2022 Claremont City Council candidate profiles: Ed Reece

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Mayor Pro-tem Ed Reece is proud of the accomplishments the City of Claremont has achieved in the four years he has been on the council, but he also wants people to know the job is not complete. That’s why he’s running for re-election in District 2.

“I think there is a lot that still needs to be done,” he told the COURIER. “When I came into office we were looking at a $2.5 million structural deficit, and last year we declared a $4.2 million surplus. That is one step toward maintaining the financial health of the organization. There is a lot more to be done in the area of financial health, as well as in things like [The California Public Employees’ Retirement System], streets, public safety and, of course, looking at all the opportunities to maintain our trees and our infrastructure.”

Of these goals, Reece listed public safety and maintaining the city’s fiscal stability as his top priorities.

“I think one of the core elements that every council needs to be focused on is public safety, and so continuing to make sure that our community is safe is almost number one,” he said.

Through a strong relationship with Claremont’s rank and file police officers, the department as a whole, and even its retired police chiefs, Reece has pushed to increase the number of officers on the street to address the community’s safety concerns.

In addition to maintaining a balanced budget, Reece would like to increase the target amount of cash in the city’s Operating and Environmental Emergency Reserve from its current 25% to 30%.

“The only way to get through any future natural disaster, any future pandemic, is to maintain that fiscal strength. And I do believe, by doing that, it will set us up for a very strong future,” he said.

Reece is the founder and chief executive of the technology company ISN Global Enterprises. He serves as the chair of three boards: the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority Governing Board, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Transportation Committee, and the Metro Gold Line Joint Powers Authority Board. Among other local and regional affiliations, he is also the vice president of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Executive Board.

Regarding the city’s unfunded liability to its pension fund, Reece backs the calculations of City Manger Adam Pirrie that show the city is making good progress in paying down that debt and that drastic measures aren’t needed.

He says the current council has made a significant effort to directly address the CalPERS liability and has done more to reduce that debt over the last four years than was accomplished in the previous seven. He does not believe that asking voters to tax themselves to pay down the debt to the state is the right plan.

“I think we need to continue to attack the problem head-on, but I don’t believe putting it in the form of additional tax to our community is the way to address the PERS liability,” Reece said.

He was one of three councilmembers who voted to reject the easement over Larkin Park that would have given access to the proposed parking lot at Larkin Place, the planned permanent supportive housing project next door. That vote has resulted in a letter from the California Department of Housing and Community Development warning the city that it is in violation of the Housing Accountability Act.

“In regard to Larkin, my vote was really just focused on the easement,” Reece said. “That was where I focused on, I said it that evening during the vote, that it’s all about the easement. Number one my concern was the safety, and I went down there and did my own research, sat in the park, watching the users, watching the children play. I realized that in my mind we have a safety issue.”

He also saw the prospect of allowing the builder, Jamboree Housing Corporation, access over public property as “a Pandora’s box,” and not a precedent he wanted to set. He cited as an example the La Puerta development and how Trumark wanted a portion of the adjacent sports park to increase the size of that project, a plan the city and members of the community rejected.

“So, I remain in the same position that we should not provide public property to developers,” Reece said.

However, the key difference between the projects is Trumark wanted to annex a roughly one-acre portion of a sports park for its own use, while residents of Larkin Place would have shared a driveway with Larkin Park users.

“We are giving them unfettered access,” Reece said. “It’s almost like a partnership of the property. In the most recent history of Claremont we have not given public property, the use of an easement, or the property itself to any developer and I think its important to maintain that standard.”

Finally, he maintains that voting against the easement did not equate to rejecting the project outright because there are at least two alternate site plans that would allow the project to go forward if the developer should choose that path. One plan that Reece has championed simply moves the building already approved by the architectural commission to the back of the lot, and moves the parking forward, negating the need for an easement.

Addressing affordable housing in general requires a “multi-pronged approach,” according to Reece. Part of that will be funding a grant program to provide incentives for homeowners to construct accessory dwelling units on their properties if they agree to rent the new units for three years. Creating a robust program that gets ADUs built throughout the city would also help avoid concentrating all affordable housing in select geographical areas, according to Reece.

Another “prong” is ensuring the recently revised inclusionary housing ordinance is effective in getting affordable units built in the city. To achieve that, Reece wants to make sure the city works with developers so they reject the in-lieu fee option and live up to the spirit of the rule, so that 5% of the units in every new project will be for low-income people and an additional 10% for those with moderate incomes.

The growing problem with crime around the 10 Freeway and Indian Hill Boulevard has become a frequent issue raised during the public comment portion of recent city council meetings. Reece said he met with District Attorney George Gascon, who indicated his office has two teams that can be of service to cities like Claremont. One offers outreach to sex workers to find them resources and possibly get them off the streets. The other assists with enforcement. Reece said neither team has been sent to Claremont yet, and the city is still in talks with the DA’s office.

“Additionally, I met with the motel owners and told them we need to come up with solutions together, collaborate together, in solving this issue,” Reece said. “And if they did not want to participate with us in solving this issue, we would look for every tool in our toolbox to make this issue go away.”

One of those tools is the proposed motel nuisance ordinance that is scheduled to come before the council at the end of October. Another is increased enforcement of the existing city code.

Public safety came up one last time as the roughly half-hour interview came to a close when Reece brought up his goal to combat speeding in Claremont. It’s one of the reasons Reece pushed to add more officers to the Claremont Police Department.

“I believe there is nothing wrong with a driver having a healthy fear of a ticket,” he said. “And doing so I think will cause people to slow down. Having that additional officer will also allow us to add more resources to our traffic bureau. So, I look forward to the officers coming out of training … and getting them on the street.”

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