By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
On October 30, I shared the following video “The Amateur Radio Parity Act: Separating Fact from Fiction”
I am re-sharing an updated version today. The video explains what the Amateur Radio Parity Act is all about, why it is needed, and why it should be supported.
So far, so good
On November 18, the Amateur Radio Parity Act (S. 1685) passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
On November 19, Community Associations Institute (CAI) began circulating an email to its members, asking them to contact their Congressional Representatives and Senators, asking them to oppose S. 1685. (Please note that not all CAI members agree with the organization’s official policy on this issue.)
Excerpts from CAI letter to Congress:
It is imperative that the board of community associations have control over architectural design and aesthetic flow of our communities, as these aspects directly affect property value and safety of homeowners.
The FCC has repeatedly declined to intervene in choices consumers make, including amateur radio operators, on where they wish to live. By doing so, the FCC has respected the free choice of consumers to purchase a home in a condominium building or a planned community that may govern the installation of amateur radio towers and antennas.
It is both unnecessary and an egregious overreach by the federal government to inject itself in contractual agreements between homeowners and their associations.
Once again, it’s time to debunk the deceptive rhetoric.
The three main arguments CAI makes for why S. 1685 should not be approved:
- If HOAs don’t have absolute control over aesthetics, property values will be adversely affected.
- Owners/residents freely choose to live in an HOA.
- S 1685 would be an “egregious overreach” to interfere with a contract.
Let’s take them one by one, starting with the HOA “control over architectural design and aesthetic flow.”
Frankly, I don’t think our elected members of Congress, let alone the majority of Americans, truly believe that HOA rules governing aesthetics protect property values. It’s a weak argument, given the economic events of recent years.
HOA restrictions governing aesthetic standards did not protect property values during the mortgage foreclosure crisis, and they won’t protect property values from the adverse effects of underfunded reserves in aging communities.
Did you know that, based upon CAI’s own statistical data, two-thirds of community associations are over 15 years old, and 40% are over 25 years old? And a 2013 study by Association Reserves found that 72% of Associations have under-funded reserves. That spells trouble for many association-governed communities.
If a community lacks sufficient revenue, it will also suffer from deferred maintenance and inadequate security. Those are the factors that truly impact property values, as well as quality of life for residents.
And to imply that HAM radio operators would make a community less safe simply defies common sense.
The second deceptive statement is that consumers have “free choice” to purchase or not purchase a home subject to a mandatory owners’ association.
The truth is, buyers and even tenants have fewer and fewer non-Association-governed community alternatives.
Look no further than the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC):
Percentage of single family homes completed in HOAs:
- 2009: 46%
- 2014: 59%
That represents a 28% increase in construction of HOA homes.
Percentage of single family homes built for sale (Spec homes) in HOAs:
- Northeast: 42%
- Midwest 55%
- South 68%
- West 60%
2014: 73% (17.7% increase)
- Northeast: 46% (9.5% increase)
- Midwest 55% (same)
- South 80% (17.6% increase)
- West 73% (21.7% increase)
It’s worth noting that the decision to construct HOAs is driven not by consumer demand, but by the primary beneficiaries of higher-density communities – local governments and developers.
And finally, regarding the federal government injecting itself in contractual agreements, consider this:
Congress and the FCC have both intervened between homeowners and their associations before, with regard to the right to display the American flag, and with regard to installation of satellite dishes.
Congress has also recognized in the past that HOA governing documents are one-sided contracts. No contract is so sacred that its reasonableness, validity, and fairness cannot be challenged at the state or federal level, especially when one party to the contract (the home buyer) has no power to negotiate the terms.
The “egregious overreach” at play here is CAI’s public policy, indoctrinating community leaders across the country to exercise and maintain excessive control over individual rights, over purely aesthetic concerns, to the point of effectively denying the free flow of communication.
Tell your Congressional Representative and Senator to support S. 1685 and companion bill HR 1301, the Amateur Radio Parity Act.
To contact your elected officials, or to track the bill, go to Open Congress:
CAI Statistical Review for 2014
CAI Public Policy, Federal priority issues, Amateur Radio and Community Associations