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Claremont voters reject Measure PS

 

Claremont voters overwhelmingly rejected Measure PS, a $50 million bond measure for a proposed new public safety facility, on Tuesday.

More than 75 percent of voters said no to the measure, compared to more than 24 percent who voted yes. In all, 4,590 Claremonters went to the polls, which represented about 21 percent of the 21,938 registered voters in the city.

The measure would have created a parcel tax to fund the building of a new police station on Monte Vista Avenue, north of the city yard. The fixed parcel tax was to be $286 per year per parcel for 40 years.

Supporters of the measure gathered at the home of Betty Crocker, co-chair of the Yes on Measure PS Committee, to watch the early returns. After the more 2,000 absentee votes were counted by around 8:30 p.m., it became clear the measure would not pass.

The mood at the PS headquarters was that of disappointment, as supporters talked about what went wrong and what could be done in the future to pass a measure to fund a new police station.

“Win or lose, we’ve raised awareness of the need [of a new police station] in Claremont. Now it’s a matter of how best to fund it,” PS supporter Frank Bedoya said. “It’s not back to the drawing board, it’s back to the table.”

Councilmember Sam Pedroza, who was on hand with fellow councilmembers Joe Lyons, Opanyi Nasiali and Mayor Corey Calaycay, echoed Mr. Bedoya’s sentiments.

“Even though it’s a defeat, we really did learn a lot,” Mr. Pedroza said. “The big part is done—knowledge.”

Throughout the campaign, voters expressed concern over certain aspects of the measure, primarily the cost and how it was to be funded. In town hall meetings with city officials leading up to the election, residents expressed skepticism that $50 million was required to build a police station for Claremont.

In a town hall meeting at the Hughes Community Center on October 15, an ambiguous response from the measure’s planning committee to the question about a “plan B” further stoked fears.  In the following weeks, letters to the editor in the COURIER showed residents strongly supported a new police station but most writers emphasized a desire for an alternative financing plan.

One major talking point among residents against the measure claimed an average Claremont homeowner would pay the same amount per year as Super King Market under the parcel tax funding mechanism. Some residents were concerned about the location of the proposed facility and others were not convinced the Claremont Police Department needed a 37,000 square foot facility.

In a press release provided by the city, Mr. Calaycay expressed satisfaction at the process, despite the measure’s loss.

“Our city council ensured voters had the facts before them, acted transparently and firmly believed this financing decision should be made directly by the residents of our community,” Mr. Calaycay said. “The voters have now spoken and that was the city’s original intent—to provide residents with the opportunity to have a say in the future of their public safety facility.”

As many residents have expressed, the mayor believes the campaign clearly demonstrated the need for a new police station.

“On behalf of the city, I want to thank our residents for carefully considering this measure and engaging in the civic process,” Mr. Calaycay shared. “We received very constructive feedback from residents. Even among opponents of the measure, we heard over and over again that a new facility is needed.”

PS supporter Marci Luxemburg-Horowitz hinted at the main reason why the measure failed. “It’s how it needed to be explained,” she said.

“We need to come together as a community,” Ms. Luxemburg-Horowitz added. “It’s not a Democrat issue and it’s not a Republican issue; it’s a community issue.”

During a brief speech at her home on Tuesday night, Ms. Crocker aimed to offer  hope for the future.

“It is a dream that will happen here in Claremont,” Ms. Crocker said. “It’ll just be a little longer campaign.”

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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