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Towers and building permits

To: <>
Subject: Towers and building permits
From: (
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 15:22:04 -0400
In a message dated 96-10-16 13:41:55 EDT, you write:
>It's frustrating because I wanted to do this the right way. 
>My current thinking is:  If I can educate and get the blessing of all my 
>neighbors, then there should be no need for city involvement.  

Joe --

      Since you've already opened Pandora's box, you're getting an
appreciation for amateur tower projects in the 90's.  You need to follow the
building departments instructions since they are the ones that enforce the
building codes and issue the permits. Your tower is considered a structure
and thus falls under the Uniform Building Code or whatever other regulations
they have adopted.

      I would have recommended to not do anything with your neighbors until
you absolutely have to.  BTW, there are two schools of thought on towers and
neighbors: Mr. Niceguy and No More Mr. Niceguy.  I'm in the No More school.

     Actually the process works the other.  If you have a permit and a
neighbor complains about the tower, there's not much they can do about it.
 On the other hand, if you don't have a permit and a neighbor complains,
you're busted and will have a large wrangle on your hands that will cost you
lots of time and money.  If you're zoned for a tower and don't have any
crippling CC&R's, follow the permit process; you really don't have a choice.
>I told the city planning commission that this whole thing is crazy.  I also 
>pointed out that there are dozens of amateur towers in the city.  It's a
>that we have no process to do this legally.  I did say that one day a ham
>$10,000+ will challenge this whole thing and get it changed, but it won't be
     Remain civil and flexible.  You piss them off and you're dead meat.
 What you should be doing is 1) find someone in the building department that
is sympathetic to your plight and work exclusively with them; 2) educate that
person on what you're doing and the problems of complying their building code
(it's NOT a building!).  Be really prepared with the manufacturer's
calculations, specifications and anything else you feel is relevant.  Then
they'll have something they can look at that helps address the situation.

>Any lawyers interested in a pro-bono case against city hall?  Didn't think

     This isn't a legal problem yet; it's a PERMIT problem.  This is
different than the PRB-1 cases you read about.  BTW, there is a Ham-Law
reflector for legal problems.
>I really feel that I've been forced to do it this way.  One problem I see is

>that besides being illegal per-say, no official will be involved in checking

>my engineering specs. 

     You normally have to have your plans stamped by a Professional Engineer
(PE).  They're the ones that take responsibility for the accuracy and
compliance of the plans.  When a plan checker sees the stamp, they don't have
to check anything.  There are volunteer and inexpensive PE's in California
who can help you with your plan package. I can help you out if you can't find
one if you can't.
> Unfortunately, times have 
>changed, and if I do this without city approval, it will always be subject
>come down.  In short, it will be illegal.

    Correcto mundo.  
>What say Tower Talkers?  Should I even bother contacting the County
>to see if they have a process?  More important for my own peace of mind:
>Will I have to learn to live with the self imposed stigma of being a social 
     First of all, take a deep breath.  You're just a guy who wants to enjoy
his hobby.  Yes, you should contact the building department until you 1) get
some answers to your questions and 2) find that person in the building
department who is willing to help you.  In a lot of cases, you talk to 3
different people in the building department and you'll get 3 different
interpretations.  Don't get upset with them because they probably haven't run
into anyone who has applied to put up a tower before.  Or at least an amateur
tower.  Talk to your local hams to see what they did.  Do your homework.
 There is an excellent article on the legal aspects that appeared a couple of
years ago in CQ Antenna Buyer's Guide by Dale Clift, NA1L, that you should
read before you do anything.

73,  Steve  K7LXC

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