State of Claremont is strong, challenges on horizon
Mayor Corey Calaycay presented a positive message during the annual State of the City address at the DoubleTree Hotel Tuesday morning.
The address, which came during the Claremont Chamber of Commerce’s networking breakfast, highlighted the achievements of the city in the past year and outlined the challenges facing Claremont in the year ahead.
“The city of Claremont is in great shape,” Mr. Calaycay said.
Many of the highlights outlined by Mr. Calaycay involved economic growth, including home prices rising, businesses in good shape and a Village vacancy rate of two percent, down from 15 percent, according to the mayor.
Mr. Calaycay mentioned the incoming tenancy of a Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealership along Auto Center Drive and tearing down the Knights Inn on San Jose and Indian Hill to make way for a Hampton Inn, with construction starting in 2016. The Motel 6 south of the 10 freeway will also be rebranded, Mr. Calaycay said.
Another highlight of the speech was the emphasis on tree care in a city known for them.
“We can’t talk about Claremont without talking about trees,” Mr. Calaycay said.
The mayor emphasized the city’s efforts to save the hundreds of towering trees throughout Claremont, including reaching out to residents with tree-care education in the midst of an historic drought. A Sustainable Claremont video outlined what residents can do to care for their trees without wasting water, including leaving an above-ground sprinkler on for about 20 minutes per week.
Mr. Calaycay mentioned that Claremont leads the region in water conservation, cutting water use by over 40 percent and creating long-term drought projects like the re-landscaping of City Hall, Indian Hill Boulevard medians and Shelton Park.
At one point, Mr. Calaycay’s humorous video for the Cool California Challenge was going to be played for the crowd, but the link wouldn’t work. After a few chuckles from the crowd, Mr. Calaycay shrugged and said, “Okay, that’s probably for the better.”
But Claremont also has challenges ahead, according to Mr. Calaycay. The ongoing eminent domain case against Golden State Water has a trial date of June 2016, the next step in a long process to take over the water system.
Property crimes have been a moderate issue in Claremont, along with many other cities in the region. But Mr. Calaycay stressed they are more crimes of opportunity than anything else, with thieves taking advantage of Claremonters leaving their cars unlocked overnight in some cases.
Mr. Calaycay also mentioned the creation of a Transportation/Infrastructure council priority for 2016, with specific emphasis on the upcoming Gold Line construction and the proposed grade separation over Indian Hill Boulevard.
He stressed that the grade separation would mitigate additional traffic on the already congested road. “That’s huge, and I hope people understand that,” he said.
As he wrapped up the speech, Mr. Calaycay noted that it takes everyone in the city to make Claremont successful, including residents, businesses and organizations.
He also pointed out that Tuesday’s speech is the last State of the City address he’ll make before a new mayor is chosen in the coming year. He thanked the crowd, and mentioned that it’s the first time in history that all city council members have been former mayors.
“Thank you for all you do to make Claremont the awesome place it is,” Mr. Calaycay said to the crowd.