Following a nearly 3-hour public hearing Tuesday, San Bernardino County supervisors suspended voting on an appeal by a citizens group that for a decade has attempted to block a broadcasting company’s attempt to erect a radio antenna on an Oak Glen mountainside, above Wildwood Canyon Park in Yucaipa.
Oxnard-based Lazer Broadcasting Corporation, which operates several Southern California radio stations, is seeking to build a 43-foot pole antenna on a 38-acre property it owns next to Wildwood Canyon Park,
near the intersection of Oak Glen and Wildwood Canyon roads, west of Pisgah Peak Road, so it can boost the signal of its Spanish-language station KXRS in Hemet.
While seven alternative sites were proposed, six of which were FCC-approved, Lazer representatives insist the Oak Glen location is the only one that will allow it to expand its reach by 1.5 million listeners.
Among the benefits include serving non-English speaking Latinos during emergencies, Lazer representatives say.
The project has been scaled down significantly from its original design: a 140-foot tall lattice tower with a 250-square-foot equipment building and a 500-gallon propane tank to run a backup generator.
Opponents, however, are not accepting anything less than relocating the antenna site. They maintain the project would damage the terrain and ruin the aesthetics of Wildwood Canyon Park. Additionally, the site
sits within the largest nonprofit nature preserve system in California, overseen by The Wildlands Conservancy in Oak Glen.
“Ultimately, saving our treasured landscapes from development means educating and instilling the love of nature in future generations,” said Dana Rochat, director of acquisitions at The Wildlands Conservancy.
“Since we had several thousand acres of land in the Oak Glen and Pisgah Peak areas, we felt we had a keen interest in the Lazer radio tower project, which would be seen from our properties and visitors.” She said the proposed antenna pole is incompatible with the surrounding open spaces of Wildwood Canyon Park and that there are numerous and better alternative locations for it.
Dick Riddell, a Yucaipa councilman and city resident since 1989, has long opposed the project and is part of the grassroots group Citizens for Preservation of Rural Living, which has been fighting the project
“In all my time in public service … there’s never been an issue that has disturbed people and has upset people as much as this radio pole,” Riddell said. “With all that’s going on in the world and all the things
that’s going on in Washington, you’d think people would be talking about that. But in all the coffeehouses, the restaurants, other public places, the topic is this radio pole.”
Gregory Ramirez, Lazer Broadcasting’s general counsel, said he respects the residents and their values,but that the issue was a private property matter, and so long as a property owner abides by the law they
can do whatever they want with their property.
Redlands attorney John Mirau, who represents CPRL, disagreed, saying Lazer Broadcasting still has to go through the same permitting process and legal process, which sometimes doesn’t withstand scrutiny.
“They do not have it as a matter of right,” Mirau said.
Following the hearing, Supervisor Curt Hagman said that, while he supports private property rights and is leaning toward denying CPRL’s appeal and allowing Lazer to move forward with its project, he said he
wanted additional time to review the matter, especially the alternative sites opponents are pushing for.
The board voted to continue the matter to March 20.“ It is important to the local community, and to makesure that we are listening to the local voice, because it is about local control at the end of the day,” Supervisor James Ramos said.