Radio, Television & Dish Antennas Regulations

Background of the Regulation

On August 5, 1996, Federal Policy regarding restrictions on viewers ability to receive video programming from television broadcast stations, direct broadcast satellite stations and wireless cable services was enacted. The rule is applicable to antennas used to receive broadcast signals, wireless cable services, and direct broadcast satellite services when they are located on a mast no more than 12 feet in height or where a satellite dish is no more than 1 meter in diameter. The rule prohibits most restrictions that:
  1. Unreasonably delay or prevent installation
  2. Unreasonably increase the cost of installation
  3. Preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal. The rule does not prohibit safety restrictions or restrictions designed to preserve historic districts.
The FCC Ruling further states that local ordinances which involve placement, screening, and height limitations based on health, safety, and aesthetic considerations must be crafted to provide reasonable accommodation of amateur radio communications and to represent the minimum practical regulation to accomplish the local government's legitimate purpose. The FCC purposely does not specify a height below which a local government may not regulate nor does it suggest any precise wording which must be contained in local ordinances if they are not to be preempted.

Under the rule, restrictions on the above preempted facilities, such as payment of permit fees, design review, conditional use, or building permit requirements, restrictive covenants, or expensive landscaping would likely be considered prohibitive unless the permit and fees are to serve safety or historic preservation purposes. For instance, if building permits are required for the preempted facilities, there has to be a clearly defined safety objective stated in the legislative history.

The 2007 California Building Code (CBC) does not address specifically when building permits for antennas are required. The building official per the 2007 CBC has the power to adopt and enforce rules and supplemental regulation in order to clarify the application of its provisions. Such rules and regulations shall be in conformance with the intent and purpose of this code.


  1. Permits Not Required

    A building permit is not required for: roof installation on one and two story buildings not more than 12 feet in height above the roof, or for ground mounting of antenna structures not more than 12 feet in height above the ground. Such a structure, however, shall not be erected so as to reduce the roof covering weather resistance and water tightness, and when removed from the roof, the roof covering shall be repaired to maintain weather resistance and water tightness. The installation of any antenna structure mounted on the roof of a building or ground shall not be erected nearer to the lot line than the total height of the antenna structure above the roof or ground, nor shall such structure be erected nearer than the height above the roof to electric power lines or any street or other public space.
  2. Permits Required

    A building permit shall be secured for all roof-mounted antenna structures more than 12 feet in height above the roof and ground mounting of antenna structures more than 12 feet in height above the surface of the ground. The application shall be accompanied by detailed drawings of the structure and methods of anchorage. All connections to the roof structure shall be properly flashed to maintain water tightness. All antenna structures shall be constructed of approved corrosion-resistant noncombustible material.
  3. Applicability

    This procedure applies only to single roof mounted or ground mounted antenna's for radio and television reception or broadcasting. For the purpose of this procedure, the word antenna shall include a single dish antenna, usually in a circular shape with a parabolic curve design constructed of a solid or open mesh surface, not more than 2 foot in diameter, either surface or pole mounted. See CBC Section 3108 for requirements relating to other types of radios and television towers.
  4. Structural Design, Code Provisions

    Roof and ground mounted antenna structures exceeding 12 feet above the surface of roof or ground, dish antennas larger than 2 feet in diameter, or multiple antenna assemblies shall be designed by a California licensed Architect or registered Civil or Structural Engineer. Such structures shall comply with structural and code provisions of the 2007 CBC as applicable.