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CAI’s Call-To-Action: Oppose Federal HAM Radio Standards for Community Associations

Feb 2, 2015 | Archive, Blog, Law Updates, Text Only Article | 0 comments

In 2014, legislation requiring community associations to “reasonably accommodate” installation of HAM radio towers and antennas was cosponsored by 64 U.S. Representatives. While this legislation died at the end of the 113th Congress, the HAM radio lobby is back, aggressively pushing its pre-emption agenda in 2015.

Community Associations Institute asks that you please contact your legislator today, and voice your opposition to Federal HAM Radio Standards for Community Associations, to protect your client communities’ interest. Contact information can be found here: www.caionline.org/govt/advocacy/Pages/AdvocacyCenter.aspx

More background from CAI

The HAM radio lobby claims their legislation only requires that community associations “reasonably accommodate” their hobby.

This disguises the facts.

The Federal Communications Commission has historically interpreted “reasonable accommodation” to mean virtually no restrictions and no prior approval requirements. If a HAM radio “reasonable accommodation” standard becomes federal law, community associations will likely have little to no say on the installation of towers and large, fixed antennas used in HAM radio broadcasting.

The fact is many associations already accommodate HAM radio hobbyists. In a 2014 survey covering communities in 46 states, 64 percent of respondents confirmed their association’s board or architectural review committee had never denied a request to install a HAM radio antenna. An additional 27 percent could find no record of a denial. The survey also found that associations routinely provide space for HAM radio clubs so residents can pursue their radio hobby.

Federal pre-emption of community association architectural standards is a heavy-handed and unnecessary intrusion in community associations. Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and tell them to oppose all legislation prohibiting association review or approval of HAM radio towers and large, fixed antennas.

How does the FCC view “reasonable”? See the following “reasonableness” guidance the Commission provides on installation of satellite dishes.(www.fcc.gov/guides/over-air-reception-devices-rule)

Q&A

Q: What types of restrictions unreasonably delay or prevent viewers from using an antenna? Can an antenna user be required to obtain prior approval before installing his antenna?

A: A local restriction that prohibits all antennas would prevent viewers from receiving signals, and is prohibited by the Commission’s rule. Procedural requirements can also unreasonably delay installation, maintenance or use of an antenna covered by this rule. For example, local rules or regulations that require a person to obtain a permit or approval prior to installation create unreasonable delay and are generally prohibited. Permits or prior approval necessary to serve a legitimate written safety or historic preservation purpose may be permissible. Although a simple notification process (e.g. post installation) might be permissible, such a process cannot be used as a prior approval requirement and may not delay or increase the cost of installation. The burden is on the association to show that a notification process does not violate our rule.

Q: What is an unreasonable expense?

A: Any requirement to pay a fee to the local authority for a permit to be allowed to install an antenna would be unreasonable because such permits are generally prohibited. It may also be unreasonable for a local government, community association or landlord to require a viewer to incur additional costs associated with installation. Things to consider in determining the reasonableness of any costs imposed include: (1) the cost of the equipment and services, and (2) whether there are similar requirements for comparable objects, such as air conditioning units or trash receptacles. For example, restrictions cannot require that expensive landscaping screen relatively unobtrusive DBS antennas. A requirement to paint an antenna so that it blends into the background against which it is mounted might be acceptable, provided it will not interfere with reception or impose unreasonable costs.

[From: www.caionline.org/govt/advocacy/Pages/AdvocacyCenter.aspx, 2/2/2015]

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