Amateur Radio Operators Delighted With California City Council's Antenna Decision
The nearly 300 radio amateurs who live in Poway, California, may erect antenna support structures of up to 65 feet with only a building permit and a courtesy notice to their neighbors. The Poway City Council unanimously approved the new ordinance on August 5. According to an August 6 Pomerado News report by Steve Dreyer, the Council “declined to adopt an alternative ordinance that would have required obtaining a special minor use permit” for structures between 35 and 65 feet.
ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, said the League has been working with Poway’s Amateur Radio community for “a very long time” on the matter. Representing radio amateurs’ interests in Poway was Felix Tinkov, Esq, whom Imlay described as “a very competent and experienced land use lawyer.” Imlay noted that Tinkov is not a ham radio licensee but that he “gets Amateur Radio and did a stellar job of advocating for the hams.” ARRL’s Amateur Radio Legal Defense and Assistance Committee contributed funding for the effort.
“It represented a big change in well-entrenched attitudes in Poway spanning decades so this is a big win for us,” Imlay said.
Members of the Poway Amateur Radio Society (PARS) submitted a technical report to the City Council. The report concluded that antenna support structures of up to 65 feet would represent “reasonable accommodation” for Amateur Radio communication under PRB-1, due to the area’s varied topography. The subject of Poway’s Amateur Radio antenna ordinance came up at the ARRL Board of Directors January 2014 meeting. ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, reported that he’d been in contact with attorney Fred Hopengarten, K1VR, on behalf of Howard Groveman, W6HDG, of Poway, who sought to install a 59-foot crank-up antenna support structure. At the time Poway’s ordinance set a maximum height of 35 feet and required a variance for anything taller, precluding Groveman’s proposed antenna system.
According to the Pomerado account, the option that the city council ultimately approved had been tweaked a bit from the version council members had received earlier from city staffers. That option would have required notification only to abutting property owners. This was expanded to a 250-foot radius, Dreyer’s report said, adding that applicants would be responsible for mailing the notices. The notices would alert neighbors that an antenna would be erected, but neighbors would have no legal standing to impede or block construction as long as the proposed structure met the requirements of the city’s ordinances.
Installing an antenna support structure taller than 65 feet would require a new antenna permit and the approval of City Council. The Council asked for a report in 1 year regarding how the new procedures are working.
The Poway City Council had selected the two possible options following a May 6 public hearing attended by representatives of the city’s ham radio population and a few residents who question whether tall antenna structures were needed, and whether they might affect property values.
PARS worked for more than 2 years with the city council to encourage adoption of an Amateur Radio-friendly antenna ordinance.