On August 1, 1997 I sent a letter to Tom Wheeler inviting CTIA to attend the next meeting of the local and state government advisory committee, and begin a dialogue on issues impacting the wireless industry, and state and local government. We are fortunate that mr. wheeler agreed that a meeting was a good idea, and that he assigned Brian Fontes to serve as CTIA's point person to work with us.
That first meeting took place last September. Over the past 10 ½ months, the lsgac has worked with Brian, Mark Golden of PCIA, Alan Shark of AMTA, Roz Allen of the FCC's wireless bureau, and members of their respective staffs, in an attempt to address the issues of siting wireless facilities and local zoning moratoria.
The agreement that we announce today is significant. Local governments have asserted for quite some time that section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 did not , for the most part, preempt local zoning authority, and that moratoria are proper zoning tools to utilize in appropriate situations. The wireless industry has been concerned that zoning moratoria can be used inappropriately, and I believe that the declaratory proceeding before the commission was intended to seek a way to insure that improper uses of moratoria could not occur.
The LSGAC has continually taken the position in this proceeding and in others, that in our federalist system of government, unless there is both clear legal authority and a widespread example of a nationwide problem, preemption of state or local government authority should not be considered by the federal government.
Believing that improper uses of zoning moratoria were not widespread, the LSGAC sought a way to resolve the problem based upon education and intervention on a case by case basis, rather than a broad national preemption of local authority. This agreement achieves that goal.
The wireless industry, recognizing that there are valid uses for zoning moratoria, sought an agreement on guidelines suggesting the proper activities to be undertaken while zoning moratoria are in effect, in order that they might terminate in a reasonable period of time and facilitate the build out of wireless telecommunications systems. This agreement achieves that goal.
When disputes do arise, the informal dispute resolution process described in this agreement creates the opportunity for local government and industry experts familiar with local zoning and section 704 to take an outsider's look at the facts of a particular case, and offer suggestions to the parties involved. There will be no risk for any party utilizing this process, as all parties retain their legal rights.
A number of individuals and organizations need to be commended. CTIA, PCIA, and AMTA, and particularly Brian Fontes, deserve our thanks for recognizing there was a mutually beneficial solution to be found, and equally important, for taking the opportunity to begin building bridges toward better communications with local government.
The LSGAC, and its staff members who have been assisting us in our work, deserve credit for what has truly been a team effort. Almost every committee member and staff member involved has contributed to this process, and can be proud of the result. On behalf of all LSGAC members, I thank the staff members from the various communities and national organizations that have assisted us.
On behalf of all members of the LSGAC, we express our thanks to our colleagues from the respective councils, commissions and state bodies on which we serve, and we particularly thank the citizens that we represent. Because this is an unfunded committee, each of us participates as a result of the good graces, and the financial commitment of our respective jurisdictions. If they did not think it was important for us to be doing this work, we would not be here.
The commission and its staff also deserve our sincere thanks. Roz Allen, the deputy director of the Wireless Bureau, and the commission's liaison to the LSGAC, has been a tremendous help. Her encouragement and persistence has facilitated the process of resolving this issue. Roz also made a number of suggestions in our drafting process, which made this a better agreement.
All of the commissioners have shown a great deal of interest in our work, have challenged us on particular issues, attended many of our meetings, and supported us in our work to promote local and state government issues in the regulatory process. We very much appreciate that.
The LSGAC expresses special gratitude to Chairman Kennard. As general counsel, he made himself and his staff available to help the LSGAC get organized and begin functioning in a manner to effectively provide advice and assistance to the commission on local and state government concerns. As Chairman, he first assured us of his intention to keep this committee in place, stressing the important role he believed we could play expressing state and local government concerns in the development of federal telecommunications policy. We would not be here today were it not for his continuing support of our work.
The mutual commitment of the LSGAC and the representatives of the wireless industry to respect legitimate interests, and to work on real, as opposed to perceived, issues, was what gave us the opportunity for success. We hope that this success with the wireless industry will set an example for all local and state governments and all segments of the telecommunications industry -- when legitimate interests are respected and issues are discussed openly and in good faith, the opportunity to resolve problems increases dramatically.
Finally, it is important to focus on what this agreement does and does not do. This agreement does not mean that we have resolved all disputes between the wireless industry and local government. There are a number of other issues we need to work on. It does not mean that the LSGAC will be able to resolve all disputes with the various segments of the telecommunications industry. It certainly does not mean that the commission will never again have to rule on a case seeking preemption of state or local government authority.
Our agreement today is a beginning. It resolves the issue of possible preemption of local zoning authority with respect to moratoria, and it gives us a mechanism to address the difficult issues in this area that will continue to arise from time to time. More importantly, I believe that this success provides us with an incentive to continue the process of working together so that local and state government can gain a better understanding of the telecommunications industry, and the industry can gain a better understanding of the role and legitimate concerns of local and state government when addressing telecommunications issues.