Readers comments 10-17-14
Grateful for La Casita
Nearly 70 years ago, the Claremont community stepped forward to help make possible a place for Claremont’s Girl Scouts to come together and connect with the environment, build leadership skills and create memories. That place is La Casita. Seventy years later, our city council and staff members have stepped forward to help make certain that La Casita remains a place for the Girl Scouts of Claremont and its surrounding areas with the passage of a resolution at Tuesday night’s council meeting to support preservation of La Casita.
We thank Claremont Mayor Joe Lyons and Councilmembers Corey Calaycay, Opanyi Nasiali, Sam Pedroza and Larry Schroeder for their whole-hearted support of and commitment to this resolution. We would also like to thank City Manager Tony Ramos, Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor and the city staff for all the hard work that went into researching and gathering information to make this proposal happen in a very small window of time.
The shared dedication of these people for both the Claremont Neighborhood of Girl Scouts and our town’s historical connection to La Casita shows that when it comes to stepping forward to make important things happen within our community, little has changed in 70 years. With great appreciation,
The Claremont Neighborhood
of Girl Scouts
Culture of respect
I would like to comment on Dean McHenry’s viewpoint published October 10 on planning the future of the Wilderness Park. He states that we need a culture of respect to move the Wilderness Park planning process forward and get us all beyond the head-butting stage of “neighbors versus users.” Yes, a culture of respect is an excellent idea.
And to that wise perspective, I would add that we can only lead by example. If we wish to see the beneficial results of respect for people, plants and animals on our wilderness trails, we must simply take the lead and set the example. I have some anecdotal evidence that this works, at least on a small scale.
I have been walking the upper stretch of the Thompson Creek Trail, north from the Indian Hill parking lot to the hub at Pomello, nearly every morning for well over 20 years. I used to see litter fairly often along the trail and frequently in the parking lots, but not anymore. There is really very little trash these days, even with a significant increase in users. I believe there are two main reasons for this.
For one, our city has done an excellent job of providing—and promptly emptying—a good number of trash cans placed along the trail. Secondly and more to the original point, we regular trail-users have silently, patiently, without obnoxious “Don’t litter” signage, established a no-trash zone on the trail. I always carry a small plastic bag and pick up whatever I see. Everyone sees me doing this day after day and people do thank me, which is sweet but that’s not the point.
Others are picking up the trash now too, and the message has taken root. Even when I’ve been away for weeks, when I return to the trail there is hardly ever a scrap out of place. So if even just one or two of you more energetic folks who regularly walk the higher elevation trails would please take a small trash bag along and fill it as you go, you would set the example and start the train of respect in motion. Sounds hopelessly naïve, I know, but it might work. It did on our section of trail.
A water-wise city hall
If the city were really serious about the drought, they would be planting flowering succulents instead of flowers in front of city hall.
Every vote counts
Now is the time to bring our water back to local control by voting yes on Measure W. The alternative is for us, our children and theirs to remain hostage to Golden State Water’s relentless drive for profits. That is unless, in an even worse scenario, GSW decides one day to sell out to some multinational company at some outrageous profit making water management even more remote and unresponsive to local needs.
As we have walked our precinct in support of Measure W, we have been happily surprised by the high level of support we’ve found.
Every homeowner but one whom we called on last night (and we skipped those who already had a yard sign for W) was already strongly for the cause. The one who wasn’t on board yet asked for more information. This level of support is pretty amazing, given the tens of thousands of dollars GSW has thrown at this campaign with their door-to-door salesmen, their lawsuits and the inflated and untrue claims in their bombardment of slick mailers. Obviously, Claremont isn’t buying what they’re trying to sell!
If all of us who are in favor mail in our ballots or get out to the polls, this measure will pass in a landslide. But the important thing is that we follow up and vote. As this process continues, an overwhelming victory for Measure W will have a positive influence on our city leaders who will carry the plan forward, on Golden State Water, and even on the courts.
Remember that every vote counts, especially on local issues. Vote yes on Measure W.
Robert D. Rogers
Fantasy and fiction
The city and Claremont FLOW have tried very hard to provide honest and accurate information about purchasing the water system, and to be clear about what we do and do not know for certain. In a previous letter, I invited anyone who found something inaccurate in what Claremont FLOW is saying to get in touch so we could correct it. There have been no responses.
Golden State has strong financial reasons to try to keep us among their ratepayers, and they apparently don’t feel constrained by the truth. Of course it is annoying to have so many lies and half-truths circulating in opposition ads, mailers and phone “surveys” meant to mislead, but I trust Claremont citizens to recognize fantasy and fiction when they see or hear it.
Those of us who believe we can do a better job ourselves in setting reasonable rates, in conserving water and in planning for our future will be voting yes on Measure W on November 4.
Too many unknowns
I’ve been studying the water issue for awhile, and it’s been exhausting and frustrating because it’s a very complex issue. In fact, it’s so complex and so full of unknowns that no one can say with any degree of confidence whether our water bills will go down or up, or whether this forced acquisition makes sense.
There are too many unknown variables involved and assumptions abound. Those in favor of Measure W believe that Golden State Water is a big, greedy corporation that is making excessive profits and paying their executives excessive salaries. Also, GSW has to pay taxes, but the city wouldn’t. So if the city takes over the business there presumably would be lots of money that could be saved, enough to cover the cost of issuing a bond to purchase the water system.
Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing whether these assumptions are correct or not. We don’t know how much the system would cost—we would have to spend lots of time and money on lawyers and court costs before a jury tells us in a year or two how much we would have to pay.
We don’t know how much it would cost the city to acquire the expertise to manage the water system—it has no competency in this field at present.
We don’t know the rate of interest we would have to pay on the revenue bonds needed to to finance the purchase. Interest costs in a year or two could easily exceed GSW’s current administrative costs, taxes and profits, thus forcing water rates higher.
Everyone who has looked at this knows that at some price (maybe $100 million?) and at some interest rate, our water bills would probably end up being higher than what GSW is currently proposing, and probably for many years. And at some cost and some interest rate our bills would probably be lower. But we don’t know today what the cost or the interest rate will be next year. We can only speculate.
No one, on either side of the issue, can answer these questions definitively.
As a matter of principle, I don’t like the idea of governments managing businesses, and I don’t like the idea of bureaucrats and politicians setting water rates. Furthermore, I believe that the respect of private property rights is one of the fundamental pillars of our society and our prosperity.
Accordingly, I believe the exercise of eminent domain should be severely limited to those situations where the benefit to the public is clear and compelling. This is not one of those situations.
CWC says yes on Prop P
The Claremont Wildlands Conservancy would like to alert readers about a new county-wide proposition on the November ballot, “Proposition P, 2014 Safe Neighborhood Parks Measure,” which we urge you to support.
Prop P continues county funding for open space, park improvements, historic preservation, bike trails, senior centers and more, replacing Prop A, passed in 1992, which is expiring in June.
The cost to homeowners is $23 per year per parcel for 30 years. This flat parcel tax would replace the current Prop A tax that uses a complicated formula that has resulted in parcel taxes ranging from under a dollar to thousands of dollars. Most property owners in Claremont have been paying under $30 a year for the last 20 years. The proposed across-the-board tax is easier to understand and administer.
Among the Claremont projects funded by Prop A include $1.2 million to remodel a school and create the Hughes Community Center; $317,852 to help acquire 1220 acres of hillside land which otherwise might have been developed for housing; $500,000 to help acquire Johnson’s Pasture; $140,416 for Sycamore Canyon restoration; $96,514 for Cahuilla Park improvements; $51,000 for Padua Hills Theater electrical system upgrades and lighting; and $44,490 for replacement trees along the Thompson Creek Trail.
We urge you to vote yes for Prop P on November 4 so our county can continue to fund parks and open space, senior centers, trails, recreation centers, historic restoration, museum facilities and more. A two-thirds majority is required to pass this measure.
Board member, Claremont
Think before you vote
If yard sign count is a good indicator, the yes on W folks will have a victory come November 5. My hope is that voters will think for themselves before they vote.
As treasurer of our homeowners association, I have been carefully watching the Claremont water bond issues. The water for our little community of 60 residences is on a master meter. The cost of water is already a substantial portion of our overall association budget.
Since first knowing that Claremont was considering the takeover of the city’s water system, I was skeptical. But there seemed to be many people sold on the idea, so I have tried to keep an open mind.
I have attended the meetings and read most everything that has been written. Nothing I have read or heard has convinced me that this takeover is a good idea.
Many of the misgivings I have were published in several other letters to this newspaper. For Claremont, this is a serious business decision. It requires a business plan. There is no plan for what would come after an acquisition and therefore there are many unknowns. Repeated in a number of proponents letters is the statement, “nobody knows what the costs will be.” That bothers me. A lot.
Unknown: The cost of the system. Golden State values their system at $222 million, obviously over-valued but it is their asset and it’s not for sale. An independent appraiser, hired by the city, has set the value at $55 million. We are being asked to approve $135 million. The final price would be set through litigation.
Unknown: Is the city willing to pay $135 million, or more, for an asset worth $55 million?
Unknown: What will the additional costs be? Whatever the eventual cost, we would be borrowing the money. With interest, the system will ultimately cost double the purchase price. Over a million dollars has already been spent on attorneys. It is certain that several million more would be spent on litigation.
Unknown: The physical condition of the system. Parts of the system are close to 100 years old and buried. With ownership comes the financial responsibility for maintenance and repairs.
Unknown: Because there is no plan, the costs to run our own water system are a big unknown. Experienced managers would have to be hired. An administrative staff, skilled maintenance workers and a facility to house them, would be needed. There will be pensions and other benefits, vehicles, vehicle maintenance, insurance, chemicals, meter reading with associated billings and accounting. All of that, now, is in the cost of our water from GSW.
Unknown: The city of La Verne’s water company has been suggested as a possible contractor to manage and maintain our water company, versus keeping it in-house. Nobody seems to know if they would be interested or, if they were, how much it would cost. When that question came up at a recent meeting, the answer was, “That will have to be negotiated.”
There is great envy that La Verne residents pay substantially less for their water than we do. A very long time ago, La Verne built their city-owned water system. This, it turns out, was a good decision. Claremont, for whatever reasons, went in a different direction. That was then, this is now and spending $55 million or $135 million or $222 million today will not reverse decisions made a century ago. There is nothing that can be done to cause our water to be as inexpensive as La Verne’s.
The one thing that is known: Even proponents of the take-over of the water system admit that the purchase would guarantee that water will cost more than it does now.
So, our water is too expensive and the solution is to make it more expensive?, I will be voting no on W.
From the Interfaith Sustainability Council
At its most recent meeting, members of the Interfaith Sustainability Council of the Pomona Valley voted unanimously to recommend that Claremont citizens vote yes on Measure W.
The Interfaith Sustainability Council includes members who are affiliated with some 14 congregations and organizations, both faith-based and secular, most of which are based in Claremont, and all with members who live in Claremont. We specifically do not represent or speak for the congregations or organizations from which we come. Our purpose has rather been to promote alternative energies and conservation activities within and outside of our congregations and organizations.
We make this recommendation based on our conviction that local public control will better promote water conservation and be more likely to reduce our dependence on imported water.
First, it will allow us to end the use of the pernicious “Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism,” in which Golden State has raised rates as water usage has decreased, clearly counterproductive to conservation efforts.
Second, we believe that more strenuous efforts to reclaim water can substantially reduce the need for imported water. Golden State offers no plans for additional water reclamation, but claims sole right to sell reclaimed water to Claremont customers. The city of Claremont can and will do better.
Our affiliations include Claremont Presbyterian Church, Claremont United Church of Christ, Claremont United Methodist Church, InterEnvironment Institute, Fair Trade Claremont, La Verne Church of the Brethren, Monte Vista Unitarian-Universalist Congregation, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Native American community, Pilgrim Place, Progressive Christians Uniting, Sustainable Claremont, Temple Beth Israel and Trinity United Methodist Church. We are always open to new members. Please join us in voting yes on Measure W.
Chair, Interfaith Sustainability Council
League says yes to Prop 47
The League of Women Voters urges a Yes vote on Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.
Prop 47 will ensure that prison spending is focused on violent and serious offenses and will maximize alternatives for nonserious, nonviolent crime. The savings generated will be invested in prevention and support programs in K-12 schools, victims’ services and mental health and drug treatment.
Prop 47 will change low-level nonviolent crimes such as simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors; sentences for people convicted of dangerous crimes like rape, murder and child molestation will not be changed. The league believes alternatives to imprisonment should be explored and utilized, taking into consideration the circumstances and nature of the crime.
Prop 47’s broad support—from law enforcement leaders, crime victims, teachers, rehabilitation experts, business leaders, faith-based leaders and civil rights organizations—shows they agree.
Vote with the league. Vote yes on Proposition 47.
VP for Advocacy, League of Women Voters
of the Claremont Area