Direct the City Attorney to prepare a letter to Congresswoman
Jane Harman voicing the Cityís opposition to HR 4720 and detailing the
manner in which the current regulation is being evaded and misused.
HR 4720 is a bill now in Congress aimed at providing relief
to amateur radio operators faced with private deed covenants, conditions
and restrictions (CC&Rs) in erecting antennas. Freshman Representative
Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced the "Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
Consistency Act" on May 14. The measure--HR 4720--would require private
land-use regulators, such as homeowners' associations, to "reasonably
accommodate" amateur radio communication consistent with the PRB-1 limited
federal preemption. PRB-1 now applies only to states and municipalities.
Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) and Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX)
signed on as original co-sponsors of HR 4720. Since its introduction,
the bill also has attracted several additional co-sponsors. These include
Representatives J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), Patsy Mink
(D-HI), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Rick Boucher (D-VA), Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA),
John Duncan Jr (R-TN), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Charles Stenholm (D-TX) and
David Price (D-NC).
In an E-mail to Congresswoman Jane Harmanís office, Mayor
Pro Tem Douglas Stern described HR 4720 as "bad news." He pointed
out the problem that stripping the cities of regulatory authority has
had on Rancho Palos Verdes. Specifically, the Courts have, in one of our
cases, held that once the amateur antenna is in, it can be switched to
commercial broadcasting. In January Judge Wilson, in Abrams v. Rancho
Palos Verdes, ruled that because we had allowed an "amateur" to place
an antenna, the antenna owner could switch its use to commercial broadcasting
and the City had no ability to exercise the zoning authority that the
1996 Telecommunications Act (TCA) expressly granted to the cities. While
the City believes that the court erred, there is no doubt that this problem
is not clearly addressed at it should have been in the TCA, and it should
Allowing the federal government to essentially eliminate
private CC&R's that consensually protect a neighborhood is not good
policy. It is unlikely that there is evidence that regions are prevented
from having effective coverage because of CC&R's.
More importantly, the amateur regulation (PRB 1) and the
proposed legislation should include provisions to close the loophole that
presently allows an amateur to switch to broadcasting commercial signals.
While it is clear that no one in Congress intended it to work that way,
the "switching" that the courts are allowing dramatically impacts neighborhoods,
as it results in the areas that are good antenna sites being converted
by the economic value into antenna sites. The City should request that
Congresswoman Harman assist in enacting legislation that requires a commercial
antenna to be evaluated without reference to the existence or non-existence
of an antenna that is present as an amateur antenna. Keep the amateurs
under the regulatory scheme that addresses their virtue, and keep the
commercial antennas entirely under the 1996 TCA without the cross over.
The City should request an amendment to HR 4720 to provide
that the Courts interpret the Telecommunications Act (TCA) in a manner
such that when there is an amateur antenna, the cities have the same regulatory
power that the Act presently provides, as if there were no antenna at
all. The cities could still exercise the regulatory power that the TCA
expressly contemplates, without antenna owners switching from amateur
to commercial, in situations where they could not get commercial antenna
approval from a city.
Mayor Pro Tem