This article is from the Satellite TV FAQ, by Gary Bourgois firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
There are a number of things you can do depending on your resourcefulness,
and also how much you are willing to invest. First, federal law takes
precedence here. The LEGAL fact is, your community can NOT restrict you
from installing a satellite dish. If you take them to court, you will win,
but, of course, you have to hire an attorney and the fight will add $5,000 or
so to the price of your system, UNLESS you can scare them by showing them the
fact that the courts MUST side with the dish owner. It would cost you about
HALF that price to get an FCC TVRO receiving license (Yes they are still
issued), and as a legally licensed receive station you can also bring the
government into play. You can scare them by showing them legal briefs that
show how the cities always lose, and THEN have to pay YOUR legal fees.
If you wish to take the legal avenue, get the help of ASTA, the American
Satellite TV Alliance. They have a very good legal package which can help you
put a case together to get your dish. The federal law in question is:
Code of Federal Regulations 25.104 is titled "Preemption of local zoning
of earth stations" and is reproduced below in entirety:
"State and local zoning or other regulations that differentiate between
satellite receive-only antennas and other types of antenna facilities are
preempted unless such regulations: (a) Have a reasonable and clearly
defined health, safety or aesthetic objective; and (b) Do not operate to
impose unreasonable limitations on, or prevent, reception of satellite
delivered signals by receive-only antennas or to impose costs on the
users of such antennas that are excessive in light of the purchase and
installation cost of the equipment. Regulation of satellite transmitting
antennas is preempted in the same manner except that state and local
health and safety regulation is not preempted."
83 Am Jur 2d sec. 488 is entitled "Radio and television towers and
antennas; satellite dishes" and includes the following:
"In order to regulate satellite antennas and avoid a federal preemption,
the local ordinance must not differentiate between satellite antennas and
other types of antenna facilities (L.I.M.A. Partners v. Northvale, 219 NJ
Super 512, 530 A2d 839). The First Amendment right to receive
information via a satellite dish is a relative right which may be
outweighed by important governmental interests, such as the protection
of community aesthetics (Decker v Plantation (SD Fla) 706 F Supp 851).
Thus, an owner who was denied a special permit required by local
zoning ordinance to erect a satellite dish in his front yard did not have
his rights to due process or equal protection violated, where 16 permits
had been issued, all for backyard erection of satellite dishes, properly
screened to maintain the aesthetics of the community (Decker v
Plantation (SD Fla) 706 F Supp 851). An ordinance governing amateur
radio antennas does not deprive a homeowner of equal protection on
the grounds that it discriminates in favor of satellite dish communication
(Bulchis v Edmonds (WD Wash) 671 F Supp 1270).
"A 12-foot by 12-foot antenna, attached to the ground by concrete and
angle irons, is a "structure" as that term is employed in an ordinance
which prohibits structures in required front yard space (Gouge v.
Snellville, 249 Ga 91, 287 SE2d 539). "
The preceding was typed to the net by Pravin K. Mishra, Ph.D.
You can get a package of information from ASTA for about $25. Call ASTA
for more information on their material at 914-997-8192. I used this
package to successfully defend my own dish installation, which is 26 feet
high, attached to a huge platform structure made just for the dish. Nothing
like this previously existed in my city, and they wanted me to get a
variance. With the ASTA material I did not have to pay for the variance and
have the hearing (which would have cost $150, and I could have lost)
If you live in California, Keith Jarett advises us:
AB104 (Dan Hauser) is now signed into law. It declares unenforceable
any CC&Rs which prohibit TV antennas or dishes up to 3 feet in diameter.
The homeowners association can regulate the installations within reason,
but they can't ban the antennas. If you have to sue them and win, you
can even get attorney's fees.
DSSers in California can cheer, and BUDers can at least get a Ku dish
put in. In fact, maybe they can put an ugly ugly Ku dish in the most
obtrusive location allowed, then when asked to relocate it, just say
"well, OK, if you just let me increase the diameter to 7 feet, I can
get this much prettier dish in the back yard where no one will see it."
However, there are other ways. Hide your dish. There is one manufacturer
that makes a dish look like a beach umbrella, complete with lawn chairs and a
table. There is also a very ingenious system called "The Rock" which is a
fiberglass (Microwave transparent) boulder that can go right over a dish and
hide it. One fellow we know of found out that his restrictive covenants DID
allow a homeowner to have one of those outbuildings (shed) where people keep
their lawnmowers, etc. He built one of microwave transparent material, and
put his dish inside and no one is the wiser. Such a system is actually
preferable, it protects the dish from wind and the elements. (professional
radar systems use RADOMES for the same reason)
I know of people who have non permanent dishes. Some roll the dish out at
night, point it at their favorite bird, and roll it back in the house or
garage before sunrise. Another person I know lives in a community that does
not allow dishes, and he has two. They are on wooden bases, and thus not
permanent. He never removes them, and he tells me they track the arc quite
Of course if you have NOT purchased your house yet, the best thing you can do
is to move into a community that is not so narrow minded. Especially if you
get hooked and want MULTIPLE dishes (It CAN happen).
The company that makes the replica boulder dish cammo system is:
c/o QUB-L Vision
Concord, CA 94520
While you will clearly win ZONING cases, Restrictive covenants are a
different matter. There are ways to win, but it is not guaranteed, since
you sign a contract agreeing to the limitations of the covenant. A good
lawyer equipped with the ASTA information CAN win such a case, but it is
not the simple issue that ZONING is.