Readers comments 1-23-15
[The following letter was sent to the Claremont City Council with a copy forwarded for publication.]
Dear Claremont City Council:
One of the most fundamental tasks of our police department is traffic enforcement. It is my opinion that the streets in this town are becoming less and less safe due to lack of traffic enforcement on the part of our police department.
I live in the Village, and I jog and walk through the Village nearly every day. I can honestly say that nearly every time I am out and about, I observe drivers breaking traffic laws—mostly these are drivers who seem to believe Village stop signs are merely a suggestion, and not required. I often observe people who slowly roll through stop signs at intersections, and others who ignore stop signs, even red lights, altogether.
In the past month, I have nearly been hit by cars three times, always while crossing at intersections with stop signs and marked crosswalks. It has happened twice in the past week—both of these incidents occurred at the intersection of Bonita and Berkeley, right next to the police department!
To me, the fact that these incidents occurred so close to the police department serves as a strong warning that too many people driving in our community show a blatant disregard not only for our traffic laws, but also the public safety of our citizens. Along with scaring me, these incidents have made me angry! And I don’t believe I am the only one out there who is experiencing these types of pedestrian safety issues.
This is not the first time I have written to the council about my concern for pedestrian safety. In this day and age, too many drivers are staring at their phones instead of watching the road. Two years ago, I brought this issue to the attention of the council and the police chief. At the time, I was told by the latter that budget cuts had affected the amount of funding he could dedicate towards traffic enforcement. That was not an acceptable answer then, and it is not acceptable now.
A more serious approach to traffic enforcement is sorely needed in the Village and, I suspect, throughout the city.
As a local resident and member of the city’s Traffic and Transportation Commission, I urge you to get our traffic enforcement efforts in line before tragedy strikes. I see evidence of lots of money being spent in and around our police department, and I hear about the desire to have a new police facility built at the city yard on Monte Vista Avenue. I would urge citizens not to approve of spending another dime on projects like these until we can document that our police department is putting forth a much stronger effort towards traffic safety.
It is time to make our streets safer for everyone, especially pedestrians. Claremont is a dedicated walking and biking community. With that in mind, it is my opinion that our police department needs to get more serious about traffic enforcement before someone needlessly loses their life.
I hate the Claremont Colleges. Well, mainly I hate the presence of the Colleges and the impact they have on life in the Village. Let me count the ways:
1) I hate the constant construction undertaken primarily by Pomona College and Claremont-McKenna College. It’s noisy, dirty and it’s a huge pain in the rear for anyone who walks, cycles or drives on Sixth Street or down College. Currently, there’s not just the construction of Millikan Lab that interferes with travel but curb cuts on the opposite side of College, undertaken simultaneously with that construction project, make it impossible to walk down College without zig-zagging if you want to use the sidewalks going north or south. Otherwise, you have to walk in the street.
In addition, Sixth Street beyond the Pomona campus is being impacted by a huge project undertaken by Claremont McKenna. Traveling east on Foothill, you have to dodge vehicles working on the Harvey Mudd campus. Moreover, the construction is never-ending. I wish there was some way to impose a moratorium on it for, say, two years. When was the last time there were no construction projects going on that impacted life on the streets around the Colleges?
2) I hate the environmental impact of all this construction. Currently, there’s a sign on the corner of Sixth and College boasting of the consideration for the environment represented in the Millikan project. Ha! What’s the carbon footprint for the destruction of the old building, disposing of all that material? How much carbon is used in the concrete alone that’s going into the new building? And, how long will this building be in place before some wealthy donor decides that they need to be immortalized on another version of the building, thus resulting in the destruction of the building now being constructed?
3) I hate the manner in which the Colleges, again, particularly Pomona, are encroaching into neighborhoods not just west of College, but west of Yale. They’re buying up old motor court apartment complexes and homes and turning them into housing for faculty, staff and graduate students. The Colleges are getting closer and closer to Indian Hill, if they haven’t crossed it already. Granted, they often do a fine job of restoring the properties they buy, such as the complex on the southwest corner of Eighth and Yale. But institutional ownership changes the character of a neighborhood. Often, residents are more temporary than they would be if a home or apartment complex stayed in the hands of a family or non-institutional owner. And while neighbors sometimes benefit from the revitalization of a property, it can have a negative impact on a neighborhood as individuals have a hard time competing with the deep pockets of the Colleges.
4) I sometimes hate the students, mindlessly walking out in the streets around the Colleges, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they live in a neighborhood. A neighborhood is a place where people live, where many look out for each other in a reciprocal fashion. That doesn’t seem to the be the case with the students. I wish they paid more attention to the needs of drivers traveling down College and across Sixth Street. Try crossing the streets in groups, rather than lolly-gagging across like a herd of sheep. Wake up! You are not alone in this world.
I know the Colleges provide benefits to the community—although not so much in the form of taxes because, last time I checked, the Colleges pay few taxes to the city. However, their presence has helped make Claremont the kind of town it is, a town where people value the arts and education and debate the issues and are concerned about the people who live here—a place where there’s a vibrant community of mom-and-pop businesses. And, quite obviously, the Colleges were here before many of us came to town. But I would like to see the Colleges and the town government re-think how each entity interacts with the other. If nothing else, city planning and the Colleges’ building and development departments need to better coordinate their activities.
Claremont shouldn’t be just a vessel for the Colleges to use in any way they see fit. Very grouchily yours,