Yucaipa Citizens Group Accuses County of 'Suppressing Public Participation'

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a hearing for Lazer Broadcasting's radio tower application on Nov. 27, five days after Thanksgiving, according to Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living.

A group of Yucaipa residents who oppose a commercial radio broadcast tower near Wildwood Canyon State Park claim the county Board of Supervisors is attempting to "suppress public participation" by scheduling a hearing about the tower five days after Thanksgiving.

"Public hearings that occur during the holiday season traditionally have very low public turnout," a Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living representative said Thursday.

"We have requested that the hearing be continued until after the holidays to ensure that more people will be able to attend. The County has yet to reply on that request."

Representatives of the company that wants to build the tower, Lazer Broadcasting, could not be reached for comment.

Lazer Broadcasting owns and operates 19 Spanish language radio stations in 10 California markets, plus one affiliated station in Lancaster, according to the company's website.

"Lazer Broadcasting programs the top rated Regional Mexican format known as 'Radio Lazer,' the Adults Hits known as 'La Mejor,' and the Traditional Mexican Ranchero known as 'La Mexicana,'" the website states.

The total Hispanic population within Lazer Broadcasting markets represents more than 2 million Hispanics, about 37 percent of the total population in those markets, according to Lazer Broadcasting.

Mark Edwards, a partner with the law firm Mirau, Edwards, Cannon, Lewin & Tooke, based in Redlands, said his firm represents Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living. John Mirau, lead partner in the firm, is the group's president.

"CPRL formed in 2008, to preserve open space," Edwards said Thursday in a phone interview. "This tower is of particular interest right now because of its proximity to Wildwood Canyon State Park.

"The fire danger is a concern, the destruction of vistas, construction of an unsightly tower in what is otherwise pristine open space," Edwards said.

More than 16,000 individuals in the Yucaipa area have signed petitions opposing the tower, Edwards said. Others have written letters to the Board of Supervisors and attended meetings, Edwards said.

Asked how many members Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living claim, Edwards said the group does not publicly disclose its membership.

Plans for the tower have been discussed at the county level since 2007, Edwards said. The current proposed height of the tower is 43 feet, he said.

"The Board of Supervisors first rejected the tower in 2009 and it has since gone through several revised applications to the present proposal," Edwards said.

The Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living bill themselves as "a coalition of San Bernardino County residents, elected officials, environmental advocacy groups and Wildwood Canyon State Park and Pisgah Peak wilderness recreational users."

The group's website states:

"The members of CPRL are opposed to the commercial development of Wildwood Canyon State Park and Pisgah Peak wilderness by the Oxnard, California based corporation Lazer Broadcasting, Inc."

Lazer has offices in Oxnard, Brawley, and Reno, Nevada, according to its website.

As of Thursday evening, the Lazer Broadcasting public hearing was still scheduled Nov. 27, Edwards said.

"A lot of voices will not be heard because of the date it's scheduled," he said.

According to Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living, the hearing is scheduled to begin 9 a.m. Tuesday Nov. 27 at 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., 1st Floor, San Bernardino.

For more information about Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living visit www.stopthetowernow.org.

For more information about Lazer Broadcasting visit www.radiolazer.com.

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