on the Baltimore City experience with small cells, Crown sought to improve coverage and wireless connectivity in theCity:

The economic heartbeat of Maryland, Baltimore is quickly becoming known as a tourist destination that has largely shifted to a new age economy focused on service-oriented industries, such as education, retail, and entertainment. This has caused demand for mobile data to grow exponentially in Baltimore—making faster, more reliable wireless connectivity an essential utility for the city. Crown Castle was brought in to find an infrastructure solution that would bring much-needed coverage and capacity improvements to Baltimore’s wireless ecosystem.

For more information, see the Baltimore_Case Study from Crown Castle and join MACo’s Summer Conference session on small cells:

Title: Surf’s Up! Small Cell Tsunami

Description: The hanging of small cells on new and existing poles affects a range of issues, including business development, rural connectivity, and health concerns. Several counties have already dipped a toe in the water, negotiating directly with providers on zoning and licensing. Hear about 5G technology and what it could mean for Maryland, learn more about the necessary county role, and see a small cell up close at this educational session.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: