Claremont’s first day of ‘stay at home’
by Steven Felschundneff
On the first full day of Los Angeles County’s “Safer at Home” order, and a similar directive coming from Sacramento, life seemed to be going on as usual in Claremont.
In the Village some streets were more crowded than others, and there was noticeably more available parking, but it was far from the lockdown that many had feared. At least for now.
The city made some big changes to comply with the order announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday evening. The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park will be closed until further notice, and public restrooms and playgrounds at other Claremont parks are also closed until the stay home order is lifted.
The city clarified that the closure of the Wilderness Park was due to staffing shortages brought on by the “stay at home order” and the resulting difficulty to maintain the portable toilets as well as keeping the trail safe. Thompson Creek trail will remain open.
The recycling facility that contracts with the city has shut down, so all recyclables will be heading to the landfill along with the other trash. (Residents can still use their blue bins for items that would be recycled but the same truck will be dumping both blue and black bins.)
City offices will be closed with only essential employees working, however, the police department will continue to be fully staffed.
“We are sending those employees that are not currently providing the most vital of our essential services home to protect them and their loved ones from the spread of COVID-19,” City Manager Tara Schultz announced in a statement posted on the city of Claremont’s official Facebook page.
“The police department will continue their mission to protect and serve the community They have put protocols in place to protect officers and staff and those they come in contact with, from contributing to community spread,” according to the statement.
Additionally, community services will be working to maintain and clean city facilities, and trash services will proceed as scheduled. The drive-through senior nutrition program at Joslyn Senior Center will continue.
At a special meeting of the Claremont City Council on Thursday the council voted unanimously to declare a local state of emergency that was presented by Ms. Schultz earlier in the week. During the meeting Mayor Larry Schroeder and Councilmember Corey Calaycay participated from home as part of the effort to use social distancing. Members of the public could also participate from home, either by sending emails to be read by the clerk or by arranging in advance to have the clerk telephone them during the public comment period.
The majority of public comments focused on the loss of wages caused by the mandatory shuttering of nonessential business and the resulting difficulty of residents to pay basic expenses, including rent. Many urged the council to enact a ban on evictions as part of the declaration of emergency.
The council ratified the state of emergency without adopting a local ban on evictions but noted that such a moratorium on evictions is already in place, both within the county and through the federal government. Councilmember Jed Leano asked Ms. Schultz to draft a proposal to put aside $100,000 from the city’s housing asset fund to create an emergency reserve for Claremont residents facing eviction. The council will vote on that resolution at its next meeting,
however it is not known when that will take place because the one scheduled for March 24 has been cancelled. All commission meetings have also been cancelled.
Friday morning city maintenance crews were hard at work roping off playgrounds with yellow caution tape at all of the city’s public parks.
In the statewide “stay at home” order, Governor Newsom encourage citizens to get out and exercise, but also to exercise social distancing.
Pomona College Professor Amanda Hollis-Brusky, with her daughters Eloise, 9, and Annabelle, 10, along with the family dog Hank, were using the basketball courts at Memorial Park to practice their jump shots and free throws. Ms. Hollis-Brusky said they have been getting out for an hour at least once a day since Claremont Unified School District closed schools last week.
Others were enjoying the park as well, either walking dogs or riding bikes and scooters.
The city said it will update the public regularly via its Facebook page or residents can visit a special webpage launched by the city with details about coronavirus at https://www.ci.claremont.ca.us/living/coronavirus-information.
Also, check the COURIER website and Facebook page for new developments.