Without the long-standing presumption that the radio-amateur service (that’s what the FCC calls it) is vital to the safety and security interests of the American public, little would be left of the spectrum we Hams now enjoy. Pressure to privatize the bands now used for amateur radio is constant. Counter-pressure, in the form of ARRL lobbying efforts and individual Ham activism, is just as constantly required to protect what we have. Wouldn’t it be nice to have as many non-Ham members of the public as possible on our side?
In the ongoing antenna wars, the FCC’s PRB-1 ruling officially enjoins states and municipalities from unnecessarily restricting the erection of amateur antennas, but the burden of enforcement is on the individual Ham, often with the added weight of opposition from his neighbors whose taste for the beauty of a tri-bander on a fifty-foot tower is . . . underdeveloped.
Should H.R. 4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act, pass during this Congressional session, it is far from certain its preemption of private-contractual prohibitions against outdoor antennas in deed covenants and HOA agreements can be made retroactive to such contracts already in force. For good reasons, federal courts are reluctant to set aside agreements and contracts voluntarily made by persons who knew what they were agreeing to in the first place. The law would unquestionably apply to new covenants and to new HOA agreements, but to existing ones?
The ambiguities and the burdens of both the PRB-1 and the proposed Amateur Radio Parity Act require that radio amateurs take public opinion and sentiment into careful consideration, and to bring awareness of the value of Ham-radio activities to their friends and neighbors as much as possible. Making friends is less burdensome than fighting enemies. Having the law or the FCC on your side may be comforting, but neither your neighbors nor your municipality will fall at your feet and beg for mercy. So, if you want to minimize hassles, get them on your side.