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SF Proposal Limits Owners’ Ability to Restrict Access to Communications Providers

Restrict Access

Supervisor Mark Farrell has introduced legislation for consideration by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that requires owners to grant building access to communications service providers when a resident requests such services. As drafted, the ordinance does not permit owners to reasonably cap the number of providers that can serve their buildings or to exercise reasonable discretion in refusing entry to providers that they may know provide poor service or for any reason other than those outlined in the proposal.

The proposal is intended to penalize owners who interfere with their residents’ right to obtain services from any provider licensed to operate in their area. Current federal law prohibits rental housing providers from entering into exclusive contracts with communications service providers. However, the law does allow owners to engage in revenue-share agreements with providers. These agreements typically result in one to two providers having access to install facilities and equipment in the owners’ buildings and the ability to advertise and provide services to residents.

The proposed ordinance includes language that requires providers to pay owners “just and reasonable compensation” for the use of the property, including installing, operating and maintaining on the property the facilities and equipment necessary to provide communications services to residents. Also, providers must agree to “reasonable conditions” as the property owner deems necessary to protect the safety, functioning, and appearance of the property and the convenience and well-being of residents when installing, operating, maintaining, or removing their facilities and equipment from the property. The owner reserves the right to restrict access for a limited number of reasons listed in the ordinance, including noncompliance by the provider with the above conditions. Additionally, the proposal imposes a fine of up to $500 per day for owners who violate the law.
The San Francisco Apartment Association, along with a coalition of stakeholders, is engaged in ongoing discussions with the author to address concerns about the bill. While the bill remains pending in the Budget and Finance Committee, NAA anticipates the Board will take action quickly on the bill in November. NAA continues to monitor the proposal as it makes its way through the legislative process.