A California Court of Appeal recently recognized and reaffirmed the absolute federal preemption of any state or local regulation or control over matters involving radio frequency interference (RFI).  Following a clear national line of decisions from the federal courts and the Federal Communications Commission, the state Court of Appeal found that the FCC as a federal agency is empowered to declare regulatory preemption within its field, and referenced legislative history underscoring that matters involving RFIs “shall not be regulated by local or state law, nor shall radio transmitting apparatus [essentially including all wireless communications devices under FCC purview] be subject to local or state regulation as part of any effort to resolve an RFI complaint”.  The court further cited 960 Radio, Inc., FCC No. 85-578, November 4, 1985, stating that “federal power in the area of radio frequency interference is exclusive; to the extent that any state or local government attempts to regulate in this area, their regulations are preempted.”  Accordingly, local ordinances in Palmdale setting maximum antenna heights and interference controls are invalid.  “Because federal regulation of this area is exclusive and preemption of state and local laws is complete, there is no ordinance concerning radio frequency interference that the City may enact that is not preempted.”  (Zubarau v. City of Palmdale, California Court of Appeal No. B216308, January 27, 2011)

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