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Santa Fe mayor declares telecommunications emergency

SANTA FE – Mayor Javier Gonzales has declared an emergency in the city due to “serious lapses in cellular networks and telecommunications capabilities in Santa Fe.”

Santa Fe residents for several months have been complaining about the poor service from Verizon. The mayor said in a news release Monday morning that the problems have become a public safety concern.

“Once it began impacting our police, fire and emergency medical responders, it became more than a frustration, it became a threat of danger to public safety,” Gonzales said.

In October, the city’s Finance Committee tabled a four-year contract worth $373,000 with Verizon Networkfleet to replace and upgrade GPS devices installed in the city’s fleet on of vehicles, with city citing the poor service. Councilor Mike Harris switched his personal cellphone service to a different provider.

City Manager Brian Snyder said at the time that it was his understanding that Verizon couldn’t handle the load locally when it expanded its cellphone service to include unlimited data.

Verizon provided a statement Monday that said: “The proclamation just issued by Mayor Gonzales communicates an agreement between Verizon and the City to address the much needed increase in capacity for wireless service in Santa Fe. As a result of this agreement, Verizon has permission to add seven temporary sites on city-owned properties over the next several months and to more quickly get permanent sites on air. In addition to first responders, residents will greatly benefit from the additional capacity.”

The mayor’s proclamation,  dated Nov. 21 but only announced Monday, said city staff will be working with Verizon to install temporary or mobile wireless telecommunications facilities on city property “pending review and approval of fixed wireless facilities.”

Cell phone towers or antennae can be controversial in Santa Fe, with opponents including people who say they are sensitive to electromagnetic waves.

The emergency declaration is good for six months, unless the mayor terminates it sooner, according to the proclamation.

Gonzales announced Saturday he’s running as a Democrat for lieutenant governor.

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