Glendale is set to partner with a company that will actively market public buildings to telecommunications companies searching for locations to install cell towers.
The move — which received unanimous support from council members — is meant to create a new revenue stream to the city's coffers, which have been strained over the years due to the protracted recession and the loss of redevelopment funding.
Glendale hasn't been the most welcoming city to companies looking to erect cell towers in the past. When AT&T wanted to put a 70-foot tower to curb dropped calls and disconnects on Crescenta Valley Water District land earlier this year, La Crescenta residents fought back, prompting AT&T to drop its plans.
T-Mobile also had to scrap plans to erect a cell tower in 2009 and, at the time, the City Council created a moratorium on cell towers in residential zones.
But officials promised to consider community concerns even as they struck the deal with Crown Castle USA, which will become a middleman of sorts between Glendale and the telecommunications companies. Crown Castle, based in Houston, Texas, will only market sites the city OKs, according to a city report.
"It entices carriers to go where we want them versus the other way around," said Darlene Sanchez, principal economic development officer.
The council is also slated to have control of design aesthetics, an issue prompted by complaints about the looks of a tower disguised as an elm tree near the intersection of the northbound Glendale (2) and the eastbound Ventura (134) freeways.
"If that's an elm, you got to make it look like an elm," Councilman Dave Weaver said, after describing the pole as looking like a deciduous tree.
In the past, city officials have let telecommunications companies come to them with proposals, adopting a passive approach rather than a strategic master plan for placement, according to the city report, which also states that Glendale leases 13 cell tower sites on city property currently and is actively negotiating five more sites.
Under the deal, the city will collect between 40% to 60% of revenue generated by the rental of city sites for cell towers and Crown Castle will own the wireless infrastructure it builds, according to the report.
The deal is slated to last five years with an option to renew for another five years after that. However, if Crown leases land, it gets to use the property for 25 years.
The city could make $570,000 off the deal after five years and net ongoing annual revenue of $250,000, the report states.
The city currently makes $420,000 annually from the 13 existing towers, however, officials said that because Crown Castle will be marketing the sites and selling technology to service carriers, more money may be on the horizon.
"We believe there is more business out there," Economic Development Director Philip Lanzafame said, describing the revenue estimates as "conservative."