Protect our Communities Against Wildfires

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Over the past several months, wildfires across California have claimed many lives, including a firefighter and dozens of horses, burned more than 260,000 acres, displaced 200,000 residents and destroyed 1,000

As Governor Jerry Brown toured the ruined neighborhoods, he declared that California wildfires are “the new normal and this could be something that happens every year.”Climate change and poor planning policy has brought about the “new normal.” California faces drier weather conditions and neighborhoods are built to the edge or into high fire risk areas. As Governor Brown stated, we can expect more fires that bring greater death and destruction.

It is against this harsh reality that the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will decide to approve
or deny the construction of Lazer Broadcasting’s proposed radio tower on a steep hill covered by dense chaparral next to Wildwood Canyon State Park.

The proposed radio tower would allow the Riverside County radio station to increase its advertising profits by reaching a larger audience while putting our local communities at greater risk for wildfires.

According to Cal FIRE’s Fire Hazard Severity Zone Maps, the proposed tower site is located in a very high severity zone. This designation means that we should be reducing fire threats and not adding to
them. Why make the situation worse by erecting a tower and constructing an electrical shed that inherently creates fire hazards? There are other locations available without these fire risks.

Strangely, the County of San Bernardino planning staff agreed to reduce the project’s fire setbacks from 100 feet to 30 feet and no longer requires access for fire safety vehicles in this rural area. Their rationale:if the tower catches fire, they will let it burn. That is fine for the tower, but what about the 200 nearby homes? We just saw how quickly wildfires can spread in a rural setting. The Tubbs fire in Northern California that killed 44 people this October is a recent reminder.

This reckless policy endangers lives and threatens our communities.
The Board of Supervisors must demand the proposed tower is moved to an alternative site. With the new normal of more fires and increased death and destruction, why would the Board of Supervisors even consider approving the construction of a radio tower and power equipment in a very high fire severity zone?

Don’t put company profits before community safety.

Dick Riddell
Yucaipa City Councilman

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