You have probably seen this headline going around social media: “California Officials declare Ham Radio no longer a benefit; Demands Ham radio repeater infrastructure to be Removed.”
But, if you read the article, which appears right now to be a single article written by Offgridsurvival.com and spread like wildfire over social media, did you actually click on the link that purportedly shows the communications from by the Law Office of Nathan Zeliff K6PDS (www. shastadefense.com)? If you click on the video blog by K6UDA that is on the shastadefence site it starts off stating that the “Governor of California has fired ham radio operators,” and is a somewhat angry ‘story’ of the state ‘firing’ ham radio.
However, the letter from Cal Fire Technical Services, sent to an unspecified ham, indicates that the department no longer financially supports ham radio and if they want to maintain repeaters at their site they need to submit an application and pay fees, presumably prevailing rates for site lease. What it does not say is that ham radio is no longer required, nor does it state that the State of California is cancelling prior Memorandums of Understanding.
On October 15th the ARRL released an article: Report Causes Concern and Confusion in California’s Amateur Radio Ranks (http://www.arrl.org/news/report-causes-concern-and-confusion-in-california-s-amateur-radio-ranks ) concerning the ‘mis-information’ that has been ‘spread’ around the internet. The ARRL article states that the Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko reported that Jim Price, the Communications Center Operation Officer for the State Office of Emergency Services, explained to him that the matter is not a new one, and the issue of repeater equipment in state radio vaults has been going on for 5 years or longer. He also advised that it gets down to vault space, clearances, authorizations and access to state radio sites. He also advised that who would bear the cost for the equipment being in the site has been an issue for years.
The ARRL Pacific Division Director, Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT is quoted on the Sacramento Valley Section website as stating:
“The State of California has not made any determination we can find ‘that Ham Radio [is] no longer a benefit. What happened is that CAL FIRE has transferred responsibility for its communications sites to its property management department. That department has the task of evaluating each site, its condition, use, and tenants. If a repeater not known to be associated with the emergency management function of a local jurisdiction is found in a CAL FIRE vault, the default action is to move it out or subject it to commercial rental rates. Our contact in the California Office of Emergency Services suggests that, if any affected repeater is in any way involved with local emergency or government support activity, they should ask that agency to engage with CAL FIRE concerning the repeater. If the agency makes the case, there is a good chance that the repeater will be unaffected,”
So, the lesson here is don’t always believe what you read on social media and also take the time to read through all the information. A headline can easily be used to spin your agenda.