Police station measure has Claremonters talking
Yes on Measure PS
For the past 12 years, city commissions and citizen committees have explored options for constructing a new public safety facility that is now overdue. While the existing police station has served us well for over 40 years, the building is no longer suitable for today’s police operations.
The community cannot continue to ignore the fact that our police force operates in a facility that does not meet current building codes, including seismic safety standards and the requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act. The police service is too important for us to ignore.
We believe our community will join us in expressing our appreciation for the service of our police department. With that appreciation, we recognize it is time to provide a new public safety facility that is suitable for the department’s needs. We support the city council’s unanimous decision to ask voters to approve an annual $286 parcel tax measure on the November 3 ballot for funding the police facility’s construction. Such a decision is never taken lightly, but it is necessary to maintain public safety service from a secure and suitable facility.
With input from members of the public, the council considered various funding options and concluded that a parcel tax is the most equitable option, because all non-government property owners including residents, businesses, colleges, churches and nonprofit organizations pay equally for equal access to our police service.
We join the Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee, the Police Commission, the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce in their determination that now is the time to fund a new facility. A yes vote on Measure PS will guarantee that our excellent police service will be available to us in a secure building for years to come. It is a guarantee we deserve and must have.
Claremont is one of the safest communities in southern California. We want to maintain this high standard by giving our officers the space and tools they need to do their job for us.
We appreciate the leadership the council has shown on this issue. By placing Measure PS on the November 3 ballot, the city council is giving residents a say in our community’s security and well-being.
Having had the privilege to serve the residents of Claremont, we understand firsthand the difficult choices needed to solve many issues facing the community. This is one of those choices, but one we must make in order to ensure our public safety now and for future generations.
We support and urge a yes vote on Measure PS on November 3, 2015.
Richard Newton Diann Ring
Karen Rosenthal Suzan Smith
Sandy Baldonado Paul Held
Ellen Taylor Linda Elderkin
Frank Hungerford Bill McCready
Former Claremont mayors
Police Commissioners urge yes on Measure PS
The Claremont Police Commission was formed in 2001 amidst tragedy and controversy, but has since become a model of responsible civilian oversight in a city that prides itself on being responsive to community concerns. The seven of us have been chairs of that commission for more than 14 years and we are proud of the progress that has been made.
Although there is always more work to be done, we believe that the Claremont Police Department now has strong leadership, the highest professional standards and a department and city staff that are open to input and always looking to improve. Claremont should be proud of these achievements and we are honored to have participated in the process.
The police commission has been aware from its beginnings that our police department was working in an aging facility that was too small for the current force and not able to utilize all of the modern technology adopted by the best police departments. For this reason, we encouraged the city to move forward with plans for a new police facility as soon as it was feasible.
Economic reversals intervened and required all of us to adapt, but we are pleased to hear that the city is now proposing to move forward with this important project. A parcel tax proposal will be brought before the voters in November to address this need, and we strongly support the plan.
Claremont deserves the best in law enforcement, and that includes a modern police facility that will allow officers to respond to community needs for the next several decades. We believe that city officials have done careful planning and have devised the fairest possible financing proposal. We trust that they will continue to work with the community to design the right kind of facility at the right price for this city.
We urge all those who will be voting in November to support this process by voting yes on Measure PS.
Helaine Goldwater Richard Fass
Kevin Arnold Carol Painter
Frank Bedoya Barbara Musselman
Why Measure PS isn’t right
As Mayor Corey Calaycay stated in his Viewpoint last week, the voters of Claremont will have the chance to decide on a $50 million parcel tax for a large new police station.
The Claremont City Council selected a parcel tax to finance this to ensure, as the mayor alleges, “that property owners, including churches, colleges and nonprofit organizations, pay a fair share of the costs because they benefit equally from police services.” The council misses the mark on fairness.
The downside to a parcel tax is that equality is based only on the parcel; for example, the entire Super King shopping center will pay the same as a single homeowner. Analysis of the parcel tax versus a general obligation bond shows that 71 percent of the parcels in Claremont will pay more per year with this parcel tax, and 48 percent will pay at least $100 more annually. Meanwhile, others will save thousands of dollars annually with three commercial properties saving in excess of $11,000 each per year.
I was surprised to see that city leaders are including $3,789,500 in radio equipment over 40 years. Their financing model reveals these radios will have a total cost of ownership of $9,056,905. Radio equipment is depreciated over five years and has a useful life of seven years, according to the IRS. Claremonters will be paying for this asset more than 30 years after it has been retired. This decision means that the tax payments from 792 homes for those 30 years will be paying off obsolete and retired assets.
The Measure CL school bond was defeated when voters realized that a significant portion of the money there would be used for short-lived technology.
The mayor states that the police station is to be 39,445 square feet, whereas the staff report presented to council in March states the building is to be 47,200 square feet. The approved plan includes another $2,135,000 support building of around 10,000 square feet, additional square footage that Mayor Calaycay seems to have overlooked.
Interestingly, the selected design is a single-story building with a footprint as nearly the size of a football field under roof. The proposed station is 50 percent larger than the station in Upland, which has a population double the size of our city. The Upland station was constructed in 1989 and complies with the Essential Services Seismic Act of 1986. When erected, the population of Upland was 75 percent more than the current population of Claremont. These factors point to a police station of less than half the size proposed, and more than double the present size, as being appropriate for Claremont.
The selected parcel tax is financed over 40 years resulting in a total payout of $119,500,000 or $11,440 per included parcel. Re-scoping the police station and tightening up the financing would offer sizable savings at no real cost of service: a $20 million plan would reduce this payout from $286 for 40 years to $128 over 30 years, saving each homeowner $6,320 over the life of the loan ($158 per year). And the police station would be paid off 10 years earlier.
While we all might agree that the current police station situation needs improvement, in November you’re asked to decide if council’s proposed $50 million solution at $248,958 per month for 40 years is the one and only correct answer. It is not.
The plan on the ballot this November equates to $1,059 per square foot as compared to Montclair’s station “with all the bells and whistles” that was constructed for $576 per square foot. If you, like me, believe that we need improvement but want a station for our actual needs at a fraction of the price then you must vote no on Measure PS.
Police station is a tax burden
The Claremont City Council is proposing to build a new police station.
The facility would be adjacent to the underutilized city yard on Monte Vista, across from the Claremont Club. The proposed size of this new edifice is 47,000 square feet, which seems like overkill to me. It would cost approximately $50 million and be funded by a parcel tax, which would affect every resident directly or indirectly to the tune of $286 per year for 40 years.
The city contends that there is not enough space for operation, but we already have room for expansion at the present location in the form of an underutilized impound yard.
We already are paying off $12.5 million for Johnson’s Pasture, $49 million for the Claremont Unified School District and, if all goes as planned, are about to start paying a new bond of $135 million or more for the water rights to our city.
Crime is down, we have already spent $591,000 for 12 new fully-equipped police cars and $2 million for a Mobile Emergency Operations Unit complete with a dispatch center out of city funds.
The city also contends that the existing station doesn’t meet earthquake standards imposed long after the station was built. In the event of such a catastrophe, the Mobile Unit would actually be used and operations would continue as usual while we effected repairs.
I, for one, don’t want this additional tax burden, which would also fall on our children and grandchildren.