The San Diego DX Club

An ARRL Affiliated Club

Important Information regarding
San Diego City's Proposed Antenna Ordinance:



Letter from Franklin Antonio, N6NKF,
one of the founders of Qualcomm, and current Chief Scientist
Voice of San Diego Article, January 12, 2010
Related Documents


Breaking News

February 25 results from the San Diego Planning Commission:

With over 85 attendees in opposition to the San Diego’s proposed restrictive amateur radio ordinance, the Planning Commission voted 6 to 0 against the staff’s draft (in our favor), recommending that the City Council reject the proposal as too restrictive. The Planning Commission also recommended that the Council require the City staff to work with various stakeholder groups (namely the San Diego DX Club) in order to re-write the ordinance so that restrictions are loosened enabling higher, by-right, amateur antenna support structures and that those seeking taller structures not be required to pay exorbitant fees and deposits. Hams presented a compelling case regarding the services provided to the City, the technical aspects requiring greater heights and the potential effects of the onerous permitting process proposed by staff. Representatives and members of CalE*M*A, CalFire, the San Diego Yacht Club, Scripps Hospitals, Palomar Hospital, SANDARC, the Boy Scouts of America, VOAD, CERT, ARRL, Red Cross, and ARES, as well as former police and FCC representatives, and many more, took part in a hearing that went approximately three hours.

From here, the City staff will either (1) modify the ordinance provisions on their own in order to resolve the issues described by the Planning Commissioners before going to the City Council, (2) come back to us for additional suggestions/compromise on the terms of the ordinance before going to the City Council, or (3) proceed directly to the City Council with no further revision in order to seek approval of their current proposed ordinance. The wait time to get to the Council can be as short as a month from now, or several months into the future, depending on the staff’s choice.

Even though only two representatives in favor of the ordinance appeared, the staff and the NIMBY ordinance proponents now have the benefit of knowing what we bring to the table and will likely try to counteract our efforts more vigorously at the Council hearing (Date: To Be Determined – though, we will post it here when we have more information). We cannot let down our guard and must be sure to have as strong a showing, or stronger, when the Council hears the matter.

The complete video of the San Diego Planning Commission Meeting is posted here. Double click your left mouse button on the video image in the upper left corner of screen to view in full screen mode


Thank you for taking an interest in the City of San Diego’s proposed ordinance to create an overly restrictive, expensive and burdensome process which will effectively quash the efforts of many amateur radio operators from doing what they are licensed to do by the FCC.

The current form of the ordinance restricts antenna support structures (including the mast, antenna and all other components) to heights as low as 21’ for single family detached homes (zoned RS-1-1 through RS-1-7) and townhomes (zoned RT-1-1 through RT-1-5) in San Diego’s coastal zone (west of Interstate 5), Clairemont Mesa, or any of the City’s 37 planned and historical districts, making up over 50% of the most populated communities in region. If you happen to live outside of one of these restricted locations in San Diego, you are permitted an extra 35% over your zone’s height limitations (for example, in the case of the 21’ limit, one could reach 28.35’). Most of the commercial, agricultural and open space zones in San Diego would limit antenna heights to 30’. The only way to escape these draconian restrictions would be to file for a neighborhood development permit – an open-ended process which could take upwards of a year to complete, subject hams to community planning group reviews, cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in experts, attorneys and licensed professionals for plans, result in expensive and subjective conditions being place on the development of the structure, including screening requirements and crank-up tower expenses, and require an immediate deposit of $8,000 for City staff to review plans. Since there is no limitation to the review by the City, once they burn through the initial $8,000, subsequent deposits will be $5,000 each, and none of this amount goes towards the cost of the permit fees. Those living in the coastal zone will also be required to obtain a coastal development permit, which has its own set of requirements and fees.

San Diego has clarified its ordinance, based on our efforts, to exempt wire antennas from permitting requirements and the City can no longer ban support structures altogether in any community as they had originally proposed. But, the changes they have made are not enough. A ham could go through the entire permitting process, spending tremendous amounts of money, time and effort only to have their antenna support structure application be disapproved, forcing an expensive, multi-year court battle at the amateur radio operator’s expense.

There is no time to waste. Review the materials below. Public hearings are coming up shortly – the first is February 25, 2009 at 9 AM before the Planning Commission. Regretfully, the City makes attendance difficult for those who work regular jobs, but we cannot let them take away your rights without hearing your voice. Please show up at 8:30AM and sign in – we’ll have representatives there to assist you.

And if you haven’t done so yet, write to councilmembers and the Mayor, ( If we don’t succeed now our options will be limited – an expensive court battle or living with a bad law costing individual hams ungodly sums of money. Neither choice is attractive, so make it your civic duty to help us save the City from its own foolishness.

February 19, 2010

The staff report is now available here. For those attending the Planning Commission, here is the agenda. Please note that we expect that our hearing will begin between 9 and 10 AM, unless the Planning Commission Chairperson opts to revise the schedule on the day of the hearing. We ask that you show up promptly at 9 AM so that we can all be seated together in a show of force. And for those interested in speaking, please see our attorney, Felix Tinkov, at the hearing so that he can brief you on the line-up and what you can add. Even if you choose not to speak, we ask that you submit a “speaker slip” in opposition to the amateur radio communications ordinance being proposed, so that we can make our presence felt.

Remember, the hearing is at City Hall, in the City Administrative Building, at 202 C Street, San Diego, 92101. Once you get to the lobby, you will need to pass through a metal detector and head up to the 12th Floor to the Council Chambers. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO SHOW UP TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION AT 9AM TO SUPPORT THE AMATEUR RADIO CAUSE. If you don’t, no one else will.

February 9, 2010

The city staff have prepared a Final Negative Declaration and prepared responses to all comments received. The responses simply dismiss all comments made in an effort to move the ordinance closer to approval.

A hearing on the ordinance before the City of San Diego’s Planning Commission is now scheduled for February 25, 2010, beginning at 9 AM. The staff report and the agenda for the hearing should become available on February 19, 2010 (look for it here:

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO SHOW UP TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION TO SUPPORT THE CLUB (AND ALL AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS) ON February 25, 2010 at 202 C Street, 12th Floor, San Diego, CA 92101 (the City Administrative Building).

January 27, 2010

We submitted a 34-page comment letter, prepared by the club’s attorney, Mr. Tinkov, responding to the draft negative declaration pointing out the legal deficiencies in the city document.

January 20-21, 2010

A contingent of representatives of the club including the club’s attorney, Felix Tinkov, ARRL general counsel, Chris Imlay, former deputy city attorney and club member, Larry Serra (N6NC), ARRL Vice Director - Southwestern Division, Marty Woll (N6VI), Jim Price (K6ZH), Gordon Schlesinger (W6LBV), and Glenn Rattmann (K6NA) met with Councilmembers Marti Emerald and Sherri Lightner, staff representatives of Councilmembers Donna Frye and Todd Gloria, and Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Sanders, Julie Dubick to discuss the problems with the city staff’s proposed ordinance. We believe our arguments were well received by Emerald and Lightner, but the rest of the City’s representatives appeared to be non-committal or worse. Materials were left behind with each city official/representative presenting the club’s position as well as the legal and practical communications problems presented the ordinance.

December 16, 2009

Through the efforts of club member, Larry Serra, and the club’s attorney, Felix Tinkov, with the support of Councilmember Sherri Lightner (District 1), we received an extension of the comment period on the draft negative declaration to January 27, 2010.

December 9, 2009

Mr. Tinkov, the club's attorney in the San Diego City tower ordinance issue has kept in contact with the planner staff throughout the summer and fall. Over the past couple of months, they have verbally hinted by phone that they were probably going to recommend an overall 70ft height limit for antenna support structure (to include antenna), via a simple building permit process. This would have been generally along the lines of what we recommended to them via official inputs last spring, except that we were looking for 82ft. But at least it seemed we were on the same page of the book.

However, on December 7th, (Pearl Harbor Day, for San Diego antenna support structures?) Mr. Tinkov received their latest proposals. Actually, these aren't proposals-- it is their intended course of action. In a nutshell: City has restated that the 30ft city-wide zoning limit will prevail as the basis. An antenna possibly could reach 35% higher than the building structure. They would "allow" antenna structures up to 70ft, through a convoluted process, but NEVER in certain predetermined areas (such as west-of-I-5 coastal zone!). But the proposed ordinance is really restrictive. As Larry Serra writes:

"This revised City of San Diego ANT/Tower ordinance is scary: No antennas higher than the zoning height limit (30ft) in any City San Diego neighborhood west of I-5, and in other specified neighborhoods. Neighborhood plans may be amended to completely ban antennas because of neighborhood aesthetics. As a practical matter, 70 ft height can never be reached in neighborhoods where ANTs are allowed, because 135% of 30 ft = 40.5 ft."

Under the terms of our initial agreement, Mr. Tinkov will continue to lobby City staff and leaders up to and including the City Council, if this gets that far. If the ordinance is passed and is seen as too restrictive and problematic, further action might then be needed by the greater ham community in order to get it modified. But meanwhile, Mr. Tinkov and the SDDXC "tower committee" will work the issue as required.

Here are links provided by the City:

Link to the draft Negative Declaration (this is an environmental impact finding, part of their process):

Comments on the draft Negative Declaration may be submitted to by December 28, 2009.

Link to Project Description and Revised Draft Code Language:

Please watch this space and the sddxcnews email reflector for late developments. We are NOT asking for club members to submit comments directly to the City (for now).

June 2009:

We are still awaiting feedback from the City regarding our April 17th submittal of a proposed new ordinance. Our attorney maintains contact with the City and will report any developments. On Thursday, June 11, Escondido ARS hosted a well publicized town-meeting style event focusing on current status of various tower issues in the greater Southern California area (presented by tower expert and ARRL Vice Director Marty Woll, N6VI), and on status of the San Diego City situation in particular (presented by Felix Tinkov, our attorney).

About 60 people attended this very informative meeting, and thanks go to EARS for hosting. Officers K6NA and N6VS attended, representing SDDXC. Other members present were K6GO, KY6LA, and N6NC. We handed out reading materials and made a pitch for financial support from clubs and individuals. In coming weeks, SDDXC officers or members plan to visit all the clubs to bring them up to speed on the tower issue and make a plea for financial support.

April 2009:

Recently Glenn, K6NA, met with N6NC, KY6LA, and our lawyer to go over the status and create the next submittal to the City Planner; our comments to the Planner regarding the City’s latest ‘suggestions’ and the draft of our ‘suggested ordinance’ are being edited now and will be submitted about mid-April.


Related Documents:

San Diego DX Club's Comment Letter on the Draft Negative Declaration (Submitted January 27, 2010)

Final Negative Declaration containing city responses to comment letters (February 8, 2010)

San Diego DX Club's Comments on the City's February 12, 2009 Revision of the Amateur Radio Antenna Support Structure Ordinance (April 17, 2009)

San Diego DX Club's Comments on the City's November 13, 2008 Revision of the Amateur Radio Support Structure Ordinance (January 1, 2009)

Executive Summary of the San Diego DX Club's Comments on the City's November 13, 2008 Revision of the Amateur Radio Antenna Support Structure Ordinance (January 1, 2009)

How the Amateur Radio Community Protects San Diego

Opposition to Proposed City of San Diego Amateur Radio Ordinance Fact Sheet

What is Wrong with San Diego's Proposed Amateur Radio Ordinance?

San Diego Amateur Radio Community Rallies Against Oppressive Proposed City Ordinance

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