Outside Antennas / HOA's

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W9WSS

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I know I'm probably going to be chastised for this by many participants, but I'm going to post it anyway.

Why would an active Ham Radio operator even consider purchasing (or renting) a home with an HOA or outside antenna restrictions? I know that certain hams' significant others insist on living in an area which would have these restrictions, hence, the active Ham would either hope that attic-mounted antennas or stealthy or invisible outside antennas would have to suffice. Or possibly just operate mobile and have no home station.

I've lived in several homes that I rented and owned through the years, and have had no less than 7, up to 13 outside antennas mounted on a Glen Martin quad-pod roof mounted tower, eave mounts, and poles in the back yard along fences to support my wire antennas.

For a few years, while my wife at the time was in grad school, we lived on the 2nd floor of an apartment, and I had a few stealthy antennas on the balcony, and a few strung around the inside of the apartment. I was able to communicate with most local repeaters, and did have limited simplex coverage for my general area. I did not have any HF equipment at the time we were living in the apartment. I've had two houses since, with a plethora of outside antennas currently mounted on an about my structure & property.
 

mmckenna

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From what I've seen, it's ignorance. Buying a house involves a lot of paper work. The real estate agent should be walking the buyer through all this, including any HOA rules, Covenants, codes and restrictions, etc.
Often, the real estate agent will rush through this part.
Often, the buyer will just sign where they are told without understanding what they are signing.

When I bought my house, I went through all the paper work carefully. The real estate agent was a friend, and she was doing a thorough job.

I have an airport about 5 miles from my house. I signed paper work acknowledging that aircraft might fly over my house and those aircraft make noise. Seriously.
There's an old military base nearby, and I had to sign papers saying I understood that there was some hazardous waste there that had been mostly cleaned up.
I signed paper work that I wouldn't keep livestock.
And the list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, people move into the area, don't read the paperwork, then get upset because of the noise from the airport. Every now and then someone tries to start a lawsuit to get the airport shutdown. This airport has been there since WW2, it was an old Navy aux airfield, so it's not like it showed up overnight.

So, ignorance is a big part of it. Move in, find out later. And amateur radio operators are not exempt from the scourge of ignorance.

Wife dictating the home purchase is the other big part of it. Remember, happy wife, happy life. Husbands will do what they can to keep the wife happy, then try to figure out how to adapt the hobby later. Key word is -hobby-. Amateur radio IS a hobby. It is not the most important thing in my life, and I expect it isn't in others.

And, then there are those that become amateurs -after- they buy the house. You do your best to adapt. Not ideal, but again, it's a hobby, so we don't dump the house and buy a new one so we can play radio.
 

toastycookies

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Unfortunately, people move into the area, don't read the paperwork, then get upset because of the noise from the airport. Every now and then someone tries to start a lawsuit to get the airport shutdown. This airport has been there since WW2, it was an old Navy aux airfield, so it's not like it showed up overnight.

Reminds me of stories from up my way of people moving in next to a gun range then trying to get it shut down because they are in fear of their lives.

https://bangordailynews.com/2015/01/15/news/lewiston-auburn/waterford-gun-club-rejects-neighbors-offer-to-buy-silence/

People with money keep moving up here and think they can buy out anything and anyone.

Unfortunately, in regards to the coastline, they seem to be doing just that. My family had to sell my childhood (as well as my father's childhood) home that had been in the family since the 1800s once the property taxes exceeded $16,000 / yr. I hear they're up to around $24k/yr now after the people bought it for a summer home and put on a couple additions.
 

SCPD

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I think MMcKenna answer’d the question in three words…”it’s a Hobby.” It may be heresy to say this here, but ham radio is not the be-all, end-all for many of the amateur radio fraternity. I would guess that in the majority of cases it ranks low against other family priorities, especially with spouses **, -- if it is just benignly tolerated.
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Hearth and Home trump Hobby
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And too, many hams don’t want or need to have 120 foot towers with multi-band beams all over the place….. I, for one.
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I have two homes; one in the Colorado mountains- a small ranch where I can do whatever I bloody well please-- but seldom do.
The other is in a New Mexico towne out on a Mesa surrounded by lots of neighbors…. Probably the techy-ist place in the country (sorry Silicon Valley, but you loose here…laffing.) My neighbors might well be the Oppenheimer‘s, the Neil Bohr‘s, the Einstein‘s-- for what they do, and could do with their homes- and I know quite a few are radio hams. Still, as neighbors everything is very low key. There is no HOA, yet one is not necessary. When I bought here I first looked at the neighborhood --and quickly decided it was not going to be graced by any of my antennas. No one else had them, I was not going to be the “block buster.”
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My point?… even if the buyer didn’t read the contract thoroughly, and explored what an “HOA” means, they should have looked about the neighborhood; is this a place where my weird aluminum art forms gracing the skies going to be warmly welcomed? HOA or no?
Besides, a clever ham can come up with a myriad of ways to enjoy the hobby without upsetting the neighborhood- I leave it to the imagination.
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Unless they want to end up as one of those Gollum-like characters who can’t eat, think or sleep unless its radio, living miserably, all alone (I’m sure you all have met them- at the last hamfest, No?…..) then think about your families first……. it’s a hobby….. Smiles! :)
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……………………….CF
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**sorry guys, but I do recognize that here is a true sexually identity issue- the majority of hams are male. Female spouses tend to be….. Not too happy with wires and junk scatter’d about their homes (you can add the details here ) -- Hey!, just a generalization, but this is a girl’s observation
 

Golay

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Agreeing with the OP

I always get a good chuckle when someone who has been in the hobby their entire working life, will retire into an HOA, then go "WAH, I can't put antennas up, it's so unfair". And I can honestly say it would take two hands to count the number of times I've heard a retired ham singing that tale of woe at a club meeting or a swap.
 

W9BU

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I've had an amateur radio license for 26 years. Eight years ago, I moved into a "production" house in a neighborhood with an HOA. My lot is 90 x 140 feet. Before I signed the contract to build the house, I obtained a copy of the CCRs and read them very carefully. In other words, I moved into this situation knowing full well that any attempt for me to have outside amateur radio antennas would be severely restricted.

Why did I commit this awful and incomprehensible sin? Because I wanted to live in a particular area and the existing houses in that area in my price range that were on larger, less-restricted lots were all 25-30 years old and would require significant maintenance and replacements. I did not want to go into a house where I would immediately have to spend a ton of money on the furnace, water heater, roof, kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, etc. Instead, I knowingly compromised my future amateur radio activities in favor of a house requiring less maintenance and with less yard to mow.

Has this terrible CCR-restricted house caused me to curtail my amateur radio activities? Heck no.

I gotten fairly creative with antennas since I moved in and I'm reasonably pleased with the results. I have my Worked All States certificate, I'm 13 DX entities away from DXCC, and I worked all of the W1AW/portable stations during the ARRL Centennial. I check into nets on both HF and VHF. I routinely participate in SSB and RTTY contests. In fact, the CQ WPX RTTY contest is going on this weekend. I've made 258 contacts so far and have over 87,000 points and the contest ain't over until this evening.

Would I like to have a big tower with a tri-band beam? What HF-oriented ham wouldn't? Is it reasonable to put a 60-foot tower on a 90x140 lot? Not really. Would I ask the HOA for permission to put one up even if the Amateur Radio Parity Act passes? No. Do I think I made a huge mistake by moving into this house? That would be a big "no". There's more to life than amateur radio.
 

AE7BF

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I am a bit conflicted on this issue, it doesn't affect me directly as I have a ranch in S. ORE and can do most anything I like.

While someone moving to these areas seems crazy but at the same time I am very firmly for property rights. You pay $X.00 for a piece a property and some whiny neighbor can tell you what to do with your property? I don't like it.

Everyone has their reasons and I don't judge peoples life situations, I would prefer to see legislation that removes HOA's ability to regulate or govern any licensed communications system.
 

N9JIG

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I too bought a home in an HOA. I had to sign papers acknowledging several things including the antenna restrictions. They were very clear about that. (I also had to sign a paper warning about "High intensity military jet aircraft operations" in the area. I literally asked if we had to pay extra for that.)

For all the areas we looked at when we bought this home we asked for and received copies of the CCR's. All of the places we were serious about had antenna prohibitions. We cannot even have outside TV antennas here (except dishes), but it doesn't matter since we are blocked from all the nearby TV stations by a mountain range anyway.

These days if you go into a home purchase and do not know the restrictions ahead of time, shame on you. I now have an attic full of scanner, two-way and HF antennas. I am also thinking about Vent antennas and a flagpole HF antenna. There are ways if you are creative.

I would love to have a nice tower and fill it with antennas but then I couldn't live here.
 

thecop

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I, too,purchased a home in a HOA restricted neighborhood. I told my wife, without whom I would be living in a cave, eating berries and scratching my *** on the wall like a bear, that when I retired she could build what she wanted, wherever she wanted. Due to my work schedule the weight of raising three children was, for all intents and purposes, hers to bear.
She decided what and where to build. Decent size house with a pretty large attic where I had planned to put my HF antennas. Much to my amazement, the roof sheathing has a foil backing laminated to it to direct the heat away from the inside of the house. It never occurred to me to ask about foil-backed sheathing!!!! Hell, I'd never heard of it before.
Most of my HF radio time is now spent as a SWL and I truly enjoy it (antenna is a Welbrook loop leaning against a wall in my shack. Amazing performer). However, I just ordered an OCF dipole from DX Engineering, hopeful it will be stealthy enough to go unobserved.
Wish me luck!


I too bought a home in an HOA. I had to sign papers acknowledging several things including the antenna restrictions. They were very clear about that. (I also had to sign a paper warning about "High intensity military jet aircraft operations" in the area. I literally asked if we had to pay extra for that.)

For all the areas we looked at when we bought this home we asked for and received copies of the CCR's. All of the places we were serious about had antenna prohibitions. We cannot even have outside TV antennas here (except dishes), but it doesn't matter since we are blocked from all the nearby TV stations by a mountain range anyway.

These days if you go into a home purchase and do not know the restrictions ahead of time, shame on you. I now have an attic full of scanner, two-way and HF antennas. I am also thinking about Vent antennas and a flagpole HF antenna. There are ways if you are creative.

I would love to have a nice tower and fill it with antennas but then I couldn't live here.
 

KC4RAF

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About 20 years ago, my BIL wanted to start an HOA out here in our area. His intent was to get people to clean their yards, not have too many cars, etc.
I told him that no way would I sign such a restriction. I am not going to tell my neighbors WHAT they must do to their property. If they live in trash, that's THEIR business, not mine. Sure it brings down the cost of property, but I've found that life is too short to worry about my neighbors life style.
And to end this post, ALL the people who live out here are good neighbors and keep everything nice and tidy.
I know that some will say, "...well, live in a trashy area then...", oh well.....
 

k6cpo

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In many cases, if someone wants to live in a nice neighborhood, in a relatively new house, with decent schools nearby the only homes available are in restricted communities. Many people don't have a choice.

If the Amateur Radio Parity Act gets through the Senate—it's already passed the house—and is signed into law, HOAs will be required to make "reasonable accommodation" for hams residing in their communities. The measure failed in the last congress because of the opposition of one Senator, so it still remains to be seen what will happen this time.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/555
 

DJ11DLN

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I know this was directed at Hams, which I am not (yet, at least), but whenever I hear this sort of thing, I have to shake my head. It's the same when someone moves in next to a rail line that has been there for 100 years and complains about the noise of trains, or next to an existing livestock operation and gets upset because of the odor. Always read the fine print. Caveat Emptor should always be the watch phrase when looking at property (or buying anything else, for that matter).

I personally am of two minds about HOA's. If people want to live with such restrictions, and are aware of them and amenable, I have no problem with that. But I would never willingly live in a place where I would be prohibited from putting up an antenna, or painting my house a certain color, or for that matter from having a flag pole, which some do prohibit. But that independent streak is my problem to deal with, and I accept the downside of not living in such a restricted area. Someone mentioned gun ranges; I have one about 1.3 miles from me and sometimes I get a little tired of the local "Tet Offensive," which is about how it sounds on weekends when the weather is nice. But I can do pretty much whatever I want with my property, whenever I want to, so that makes putting up with the racket (which ceases promptly at sunset or 8:00 PM, whichever comes first) worth the trouble.

Sometimes I just go up and join the fun...
 

AE7BF

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For our friends in Florida the 1 senator referenced above was Bill Nelson who will be up for reelection in 2018. Regardless of politics or any potential flaws in the legislation you need to know that Senator Nelson is staunchly opposed to you having the right to decide what legal things you can do with your property.
 

KE0GXN

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I currently live on a non-HOA property, however due to a voluntary transfer request I was granted, I will be seeking a new home and my hope is to find a property like where I am at now. I currently in an unincorporated area where I can do what I please in regards to antennas, but I am still close enough to a city that I can run to the store and back for a gallon of milk in a few minutes. Its ideal ham radio and family wise.

I have personally supported the Parity Act since I got my ticket even though its passage or non-passage had no effect on me. I agree with folks who state that those who knowingly buy a home in a highly restrictive HOA only have themselves to blame, however my support was not only for those folks (yes, even though they knew the deal before they signed on the dotted line, I chose to still support their efforts), but more so for future hams who find the hobby after they already live in an HOA.

We all have our reasons and opinions on the Parity Act...you are either for, against or just don't care either way. I'll choose to continue to support it and cross my fingers that I find a non-HOA property or at a minimum a not so restrictive HOA that fits my family's needs. I am of the opinion it can be done if you look hard enough and have a supportive spouse. My wife has already agreed to make some concessions, as I have as well if need be.

With that said, at the end of the day, as much as it would disappoint me to be limited in anyway with the hobby, its family first and hobby dead last.
 

W9BU

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WRT the Parity Act I was for it, initially, and worked with my Congressman to gain his support. When we first started talking to him, he pointed out that he was kind of a libertarian in that he thought you should be able to do what you want with your own property, so he favored the bill on that aspect. But, he also questioned whether or not the the government had any authority over otherwise legal private contracts. We pointed out that the government had already taken that authority when it came to OTA TV antennas and satellite dishes. He saw that point. However, as time has passed, I've backed off a bit. I'm not sure I really want the government to start overruling private contracts.

Nonetheless, I think there are a lot of misconceptions, on both sides, about what the Parity Act will accomplish. Those who think that if it passes, they will be able to put up tall towers on postage stamp-sized lots are sorely mistaken. The HOA will still have some authority over what you do and, for that matter, the local zoning laws will also still have authority. The purpose of the bill is to open the door to a conversation between you and your HOA about your proposed outdoor antennas, i.e. reasonable accommodation. The act does not grant carte blanche to do what you want...even though some HOA folks think it does.
 

W9WSS

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Since many HOA's and restrictions prohibit "communications" antennas, but don't forbit satellite dishes, I'm wondering why some clever engineer with a connection to a manufacturing company hasn't developed a ham-range "look-alike" satellite dish antenna. There have been all sorts of odd configurations of common outdoor accessories that DON'T look like antennas, why couldn't there be something like this? I am aware that a dish has a very limited "working space" of areas to resonate an RF signal out of it, but someone has to have come up with something? There are the "ventennas" that were discussed a few responses earlier, but why not come up with a downspout look-alike antenna, or separate parts of a gutter that resonate within certain bands? I know that fellow hams have already loaded up their window screens, gutters, and even metallic siding, but what about a dish? Not to QSO with true satellite comms, but common amateur frequencies in the HF, VHF, and UHF spectrum?
 

mmckenna

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Nonetheless, I think there are a lot of misconceptions, on both sides, about what the Parity Act will accomplish. Those who think that if it passes, they will be able to put up tall towers on postage stamp-sized lots are sorely mistaken. The HOA will still have some authority over what you do and, for that matter, the local zoning laws will also still have authority. The purpose of the bill is to open the door to a conversation between you and your HOA about your proposed outdoor antennas, i.e. reasonable accommodation. The act does not grant carte blanche to do what you want...even though some HOA folks think it does.
And that's what I want to hear.

I do not live in a HOA controlled area, however I do have covenants, codes and restrictions I agreed to. If I moved into a nice neighbor hood that didn't allow tall towers, big antennas, etc. and was paying dues to the HOA, then an amateur showed up, thumbed his nose at the rules and put them up, I'd be annoyed. If the government comes along and said that the rules we all agreed to when we moved in were suddenly null and void for one special group, I'd probably fight it pretty hard.
I don't like the "slippery slope" argument, but I can see where someone else might be able to apply it here. Why would one group of hobbyists be allowed to ignore the rules that they agreed to when they moved in, but a guy who likes to collect cars can't? After all, it's a hobby. And, please, don't use the "emergency communications" argument. That one doesn't fly anymore.

Laws like this are dangerous.
 
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