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Author Topic: CC&Rs - perhaps the biggest threat to ham radi  (Read 1460 times)
N0XMZ
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« on: January 26, 2006, 06:31:43 PM »

I've been reading a lot about this in the forum as I prepare to buy my first house. Hopefully it will be within a year or so. I have found a real estate agent who is also a ham and he knows I will not consider a place with such restrictions.

I am confident that I can find such a house and perhaps even live there "happily ever after" with whatever antennas I wish to erect on my own property. The reason I can say this is because fortunately, there are still plenty of areas with no HOAs. I wouldn't want a newly built house even if I could afford it.

But I wonder about the future... say 50 to 100 years from now. As houses age, they get torn down. In their place, new houses are built. I have read here that in most parts of the country (especially the heavily-populated areas) every time new houses get built, there are strings attached - the dreaded "covenants". My question is - how far will this go? Will there come a day when it's impossible to find a house without CC&Rs or HOAs? If (or maybe I should be asking when) that happens, will we ALL be stuck with indoor antennas? Yes, I know one could always move to the country, but I'm talking about us city folk who must live within driving distance to work.

Yes, today I have a choice. I don't have to live in these "new developments". But what about my grandkids? Will they have that choice?

Obviously, there are people that would LOVE for such a day to come to pass. They say "no one" wants to live next door to "neon pink houses and cars on blocks". I, on the other hand, couldn't care less what my neighbor does so long as he leaves me and my kids alone.

Now we have the "Kelo vs. New Haven" decision from the Supreme Court that gives municipalities carte-blanche to take whatever property they want in the name of "increasing tax revenue" by giving it to another private party. I don't exactly see state legislatures rushing to pass laws against such practices either (some have - but with loop-holes of course). Suppose I buy a house in a neighborhood that someone, some day, decides would be worth more in tax revenue if it were razed and rebuilt with bigger houses? Of course, the HOA will be there!

And while I'm on a roll, what ever happened to HR-3876? (the "Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act"). The last action on this bill was when it was referred from one committee to another in Oct. '05. We wrote our congressmen (you DID - right?) But now it's just gathering dust!
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W0MT
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2006, 07:20:32 PM »

Not all homes with CC&Rs are to be avoided. I live in a home that has CC&Rs and I can put up any antenna I wish. CC&Rs are merely a contract and in some contracts the terms are good and in some contracts the terms are bad. You simply have to read and understand the terms of the CC&Rs.

The normal rule is that to change CC&Rs, all property owners of affected property must agree—100%. This has started to create problems. For example, the CC&Rs where I live were written over fifty years ago. One of the terms is that metal roofs are not allowed. Fifty years ago that meant no corrugated metal roofs. Today, there are metal roofs that are very attractive and far better than normal shingles for fire prevention. I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and wild fires are a very real danger. The solution is that some of the newer homes in the area now have these new metal roofs. We do not have a HOA so any enforcement has to come from another property owner. No property owner has objected; some of the metal roofs have been in place for over ten years; and over time failure to enforce renders that term of the CC&Rs unenforceable.

In Colorado, we have a law that applies to most of the new developments that do have HOAs, HOA assessments, and the very restrictive CC&Rs. The law states that the CC&Rs can be changed by a majority vote of the homeowners. This is good news—bad news. The CC&Rs may not mention antennas and if a Ham were to put one up, it is possible that the CC&Rs could be changed to prohibit it. I do not know if a claim that the antenna was there first would win but my guess is that it would not. I expect to see similar laws in other states as the CC&Rs become outdated.

Although it might happen, I have never seen where an individual house gets torn down; a new house gets built; and suddenly there are CC&Rs where there were none before. CC&Rs are normally put in place by developers who buy large pieces of land and then build multiple houses. The developers like them because it takes months and even years to build all of the houses and they can control EVERYTHING until the last house is sold. Local governments like them because the HOAs take over enforcement of what previously was the responsibility of the local government such as height of grass, snow removal, etc. The HOAs also do things like putting in tennis courts, swimming pools, etc. and therefore the local government does not provide these services.

Good Luck on your first home!

Robert, W0MT
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2006, 10:21:29 AM »

Buy the covenant-free home and be happy with it.

I wouldn't worry about 50-100 years down the road.

Ham radio may cease to exist for a variety of reasons, CC&Rs being only one of them.  "Lack of interest" in this internet, text messaging, Blackberry era might be a bigger one.  Our grandkids might have Bluetooth-like devices implanted in their molars to allow them to communicate anywhere in the world by just saying the words.  Who knows?

Also, not many homes are torn down unless they're a blight or ravaged by some destructive event (earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, whatever).  In such cases, at least in the U.S., it's normal for the owner (helped by his insurance, FEMA, etc) to re-build a new home on the same property he originally had, in which case there wouldn't all of a sudden be "new CC&Rs."  There would be whatever the original deed said, and if there weren't any restrictive covenants recorded on the original construction, there wouldn't be any on re-construction, either.

There are lots of occupied home in America that pre-date the American Revolution.  My brother actually lives in one.  I almost bought one up in Ridgefield, CT many years ago -- until I found out it had its own "restrictions."  It was on the Historic Register and even as title transferred, couldn't be altered, based on various city and county ordinances.  I thought that was as bad as CC&Rs and ultimately passed on the deal.

WB2WIK/6
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N2EY
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2006, 04:12:07 PM »

One of the best things you can do to fight CC&Rs is to buy an unrestricted house.

Developers put CC&Rs on new construction for many reasons, but one of the major ones is that they think buyers want them. They're wrong, of course.

Some things to do when househunting (unless you have a *lot* of experience and knowledge RE):

1) Educate yourself on what CC&Rs really are. The term means "Codes, Covenants and Restrictions", and covers a lot of ground. Laws vary from state to state and even within a state.

A 'code' can be as simple as requiring a building permit before you put up a tower, or as complex as requiring a variance to violate height and setback ordinances.

Deed 'covenants' and 'restrictions' vary all over the map. Some can be easily changed - others are specifically designed to be impossible to change even if everyone wants to.

There may be an interlocking effect between these things. For example, a deed restriction might say that you cannot have any 'structures' other than the house and a garage. Is a tower a 'structure'? Does it require a building permit? Depends on the local interpretations. If the local interpretation says yes, the town may not be able to issue you a building permit, because doing so would violate the restrictions - even though the town doesn't care one way or another about the tower.

Remember always that if you buy a restricted place, you have almost always signed a legal contract to keep the restrictions in place.

2) Get a good real estate attorney up-front. Make sure s/he is qualified on all aspects of residential real estate transactions. Explain up-front what you will and will not accept in restrictions.

3) Get a good buyer's agent - but always remember that RE agents/realtors don't make any money until a sale happens. Explain up-front what you will and will not accept, and that you want printed copies of *all* CC&Rs on *any* property you look at. Do *NOT* accept verbal promises that they do not exist or do not apply!

If the agent doesn't seem to know what CC&Rs are, or how to quickly access them, get another agent.

4) Remember always that the time to gather information is *BEFORE* you make an offer.

5) Scout out the area and houses *before* the nonhams in your family see them. The last thing you want is to find a place that is a dream house except for anti-antenna CC&Rs.

Don't worry about 50-100 years from now. Nobody knows what technology may bring, or how lifestyles may change.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY  
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2006, 10:00:03 AM »

The first "C" in CC&Rs usually means "conditions," not "codes."  Codes are public law.

But anyway, here's an article from almost four years ago that covers this subject pretty well:
http://www.eham.net/articles/3517

WB2WIK/6
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N6AYJ
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2006, 01:07:43 PM »

IMHO, you are taking ham radio 'WAY too seriously!
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KD4AC
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2006, 05:13:40 AM »

"Developers put CC&Rs on new construction for many reasons"

That's partially true.  The banks that lend the developer the money also require them, under the false pretense that they maintain property values.

"but one of the major ones is that they think buyers want them. They're wrong, of course."

Actually, a lot of buyers DO want them.  They also THINK that deed restrictions maintain property values.  That's the part they're wrong about.  It has never been proven that deed restrictions maintain property values and most data suggests it doesn't.  If you compare prices between homes with deed restrictions vs those without, you won't see any difference.  And in some cases, homes WITHOUT deed restrictions will be higher because with a non-deed restricted home you have the freedom to do what you want with it (i.e. room addition or pool) without having to get permission from the neighborhood gestapo.

When we moved to Tampa and first started looking at houses, I specifically told the realtor that I wanted a NON-deed restricted home.  Good luck.  Just about every sub-division here has them.  And if they don't, they can put them in later if they choose to.  So, we found a "community" with deed restrictions that simply state that no antenna, mast or tower may extend more than 10' above the roof AND you need to get permission....which of course is the big caveat because good luck in getting permission for a small tower.

Getting back to homebuyers wanting deed restrictions... several people in my community moved there for the deed restrictions but a year later wanted out of the neighborhood for the very same reasons.  Mostly because we can't get anyone to act on anything.  Some restrictions are going unenforced and whenever we want to make a change to the restrictions, we can't get enough people to vote on the issue.
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KD4AC
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2006, 05:42:01 AM »

BTW, I feel that deed restrictions ARE one of the biggest threats to amateur radio.

Let's say that I don't have a license but I've always been interested in getting one.  So, one day I decide to go for it only to find out that the deed restrictions on my house prevent me from putting up any antennas.  When I bought the house, the deed restrictions weren't a concern because I wasn't licensed but now I have a problem.  Am I likely to get my license?  Probably not.

Now, let's say that I'm 11 or 12 and I'm interested in amateur radio.  My parents are supportive so I start studying and get my license.  With the money I've saved up, I buy a used HF radio (or VHF if I went for the no-code) and put my antenna.  Within days someone is knocking on our door telling us that I can't have the antenna because the deed restrictions don't allow it.  Since I'm only 11 or 12, I don't have a car to operate mobile so am I likely to stay licensed?
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2006, 01:57:44 PM »

You don't have to live in Tampa.

I work hams having towers in the Tampa Bay area almost every single day, they seem to be doing fine.  Likely most of them live in older settlements built before the CC&R cancer spread.

Buy a home from a ham selling one complete with tower(s).  I sold two of my homes to hams, at somewhat above market value because I included towers and antennas they were thrilled to get as part of the deal -- not to mention the "grandfathering" aspect of the towers being permitted.

Sometimes, it's easier to take this path than to try paving a new one.

WB2WIK/6
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KD4AC
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2006, 10:02:27 AM »

If I move again, I'm getting out of this state.
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N0XMZ
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2006, 04:01:20 PM »

KD4AC expresses my point exactly. I wonder how many people have become interested in ham radio only to find out that their gestapo HOA won't allow an antenna and they decide "to hell with it". These damned organizations have become so prevelant that finding a home without one may someday become impossible. Yes, some HOAs aren't as restrictive, but what happens when you put up an antenna or two and the neighbors decide they don't like it? They get together and vote that you must take it down and you're screwed.

Yes, many of us have stealth antennas, but how many rookie hams know about them? Any how many kids can convince their parents to let them put a wire in the attic that will emit 100 watts of RF? We know it's harmless if done properly, but imagine being a kid trying to convince a parent who knows nothing about radio. I imagine many won't have a snowball's chance.

It just seems to me that this issue is a much bigger threat to the future of our hobby than anything else and nothing is being done about it. We had an antenna bill in Congress last October..... and it is gathering dust. I wonder if there is a home-builder lobby somewhere that killed it.

There is strength in numbers, but it seems like most hams today (easily twice my age) have had towers and/or antennas up for years so they naturally aren't concerned with HOAs, etc.
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KB6ZOP
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2006, 05:13:06 PM »

I take exception to the statements such as "Just buy a CC&R free home and don't worry about it"
I'm an owner of a condo in the Northern CA because I make less than $150K and cannot afford to spend $800K to buy a home with or without CC&Rs in this area.

It took me 15 years to finally get approval for a meager Diamond X50 on the roof of my condo and that was only after working my way onto the board and pestering my peers until a majority agreed to let me place an antenna.

NO ONE SHOULD BE SUBJECTED TO THE LEVEL OF RESTRICTIONS THAT CAN BE DECIDED BY A GROUP OF IGNORANT NIMBYs. It's so bad around here that even after clearly requesting approval to install a VHF Verticle antenna, the documentation sent to the board was for a "Short Wave Antenna" (not a bad thing since it leaves me wide open as to what I can get away with)

If you are subject to CC&R's it is imparative that YOU as a home owner get yourself on the HOA board ASAP and start making changes from the inside! Set a precedent for those who may be forced to sign away their rights because of the sky rocketing costs of housing! But don't stop there!!  Write your representatives and URGE them to support HR 3876.

<http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?109:H.R.3876:>

For me, it's either relocate and rebuild my life or fight for my rights and stay where I can make a decent yet humble living.



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KC5R
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2006, 12:54:40 PM »

Well, around here the local regulations allow ham radio towers, with a permit, and since I am a P.E., I could stamp the foundation and tower drawings after reviewing the manufacturers data. Also, our CC&R's are usually adopted (copied) from other developments, so they all look pretty much the same around here. The good news about my specific CC&Rs, was that antenna placement and ANY structures for that matter, are subject to our architectural control committee, and not prohibited. Many others CC&Rs allow for exemptions even for prohibited items for some reasons, so read them carefully. As for me, our committee means (3) people, so it was very possible (and I managed it) to get approval for a 72' crank-up in my 1/2 acre lot, plus antennas without any stipulation on when it must be cranked down. When cranked down, the tower is not visable from anyones front yard. A crank-up was mainly needed due to local windloading standards.

Frankly, we never get a lot of volunteers to be on our committees, as our neighborhood only moans about things rather than want's to help out, so if you and the XYL can fill spots on your committee, you're golden. I didn't have to do this (although I do volunteer to fix electrical things). I have 100' trees in my yard too, so only a few homes could see the tower anyway. Plus all the commercial property and (2) lighted cellular towers (a 185' and a 235') abut our neighborhood, so I don't exactly live in a pristine area.

Anyway, after all this was done, permitted, and work commenced, I also spoke to 8 of my surrounding neighbors about it so that the "shock" factor was minimized. I asked them to let me know if they had any questions or concerns. I used a photo simulation to help them see it. I also spoke to our new homeowners president about 2 weeks before the tower was to be up, and told him not to be surprised if someone calls to complain (many HOA are full of people who feel that they control everyones property - and our neighborhood has it's share of whiners). I also gave him some "prep" material, but I don't think he was "on-board" with it and preferred blaming the past presidents administration for approving it as an easy way out of taking sides. Great to know what kind of leaders we have now days.

Funny, after the tower was up for 2 weeks (I also had the final building inspection done two days after the tower was installed, so that "officially" it was there, and no government issue would exist):
1) My neighbor directly across the street sold their house to a buyer for the highest per-foot price in our neighborhood. That quashed any arguement about devaluation and gave me and "instant ok" neighbor.
2) Two of my good neighbors never even noticed it (since they hardly look up), until I asked them. Frankly, it blends in.
3) About 6 people in the neighborhood out of something like 150 households (according to the HOA) called to complain about it. My guess is atleast a few of them simply saw it while driving by and either were jealous (hi-hi) or thought it was just a bad idea. One was a neighbor I do not get along with, and could care less about (plus they have no regard for our covenants anyway) and one or two of the others I suspect were neighbors that I told of the project, but were too timid to even tell me of their concerns or they just wanted to be backstabbers - you know the type.

To make a long story end, I was going to buy property that was not encumbered with CC&Rs, but because I received the written approval I wanted at my location, I stayed and invested something like 15K in a crank-up system + upgrades to my station, not to mention adding on 790 sq. feet. Now after spending a hunk of cash, I get the priviledge of having to put up with about a year's worth of moaning, since by then I hope that all the groans will die down and I will just be "the house with the tower". Remember, I have a 1/2 acre lot, and I am 40 feet from a wooded piece of land outside the subdivision that I could have put up the tower without any issues (I tried to buy it, but it is tied up in a 20 year bond), and there are already (2) commercial towers adjacent to our neighborhood plus an interstate and commercial property.

So if a tower at your QTH is your goal, 1) eat a bowl of nails so that you can stomach the inevitable BS from some source, 2) pick your location based on what approvals you need as much as where you want to live, 3) Be a good neighbor as best you can, but don't expect  that this will be reciprocated or that you'll be considered "mainstream" and won't have to continually be scrutanized for your right to have a tower.

The good news is a taller tower keeps TVI away.

Caveat emptor. CQ DX...
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