In the News: Tower fight pits federal PRB-1 pre-emption against Napa, California planning commission

Here we go again.  As we talk about expanding the FCC’s PRB-1 amateur radio antenna preemption to homeowner associations and covenants and deed restrictions, here comes a classic ham operator-vs-city fight that will likely end up with a lawsuit and the city as a loser.  From the Napa Valley Register:

Since the longtime amateur radio enthusiast raised the spidery metal mast in April, some homeowners have attacked it for spoiling their views, and others claim the antenna has even disrupted their electronics – or, in one case, disabled a woman’s electric wheelchair.

But their efforts to fight the mast in their midst has bumped against federal law Hullquist argues protects his right to build and use the antenna, even without a city permit.

On Thursday, the city Planning Commission granted him a use permit for the ham radio antenna – but with limitations including a requirement to lower the mast to 21 feet between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. to avoid intruding on his neighbors’ views. (The city allowed an exemption to transmit during a local emergency.) Hullquist also was barred from operating his transmitter while the antenna is retracted. (Emphasis mine — AD8BC)

Afterward, Hullquist promised to appeal his case to the City Council – which also is scheduled to hear a counter-appeal from an opponent of the antenna.

The decision continues a seven-month stalemate pitting Coombs Street homeowners – who say the antenna also disfigures the Napa Abajo-Fuller Park Historic District that includes the street – against Hullquist, who has argued a Federal Communications Commission memorandum from 1985 blocks cities from passing laws that make ham radio use impossible.

In as much as the city is overstepping it’s bounds here, the statement I emphasized above in the quote is beyond scary:

Hullquist also was barred from operating his transmitter while the antenna is retracted.

The city has absolutely no authority to bar him from transmitting his radio on his property.  This is purely federal FCC jurisdiction here.

This will be one of those fun cases to follow.  We’ll keep up with it here.

 

(Published from Chicago, IL)

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