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Larkin Place PRO: a good fit, legal challenge is ‘unwinnable’

by Pamela Casey Nagler

Open letter to city council:

Thank you, councilmembers Calaycay, Stark, Leano, Reese, Medina.

I am lawsuit adverse, living in a city where we continue to bear the burden of legal fees from a previously failed lawsuit. I have no desire for a redux.

I am thinking that those of you sitting on the dais should be just as lawsuit adverse as me.

I consider Larkin Place a very good project — a humane project — that took years of community planning, a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of site, zoning, state, county, and local funding, to address the gaping need to house some of our most vulnerable. I consider it a good fit — surrounded as it is by other facilities, churches, a park, a senior center, with access to transit.

Staff strongly recommended the project with an easement — they considered it safer with a separate ingress and egress, with more amenities (more parking, patios, rooftop spaces), more aesthetic, less intrusive, more green spaces, less visually and experientially monotonous, more conducive to healthy living, more sustainable.

By not approving the easement, we are not only losing $700,000 worth of safety improvements to Larkin Park, but we are also building a less-than-optimal facility at Larkin Place.

Some are suggesting a compromise to move the L-shaped building to the rear and put the parking lot in front.

This compromise satisfies only the elite few who have concocted it. It doesn’t make the project safer, less intrusive, more aesthetic. It doesn’t satisfy those who don’t want the project built at all.

In a town of experts, it is astonishing to me that we are leapfrogging over the experts — the staff and architects — to allow a group of people without design expertise to redesign this project.

We elected you to follow the laws and keep us out of harm’s way, to create the best possible outcomes considering the circumstances, but your actions have betrayed that trust.

So, I say, approve the project with the easement and keep us out of an “unwinnable” lawsuit with the state for discriminatory housing practices.

Historically, Claremont has a reputation as a former sundown town, a town that was redlined, with real estate covenants that disallowed people of color, and many of us just want to do better.

We want to house people in the best possible facility we can possibly imagine.

I have no problem with any of you lobbying to repeal or amend SB 35, but your desire to drag Claremont into your fight for local control is reprehensible. And here’s a reminder: our state legislators are going in the opposite direction; they just approved AB 2011.

It is ironic that in the very process of trying to gain more local control, we are actually losing it by your vote against the easement.

Pamela Casey Nagler is a Claremont resident.

1 Comment

  1. SHIRLEY JOHNSTON

    I’m so glad the courier is being impartial and finally not picking sides on this topic. Good job Claremont courier.

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