Florida Man Hates Amateur Radio

Any amateur radio operator who is living under a homeowner’s association, covenant, or has any other deed restriction on their property has a problem: antennas are ugly, and most HOAs outright ban everything from 2-meter whips to unobtrusive J-pole antennas.

Earlier this year, the ARRL got behind a piece of legislation called the Amateur Radio Parity Act. This proposed law would amend FCC’s Part 97 rules for amateur stations and direct, ‘Community associations to… permit the installation and maintenance of effective outdoor Amateur Radio antennas.’ This bill passed the US House without objection last September.

Last week, the Amateur Radio Parity Act died in the US Senate. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking member of the Senate committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, refused to move the bill forward in the Senate. The ARRL has been in near constant contact with Senator Nelson’s office, but time simply ran out before the end of the 114th Congress. The legislation will be reintroduced into the 115th Congress next year.

96 thoughts on “Florida Man Hates Amateur Radio

  1. In a country where just about any form of perversion is ok ( I’ve seen the wall mart photos) it just goes to prove amature radio operators are just to ordinary to get any where.

    1. What’s in the wall mart photo’s ?

      Modern antenna design could probably help but lower frequencies that are used by amateurs / hams have very long wave lengths and need long antennas.

      1. I have an antenna that goes all the way down to 80 meters and it’s small enough to backpack and when deployed is only a stick 9 feet tall. (Buddistick) I have talked to people around the globe on it at 2.5 watts.

    1. Seems more like a niche issue, something the general public isn’t too fired up about. If ham setups suddenly started broadcasting free internet or blocking telemarketers, Congress might care.
      I’d also like to cynically posit that many politicians live in developments with homeowner’s associations. They themselves probably don’t want to see big ugly (to their eyes) antennae. Or the big worry is one ham puts up a modest antenna that only a keen eye would notice, Jackass Neighbor finds out and puts p a basketball hoop, a 5m satellite dish and a fishing shanty on blocks in the driveway.

      1. No doubt someone determined enough could hide an antenna in the darnedest places. Although the other side of the coin is not making it so built-in that it affects the resale value of the house.*

        *building antennas into the walls for example.

  2. Talked to a fellow HAM on the way to work this morning. It sounds like it was a good thing that it died. Acording to the guy I was talking to the bill had been overtaken by the HOAs to such a point that it put complete control in the hands of the HOA along with a requirment that all existing antennas be reported to the HOA. Sounds to me like more leverage for the HOA to say no and apply fines.

    I guess as long as thete is HOA free land/housing available we can always choose not to live there.

    1. And this is the problem, when a bill is introduced the scumbag senators are allowed to attach anything they want to it to completely change the whole bill.

      I personally believe that any senator that attaches anything to a bill that already is introduced should be tazed live on CSPAN.

      But then I also believe they should be tazed if they did not read it themselves in entirety.

      1. +1 for the C-SPAN reference.

        Taze-cam…no Taze-booth….

        Elected official goes in, and with 900 calls the electorate can taze them as much as they want for 5 minutes. 3.99 per call toward debt reduction. Takes 5 minutes to reset the booth from the foul odor that will likely be in it…So I’m thinking 3 booths so there’s no service interruption.

      2. All I want is real, live, legislative tracking. No more of letting congress-critters vote on it and then it gets uploaded three days later.

        Wanna change the U.S. code? You’re going to have to submit your changes as a patch. We can call it `git-sausage` or something.

        – Check out a part of the US Code
        – Make changes
        – Submit as a patch, where the clerks will instantly publish it online for anyone to do a `diff` with it
        – suggested changes get hashed, and credit / blame gets assigned to a congress-critter
        – no more (claire wolfe) legislative landmines, no more blaming unnamed interns, no more Amtrak passengers locked in boxes.

        Of course this will never happen. This takes an enormous amount of power out of the hands of the government elite.

      1. Its simple enough.
        1. Get you and several others elected to the HOA board so that you have a majority.
        2. Vote to have HOA dismantled.
        3. Profit.
        It may take several years, but its worth the effort.

  3. Society’s hammer, new/more law.
    Wouldn’t it make more sense to change the existing housing laws in regard to HOA’s instead of specifically targeting one niche aspect which no one cares about?

  4. The root of this is the nonsense that RF radiation may cause cancer and not wanting cellphone towers in their neighbourhoods because of this. It isn’t that there are many that actually believe there is a real risk, but they are concerned that the presence of transmitting antennas will depress the value of their property, because regardless of the facts, a potential buyer may use this as leverage to get a better price.

    1. In my experience it’s not about RF, the main HOA concern is appearance. They like a nice clean and consistent view and don’t want to see all sorts of antennas sticking up here and there. And to a degree I can understand that, thinking back many years to the boom of television antennas it can be a bit unsightly. In regards to satellite dishes, in my development they are allowed but must not be visible from the street. I took that in mind when I put up my HF antenna – in the back yard, just a plain vertical in a telescoping fiberglass mast that I can push up when I want to and keep it out of sight the rest of the time.

          1. Which makes me think – you could put the permitted 18 inch dish on top of a 130 foot tower, right? Then load it on 160 meters… wouldn’t even have to have the dish connected to anything, really. “You’re 59; good luck with the HOA hearing”.

    2. No, this sort of thing has gone on since before cellphone. The restrictions are about looks, people not wanting lawns that aren’t mowed, leaves that aren’t collected, weird colors when painting, ugly antennas.

      When satellite tv became an increasingly popular thing, some municipalities wanted to limit the size, as if one could dictate the physics if radio. Even more recently some complain about the “eyesore” of all the now small dishes on apartment buildings.

      Yes, to reply to your post above, some antennas can be disguised. The classic is a vertical antenna that doubles as a flag pole. But amateur radio is wide, someone wanting to do moon bounce generally needs large array and it’s hard to disguise that. For HF, one can do things like very fine wire antennas, but that’s not going to help if they want a 20metre beam. Not everyone wants only local communication, though local VHF obviously does make for simple antennas, or one can go mobile.

      Michael

      1. Yes there was always some resistance, and I am old enough to recall when the local amateur radio operator was the default suspect as being the cause of ANY RFI that impacted TV reception. But concerted efforts by quasi-political groups to forbid the presence of antennas only started to get legs with the cellphones-cause-cancer meme.

        As for not being able to put an EME array in the backyard of your suburban home – commonsense has to kick in at some point on our side too. What you can and cannot do in this hobby is to a very large extent predicated on your QTH and you work around this or move.

        1. The HF and VHF arrays are pretty large, but some of the EME setups in the microwave range are starting to get pretty small. Then again, moon bouncing with 24 GHz or 10 GHz is still no easy feat having all the equipment nice and compact in front of a dish, along with actually understanding how to set up the equipment.

          If you really wanted to talk to people through the vacuum of space, it’s comparatively easy to connect to LEO repeater satellites that operate on the VHF spectrum like the FOX-1 satellites from AMSAT, the CAS-4 satellites from CAMSAT, or even the old AO-7 that occasionally turns on depending on the tilt and location relative to the sun. Along with these low power setups being portable, they can even be hidden in attics. It’ll even be more exciting these coming years as AMSAT develops their Phase 4 “Five and Dime” systems too.

  5. All rich guys are assholes that want to impose their ideas on others. they utterly LOVE HOA’s. and they try to get Illegal clauses in HOA agreements. One down here has a clause that states you can not own firearms. This is illegal by US law, but unless you lawyer up and spend thousands you cant do anything about it.

    Sadly HOA’s are becoming the norm because scumbag builders want to continue a revenue stream from all sold homes well after.

    1. Actually, HOAs were started (in my state of Pennsylvania) by politicians. Most likely convinced by some lobbyists. The law states that any new development of more than twelve houses must have an HOA.

      1. I could see ways of working around that. HOAs like any product only work if people buy them. Fortunately the US is large enough that those who don’t want HOAs can have a choice, state laws notwithstanding.

    2. “This is illegal by US law”

      It actually isn’t, at least not Constitutionally, because HOAs aren’t the government. Private individuals can freely form and join contractual relationships (e.g., Home Owner Associations) that limit their behavior in ways government can’t, and as long as there are places to live free from gun-banning HOAs, it’s the individual’s choice.

      Aside from the Constitutional argument, I could see some Congresspeople wanting to pass a “Gun Owner’s Protection Act” or the like, preventing HOAs from banning guns, but as far as I know they haven’t, and it would be hard to articulate the Constitutional enumerated-powers reason for the Federal government to intervene in such a private contractual matter anyway. The state legislatures could probably do it, though, if they wanted to (and some of the “right to carry” laws might be adaptable to the purpose), so start denouncing your local Republican legislator as a gun-grabber and see what happens.

      1. There are limits to what HOAs can do, of course – some contracts are void because they’re illegal. Things like Mob hits, fair housing act violations, and unlicensed possession of a nuclear device are all illegal contracts in the US. Illegal contracts are explicitly unenforceable, except in some narrow cases where just the illegal part can be thrown out and the rest stays in force.

        1. “Mob hits…unlicensed possession of a nuclear device…”

          Those seem like reasonable remedies for improper lawn maintenance to me :-).

          And yes, HOAs don’t have completely unlimited power – wouldn’t that be terrifying – but banning firearms possession generally doesn’t fall under the heading of “void for being against public policy”.

        1. I would guess that since the number of gun-banning HOAs is so small, and the perceived threat from the Federal and (some) state governments so perceivedly large, that they have bigger fish to fry. My local shopping mall won’t let me have a gun there either, and the NRA has yet to intervene.

    3. Our HOA tried to get me to undo all the hard work I’d been doing to develop my yard into something that didn’t require tons of fertilizer by encouraging local native grasses to grow. They sent us something requiring us to put down sod. I put down squares of sod in the areas that were barren patches, and mulched around them. It looked absolutely awful but did work ok for a while. After a couple of times like this, they finally decided I was incompetent or not worth messing with, not sure which. Then the state law was changed so that they couldn’t force me to water during a drought with water usage restrictions so we’ve rarely run into conflict since.

  6. We here in Florida have been dealing with Bill Nelson since 1973. He has only become worse since he changed parties. I, for one, will be glad when he is gone.

    I’ll get off of my soapbox now.

  7. Disguise the antenna as the American flag. When they complain about it, call Trump media rep (“teh commies/IS/Chinese/Ruskies/N.Koreans/Mexicans want to destroy the Flag”). Media sh*tstorm ensues. Problem solved.

    1. If you need more bands, add more flags. For state, city, local team, whatever…
      Or just take a fishing line, some thin wire, glue them every foot or so, and then tie one end to helium-filled balloon and have fun with variable size full-wave antenna…

    1. No bills usually start in some committee in the Senate that reviews and researches whatever bills fall inside their purview. Sen. Nelson is that ranking member of Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation so that’s why he was probably able to block it. Bills get stuck in committee all the time.

      1. You need to make sure there is no thermal barrier film in the way that aluminum stuff you sometimes see on the inside of the attic or it’ll interfere with the signal.
        Sometimes it’s actually bonded to the plywood sheets.
        If it’s only on the floor of the attic it can actually help as bit by acting as a ground plane.

  8. Politics and Technology never seem to be able to mix… sounds like we need a few less incumbents being elected and a few more smart politicians to replace them. Oh wait… that’s been proven impossible.

  9. There was a story a couple years ago around a guy who moved into a gated community and everyone around him pushed to make him take down the antennas and replace them with the bi-poles you can put in your attic but he won the case because as a Ham he is federally permitted to do so. Wouldn’t that also apply here? I have my license as well but never looked to deep into it cause in my area we can throw up a full tower without complaint.

  10. Luckily I dont live in a country that has HOA, and in last my rental apartment I got to put up a 9el yagi for 2mtr on the house wall, as long as it was “professionally mounted”.

    After that I lived in a house that had something similar to HOA, and they didnt really like me putting up a sattelite dish, but couldnt do anything to stop me legally, I was the first one who went against that “recomendation” and after I did it more ande more people did, instead of paying atleast the double for cable-tv.

    Now I live in a house with no regulations at all, I could put up a 100ft tower if I want to, and I will at some point, I have a few antennas at the moment, but want to put up a multiband beam.

    Hiding antennas in flagpoles and in the attict works, but just barely, they are really inefficient and might lead to the need for using more power into the antenna, creating higher RF fiels closer to to the electronics in the house, with the risk of creating RFI in other electronics.

    Plus it would give me higher noice levels on the reciever.

    The higher you can place your antenna (within reason) the better for everyone.

  11. I live in a residential area of townhouses. My landlord allowed me to hang up my G5RV as long as it wouldn’t cause a problem with the neighbors televisions, radios or even wifi. I kept the power low, and the antenna high. The neighbors didn’t mind…the kids in the area liked seeing me out in the front area, with my radio on a table, and talking to Colorado and Malta (sans internet). It wasn’t until a storm blew through, and I was away, and a limb broke where I had my G5RV. That is when the fun stopped. Landlord said I had a week to remove all the wire and my 10′ poles. We were not under an HOA, but for safety’s sake…
    I am just saving up to move to “higher ground” to avoid these HOA rules. I’ve played by them in the past, but one of daddy’s hobbies is not going to be 2-meter repeating…it’s gonna be “HF”…”High Fiving” when I get tat sweet contact below 30Mhz. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmashanukwanzaka all. 73 de KC8KVA

  12. When cell phones go out due to a natural disaster then they want us and our antennas. Happy I don’t have any restrictions where I live. Getting ready to put up a hexagonal beam antennas. I hate this auto word.

  13. I’m an amateur operator, but I’ve been on the fence about this Act for a while. HOAs are voluntary contracts between adults, and I’m not sure I want Congress to arbitrarily alter thousands of existing contracts, even for a potentially good reason.

  14. All of this is just a reminder that we have become a screw you society. Screw your freedom of expression. Screw your privacy rights. Screw your ownership rights. HOAs are popular for the singular reason that they protect buyer A from and decline in perceived value from buyer B. In other words, screw you.

    A couple of non-ranting points here; 1st, if you don’t want restrictions don’t buy housing in a HOA neighborhood. We condone what we allow folks. 2nd, vilifying the senator isn’t great democracy. The senator is representing the interests of some portion of the American public. Like their views or not that is in fact an elected person’s job.

    I live in a historic district and as such needed to file an environmental impact statement before putting up my antennas. Does that seem right to most of us? Its not like I wanted to reduce my property value…. in fact, wait for it, I wanted to maximize my property value – to me! This is my dislike of the whole HOA thing, it’s protecting someone else by depriving the actual tax paying property owner. In what America does that make sense? In what America does one set of rights trump (no pun intended here folks) another set of rights???

  15. Problem is we leave them in office long past their usefulness Nelson is 80+ in age and has not been a part of anything in years except get a 10% or more raise for sleeping in sesion

  16. Part of the issue that none of you seem to consider, is what do you own in a HOA, how much land, and what is owned in common. Other issues are liability, safety, and engineering. Antenna in a tree, well the HOA contracts with a landscaper to come in and trim the edges. His equipment tangles with your antenna wire, someone falls out of the tree. Somebody is going to be on the hook for some big bucks and the HOA doesn’t want it to be them. Lots of things like that. The HRPA allowed the HOA to make requests such as, submit set of engineering drawing, provide seismic analysis, wind loading analysis, professional installation, plans signed of by a civil engineer, if the antenna is anywhere someone else can touch it during transmission, then warning signs and lights, oh, and insurance, like a million$$ worth of insurance.
    All reasonable requirements in a court.

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