Golden State offers apology for last week’s water debacle
One week after a water shutoff caught north Claremont by surprise, Golden State Water has issued an apology.
Ben Lewis, GSW’s general manager for the foothill district, which includes Claremont, issued the apology as he read from a prepared statement during public comment at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
“On behalf of Golden State Water, I’d like to sincerely apologize for inconveniencing residents during the recent service interruption,” Mr. Lewis said. “We are solely responsible for ensuring high-quality water is available to customers when they need it, and we should have planned better to prevent the water supply issue that impacted water service.”
The planned outage on February 6 took the city by surprise, with north Claremont residents claiming they were not notified prior to the shutdown. The Claremont Unified School District was not notified of the shutdown either, and City Manager Tara Schultz was given notice at 10 p.m. the night before.
Chaparral Elementary had to truck in a last-minute group of portable bathrooms for students, and the Claremont Club was forced to close for the remainder of the day.
Residents in the affected area were told to boil water before consuming it in the days that followed, and GSW employees trucked hundreds of water bottles to houses in north Claremont.
Mr. Lewis commended Three Valleys Municipal Water District for helping to restore water service.
“We have learned from this event, and are committed to making improvements to prevent any future inconveniences,” Mr. Lewis said.
Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali and Councilmember Joe Lyons remarked that communication and dialogue would be key in preventing a similar incident from happening again.
“Thanks for coming to at least recognize the responsibility where it lay, but let’s talk in the future so we don’t do that again,” Mr. Nasiali said.
Pooch Park to open soon
The Claremont Pooch Park has been closed for what seems like ages, as the city works to refurbish it and allow time for the grass to grow.
But the long wait may finally come to an end, according to City Manager Tara Schultz.
Ms. Schultz told the council during her report that city staff will make a decision on an opening date for the park by the end of the month. Construction was completed in late December.
The reason for the prolonged shutdown, she said, was because of “unusual and unpredictable weather,” in the last couple of months.
“Opening day will be announced when the grass is hardy enough to withstand heavy usage,” she said.
Attorney fees ordinance passed
The council unanimously approved an ordinance to add a new section to the city codes that provide for the collection of attorney’s fees in the instance of litigation.
Specifically, section 1.12.060 of chapter 1.12 of the code focuses on “nuisance abatement” or litigation covering code enforcement issues.
Claremont building official Jeff Baughman said 99 percent of code enforcement cases are settled without the aid of an attorney. But for that one percent of cases that get to that level, the city wants a better way to recoup attorney’s fees if they prevail.
“Our goal is compliance, not prosecution,” Mr. Baughman told the council.
California law allows cities to adopt ordinances such as this one, he said, and a typical way a city can recover these fees is by placing an assessment on a property.
The ordinance passed the council unanimously, 3-0. Mayor Larry Schroeder and Councilmember Sam Pedroza were absent from the meeting.
Claremont Village apartments update
The council unanimously approved a second attempt at securing $55 million in tax-exempt financing by a group looking to buy and remodel a low-income Claremont apartment complex.
Claremont Village Venture LP initially received approval from the council in December 2017. But the group decided to go with a different issuer, the California Statewide Community Development Authority, thus necessitating a separate public hearing in front of the city council.
The group, led by developer MRK Partners, is planning to heavily refurbish the complex, located at 965 W. Arrow Highway. The plans include new cabinets, appliances, flooring, paint, energy-efficient lighting, sidewalks, waterproofing paint and sealant, HVAC, playground upgrades and signage.
A security camera system requested by the council in December has also been added to the work plan, the city said.
The reason for the switch, according to MRK operations director Cathy Coler, centered on mixed messages from Congress about tax reform.
She explained to the council that MRK initially applied with the California Municipal Finance Authority (CMFA) as part of a mass issuance by the state due to the threat of eliminating private activity bonds as part of the tax reform. That ended up not happening, she said.
The apartment complex will remain low-income and section 8 eligible after the renovations, she told the council.
The city has no financial obligation to the debt issuance. The council passed the resolution unanimously, 3-0.
The next city council meeting will take place on February 27.