Readers comments 5-9-14
Foothill Boulevard plans
The city of Claremont is in the process of creating a master plan for Foothill Bouelvard. Current discussions revolve solely around the tangible issues: sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, etc. There is, however, another aspect to be considered, which has not yet received much recognition. Let’s call them the “intangibles.”
The website the Art of Geography calls it “The Sense of Place,” which they define as, “a combination of characteristics that makes a place special and unique. Sense of place involves the human experience in a landscape…[it] also grows from identifying oneself in relation to a particular piece of land on planet Earth.”
They continue,“…places like strip malls have little sense of place because they more or less all look very similar, often have no name and no one who wants to spend any time there or write anything about them.” [recall the song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”] “Whereas places that exhibit a strong sense of place have an identity and character recognized immediately by a visitor and valued deeply by residents.”
I’ll add to that—a unique identity and character.
As the novelist Wendell Berry put it, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”
Professor Kent Ryden put it this way, “A sense of place results gradually and unconsciously from inhabiting a landscape over time, becoming familiar with its physical properties, accruing history within its confines.”
Now, clearly, Foothill Boulevard is not the be-all and end-all of our sense of place in Claremont. But it definitely is part of it, and deserves to be respected for that. Other parts of Claremont are important as well.?For example, Base Line Road, the Village, the Old School House and the Bernard Field Station, to name just a few.
A troubling trend in the present-day urban planning realm toward “master planning,” and it’s usual cookie-cutter designs, disturbs and destroys our sense of place.
Looking around Claremont, we already see a plethora of look-alike condo developments going in along Base Line, and look-alike street-scapes in many southern California cities—as more egregiously epitomized by, perhaps, Irvine and Rancho Cucamonga.
Master plans that call for arbitrary change just because the changes can physically be done—in the literal sense — or because there is funding available, are not necessarily good changes.
To be good changes, the reasons need to be so compelling that they are obvious to everyone. The changes the city is putting forth for Foothill Boulevard, thus far, are not compellingly obvious, do not respect Claremont’s heritage and sense of place, and, with very few exceptions, should not go forward.
Some of those “very few exceptions” are (1) bioswales, (2) replace dead trees and bushes with live tree and bushes and (3) add a few more trees. That should about do it.
Congratulations to all the COURIER staff on the inaugural edition of Claremont Living. I also want to thank Beth Hartnett, the photographer Steven Felschundneff and all the COURIER staff who involved in developing the article on our home at 1035 Harvard Ave. in the Village. The work was informative, accurate and still very interesting to read (even though it is about our home).
Thanks again for taking the time to profile an important part of Claremont’s architecture, history and past.
Tom and Marie Playford
Thank you for introducing us to the new owners of Boon Companion. For the last five years, I have taken my children to Boon Companion and I welcome the new owners to Claremont.
In the last couple weeks, they have made the store a beautiful place for young children to visit. They listen to their customers and they are friendly to the children who come in.
Please continue to introduce us to new people who keep Claremont a nice place to raise children.