Concerned that recent changes in federal telecommunications laws may produce an explosion of towers and antennas across the city, officials are taking steps to regulate the equipment.
The Telecommunications Reform Act, signed into law earlier this year by President Clinton, was a sweeping reform of the industry. It removed monopoly protections so that telephone companies, cable companies and others in the communications industry now can compete in each other's markets.
Brea, like a number of municipalities in Orange County, is experiencing a surge of applications for antennas but does not have adequate laws in place to govern them, officials said.
City planners said they have received four applications for antennas in the past six months and expect more. The previous application rate, they said, had been about one every two years.
To remedy the situation, the City Council this week approved an emergency ordinance that will be in effect for 45 days while officials draft permanent legislation.
The interim law limits the height of communication towers in most instances to that of existing structures in the area and forbids them from locating less than 200 feet from a residential zone. Also, efforts must be made to conceal the structures through design, screening or tall vegetation.
Minor facilities will require an administrative review for approval, and major towers will need approval from the city's Planning Commission.
Because communication technology is rapidly changing, officials said, the final version of the law will include a requirement that facilities be removed within 90 days of a shut-down, to prevent abandonment of the structures.