TV Dishes Spoil the View

There is a promising move afoot in several San Diego County cities to restrict the visual impact--some call it blight--of large television satellite dishes.

Years ago, the first of the dishes installed locally were viewed as curiosities. But as they have proliferated atop houses, businesses or in prominent spots in yards, they have come to be thought of as simply unsightly.

The dishes allow those who feel they lack a satisfactory number of options through the traditional television hookups to receive more than 100 channels by picking up signals beamed to earth from communications satellites. Nationwide, more than a million dishes are used to pick up television programming that runs the gamut from the Canadian Parliament to locally blacked-out sports events.

The cities of San Diego, Poway, El Cajon, Chula Vista and La Mesa either have or are in the process of creating some type of regulations for the dishes.

Among those who think regulation is a great idea are homeowners whose neighbors have installed the big parabolas. Not surprisingly, people who sell the dishes are cooler toward the idea.


The ordinance approved and sent to the City Council by the San Diego Planning Commission last week requires that satellite dishes more than 10 feet in diameter be screened by plants, latticework or earth berms. Dishes mounted on rooftops would have to be recessed into the roof or shielded from view by material similar to that of the roof. Buyers also would be required to obtain a permit to install a dish larger than 10 feet.

San Diego also will consider whether dishes installed before the ordinance should be subject to the new rules.

Reaction among satellite antenna dealers has ranged from the reasonable to the ridiculous--the appearance of the dishes has been dubiously characterized as no more offensive than a backyard barbecue or fountain.

The dealers would be well-advised to accept the inevitable regulating of their products gracefully. If people continue to install offensive dishes such as one that spoils the views some Pacific Beach residents have of both the ocean and Mission Bay, ill will and harsher restrictions are sure to follow.