Meyers Nave Obtains Dismissal of Two High-Stakes Federal Lawsuits Against the City of Los Altos Under the Telecommunications Act
Meyers Nave successfully obtained the dismissal of two high-stakes federal lawsuits brought by AT&T and Verizon, respectively, asserting claims against the City of Los Altos under the Telecommunications Act.
The carriers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Judge Davila) after their combined 13 small cell wireless facility applications were denied by Los Altos for allegedly failing to comply with the City’s 2019 wireless ordinance. The carriers each filed motions for summary judgment, contending that the City’s denials of their small cell sites were not supported by substantial evidence, and that the denials violated the Telecommunications Act for effectively prohibiting the provision of wireless services in Los Altos.
While the motions for summary judgment were pending, Meyers Nave led a team of land use and telecommunications experts to devise a state-of-the-art wireless ordinance for Los Altos that achieved the City’s land use policy objectives while avoiding provisions that were at a greater risk of being successfully challenged under the Telecommunications Act.
In addition to drafting the ordinance, the Meyers Nave team shepherded the ordinance through the complex CEQA process and approval by the Planning Commission and City Council after a series of public hearings. The process required for the development and adoption of a new wireless ordinance – while the prior wireless ordinance was the subject of federal litigation – was highly nuanced and strategic, requiring careful guidance of the City in the face of scrutiny from the carriers and the public alike.
Following the successful adoption of the new ordinance, the Meyers Nave team moved the Court to dismiss the carriers’ pending cases on mootness grounds. Although hotly contested by the carriers, Judge Davila sided with the City and dismissed both cases on the precise grounds articulated in the briefing.
Deborah Fox, who led the Meyers Nave team on this matter, said: “The rights of localities to regulate wireless facilities under the Telecommunications Act is a rapidly evolving area of the law where the advocacy of legal counsel plays an especially critical role in shaping the developing jurisprudence in this area. That, combined with simultaneously litigating an existing wireless ordinance while developing a new wireless ordinance, made this case particularly intellectually and strategically complex. We were happy to both defeat the two federal cases while at the same time assisting Los Altos with the adoption of a new state-of-the-art wireless ordinance.”