City council delays water, development agenda items

The Claremont City Council shelved two important items—a vote on La Verne’s plan for the Claremont water system and an appeal regarding the Serrano II housing project—at its meeting Tuesday night due to two councilmembers’ absences.

Councilmembers Joe Lyons and Larry Schroeder were not present during the meeting, forcing Mayor Corey Calaycay to call for the votes to be pushed to October 13.

The council was initially scheduled to approve an operational agreement with the city of La Verne to run the Claremont water system should the city prevail in its eminent domain case against Golden State Water Company.

Under the agreement, La Verne would maintain the water system and provide staff, while Claremont would own the water system itself and be responsible for billing, customer service staff and setting rates and water policies.

The agreement would allow Claremont to set aside $1.5 million for operational purposes, with La Verne getting an annual stipend of 10 percent of the operational cost.

The city of La Verne had already approved their end of the deal during their city council meeting on Monday, September 21.

Although the council pushed the vote to next month’s meeting, Claremont resident Jim Belna took to the podium during public comment to outline a few of his concerns with the new agreement.

“This very may well be the most expensive contract the city has ever made,” Mr. Belna said. “It’s completely ridiculous for the city of Claremont take over the water system just to turn it into a cash cow for La Verne.”

As with all other aspects of the city’s quest to claim eminent domain, the deal hinges on whether or not Claremont has legal standing to take over the water system.

Another item shelved until October 13 surrounded the proposed Serrano II condominium project, to be built on Base Line Road next to the Serrano I development, which is currently under construction.

On July 15, the Claremont Architectural Commission denied the Serrano II plans by a vote of 3-2-2, with concerns mostly involving design consistency, and blind spots within the development  that could pose a traffic hazard. Another concern was the placement of the back yard walls in the initial design. The developer appealed the commission’s decision on July 22.

The city council was set to overturn the commission’s recommendation on the Serrano II project on September 8, but the item pushed to last Tuesday’s meeting.?Because of council absences, the item was again put on hold.

Architectural commission vice-chair Mark Schoeman expressed frustration over the council’s expected approval of the development, telling the COURIER that city staff did not properly address the issues the commission had with the project. The recommendations made by staff included changing the color of one of the units and repositioning a second-floor window.

“The staff recommendations made it look like we denied the project based on some colors, and I did not appreciate that,” Mr. Schoeman said, speaking personally and not on behalf of other commissioners. “I just don’t think it’s the right kind of project for the area. It’s not fully realizing the potential of the site.”

Among the items on the agenda that were voted on by council was an amendment to the city’s municipal code requiring massage businesses to obtain a conditional use permit in order to keep operating within city limits.

The ordinance was a direct response to Assembly Bill 1147, which was created, in part, to curb the number of businesses that dealt in prostitution and human trafficking. According to Associate Planner Luke Seibert, there are five massage businesses in Claremont that are listed on RubMaps.com, a site that chronicles massage therapists that are known for “happy endings.”

Each conditional use permit will cost businessowners $1,500 to obtain. The code also requires Claremont police to monitor each business and make sure they are in compliance with the new ordinance.

Mr. Seibert outlined three zones where massage businesses are no longer allowed to operate: below the 10 freeway around the Claremont Auto Center, in the commercial space on the southeast corner of Arrow Highway and Indian Hill Boulevard and a tiny sliver of commercial area on Arrow Highway and Elder Drive, near the La West liquor store.

Massage businesses looking to open within the business/industrial park district will only be allowed to obtain a CUP if they are related to a gym, health club, yoga studio, pilates studio or something similar, according to the ordinance.

Two massage businesses, La Bella Spa and Arrow Spa, already exist within two of the zones and will have one year to relocate under the new ordinance, according to Mr. Seibert. The city will not offset relocation costs for the businesses, said Community Services Director?Brian Desatnik.

The ordinance unanimously passed, with the three present councilmembers voting yes.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting was an update on homeless services within the city, as well as a contractual agreement with Urban Graffiti Enterprises, Inc. for graffiti removal services within the city.

The city council will meet again on October 13.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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