Laguna Beach FM station KX 93.5 FM will be launched Oct. 1.
The Planning Commission approved on Wednesday a permit for the low-powered community radio station and the rooftop antenna that will transmit without interfering with commercial stations. Opponents have 14 calendar days to appeal the approval.
"We will broadcast eclectic music, local news, traffic reports, beach and surf reports, high school sports, community and charitable events, political forums and arts-related information," said Program Manager Tyler Russell, 23.
The station will be on the air 24 hours, with a staff of four. The studio will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Russell will be the on-air host from 5 to 10 p.m.
Pre-programmed material will run from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
KX 93.5 will operate in a suite in the Pearl Street Commercial Center at 1833 S. Coast Hwy. that will include an office and conference area, production room and broadcast studio in a sound-proof booth. Todd Skenderian is the architect.
Skenderian informed city staff that the site met standards of the Federal Communications Commission, which granted a 100-watt license to the nonprofit station to broadcast to Laguna and Laguna Niguel. Coverage area includes Newport Coast to Monarch Beach and east to Aliso and Woods Canyon ridge lines.
Concerns were expressed about radio frequency emissions, but folks shouldn't worry, station engineer Greg Garcia said.
"The station will emit a little more than a 60-watt light bulb and a little less than a microwave," Garcia said.
In any case, the Federal Communications Act of 1996 specifically prevents local governments from regulating the location or construction of wireless service installations based on health or the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions, as long as they comply with FCC regulations, according to City Attorney Philip Kohn.
Telecommunication facilities are permitted in any city zone, right-of-way or easement, except open space or conservation areas, although subject to design review.
It is a particularly sore subject with Councilwoman Toni Iseman.
"I believe the jury is still out on health effects, which we can't talk about," Iseman said at a March council meeting.
She volunteered to do some research on what other cities are doing in regard to local control.
"The Federal Communications Commission basically trumps us," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, who was a member of the Planning Commission who drafted the city's Telecommunications Ordinance.
"Our understanding was that the federal government regulated this issue and the only latitude we had was aesthetics and consolidated emissions at the site," she added.
Kohn said no changes have been made in federal law since the ordinance was adopted and the city can do very little about it.
The proposed antenna met one of the city's preferred installation locations: rooftop, facade or an existing tower. However, on Wednesday, Skenderian asked for and received the commission's approval to move the antenna five feet away from a neighbor's property at the request of the neighbor.
Commissioner Rob Zur Schmiede welcomed the station as a former ham, who had attended the first high school in the country to have its own radio station.
"Having our own radio station should be lots of fun," said Commissioner Anne Johnson.