In late May 2016, a compromise was reached with the Ham Radio lobby and Community Associations Institute (CAI) to protect the integrity of the governance process of community associations.
A compromise has been reached. H.R. 1301, as amended, does the following:
Prohibits community associations from a blanket prohibition of installation of amateur radio exterior antennas.
Preserves a community association’s authority to adopt and enforce reasonable written rules concerning the installation, placement, and aesthetic impact of external amateur service station (radio) antennas.
Requires notification and prior approval of antenna installations; and prohibits installation of antennas on common property.
Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to craft a separate preemption policy from the current Commission preemption policy applicable to State and local governments. This separate preemption is a key distinction to the rights and responsibilities of community associations and association residents.
The compromise was reached out of necessity as H.R. 1301 was gaining momentum with 126 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives supporting the legislation under the guise that the bill is necessary to ensure critical amateur radio communications during a local disaster.
While the compromise has been reached to protect community association’s ability to enforce reasonable rules and require prior approval, the legislation has not yet passed the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. In order for the bill to become law, the following must happen:
The bill must pass the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee. It is expected the bill will be heard in this Committee in June 2016.
The bill must pass the U.S. House of Representatives as a whole. (Date TBD).
The bill must pass the U.S. Senate as a whole. (Date TBD).
The bill must be signed by President Obama. (Date TBD).
CAI public policy staff worked diligently with Members of Congress over the past few years advocating for fairness for all community association residents while balancing the special interest of the amateur radio operators. In 2014 and 2015, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would pre-empt community associations’ architectural guidelines and rules related to installation of HAM radio towers and antennas.
The language of the legislation (H.R. 1301) as introduced, would direct FCC to pre-empt any private land use restriction that prohibits amateur radio broadcasting, fails to reasonably accommodate amateur radio broadcasting or fails to constitute the minimum practical restriction to accomplish an association’s legitimate purposes. Community associations would need to make reasonable accommodations for HAM radio equipment; including amateur radio towers, antennas, and other external devices.
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) – the lobbying group for amateur radio operators, positioned the legislation as critical for our country’s disaster preparedness efforts. As a result, the legislation gained widespread support by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
CAI’s public policy staff worked diligently with Members of Congress over the past few years advocating for fairness for all community association residents while balancing the special interest of the amateur radio operators. In the House of Representatives, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) used her leadership role on the U.S. House Committee of Energy & Commerce to support CAI’s position and insist on an amendment that would provide for a balance of interests within community associations. As a result, key Congressional staff from Representatives Walden (R-OR), Eshoo and Kinzinger (R-IL) offices facilitated negotiations between CAI and the ARRL.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, CAI would like to express sincere appreciation to Representative Eshoo for demanding fairness for community associations.
In the Senate, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) were critical in voicing their concerns to protect community associations. CAI members are very grateful to these two fine Senators for their support. CAI will continue to work with these Senators and others to ensure community associations are protected.