Readers comments 5-15-15
Remembering Harrison Stephens
It was with great sadness that my wife, Rochelle, and I read of the death of Harrison Stephens. When we moved into our home on Bridgeport Avenue in 1972, the first people who welcomed us were our next door neighbors, “Steve” and his wife Doris. As long as they were living there, they were most friendly, courteous and helpful. I remember on some nights hearing Steve and friends riffing and playing informal gigs in his living room or on the patio in their backyard.
Steve and Doris moved in 1997 to a condominium north of Griswold’s Old School House and about 10 years later to Claremont Manor. Rochelle and I kept in touch with the Stephens regularly if not often. We will never forget them.
Jay B. Winderman
Pomona College museum
The Pomona College Master Plan proposal—and EIR justification—of demolishing the residential bungalows on the corner of College and Bonita avenues and replacing them with an up to 32,000-square-foot art museum, if passed, will result in a negative and irreversible impact to the Village and College Avenue.
The impact to the College Avenue residential-scale streetscape and the Village itself is not acknowledged in the EIR, and no alternative sites have been adequately explored. No impacts regarding scale, traffic, parking needs or loading docks facing the Village have been addressed.
Also, the Thatcher music building is planned for demolition and, while listed as a significant building, the proposed mitigation plan is inadequate.
It is too easy to be sidetracked by the verbal promises of a well-designed museum even when the benefit to the city is not specified, nor the negative impacts acknowledged, in the documents. The mass and scale will be determined by the allowed square footage and requirements of a museum building.
If this plan is passed, the actual design will be a moot point at the Architectural Commission level.
Pomona College should be required to explore alternative plans regarding Thatcher and the proposed museum. For example, Thatcher could be expanded to the area where Montgomery is proposed for demolition and the new art museum could be placed at the northeast corner of First Street and College Avenue.
As mandatory water restrictions go into effect, we should all realize that this is pure political grandstanding on the state government’s part. Why, you ask? Just look at the numbers.
Of the usable water in California, 50 percent goes for environmental purposes (maintaining river/stream flow to maintain habitats, keeping the delta from getting salty, etc.) and 40 percent is used by agriculture, leaving 10 precent for “urban” uses.
Environmental uses aren’t being restricted. To do so would be political suicide, because the environmental lobbies would be all over it. The agricultural business has lobbyists and incredible political clout, so they can’t be touched. That leaves the last 10 percent to be hit with draconian restrictions, such as Claremont’s 32 precent reduction.
If all the “urban” users were to reduce consumption by 32 percent, this would result in only a 3.2 percent reduction overall. I doubt that all such users will be restricted (can’t restrict industry that uses water, they have lobbyists in Sacramento also).
So, as we all sit and watch our yards and general environment turn dead and brown, be aware that it will only reduce California water use by a percent or two…..effectively having little if any impact on mitigating the drought.
Update the Feasibility Study
The results of the November “Measure W” plebiscite clearly demonstrated that there is a strong sentiment that the city should pursue the acquisition of the water system. Even so, the city has the obligation to apprise residents of changes in circumstances which materially affect the costs and risks that may be imposed on us.
The city’s feasibility study assumes that Claremont’s water consumption will increase by 0.41 percent annually over the next 30 years. However, we now know that it will actually decrease by approximately 30 percent this year, and it is likely that the conservation measures necessary to meet mandatory targets will result in a significant permanent reduction in water consumption.
As the residents of every city in California are about to find out, lower water usage will cause an immediate and substantial increase in water rates. This is true for two reasons: first, because higher rates are necessary to constrain demand and second, because total system revenue must be maintained at a high enough level to cover fixed costs.
In the event that Claremont issues revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of the water system, we may be particularly hard hit. Our fixed costs (which include the principal and interest on the debt) will make up an uncommonly large percentage of the total cost to operate the system. And, as the repayment of the bonds must come from a more constricted revenue stream, potential investors are likely to demand higher interest rates to compensate for the risk.
At this point it may be premature to reach any definite conclusions as to the continuing viability of the acquisition effort, but it is surely not too early to assess the impact of a long-term decrease in water consumption.
As a first step in that process, the city should ask its consultants to prepare alternate versions of the feasibility study at various levels of projected consumption, including a permanent reduction of 30 percent or more. As this would involve a very minor change to the input data, and as the study is already in the form of a spreadsheet, this information can be made available to the city manager, the council and the public almost immediately. Of course, it will also be prudent to conduct a more thorough analysis that carefully considers all of the relevant factors.
It now appears that the city will have to prepare a new purchase offer and approve an amended resolution of necessity, making this an opportune time to re-evaluate the cost projections in light of the best available information. I urge the city to do so.
CHS not a good fireworks venue
I am grateful that the Claremont Unified School District backed out of its tentative agreement to host the Claremont Independence Day fireworks display at the high school. There are other compelling reasons to cancel besides the stated concern for olive trees on the school’s perimeter, however.
Pomona College declined to host the event to save water needed to protect its premises from possible flare-ups.
By cancelling the fireworks, the city council would symbolically acknowledge the severity of our drought and act in accord with the stringent Level 2 water restrictions they properly imposed.
Independence Day can be commemorated in ways more consistent with its true meaning, such as the Speakers’ Corner where citizens can practice free speech by addressing controversial local and national issues.
Another reason for not holding the fireworks at the high school is that on the other side of the fence from the proposed ignition area is a 54-unit residential community. Other homes on Oxford Avenue are nearby. Their lawns are also dry. Why unnecessarily risk a conflagration?
According to the May 7 COURIER story that announced the Claremont High venue, there could have been 4000 attendees. That is 1300 more than the 2700 capacity of the “stadium” where the event was to be held. Concerns were expressed about possible damage to the artificial turf where the overflow attendees would have been seated. If damage occurred, the taxpayers would have to pay for it.
If the fireworks are cancelled, people living in the vicinity of the high school will not have to evacuate their dogs on clogged streets to avoid their pets’ being traumatized. And frail people living in the neighborhood will not be disturbed by loud explosions close to their homes.
Those are reasons enough, in my opinion.
Gold Line meeting inaccessible
I’m disappointed that I was unable to attend the Foothill Gold Line Community open house in Claremont last month.
I do not own a car and rely on public transportation to get around. I am upset by the fact that every other community open house was at a location within one block of public transportation but Claremont’s was not. Claremont’s open house was almost a mile away from the closest bus stop.
Metro should be well aware that low-income citizens use public transportation at higher rates than high-income citizens. By making this meeting harder to access via public transport, they are making it harder (if not impossible) for a particular part of the community to participate and have their voices heard.
Claremont is a rich city that has several places within reasonable distances from public transportation where this event could have been held. I hope that in the future, the Metro Foothill Extension Construction Authority considers the proximity of its event venues to public transportation.
Every member of our community has the right to participate in community events and have their voices heard, especially on subjects that will affect them more than most other members of said community.
A successful film festival
On behalf of Claremont Community College, I wish to thank your readers for their support of our seventh annual Claremont 5 Second Film Festival. This year’s show included not only an evening of world-class films but also a night celebrating the influence of music.
We were honored with the presence of Hobart Earle the conductor of Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra whose flash mob video Peace and Brotherhood was featured in the show. We wish to thank the Scripps College Music Faculty and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for making Maestro Earle’s week in southern California memorable.
Last year, the proceeds of the festival helped us provide 100 new guitars to 100 deserving children. This year, we will again transform the lives of young people!
Claremont Community College