Sunday, September 12, 2010 – 10:30 p.m.

More than just Politics is once again playing a role in the impending denial of a conditional use permit for a transmission antenna for a Spanish-language radio broadcaster.

Lazer Broadcasting has submitted new plans to San Bernardino County for the installation of a 44-foot antenna on a rural hilltop that will beam coverage into the San Bernardino Valley and also as far away as Hemet.

Lazer operates San Bernardino-based KCAL-AM, Big Bear-Based KXSB-FM, and Hemet-Based KSRS-FM.

This is the second such submission in as many years. The submission of a proposal for an antenna of more than 80-feet was nixed by county supervisors at the behest of Mayor Dick Riddell and the Yucaipa City Council in early 2009. The opposition was aided by Redlands Attorney John Mirau, and the Yucaipa-area Wildlands Conservancy.

The 2009 rejection of Lazer’s application went against recommendations by county planning staff and the Planning Commission. Efforts was actually made to not only overturn the project, but county attorneys were actually directed to generate findings of fact to torpedo the tower long-term.

An ally in the concerted effort against Lazer is spanish-language radio competitor Liberman Broadcasting. Liberman’s engineer previously testified in support of the opposition to Lazer’s permit before the board of supervisors last year.

Efforts to track money flows is currently underway.

Closely placed sources say Riddell doesn’t want anything to do with having a Spanish-radio transmitter antenna in his city, even though Yucaipa officials have approved numerous permits for elevated windmill and cellular towers without issue.

The primary argument proffered by opponents, that being the Lazer antenna affects the scenic view of the hillside from a neighboring park have almost become ridiculous, since a test antenna was recently erected.

Apparently the antenna can’t be seen from the park.

It really does appear the issue of ethnicity likely dominates decision-making here.

Privately, county planners say the Lazer-owned site is zoned R-5 with an open space overlay. This designation means one residence per 5 acres, with an open space overlay meant for wildlife preservation.

The designation doesn’t prevent the antenna placement.

In other words, you can build a 20,000 square-foot mansion with a ham radio tower on the parcel, but can’t place a commercial broadcast antenna.

One planner told a Lazer representative the matter was political, otherwise it would be approved.

Offers by Lazer to donate residual land to the conservancy, provide public safety benefits such as allowing CALFIRE and other government agncies needed antenna placement has fallen on deaf ears.

InlandPolitics.com has learned Lazer has collected more than 2,000 letters of support for the project, with approximately 600 from Yucaipa residents. As of now only 4 letters in opposition are on file with the county.

Third District Supervisor Neil Derry has been tirelessly looking for a compromise to the dispute to no avail. He’s caught in the middle.

Lazer seems absolutely determined, and without a consensus, expect allegations of discrimination to emerge in legal action against the county.

InlandPolitics.com spoke Friday with Alfredo Plascencia, President and CEO of Lazer, who said his company may seek damages from the county for loss of advertising revenue. An amount likely to be in excess of $5 million.

An unfortunate and needless situation, which presents an image that neither the county or Yucaipa need.