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Council reviews city goals and priorities at latest meeting

Claremont is continuing to get its priorities in order, according to an update from the city.

The city presented the council with a progress report on how Claremont is fulfilling its eight identified priorities during last week’s city council meeting. City Manager Tara Schultz also teased a possible revision of the city’s mission statement and core values at the next priorities workshop on January 29.

The presentation was a window into the multiple projects and responsibilities the city is currently working on. The eight council priorities, according to Assistant to the City Manager Jamie Harvey, are economic development, financial stability, local water issues, public safety, quality of life, sustainability, urban forest management and transportation and infrastructure.

Under economic development, a high priority was the Village South Specific Plan. Ms. Harvey noted a draft version of the plan would be presented to the council in September.

The city will also work to maintain a one percent vacancy rate in the Village, Ms. Harvey noted. The current vacancy rate is at less than one percent, according to city spokesperson Bevin Handel.

Under financial stability, Ms. Harvey noted the city is looking at changing fees for various services in the city, including applying for a conditional use permit and requesting a commission review. The city was initially going to hold a public hearing on June 26 to look over these fee changes, but it was pulled the week before in favor of additional scrutiny by the Community and Human Services Commission and the Police Commission.

An exact date hasn’t been set yet for the fees to come before the council, but Finance Director Adam Pirrie told the COURIER in a previous interview that it would be sometime in September.

The unfunded pension liabilities remain a top priority and will continue in that way into the foreseeable future. The city is whittling away at the $50.8 million pension gap by including an annual $100,000 payment in its budget.

Over $2.7 million so far toward that unfunded liability since 2010, the city said.

Under public safety, the city noted that 15 of the original 35 old Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras have been replaced, and the city is continuing to look at the possibility of implementing body-worn cameras on police officers.

A vendor for body-worn cameras has already been identified, the city said, and grants are currently being looked at. However, storage of the cameras’ data, which makes up a huge chunk of the cost, is excluded from grant funding.

In terms of trees, Ms. Harvey noted the city is continuing volunteer tree planting events throughout the year. Along with Sustainable Claremont’s Green Crew, the city has planted 655 trees within city parks and rights-of-way within the last year. The city is working on implementing a $200,000 grant from Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office to plat trees, and a $377,000 from CalFire to develop an Urban Forest Master Plan.

During public comment, Bob Gerecke implored the council to place the planting of trees above other priorities, such as infrastructure.

“If you delay repairing a street, it may require more repairs, but once you finish it, it won’t take several decades to become a smooth street, you’ve done it,” Mr. Gerecke said. “It’s much more urgent to prevent the loss of trees than it is to prevent the deterioration of our streets, in terms of priorities to spending your money.”

Ms. Schultz told the council the city is looking at an overhaul of Claremont’s mission statement and core values as well as adopt a vision statement.

Ms. Schultz noted an outreach program would start in the months before the January 29 meeting, and would include involving the community through a social media campaign (with the hashtag #ClaremontCoreValues) and “really create a whole campaign we can collect information on, and put that together and present it to the council.”

Ms. Schultz also talked to Claremont Unified School District Superintendent Jim Elsasser to possibly get the city’s youngsters involved. Third graders are learning about local government in the social science curriculum, and Ms. Schultz noted they could be involved as well.

“I think that might be a good process for us,” Ms. Schultz said. She also noted the city will put a SurveyMonkey link on their website to collect information.

The update was a receive-and-file item, thus it did not require a vote from the council.

The next city council meeting will take place on July 10.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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