[AMRadio] Fwd: HR555 and antennas

Larry Szendrei ne1s at securespeed.us
Sat Aug 5 18:31:58 EDT 2017

This is worth reading and following with appropriate action.

To me it sounds like a classic case of "be careful what you wish for."

Bry gave me permission/encouragement to forward it to these lists.


-------- Forwarded Message --------

Subject: 	[Glowbugs] HR555 and antennas
Date: 	Sat, 5 Aug 2017 18:18:10 +0000
From: 	Bry Carling <af4k at hotmail.com>
To: 	tetrode Glowbugs <tetrode at googlegroups.com>

    /The future is that time when you'll wish you'd done/
    / what you aren't doing now./

    On Wednesday, August 2, 2017 5:52 PM, Marty Woll <n6vi at socal.rr.com>
    <mailto:n6vi at socal.rr.com> wrote:

    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

    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

    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

    whether League members or not.  However, in February of 2016 the

    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

    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

    that significantly restrict how many Hams may benefit from its
    passage and

    that, if uncorrected, could actually diminish the rights of some

    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

    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

    attachments containing (1) the original bill language, (2) the

    language in the current bill, and (3) an analysis prepared by former FCC

    attorney and active Amateur Radio operator Jim Talens N3JT for the

    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

    deed restrictions that preclude or fail to reasonably accommodate

    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

    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

    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

    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. 

    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

    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

    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

    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

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