Latest On The HOA Antenna Bill

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KE5YTV, Aug 5, 2017.

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  1. KE5YTV

    KE5YTV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Received this from Marty Woll, N6VI.

    Now that I am a former ARRL Vice Director, I am free to speak my mind on
    this matter. As a long-time proponent of antenna rights, it is with great
    disappointment that I say I do not favor passage of HR-555. I should add up
    front, by way of disclaimer, that I am not an attorney.
    I was a big supporter of the original Amateur Radio Parity Act - the PRB-1
    version. The ability to put up outdoor antennas and the structures
    necessary to support them on your property is crucial to being an active Ham
    for many licensees. Since 2010 I have visited the offices of numerous
    elected officials, sent over a thousand e-mail messages, spent entire
    convention weekends generating letters from Hams to their elected
    representatives and spoken at countless club meetings to drum up support for
    this legislation. It's fair to say that I invested a major chunk of my time
    in support of the original Parity Act, and I certainly respect ARRL
    leadership for its persistence in seeking relief for all impacted Amateurs,
    whether League members or not. However, in February of 2016 the language
    that mirrored PRB-1 was removed from HR-1301 (now HR-555), and this is a
    critique of the result, not of the intent or effort.
    Last year, ARRL found itself at odds with one senator over the bill and was
    required to negotiate compromise language with CAI, a national trade
    association of homeowner associations (HOAs) and similar groups. While I
    had some major misgivings at the time, I did not object to the compromise
    language because I believed it would help at least those Amateurs who live
    in homes with developer-imposed deed restrictions not within the purview of
    an active HOA.
    Since that time, however, some high-profile, competent and very
    knowledgeable attorneys (all of them Hams but none associated with the ARRL
    Board) have evaluated the compromise language and found that it may do more
    harm than good. They have pointed out some serious shortcomings in HR-555
    that significantly restrict how many Hams may benefit from its passage and
    that, if uncorrected, could actually diminish the rights of some Amateurs
    and grant the right to regulate Amateur antennas to HOAs that do not now
    have that right.
    What follows is an abbreviated description of the issues surrounding HR-555,
    the current version of the Parity Act. For those who want to dig deeper
    into the matter, I have a version I can e-mail you separately that include
    attachments containing (1) the original bill language, (2) the compromise
    language in the current bill, and (3) an analysis prepared by former FCC
    attorney and active Amateur Radio operator Jim Talens N3JT for the Potomac
    Valley Radio Club. Many of the points in Jim's critique were also made by
    Fred Hopengarten K1VR (author of Antenna Zoning for the Radio Amateur) at
    his presentation to the Legal Forum at the May 2017 Dayton Hamvention.
    Suffice it to say that the expert Ham-attorneys are NOT all lining up in
    support of HR-555 in its current form.
    The original bill pretty much paralleled PRB-1, the Federal Preemption
    Statute. It required the FCC to revise its regulations to prohibit private
    deed restrictions that preclude or fail to reasonably accommodate Amateur
    Radio communications or that do not constitute the minimum practicable
    restriction on such communications to accomplish the legitimate purpose of
    the private entity seeking to enforce such restriction.
    On the other hand, the compromise bill that CAI insisted on does the
    1) It grants HOAs the right to use aesthetics as a basis for antenna
    decisions, even to those associations whose rules do not now have any
    provisions concerning antennas. This grant of power to HOAs is
    unprecedented in Federal law, and it adds a right - as a matter of Federal
    law - for HOA's that has never been previously approved in Federal law.
    That right cannot be undone by state law.
    2) It requires a deed-restricted Amateur to notify and seek prior
    permission from the HOA before installing any outdoor antenna, with no
    grandfathering for those already installed.
    3) It does not establish a time frame within which the HOA must render a
    decision; an HOA can stall indefinitely and do so without adverse
    4) It does not grant or guarantee to an Amateur the right to operate on the
    band(s) of his or her choice.
    5) It permits but does not require the HOA to establish written rules
    regarding antenna size, type and location.
    6) It does not establish or require an HOA administrative process for
    redress if an HOA denies a Ham's requested antenna. The decision of the HOA
    is final.
    Under HR-555, if passed, Hams who have existing "stealth" antennas, even
    with the concurrence of their immediate neighbors, would now be in violation
    of Federal law and FCC regulations.
    HOAs will be legally able to write their own rules with no objective
    criteria and no standards, and they will have the unrestricted power of
    Federal law to back them up.
    The band(s) on which the Amateur wishes to operate need not be a
    consideration in any HOA decision; they could limit you to a small UHF whip
    a few inches long on your gutter and say that have accommodated Amateur
    An HOA that previously existed only to conduct limited activities, such as
    maintaining roads, utilities and exterior landscaping, one that has never
    held any power to regulate Amateur Radio, would be granted the power to
    demand the removal of existing antennas and to demand that an Amateur seek
    its approval to install any Amateur antennas or supports. Imagine having
    moved into a neighborhood because the HOA had no regulatory power over
    Amateur Radio antennas, only to have Federal law now grant the HOA that
    The compromise bill expressly disconnects itself from PRB-1. Unfortunately,
    that means that none of the Ham-friendly court decisions interpreting PRB-1
    would be binding on an HOA.
    It has been argued that the FCC, in writing the regulations required by
    HR-555, could eliminate some of the above risks. However, the FCC has
    opposed restricting the rights of HOAs for over thirty years, and I don't
    think it is prudent to count on the Commission to reverse itself and
    interpret the law in our favor. Neither can we count on CAI, having won the
    rights it demanded, to sit by and make no attempt to influence the
    post-enactment regulatory process in its favor. Wishful thinking to the
    contrary is hardly a sound basis on which to make our decisions.
    Because of the aforementioned shortcomings of HR-555 and the likely adverse
    consequences of its passage, I cannot support it any longer. There may be a
    better path than the one the League is now pursuing; I don't know if we can
    ever get there, but I certainly don't want us to make things worse for a
    significant number of Amateurs or expose them to being found in violation of
    Federal law and FCC regulations. Please consider these points when you are
    asked to write letters of support for HR-555 to your legislators.
    As an aside, I want to remind you that some licensees have been successful
    in selling the advantages of Amateur Radio-based disaster communication
    capability to their HOA boards. Offering benefits can be much easier and
    less costly than demanding one's rights.
    Marty N6VI
    AF7XT and AI7PM like this.
  2. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow. Well, there it is folks. :(
    AI7PM likes this.
  3. K7MH

    K7MH XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The supporters will still drink the Kool-Aid.
    AI7PM and KY5U like this.
  4. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    What a crock of sheer nonsense and illogical thinking.

    Obviously, there's a disconnect from actual real life reality.

    In terms of any hams with existing stealth antennas being in "violation" of anything, they are already doing that now anyways.
    And they will continue to be in violation of restrictions regardless if HR-555 passes or not.

    So by withdrawing support of HR-555, what are you "saving" these people from? Nothing... nothing at all.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
    K6MBX likes this.
  5. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    None of this should surprise anyone here as these same numerous flaws have been highlighted repeatedly by me and others who have said "be careful what you wish for".

    For people like me who actually live in an HOA (by choice), this legislation can and likely will have the effect of hurting us.

    If anyone is actually interested in assisting those of us to whom this legislation is intended to help, rather than writing condescending arguments or judgments or dismissive posts such as the previous one, withdraw your support by voicing the legitimate concerns this poster enumerated.
    KY5U and W4IOA like this.
  6. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    We are all ensnared in a gradual shift to a Nanny State. We are circling the drain of government approval for each and everything we do. Those living in an HOA are merely standing closer to the vortex.
    WD4IGX, KP4SX and AI7PM like this.
  7. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    These growing antenna restrictions can only serve to kill amateur radio for many as we continue moving forward into the future.

    Perhaps supporting the future direction of amateur radio is worthy of drinking some Kool-Aid. ;)
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
  8. W4IOA

    W4IOA Ham Member QRZ Page

  9. KD8OSD

    KD8OSD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think what the difference would be if it passes, since it is now federal law to get permission, by going stealth the ham would then be breaking federal law.

    But ARRL will pass anything to show they did something, anything to increase membership. I ain't supporting that thinking anymore.
    K1VSK and AI7PM like this.
  10. W2AI

    W2AI QRZ Lifetime Member #240 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    The moral of the story is that if you want to erect the antenna system of your choice--don't live in an HOA controlled development. Pure and simple!
    K1OIK, KD8OSD and AI7PM like this.
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