Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Great "We Don't Need No Stinking Ham Radio" Flap In California

After having first heard of this a week or so ago, I've found out it's nothing like that which it seems.

Per the ARRL Southwestern Division Director:

The video in response to a lengthy lawyer-generated letter, written in reaction to a harshly worded letter from a CAL FIRE property management employee, makes certain statements about the Governor’s position or State policy that I have been unable to corroborate..

The State of California has not made any determination we can find  "that Ham Radio [is] no longer a benefit."What happened is that CAL FIRE has transferred responsibility for its communications sites to its property management department.  That department has the significant task of evaluating each site, its condition, use and tenants.  If a repeater not known to be associated with the emergency management function of a local jurisdiction is found in a CAL FIRE vault, the default action is to move it out or subject it to commercial rental rates.
Our contact in the California Office of Emergency Services suggests that, if any affected repeater is in any way involved with local emergency or government support activity, they should ask that agency to engage with CAL FIRE concerning the repeater.  If the agency makes the case, there is a good chance that the repeater will be unaffected.

Their advice, with which I agree, is not to elevate this to State Legislators or the Governor's office.

There has been similar activity in Southern California, wherein sites managed by the U.S. Forest Service have required repeater owners to post bonds to cover the dismantling of their sites if they cease operation. Negotiation has resulted in considerable easing of the original requirements and a modification of terms to help mitigate the short-term financial impact on those repeater owners.

So basically, somebody got ticked off, made some angry statements, and it 'went viral'.

Nothing to see here, please move along.....


  1. As you pointed out to me over at SIg' place, the veracity of the link I posted there seems to have been contradicted. That being said, I am still seeing other articles saying that the Hams are being shut down during this Blackout due to the fires. Gonna have to do some more digging to satisfy my curiousity.

    1. They'd have to kill the power to the entire repeater site, and unless something takes out the incoming power because of the fire, I don't see that happening.

      The whole "Repeater Siting" thing gets pretty complicated, depending on whose space your repeater is in. Some are run by commercial companies, and some are run by various government agencies. This whole flap is over the threat that hams might be kicked out of certain government owned and run sites because *some* property manager at *some* site (there are hundreds) *some* where in California got ticked off for *some* reason, and made statements to the effect that hams were freeloaders, didn't belong there, and should be removed from his one site.

      Then *some* ham made a video, it went viral, and everybody went off half-cocked wailing and gnashing their teeth over it.

      I wouldn't want to be either one of "those guys".....

  2. Thanks for the clarification.
    I wonder if the repeaters are shut down when they do the blackouts? A friend in Cali had no cell service due to the cell towers being shut down in her area during that time.

    1. They usually have back-up batteries, and the larger sites will usually have a generator, too.

      If it's a small "fill in" or "gap filler" site, it might have only commercial power coming in, so if the power goes out, so does the service.

      The communication network(s) in the US vary wildy between bare minimum, and full-on network nodes. Without having knowledge of that specific area, I can only guess why those particular cell sites went down.

  3. Sign of the times? Everyone is so polarized a rumor becomes fact with few or no questions asked.

    1. As they say in the broadcast biz, "If It Bleeds, It Leads".

      This is a "story" about the poor, altruistic Hams getting booted out of their accommodations by a vicious property manager. The fact that the "story" came from out-of-contents text, and was spun by somebody who sounds like they have an axe to grind, has no bearing.

      My first exposure to the politics of the communications networks in Southern California was via Amateur Radio experience.

      It's a mess! All kinds of secret handshakes have to known, friendships have to be made, and All Due Respect paid to certain people. It's one of the main reasons I never cared to be a repeater owner.

  4. Fredd the Wise has a solution to this flap: if you are relying on power from the local utility company, you are most certainly relying on the government, who runs it, regulates it, and basically owns it, without getting too technical.

    When you rely on government, this is what you get: frustrated at times. Just go and buy a generator.

    (p.s.> I have one, a 7500 watt unit that powers half my house when the government juice goes down, and in the summer that means no air conditioning - no biggie. When running, it sucks about a quart of gas an hour and has a 5 gallon tank: 20 hours of power per fill up. The power once went out for 11 hours, that's the record so far. During that particular outage, me and mine watched TV, cooked dinner, without inconvenience at any point. Just sayin'...)

    1. Generators are Good Things to have. I have a small one (Honda 2kW) that I use for numerous things.

      This post was concerning the Hams being kicked out of repeater sites owned by various state government agencies.

      You're point about relying on the government for almost anything is well taken, though.

      In the end, when TSHTF, all we have is ourselves and whatever community we've built.

  5. Coming from the other side of the country it's hard to know what's going on there, so thanks for keeping track of it and updating with this post. As you know, this story is flying on its own now. Everybody is running it.

  6. Well Seasoned Fool just sent me a link to a story being run on PJ Media that agrees with what I heard from the ARRL SW Division Director, that things aren't what they seem.


Keep it civil, please....

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