Readers comments 8-1-14
Petition signature removal
I thought people might like to know that they can remove their name from a ballot initiative petition very simply. All they need to do is write a note to the Claremont City Clerk asking that it be removed.
The request for removal can be mailed in or dropped off in person at City Hall, 207 Harvard Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. It is important that the letter contain your signature just like you signed the petition. The request must get to the City Clerk before the petition is actually filed.
You can call the clerk at (909) 399-5460 if you have questions, and you can go to claremontflow.org to print out a form to use if you like.
MOU is presumptious
The Memorandum of Understanding between Golden State Water and Claremont Affordable Water Advocates (CAWA) is presumptious regarding approval by all in the city. Who made CAWA the decider regarding control of water in Claremont?
I support the Claremont City Council’s position to control water management.
Bill E. Beck
City tree watering
The letter titled, “City trees are city trees” seems a somewhat narrow and short sighted perspective, and ignores two significant points. First, the city is us, not some unattached entity. Whenever the city council—elected by voters—makes a decision, it is a democratic reflection of Claremont residents. Secondly, Claremont’s trees are an incontestable asset to the community as a whole. Not only do they provide beauty and enhance property values, they also positively affect the physical and emotional environment within which we all live.
Admittedly, and in hindsight, some of the types of trees that have been selected to grace our streets have been a poor choice. This error has been recognized and is being rectified. Furthermore, the letter-writer’s perspective might have had some basis if they were transitory residents without concern for the future of the community, or perhaps struggling to meet basic necessities and needing outside assistance just to get by.
However, for most Claremont residents, the monthly cost of summer watering of a “city” tree or two is reasonable, probably less than the cost of dining out at one of our restaurants once a month, and the long-term benefit to the community is decidedly greater.
Something to hide
Councilmembers talk a good game about transparency but their actions demonstrate a lack of confidence and respect for residents. Why else would they oppose a local initiative whose sole purpose is to ensure residents vote on $135 million in proposed debt to seize the water system. If the deal is so good, public support shouldn’t be a problem.
The city hasn’t provided any details to support a $135 million plan, and their $55 million election is misleading. The council, without discussion, appropriated another $1 million from the general fund last week and has allocated more than $2.5 million for consultants and lawyers.
Instead of facts, we get promises. It’s a repeat of the Felton experience, which resulted in 30 years of higher property taxes and 71 percent rate increases. A Claremont economist projected the same consequences here, which explains why government isn’t disclosing information. Give residents details and let them vote. Why would the city oppose that unless they had something to hide?
Claremont Affordable Water Advocates supports the compromise agreement with Golden State Water to lower water bills and give residents local control without $135 million in debt we will repay through a water surcharge for 30 years.
Claremont Affordable Water Advocates
[Editor’s note: The $2.5 million figure noted here should include the approval of the $1 million, and is not in addition to. Regarding the statement “without discussion,” the item was placed on the City Council’s July 22 agenda, allowing residents to provide public comment to the council before the vote. Three residents addressed the council, all of whom support the city’s effort to acquire the water system. —KD]
Fair market value
It is becoming obvious that the debate on the water system takeover has deteriorated into a predictable exchange of rhetoric, and that the people of Claremont will be no better informed by November. I would like to see whichever side is misleading us be held accountable.
Here’s my solution: Golden State agrees to sell the water system to the city at twice today’s book value. In exchange, it will have the first right of refusal, say during the next 20 years, to repurchase the water system at 90 percent of the then-current book value. The November election will determine whether or not Claremont residents want the city to buy the water system.
Twice today’s book value is an easily determinable figure and is likely lower than the fair market value to which Golden State is entitled. But, both sides will save millions of dollars in legal fees and publicity needed for the fight over the water system’s actual fair market value.
When we vote in November on the bond measure, we will know exactly what the water system will cost us, instead of today’s wide range of speculated values that will be ultimately decided years down the road by a third party.
Should the city and other takeover proponents be correctly advising us, we will have acquired the water system earlier and at a lower cost. Golden State will have lost its right to do business in Claremont and likely some of the value it may have otherwise received from a lengthy legal battle.
Should Golden State and the opponents of the takeover (e.g., me) be right, water costs will climb more rapidly in the coming years (we’ll always have Golden State’s Region 3 rates for comparison) or water service will noticeably deteriorate, resulting in a new public outcry. Golden State will then have the opportunity to re-acquire its water system at a bargain rate, while we cut our losses.
Gaming by either side should be mitigated under this plan. If the city does what it is telling us it can do, we will applaud the proponents of the take-over for their leadership, and we’ll be rid of Golden State forever. On the other hand, if water rates become unaffordable or if the city allows the water system to deteriorate (out of mismanagement or in order to keep water costs down), water service will suffer and we’ll clamor for more responsible ownership.
Golden State may choose not to exercise its right to re-acquire the water system (even at a fraction of the initial sales price) if the water system is allowed to deteriorate too much or if the city over-builds (or over-pays for) infrastructure improvements during its regime (due to the inflated price that 90 percent of book value would then produce). In those cases, at-large bids for sale of the water system could then be solicited.