HOA trade group fights bill that would ease ham radio restriction
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(Above) Amateur radio equipment. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

HOA trade group fights bill that would ease ham radio restriction

Amateur Radio Parity Act would require associations to provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ of amateur radio.

3-Feb-16 – In a disaster, it is often the only dependable means of two-way communication, but an organization that supports homeowner associations across the United States is opposing a bill that would prevent HOAs from banning amateur radio operation.

Community Association Institute, whose 1,100 Illinois chapter members include association managers, board members, and unit owners, says the Amateur Radio Parity Act is “unnecessary” because the Federal Communications Commission has said it will not get involved with HOA rules that, says the FCC, are “contractual agreements between private parties.”

“Such agreements are voluntarily entered into by the buyer or tenant when the agreement is executed and do not usually concern this Commission,” wrote the FCC in 2012 and repeated in a statement released by CAI on January 12.

Introduced last June by Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), the Amateur Radio Parity Act would direct the FCC to make HOAs, or any private land owner, provide the same “reasonable accommodation” of amateur radio that cities have been required to provide since 1985.

NASA (Left) NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock uses a ham radio system at the International Space Station in 2010.

HOAs, says CAI, are concerned with the outdoor antennas that amateur radio equipment requires, even though it can be no more than a stretch of wire. CAI says its members oppose the legislation “because they support the preservation of the community association model of allowing neighbors to create reasonable rules for their neighborhoods.”

The American Radio Relay League, which represents more than 161,000 ham radio operators, says municipalities can still regulate antenna height and placement, depending on what best fits the community, and the Amateur Radio Parity Act would allow HOAs to do this, as well.

ARRL has an agreement with Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide ham radio assistance, for free, in the event of a national emergency.

“As much as we think we’re sophisticated with technology, things break,” said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate (right) in 2014. “Amateur radio, in a disaster, in a crisis, was often times the one thing that was still up and running. When everything else fails, a ham transmitting can mean the difference between life and death.” Craig Fugate

But taking away an HOA’s right to ban ham radio, says a community association lawyer in California, could result in homeowners installing “massive radio antennas” on their roofs.

David Swedelson “While I may still be enamored by the prospect of communicating with people around the world,” says David Swedelson (left), quoted on CAI’s website, “these days I do that via email, Twitter, and the telephone.”

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 3-Feb-16 3:21 AM

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