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American Tower Corp. v. City of San Diego

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 14, 2014

AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO; CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO; DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendants-Appellants. AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendant-Appellant, and CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO; DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendants. AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO; CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO; DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendants-Appellees. AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation; T-MOBILE WEST CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendant-Appellee, and CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO; DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendants

Argued and Submitted April 10, 2013, Pasadena, California

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Page 1040

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. D.C. No. 3:07-cv-00399-BEN-WVG, D.C. No. 3:07-cv-00399-BEN-WVG, D.C. No. 3:07-cv-00399-BEN-WVG, D.C. No. 3:07-cv-00399-BEN-WVG. Roger T. Benitez, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Telecommunictions Act

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's summary judgment on claims that the City of San Diego's denial of continual use permit applications for telecommunications facilities violated the California Permit Streamlining Act, the federal Telecommunications Act, California Code of Civil Procedure § 1094.5, and the Equal Protection Clause.

Reversing the district court's summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff on its claim that the City violated the time limits of the Permit Streamlining Act, the panel concluded that the permit applications were not deemed approved before the City denied them because " the public notice required by law" did not " occur."

The panel affirmed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the City on the other claims. The panel held that under the Telecommunications Act, the City's decision to deny the permit applications was supported by substantial evidence, and the City did not misapply its Land Development Code. The permit denial did not constitute unreasonable discrimination among functionally equivalent service providers because the plaintiff and the City were not functionally equivalent providers. The permit denial did not constitute an effective prohibition of personal wireless services because the plaintiff did not demonstrate that its proposals were the least intrusive means of filling a significant gap in coverage.

The panel held that the plaintiff could not prevail under Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1094.5 because it did not have a fundamental vested right to the continued use of its facilities.

The panel held that the permit denial did not violate equal protection because it was rationally related to the City's legitimate interest in minimizing the aesthetic impact of wireless facilities and in providing public communications services.

Christine M. Leone (argued), Chief Deputy City Attorney, Jan I. Goldsmith, City Attorney, Donald R. Worley, Assistant City Attorney, Alexis L. Jodlowski, Deputy City Attorney, Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, ...


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