Office of U.S.Senator Patty Murray
United States Senate
173 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Senator Patty Murray
RE: Congressional Assistance in FCC Matter
Dear Senator Murray,
I am writing to you for your assistance in a matter that is important to our congressional district. In our Congressional District and in our State, the Amateur Radio Service provides emergency communication where existing communication may be disrupted by flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, brushfire or other disasters. FEMA, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others have letters of agreement with our national association, the American Relay League (ARRL) to cooperate when disaster strikes. Both Congress and the FCC have repeatedly noted the strong Federal interest in promoting American Radio communications (see, for example P.L. 103-408 and P.L. 100-594).
But an unexpected anomaly in a growing number of private land use agreements is making the communications capability offered by Amateur Radio unavailable in growing number of communities. Because of "boilerplate" clauses in real estate purchase agreements in some new housing developments, legitimate licensed Amateur Radio Operators are being denied the right to put up even the most unobtrusive antenna, sometimes even if the antenna is completely hidden.
Last year the ARRL filed an Application for Review (RM-8763) with the Federal Communications Commission requesting that the FCC clarify its "reasonable accommodation" policy regarding private land use regulation of Amateur Radio Antennas. So far the FCC has not acted promptly or favorably in this matter.
As one of your constituents who is a Amateur Radio Licensee, I am requesting your assistance and possible intervention.
Here’s why: In 1985, the FCC balanced the interests of town and land use authorities to maintain local zoning by requiring them to exercise "reasonable accommodation" to requests from Amateur Radio homeowners to install some form of antenna on their own property, thus acknowledging limited federal interest in permitting Amateur Radio licensees to set up antennas. 47 C.F.R. &97.15(b).
The policy has been very successful and has led to tasteful yet effective installations as town and residents work together reasonably. But so far, the FCC has been reluctant to apply the same national policy to private land use regulations. ARRL’s request that the Commission revisit the issue and reconsider its have repeatedly been denied.
The ARRL’s request is modest and does not expand existing policy. It would require only that the homeowners associations make "reasonable accommendation" (the same flexible and not intrusive standard required of towns) for antennas for Amateur Radio homeowners in subdivisions. It intrudes far less on the authority of planned communities than do other Federal policies governing telecommunications facilities, and recognizes the legitimate concerns of homeowner associations.
If you would like more information from me or our national association, please contact me at the address below, or contact ARRL’s legislative liaison Steve Mansfield at ARRL Headquarters in Connecticut at 860 594-0240.
Yours very truly
James L.Clark, Amateur Radio Licensee WA6NSK
1809 NW Columbia Summit Drive, P.O.Box 979
Camas, WA 98607