Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sammamish Exempts Many Antennas from Review Process

The flooding in Washington this past month is having an impact on amateur radio, at least indirectly.  Today's news from Sammamish, Washington has a short piece about the city's efforts to establish an emergency-broadcast station in the AM band for dissemination of emergency information to the populace.  In order to facilitate installing the station, the city passed an exemption to its own laws regarding review of antenna structure construction.  The exemption is broad, covering not only city-owned towers but also "federally licensed amateur radio antennae, citizen band or two-way radio antennae".  If the reporting is correct, this will be a major boon for any hams in Sammamish.  (The actual text of the "emergency ordinance" is here.)

I haven't researched the history, but I imagine what happened in Sammamish is what happened in many places: when the cellular explosion took place some time back, resulting in cell towers popping up virtually everyone, the city reacted by passing a very restrictive antenna ordinance.  Now that the city has experienced a major disaster, and probably discovered that their emergency communications infrastructure is inadequate, they're plowing the ordinance out of the way for basically everyone except cellphone towers, which was the real reason they passed it in the first place (that, and old-style TV satellite antennas, possibly).

Given the recent widespread flooding in Washington, I imagine the likelihood of an effective public objection to the emergency ordinance will be limited.  It's just a question of how long before someone puts up a big-ass contesting station, and the city council is implored to revoke the exemption for hams.  It's a never-ending battle.

Update: While Sammamish is relaxing restrictions, Walla Walla is moving to make them stricter.  It truly is a never-ending battle.