The deferred extra time is a practice that is allowed at the Board of Supervisors meetings as well as the planning commissions prior to this. The other obvious symptom came later in the meeting when it became apparent most of the commissioners had not studied the staff report as they gathered together to read the maps to see what the proposed application included.
Planner Kevin White presented the application and answered commission questions. The staff report included the recommendation for denial of the project.
Lazer Broadcasting Corp.’s consultant David Mlynarski presented the application in detail using photos and graphics in the Powerpoint.
Harry Martin an attorney from Washington, D.C. was part of Lazer’s presentation. He used graphics to state why Lazer is determined to use the particular parcel of land the conditional use permit is for; explaining their inability to overcome an illegal Mexican radio station that prohibits Lazer from broadcasting into the Hemet area, which is the goal. He called the site “the best place.”
Mlynarski’s presentation included pictures of the 1940s power poles and lines that provided telephone and electricity to the historic Hunt and McCollough ranches in the park and how the proposed tower/pole was just an addition. He also referred to structures just outside the park boundaries as intrusions to the environment.
After a break, nearly 40 speakers presented their views. Mirau was first followed by Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell who expressed his irritation at the commission in the way the issue was being handled.
Bobby Duncan of Yucaipa asked the commission to uphold the staff recommendation to deny.
Caecilia Johns of Yucaipa referred to Lazer’s arrogant attitude and asked “what part of no don’t they understand?”
Joe Swetich of Yucaipa discussed the importance of the park and its trails.
David Cruz of San Bernardino said he was in favor of the application for the education the station could provide.
Raymond Monroe of Yucaipa represented the Supporters of Wildwood Canyon State Park and reminded the commission if one tower or pole was allowed, many more could be approved, similar in what had happened at Chino State Park. “Keep the wild in Wildwood Canyon State Park.”
Dee Galifax from Wrightwood, who said he was a broadcaster, stated his support as did Tony Soressano of Wrightwood, who added Spanish speakers need a lot of help.
Dottie Potter of Yucaipa expressed her opposition adding the building would remain visible and damage the visual pleasure of the park.
Judy Parrish of Yucaipa described the park as becoming a destination, a site of social networking and how the history is part of the park.
Kathy Utley concurred. Christine Mohlar emphasized this proposed action is a major variance and it’s all about going against the general plan. She reminded the commission that the Board of Supervisors denied the project previously unanimously and with prejudice.
Nancy Hannah stated the application “is all about increasing revenue” and approval would allow a farm or towers.
Crafton Hills Open Space Conservancy’s president David Miller of Yucaipa asked the commission to listen to everyone and remember thousands of dollars have been spent to protect the park lands and to preserve the rural atmosphere.
Judy Bartzat discussed the importance of the park.
Bobby Sissons state her opposition.
Frank Sissons, who invested great amount of time putting the park application to the state together, also reminded the commission of the Supervisors denial was with prejudice adding the land in question is in an open space designation and the commission should take action to preserve it. “This land is very unique. You can go to the site in Cherry Valley. Stop this crap.”
Bob Roberts of Redlands stated he was in favor of the application and said he had done some community work for Lazer.
Diana Alana, an employee of Lazer, discussed their competitors and said Lazer opens up air time for public benefit such as the CHP, health programs and Amber alerts.
Helen Robbins of Yucaipa stated her opposition as did DeeDee Tschudy. Five others made quick comments or had left due to the time. During the public comments, it was noted that Chairman Rider was nodding off and unattentive. She was reported to have fallen asleep at a previous meeting as well.
As it was after noon, the commission took a break and reconvened at 1 p.m. the speakers continued with Lazer employee Maria Elena Meja, Beverly Wilson from Perris who commended Lazer for their advertisements, and four people who quickly noted their support. Amram Yolam of Woodland also expressed his opposition.
The hearing ended with two in opposition including Pamela Smyth of Redlands who said a variance should not be appropriate and there were thousands in opposition. “It is what it is, ugly.” She exhibited a painting that shows the splendor of the park.
Rider closed the public hearing for the first time.
Mirau was allowed to show a rendition of the proposed tower/pole and building he said was put together by an architect based on the application. He referred to the building as on stilts hanging over the site, which is at the top of a steep hill. He noted no fence around the pole
David Cruz spoke again stating the application follows FCC standards. He explained the problems radio stations have after dark and the interference from Mexico. A Mr. Leverman referred to a radio tower that is in nearby Davies Canyon, but cannot be seen from the park.
Mirau reiterated the rendition was to scale and based exactly as the application stated, emphasizing the steepness of the terrain and the limited area for construction. Alternatives were discussed, including a site at Gilman Hot Springs.
Rider closed the public comment session again at the staff attorney’s advice, even though she had not officially opened it.
Mlynarski reiterated the applicant’s property rights.
Kevin White answered questions from the commissioners explaining the park. Rider asked about fire restrictions. Commissioner Audrey Mathews asked about the major variance and fuel modifications after studying the maps and diagrams together.
Commissioner Randy Coleman asked about an environmental analysis and it was noted that the Planning Department staff prepared the report recommended a denial and had not required such studies or conditions of approval to avoid the costs. When Mathews asked if the project had changed enough to be different from the Supervisors denial with prejudice, White did not answer. It was determined a full environmental analysis would be needed if there was a recommendation of approval.
Commissioner Coleman made a motion to continue the issue, take it off calendar with staff to prepare findings for an approval. Mathews seconded the motion, adding “mitigation to incorporate the major issue issues as expressed.”
The motion carried three to one, with Commissioner Ray Allard in opposition.
Rider then proceeded to lecture those in opposition to band together and acquire all surrounding properties.
The issue is expected to end up back at the Board of Supervisors as each side will probably appeal the commission’s final decision.
Lazer tower/pole issue is continued.
By: Claire Marie Teeters
About 30 Yucaipans traveled to the San Bernardino County Government Center on May 5 to the Planning Commission meeting on the latest Lazer Broadcasting Corporation’s application to install a radio tower/pole on land adjacent to Wildwood Canyon Park.
The land is in the unincorporated sphere of the Oak Glen Community Plan.The tone for the meeting was set right at the start when Commission Chair Elizabeth Rider snapped a negative response to tower opponent attorney John Mirau when he asked for extra time to speak when others provided the minutes, and then she proceeded to allow the applicant an hour for their presentation.