San Bernardino County staff will not recommend the Board of Supervisors reschedule a public hearing about Lazer Broadcasting plans for a commercial radio tower near Wildwood Canyon State Park in Yucaipa, a county spokesman said Friday.
Members of a group called Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living claim the county Board of Supervisors is attempting to "suppress public participation" by scheduling a hearing about the tower five days after Thanksgiving.
County Public Information Officer David Wert dismissed the citizens group's reasoning.
"Staff will not recommend that the Board of Supervisors reschedule the hearing," Wert said in an email Nov. 16. "The November 27 date in no way suppresses public participation. Anyone who can't attend the hearing can have an equal, and some would argue a greater, impact on the process by submitting their comments in advance in writing.
"Those comments would be given to all board members prior to the hearing," Wert said. "The Planning Commission acted on this matter, the decision was appealed, and November 27 is the standard point in time for the appeal to be heard based upon when the Planning Commission acted and the appeal was filed.
"I have never heard anyone contend that the week after Thanksgiving constitutes any kind of a holiday," Wert said. "I've been going to Board of Supervisors meetings regularly for 23 years and I have never seen attendance wane at any time during the months of November or December. The world always goes back to work as normal on the Monday after Thanksgiving."
Wert was responding to a press release from the Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living issued Thursday Nov.. 15. The first three graphs of the release state:
In what is being perceived as a move to suppress public participation, the County of San Bernardino and Lazer Broadcasting are moving forward with a public hearing for Lazer's controversial radio tower application on November 27th – the Tuesday directly after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Public hearings that occur during the holiday season traditionally have very low public turnout. In a letter dated October 31st, the Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living submitted a letter to the County requesting 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. A notice of the public hearing date was sent out on November 12th.
"It's deplorable that the County and Lazer would move forward on holding this hearing right after Thanksgiving," said Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell. "Our local governments should be encouraging public participation, not discouraging it."
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.
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.