Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Clarke: Unsightly satellites must go

City Councilman Darrell Clarke on Monday floated a proposal to cut back the proliferation of unsightly satellite antennas on building facades. Clarke thinks he can regulate the placement of dishes without running afoul of the FCC, though he's sure to get opposition from satellite companies and landlords. Clarke's draft bill would forbid property owners from placing satellites on the building's street-front side if possible. It also would require the removal of satellites not in use (some companies leave satellites they have installed, even is the service is cancelled). The earliest he could introduce it is Thursday.

Clarke: Unsightly satellites must go

City Councilman Darrell Clarke on Monday floated a proposal to cut back the proliferation of unsightly satellite antennas on building facades. Clarke thinks he can regulate the placement of dishes without running afoul of the FCC, though he's sure to get opposition from satellite companies and landlords. Clarke's draft bill would  forbid property owners from placing satellites on the building's street-front side if possible. It also would require the removal of satellites not in use (some companies leave satellites they have installed, even is the service is cancelled). The earliest he could introduce it is Thursday.

Here's Clarke's draft bill, which has not yet been introduced:

AN ORDINANCE

Amending Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Zoning and Planning,” by amending Section 14-231, entitled “Residential District Rules and Exceptions,” by providing for restrictions on placement, installation and maintenance of certain satellite dishes and antennas, under certain terms and conditions.


THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA HEREBY ORDAINS:

SECTION 1. Title 14 of The Philadelphia Code is amended to read as follows:

TITLE 14. ZONING AND PLANNING

* * *

CHAPTER 14-200. RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS

* * *

§ 14-231. Residential District Rules and Exceptions.

* * *

(9) Satellite Dishes and Antennas.

a) Findings:

Whereas; The City of Philadelphia was established by Charter of 1701, is considered the birthplace of American Independence, the American Revolution and a centerpiece of early American history; and

Whereas; Philadelphia boasts historical, cultural and architectural lineage longer than that of almost any other place in America, with much of its buildings dating from the early 20th Century or earlier; and

Whereas; Because of Philadelphia’s significant place in American history, every consideration should be made to preserve the character and appeal of this uniquely American City as modern technological advancements are integrated into the city’s landscape; and

Whereas, The City of Philadelphia has a vested interest in protecting its neighborhoods from conditions that could substantially and interfere with enhancing quality of life, fostering and facilitating commerce, maintaining and improving property values, and preserving and protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare; and

Whereas: The City of Philadelphia has an interest in ensuring the structural integrity and safety of building appurtenants, particularly those that extend into the public right of way; and

Whereas; The City of Philadelphia also recognizes the interest of its citizens in receiving and maintaining access to television, cable and satellite airwaves; and

Whereas; The Federal Communications Commission in 1996 adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices (“OTARD”) rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers' ability to receive video programming signals; and

Whereas; Since then, the OTARD ruling has been interpreted by the FCC to allow the imposition of “reasonable” regulations on satellite dish and antenna placement under terms and conditions that don’t impede signal access; and

Whereas; Particular attention needs to be given to tailoring measures that properly balance the interest of cable and satellite signal access and the City’s interest in quality of life enhancement, historic preservation and public safety.

(b) Where an alternative location is available for placement of a satellite dish or antenna, with no material reduction in signal reception (including but not limited to a roof, rear yard or facade, or side yard or facade), no property owner shall place, install or maintain, or allow to be placed, installed or maintained, a satellite dish or antenna between the facade of a building and the street.

(c) No property owner shall place, install or maintain, or allow to be placed, installed or maintained, a satellite dish or antenna between the facade of a building and the street unless he or she has notified the Department, on such form as is provided by the Department, of such placement, installation or maintenance prior to placement or installation.

(d) Any property owner who presently maintains a satellite dish or antenna between the façade of a building and the street shall promptly register the device with the Department.

(e) The property owner shall remove any satellite dish or antenna located between the facade of the building and the street when it is no longer in service.

(f) For purposes of the foregoing subsections (a) through (e), a satellite dish or antenna shall include:

(.1) A "dish" antenna that is one meter or less in diameter and is designed to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals via satellite.

(.2) An antenna that is one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement and is designed to receive video programming services via broadband radio service (wireless cable) or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals other than via satellite.

(.3) An antenna that is designed to receive local television broadcast signals.

(g) No property owner shall place, install or maintain, or allow to be placed installed or maintained, a satellite dish or antenna between the facade of a building and the street, where such dish or antenna is not covered by the definition set forth in the foregoing subsection (f).

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