In the February newsletter, I wrote about the city’s franchise agreements. I mentioned that the Community Planning Committee proposed that the Corvallis Strategic Operational Plan include having staff investigate managing the public right-of-way (PROW) with a licensing ordinance instead of franchise agreements.

Corvallis has used the ordinance method: In 1996 the city council adopted Ordinance 99-26 Telecommunications Infrastructure Located in the Public Right-of-Way. It was in response to the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and was intended to govern telecommunications that used the PROW.

In 2018 the Council adopted Ordinance 2018-24 Utility Service Operators and Providers in the Public Right-of-Way. It repealed and replaced 99-26 and expanded the coverage to all utilities operating in Corvallis. It established a licensing system for use of the PROW and includes fees for operation, requirements for installation, maintenance, removal, insurance, indemnities, termination and penalties. The licenses are for five years. It could be used to manage the utilities that currently operate with franchise agreements.

Several cities in Oregon have moved from franchises to ordinances: Beaverton, Bend, Gladstone, Grants Pass, Gresham, Happy Valley, Hillsboro, Lake, Oregon City, Tualatin, and Tigard. They have done so to gain staff efficiencies through consistency in how utilities are treated, transparency and public participation (franchises are negotiated contracts), shorter duration to provide flexibility as technology evolves, and maintaining regulatory control.

 

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