A lot of hams think that the biggest challenge amateur radio operators face are the restrictive deed covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that are in effect in many new housing developments. Basically, these CC&Rs prevent residents from erecting an outdoor antenna. This, of course, limits how effective our stations can be.
In 1985, the FCC issued a memorandum opinion and order commonly referred to as PRB-1. This order limits the power that local governments have in putting restrictive antenna ordinances into effect. It says that because amateur radio operators are licensed by the federal government, local governments must make reasonable accomodation when amateur radio operators apply to erect antenna structures. Time and time again this memorandum has held up in court.
Unfortunately, this memorandum does not apply to private agreements, such as the CC&Rs mentioned previously. Many amateurs are, therefore, limited to using antennas that can be built in an attic or a very small antenna on the outside of their house. Needless to say this is not a good situation, and often discourages people from getting an amateur radio license.
The article below describes an effort to treat restrictive provisions in CC&Rs in the same way that restrictive ordinances are treated. I’d encourage you to read this article from the ARRL website and then write your Congressional representative and ask him or her to support this bill. You can send your rep an e-mail by going to http://www.house.gov/writerep/. To send snail mail, the address is U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.
From the ARRL:
NEWINGTON, CT, Sep 23, 2005–New York Congressman Steve Israel has reintroduced legislation that could make it easier for radio amateurs living in communities with deed covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) to erect suitable antennas. Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross, WD5DVR, signed aboard as an original cosponsor of the “Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act” (HR 3876). ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, who attended Israel’s public announcement of the bill September 19 on Long Island, pointed out the Amateur Radio volunteers always fill the gap after other communication systems fail in an emergency or disaster. He notes the bill’s introduction comes in the immediate aftermath of positive media coverage of Amateur Radio’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
“Unfortunately if all new housing developments contain deed restrictions forbidding outside antennas there will probably come a time when there will not be enough ham radio operators to help their neighbors and countrymen,” said Fallon. He believes Israel’s bill will help to ensure that Amateur Radio will continue to be able to provide emergency communication should a disaster occur.
Fallon, who head up the League’s grassroots lobbying initiative, was on hand for Israel’s announcement, which took place at the home of ARRL New York City-Long Island Emergency Coordinator Tom Carrubba, KA2D.
A reporter for WLNY-TV (Channel 55) interviews Rep Israel about the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act of 2005. [Frank Fallon, N2FF, Photo]
The one-sentence measure is identical to the text of the CC&R bill that has been introduced in the last two sessions of Congress: “For purposes of the Federal Communications Commission’s regulation relating to station antenna structures in the Amateur Radio Service (47 CFR 97.15), any private land use rules applicable to such structures shall be treated as a state or local regulation and shall be subject to the same requirements and limitations as a state or local regulation.”
The measure would put private land-use regulations, such as homeowners’ association rules, on the same legal plane as state or local zoning regulations under the FCC’s PRB-1 limited federal preemption regarding antenna structures–Â§97.15 of the Amateur Service rules. PRB-1 now applies only to states and municipalities.
ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, is encouraging League members to write their elected representative and ask that they cosponsor and support the bill, especially given two hurricane emergencies in short order.
ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP (right), during an earlier visit to Rep Israel’s Washington office.
“I think it’s time now that we, as amateurs, really band together and see what we can do about writing our congressional representatives and explaining to them that Amateur Radio is certainly a part of this nation’s communications infrastructure,” Haynie said. “What we’re asking for is just a fair shake so we can put up antennas and help our fellow citizens.”
While the League has ramped up its efforts to educate members of Congress about Amateur Radio, Haynie said lawmakers respond best to individual members.
HR 3876 has been assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Information about the bill and a sample letter to use when contacting your representative are available on the ARRL Web site.
In his formal announcement this week, Israel said that “often unsung” Amateur Radio volunteers were instrumental in helping residents in the hardest hit areas in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including saving stranded flood victims in Louisiana and Mississippi.
“State and local governments, as well as disaster relief agencies, could not possibly afford to replace the services that radio amateurs dependably provide for free,” said a statement from Israel’s office. “However, the hundreds of thousands of Amateur Radio licensees face burdensome regulations that make it extremely difficult to provide their public services.”
In past statements, Israel has said that the growth of developed communities has put a growing number of hams under an “array of inconsistent regulations” that make it harder and harder–or altogether impossible–to erect the necessary antennas.