EMWD approves 20-year Cienega Well lease with AT&T

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The Eastern Municipal Water District approved a lease with AT&T for a telecommunications facility at Eastern’s Cienega Well facility in Hemet.

A 5-0 EMWD board vote Wednesday, Sept. 16, approved the lease for an initial five-year term with three additional five-year options. AT&T will initially pay $2,950 per month, and the rent will be increased by 3% each year.

The Cienega Well facility is located in the 43200 block of Cedar Avenue. In 2019, AT&T approached Eastern about putting a cellular communications tower at the location. EMWD staff reviewed AT&T’s plans and specifications and found no potential conflicts with the proposed installation.

The first EMWD telecommunications facility lease was approved by the board in November 2000, and in September 2011, the board adopted a telecommunications lease policy. Since 2000, the district has entered into 13 different agreements with various wireless communications providers, and those leases have generated more than $4 million for the district. The district process to determine lease site suitability and the negotiation of contract terms begins with a comprehensive review by internal stakeholders to identify current or future operational conflicts. Specialized consultants and legal services personnel assess site-specific market conditions to establish rates and to support staff throughout the contract negotiation process. Telecommunications companies must meet all federal, state and local requirements, pay all necessary fees including a non-refundable fee to the district which covers administrative costs for review and approval and obtain all required permits and authorizations. Once construction of the facility is completed EMWD staff will actively manage and ensure compliance throughout the established term. The ongoing review for the lease includes the confirmation of the contractually stipulated lease rate increases throughout the course of the agreement.

Vertical Consultants was used to conduct an appraisal of the proposed lease and assist in the determination and negotiation of a monthly rate. The consideration and evaluation factors included AT&T’s need for cellular coverage in the area, the ease of zoning and the availability of competing non-district locations within close proximity.

AT&T will be responsible for obtaining and paying for all required governmental approvals, licenses and permits and will also be responsible for any property taxes assessed which are attributable to AT&T’s use of the property. AT&T will be responsible for obtaining any required utilities and paying for those costs.

The construction of the AT&T facility must be approved by both the district and Riverside County. AT&T will have 24-hour access to the property, although Eastern must be given notice before AT&T or a contractor entering onto the premises. The lease has relocation and termination conditions in case of an imminent or actual threat to Eastern’s ability to provide service to the public.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at jnaiman@reedermedia.com.