Readers comments 6-20-14
Golden State property on Mills
[Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Golden State Water Company customer service with a copy forwarded to the COURIER for publication. —KD]
Dear Golden State Water:
Today, Wednesday, June 18, you hired out or employed an individual to tend to the removal of weeds grown on the property across from Chaparral Elementary School. It was such a dedicated effort that in addition to all of the weeds, every California poppy plant, and there were many, were destroyed in the process.
This shows a lack of oversight on your part, or willful ignorance. In any case, there is not much of any scenic beauty on this land, but the poppy was indeed a bright spot in a field of drab. I also think it is against the law to pick or otherwise destroy the state flower.
In today’s world of bad news and tragic events, this is small and relatively insignificant. But what beauty there was in this field has been eliminated, by the swift strokes of a weed wacker. You should be ashamed.
Condit School traffic
The brief report in the June 13 Claremont COURIER about a vehicle-pedestrian encounter near Condit School was saddening but scarcely surprising.
As a homeowner just south of Condit for more than 30 years, I have witnessed all kinds of dangerous situations. This includes, I am sad to say, several instances when Claremont police cars have roared up Mountain Avenue straight through school traffic, lights and sirens blazing, on their way to some emergency. I cannot imagine that this is appropriate or safe behavior!
The general situation at Condit, however, is little better than those few instances. By 8 a.m., it is impossible to get in or out of our driveway. The sidewalk is full of bikes and pedestrians; huge SUVs park right up to the driveway (and sometimes over), making a clear view of the street impossible; and two lanes of north-bound traffic are proceeding frantically toward the drop-off curb at the school. Fortunately, we are now retired and no longer have to face this every morning.
I believe there is one obvious solution to this mess. Mountain Avenue between Foothill and Base Line should be striped the same way as Mountain Avenue between Foothill and Harrison. This would give us a parking lane, a separate bike lane, a single traffic lane north and a central turning lane.
In my observation, most of the speeding occurs in the inner lane of our current two north-bound lanes. People in that lane seem to think they can just speed through Condit since they have no business there. This would also get the bikes out of the pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. Re-striping would probably cost a little money, but it would be worth the effort.
Alternatives to a water system takeover
Recently, the Claremont Affordable Water Advocates (CAWA) announced an agreement it negotiated with Golden State Water Company that we believe deserves a serious look by not only the city council, but also by Claremont residents and ratepayers. Like you, CAWA is a group of concerned citizens and longtime residents who have a stake in the future direction of our city.
CAWA tenaciously worked for two months with leaders of the water company, demanding affordable rates and a better deal than proposed attempts of a costly eminent domain takeover. The strong steps taken by both sides weren’t easy, but the result, we believe, will benefit everyone, now and in the future.
The agreement calls for lower bills for residential customers, with future increases capped through the year 2022. More importantly, the agreement includes guaranteed local control in the rate setting process.
To ensure transparency, Golden State would report to the community and address all community questions. These reports would be made directly to residents throughout the year. In addition, the agreement helps ward off efforts to raise rates on imported water.
Over the past several years in Claremont, there has been much discussion on how best to deliver clean, sustainable drinking water and maintain our system at a fair price.
To its credit, the city council has raised important issues relative to current water rates and service. For its part, GSWC has invested more than $20 million in infrastructure improvements over the past decade.
And, as water continues to be our most treasured resource, accountability is an absolute must. But we also believe that we should re-think the enormous fiscal uncertainties of converting our water system to a municipal utility, which would largely be decided by the courts.
The agreements forged through this process are a positive step toward creating a viable long-term plan: lower water bills and local control without a $135 million water tax that we’ll be paying for decades.
It also includes a commitment to conservation whereby CAWA and Golden State would work to develop, fund and sustain water conservation programs and create a water conservation curriculum for our local schools to teach Claremont students the value of water, along with critical science, engineering and math skills.
This agreement represents a fresh, bold approach to address our concerns about local water issues. We are serious about not only improving the relationship with our water company, but also taking a broader, more long-term approach toward effective water management.
Just last week, the City Council approved a November 4 election ballot measure that would grant the city the authority to finance a $55 million revenue bond if the acquisition of the water system exceeds $80 million. Given the uncertainties of eminent domain court fights, that’s a risky long-term proposition. Moreover, it’s perilous and dishonest for city staff to recommend our city council take action to borrow $80 million without a vote of the people.
If the delivery of quality drinking water at a fair price is important to you, then CAWA’s agreement with the water company should be considered. It makes sense, is the right thing to do and presents a meaningful, substantive alternative to a $135 million takeover that will ultimately cost residents more.
By working together to solve both short- and long-term issues, we can ensure the delivery and maintenance of affordable drinking water for Claremont residents of current and future generations. I invite you to peruse ClaremontWater.org, which provides more information and specifics on our agreement.
Donna S. Lowe
Critical need to fund UN peacekeeping
I’ve recently returned from the United Nations Association meeting in Washington DC, where I met with the offices of Representative Judy Chu and Senator Dianne Feinstein about issues that may seem far from home, but are near and dear to core American values.
One of them is the importance of supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations, particularly in nations like the Central African Republic (CAR)—a country teetering on the brink of genocide. UN peacekeepers are desperately needed there—and in other volatile and terror-plagued nations around the globe—to restore law and order and save countless lives.
Fortunately, the UN Security Council, with support from the United States, has approved a robust peacekeeping mission in CAR. But currently, the US is in the red on its UN peacekeeping dues, and this year’s federal budget underfunds UN peacekeeping by $350 million. During our meeting, I urged Rep. Chu and Sen. Feinstein to address this growing concern and provide full support for peacekeeping funding.
I am not alone in this conviction—a recent bipartisan poll found that two-thirds of Americans support full and timely payment of UN dues, including for peacekeeping operations. That includes Americans like me and hundreds of others who traveled to Washington for the annual meeting of the United Nations Association of the USA, an organization dedicated to informing, inspiring and mobilizing the American people to support the ideals and work of the UN.
As our representatives consider an FY’15 spending bill, we must fully fund all peacekeeping needs, including this newest mission in CAR.
Mel Boynton, President
Pomona Valley UNA-USA