American Tower Corp. v. City of San Diego, No. 11-56766 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
ATC filed suit challenging the City's denial of its Conditional Use Permit (CUP) applications for three of its San Diego telecommunications facilities. ATC raised claims under, among other provisions, the California Permit Streamlining Act (PSA), Cal. Gov't Code 65956(b); the Federal Telecommunications Act (TCA), 47 U.S.C. 332; California Code of Civil Procedure 1094.5; and the Equal Protection Clause. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of ATC on the PSA claim because the court concluded that the CUP applications were not deemed approved before the City denied them. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the TCA claim where the City evaluated the CUP applications under the proper provision of the Land Development Code and supported its decision to deny them with substantial evidence; the City did not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services because ATC and the City are not "similarly situated" providers; and ATC has failed to show effective prohibition because it has not demonstrated that its proposals were the least intrusive means of filling a significant gap in coverage. ATC could not prevail on California Code of Civil Procedure 1094.5 because it does not have a fundamental vested right to the continued use of the Verus, Border, and Mission Valley Facilities. There was no violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the City's decision to deny the CUP applications was rationally related to the City's legitimate interest in minimizing the aesthetic impact of wireless facilities and in providing public communications services. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and affirmed in part.