California moves to shut down ham radio


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They’re coming for you next: In a move of astonishing stupidity, the fascist government of California has decided to charge new and exorbitant fees to ham radio operators, ranging in the thousands of dollars, for their relay towers on state lands, previous leased for free.

This decision will essentially shut down this voluntary activity that has routinely helped government agencies in times of real emergencies. As noted at the link,

Ham operators have been assisting fire and emergency services for free for years. Their contributions are well-documented. The equipment costs the state nothing, as it is operated by the owners. There is no benefit to removing it and, in fact, removing the only source of communication available when the power is out and the cell towers are down is downright criminal. Ham radio is a time-tested, low-cost, reliable means of communication when emergencies strike. OffGrid Survival reports, “What is infuriating here is people are going to die because of this decision. It costs the State of California nothing to allow these repeaters on public land; in fact, Ham Radio Operators pay for the equipment and maintain the equipment at their own cost. Ham Radio operators also make nothing from running these radio repeaters; they do so as a service to the public to help ensure the public’s safety during natural disasters and emergencies.”

It appears the reason for this action is that the California government has attempted to create its own cell phone emergency system, has failed miserably after spending billions, and doesn’t like the fact that ham radio operators continue to do the same thing successfully for nothing. To once again quote OffGrid Survival:

We make them look stupid! They spend billions on infrastructure that breaks down, while we can literally take a hundred bucks in equipment, some random wires, and in minutes set up a radio system that can communicate with anyone in the world.

This is just another typical example of what a socialist power-hungry centralized government does, on its journey to the Soviet Union or Venezuela: Destroy what works for petty reasons, then blame others for that failure.

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14 comments

  • Frank

    I checked with a couple of ham repeater system operators in CA who are well aware of this. They told me this is mostly BS generated by one lawyer type in Shasta who scabbed his radio in and got tossed out. He apparently has a history of causing trouble.

  • Frank: Does you information suggest that the problem isn’t coming from the state government? If so, I’d like to know, as that is the heart of the story.

    Also, what do you mean by “scabbed his radio in.”

  • Jay

    Robert,
    Frank is correct. This story has been going around for a couple weeks now. Take it with a grain of salt. Here is a link to a podcast that explains it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxEty6jC5po

    73,

    Jay

  • Jay: It appears to me that this podcast avoids the point entirely. They seem to think that it is a perfectly reasonable decision for California to demand that all repeaters pay exorbitant fees for lease rights on state public lands. This is absurd. It is penny-wise pound-foolish. The state of course has the right to charge for use of its land, but it makes no sense in this context to do so. None. There was a wise reason that the state has been allowing repeaters on its land at nominal cost.

    The podcast also seems far too kindly and diffident to these government officials. This kind of attitude has gotten us where we are now, with everyone for too long afraid to challenge their bad decisions. California officials especially do not deserve any respect, and should be challenged in every single case.

    To repeat, the state’s letter here is not specifically about this repeater. It very clearly states that the state is withdrawing this benefit to all repeaters. To quote: “I do understand and appreciate all of the service you have provided in the past. However, with constantly changing technological advances, there is no longer the same benefit to State as previously provided.”

  • Phill O

    Do other HAM operators pay a fee or are they also being demanded to pay a fee for land usage?

    The video seems to support the discussion by Bob in that the state is trying to eliminate HAM operators. Seems the NAZIs tried this not that long ago.

    Alternately, the state official may be trying to harass some one who did something without permission.

  • wayne

    “….there is no longer the same benefit to State as previously provided.”
    To beat an old phrase to death; Who died and made this guy King?

    This is not a subject I’m acquainted with and trying to get up to speed….

    Visiting Mosinee Hill, WI
    Amateur Radio Repeater Site – Ham Radio Q&A
    https://youtu.be/dxFed6eau2Q
    5:20

  • Col Beausabre

    One wonders how they expect to communicate in case of a major earthquake

    Amateur Radio Emergency Services is a national network of volunteers who have put their expertise and equipment at the Government’s disposal in case of a disaster – at no, nada, zero cost. imagine the cost if the government tried to duplicate it.

    http://www.arrl.org/ares

  • Steven

    This is par for the Leftist course. Can’t have us Amateur Radio operators communicating amongst each other. That could lead to freedom! Must keep control of everything! Meanwhile, here in Medina County, Ohio in Free America, my county recently stood up a volunteer Communications Unit to be their emergency communicators, most of whom are Amateurs using our own and club equipment.

  • Frank

    Bob,

    Scabed his radio in means he got some local person to open the site and let him put his radio in without bothering to have it approved by the usual state communications folks, or the state entity that owns the facility. Apparently it was not marked with basic contact information or frequencies.

    This is not uncommon.

    But then the attorney ham wrote a monster manifesto, posted it and sent it to everyone he could to piss off the maximum number of people. In their own web site, there is a written response from the county sheriff chiding him saying that this could be looked into calmly and with facts but now its been blown way up.

    One site owner told me today the end result is likely to be that ham radio equipment will not be allowed in any state facility without the proper paperwork and payments – and remember – he has pissed off the bureaucrats who decide just what the proper paperwork and payments are. So this is being caused by a really stupid ham lawyer.

  • pzatchok

    The sad thing is that this will take one option out of the states emergency response quiver.

    Imagine if the power goes out in California for any reason. Its going to take a week or more to get it back up and running. No cell service, no long distance police and EMS radio.

    In steps the volunteer HAM operators. within hours they set up self powered radio stations all over the place. Repeaters to carry signals across the state. Connecting to areas outside the state. In some cases they even have the ability to connect to telephone lines and act as a simple phone system.

    They can even transmit digital encrypted communications.

    Hams even operate satellites to better enable world wide communication for their members. The ISS even has one operating onboard.

    All this in exchange for the free use of a radio tower on state property.

    Now the state wants to turn to a state funded and financed system just for their own use. Millions in equipment and upkeep just to use the system once or twice a year.
    Who is going to be the manager of this new communications system? Seriously, who is up for the million dollar contract? And does this person or company give to the politicians pushing for this maneuver.

  • Frank: Just because there is a ham who acted stupid is no excuse for the government officials to try to top him and be even more stupid. They are supposed be the servants of the people, and should keep that in mind. Kicking out ham repeaters throughout the state because of this one guy’s actions is so dumb I have trouble finding the words to describe it.

  • Alex Andrite

    Col B., pzatchok,
    “One wonders how they expect to communicate in case of a major earthquake”.
    I live less than ten miles from the CA, 17 Oct 89 Loma Prieta, earthquake epicenter.
    A very bad mess.
    The local HAM networks went up immediately, and for days after, establishing all number of emergency contacts with their communication protocol for information relay.
    I have one friend, since moved out of state, his license plate is his call sign, and he was on his commute home from the Si Valley, as was I. He knew his responsibility and pulled over, well we were all stopped at that time anyway. He went on network, from his vehicle, and began to relay information to the comm groups. He later told me that at any time a recognized HAM operator, his call sign on license plate, or presented creds to state law or EMT etc, could be used as a relay point for emergency information.

    Yep, Col. the second to be targeted after the officer in command is the R.O., or was it the machine gunner then the R.O.?
    I will chat with a few HAM fellows next Wednesday, who gather at our local coffee shop for lunch, and hopefully get an ear full regarding this subject.

    “Out.”
    (not a CB nor HAM operator.)

  • Th.B. Nast

    This is an interesting intersection of state and federal law. Generally, states may apply reasonable regulations to amateur radio antennas, but may not ban them. See, e.g., William F. Bulchis v. City of Edmonds, 671 F. Supp. 1270 (W.D. Wash. 1987). The story Mr. Zimmerman reports, which may not be correct, suggests unreasonable regulation. If so, the ARRL will be interested and challenges should ensue.

    Unexplored in the case law is the 1st Amendment freedom of speech argument. An exorbitant fee on antennas could well amount to a fee on speech, since antennas are conveying that speech. Absent some compelling reason for the fees, clearly absent here, the fees should be judicially struck down.

    All this presumes that California is still part of our Constitutional republic, for which there is cause to doubt.

    73,

    KG7ZV

  • Brian David Brandis

    I live in Illinois and I read a story everyday about California government over reach. In my opinion the main problem is (and it’s no different in Illinois), at some point, a majority of Americans stopped fighting for other peoples rights. If it doesn’t concern them, they brush it off and move on. This is a deadly mindset and it will destroy what is left of America.

    Examples:
    ” I don’t care if they ban guns because I don’t have a gun”
    ” I don’t care if they raise taxes for everyone because I’m broke so why would I care about others”
    “I don’t care about religious liberty because I’m not religious”

    The list goes on and on. I don’t know how to change this mindset but it’s shameful.

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