I have spoken to several amateur radio operators regarding the Amateur Radio Parity Act (ARPA), it's need for those hams living in home owner's associations, and what the ARPA would mean to them if it passes.
First off, lets take a look at what the ARPA is so that we can better understand it. The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017 was introduced in the US Senate on July 12, marking another step forward for this landmark legislation. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are the Senate sponsors. The measure will, for the first time, guarantee all radio amateurs living in deed-restricted communities governed by a homeowner's association (HOA) or subject to any private land use regulations, the right to erect and maintain effective outdoor antennas at their homes. The Senate bill, S.1534, is identical to H.R.555, which passed the US House of Representatives in January.
"Amateur Radio continues to be a critical part of our emergency communications operations," Wicker said. "Mississippians learned firsthand after Hurricane Katrina how Amateur Radio operators can provide a resilient, distributed network to first responders and disaster relief organizations when other communications tools fail."
"Amateur Radio operators provide an invaluable service to their communities by assisting local emergency communication efforts when disasters occur and main lines are down," Blumenthal said. "This bipartisan measure ensures that operators have access to the tools they need to support our first responders when lives are at stake."
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai applauded the bill in late January, saying that it would "help Amateur Radio operators, and take several steps to promote public safety."
The bill has enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support. In the 114th Congress, nearly 130 cosponsors signed onto the legislation in the House and the Senate. The legislation, which strikes a carefully crafted balance for all concerned parties, is the result of months of work culminating in the accord reached by ARRL and the Community Associations Institute (CAI). The measure provides for the guarantee of an effective outdoor antenna while protecting the aesthetic concerns of HOAs.
Almost every home owner's association across the country has strict bans on outdoor antennas, other than those necessary for television reception which were also banned until Congress acted in 1996 to outlaw any such bans on outdoor television reception antennas.
Many ham radio operators, like myself, happen to live in areas controlled by home owner's associations. Even though we have worked hard to earn our license from the FCC and many of us wish to be able to use our Federally licensed skills to help our communities and our families in the event of an emergency or disaster. The restrictions on outdoor antennas imposed by homeowner associations severely limit our abilities to help our communities, and our families.
If the ARPA passes, it will override the authority of home owner's associations to keep ham radio operators from installing outdoor antennas on property that they own or rent. This is something that many hams have been dreaming of for years.
The Amateur Radio Parity Act is definitely necessary, and is long overdue. I for one will be watching intently as these bills move forward through Congress, and then hopefully to the White House for final approval.
Getting Your Ham Radio License
In upcoming episodes we will take a look at Morse Code, Antennas, Handheld UHF/VHF Radios,, and Mobile UHF/VHF Radios.