Readers comments 10-16-15
A more modest proposal
I will not vote for Measure PS. I am in favor of an upgraded police station; however, the one currently proposed is too large and expensive by about one third, and there are various sites that are more appropriate. Moreover, the parcel tax system contains many complications that make it unfair. A bond issue would be better. A more modest proposal would indeed better meet our needs.
P.S. If the proposal could assure us of some relief from the depredations of the squirrels, I might reconsider. JM.
Safe or not safe?
Why are they planning to move the police station to the pit on Monte Vista? A lot of us like the police department where it is, near the center of town.
It could use a little sprucing up, but I don’t believe the arguments that the building is unsafe. If it is unsafe, it ought to be closed immediately for the safety of the employees. It hasn’t been. Why not?
A super-size station
I notice none of the letters and none of the advertisements for Measure PS say anything to justify the enormous cost and size of the proposed police station. Do we really need a police station the size of the Super King market? I don’t think so.
It is incomprehensible that this measure was actually placed before the voters. I don’t think the proponents can make an affirmative case for their plan. If they can, I’d like to hear it. It’s not about the problems with the existing police station, it’s about the plans for the new one.
If the supporters can’t do better than this, Measure PS deserves to be voted down.
I read in the September 25th issue of the COURIER that the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) has pledged $1 million towards the costs of a proposed $50 million new public safety building (aka police station) if Measure PS passes.
Whether one agrees with the proposed cost for the buildings and improvements, there is still a clear, demonstrated need for a new police station to address the issues of the 21st century society.
On the surface this seems like a magnanimous gesture, but on further inspection it feels less than wholesome or altruistic.
Combined, the Claremont Colleges or CUC (Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps and Pomona Colleges, Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University) have endowments approaching $4 billion (based on 2013 tax form 990 filings from the schools).
Also, in 2013, the Colleges had combined net incomes of about $200 million. All of this thanks to federal and state laws that allow the schools to operate as non-profit corporations. The universities are exempt from taxes on this income and pay no property taxes. In addition, buildings not directly related to educational uses may also be exempt from property taxes.
While there is no doubt that the Colleges enrich, and some might say “make” Claremont what it is, the student population amounts to about 12.5 percent of Claremont’s total population most of the year and relies heavily on a strong police department and city/county public safety services.
I think the $1 million should be considered as the Colleges’ first offer and should be subject to further negotiation with the city.
If I were on the Claremont City Council, I would say “thanks for the offer, but we think $6 million is a more appropriate contribution.” Heck, let them pay it off over five to seven years, just like their donors often do with their pledged gifts.
You don’t have to have an advanced degree in mathematics to realize that this equation does not compute.
A park for everyone
In the same way that I am heartened when I go to Super King and see people with clearly limited means filling their baskets with fresh herbs and vegetables because they are affordable, I also love to see diverse families walking and hiking in the Wilderness Park.
Please don’t raise the parking fees that may exclude such families from this healthy and meaningful activity, and please continue to call it a “park.” “Wilderness area” sounds forbidding; “park” sounds inviting. Thank you.
Cost of the great outdoors
Hillside parks and open space serve much the same purpose as beaches in southern California. While not everyone is fortunate to live close to one or the other, they are resources that should be available to all. Californians have long insisted that beaches be public and that access be guaranteed. We should demand similar treatment for publicly-owned open spaces in our foothills.
Research for the Master Plan of our Claremont Hills Wilderness Park affirmed two key points. First, both Claremont residents and neighbors from the region enjoy the park. Second, while usage has increased, it has not significantly damaged the flora and fauna. Increased access has not compromised the goal of preservation.
My concern is that access will instead be limited by the proposed increase of parking fees detailed in the draft. It is unlikely that raising daily fees from $3 to $5, annual permits from $100 to $140, and fees on weekend mornings to $10 will generate more revenue for the park, as promised. Rather, it will discourage those of modest means from visiting the park altogether.
The draft plan claims that these fees are in line with other area parks, but that is not the case. In Orange County, an annual parking pass for all county regional and wilderness parks is $55, and one for all county parks and beaches is $80. Daily parking in wilderness parks is $3.
A more sensible approach would be to leave daily parking fees unchanged and consider lowering annual fees to boost sales among regular users.
Conservancy Board Member
I like simple solutions. MIG consultants indicate that the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park (CHWP) is not being used at capacity. Visitors in the park are not a problem. CHWP is a desirable destination and until there are other equally desirable parks in the adjacent hillsides, people will come to the CHWP, especially the loop.
Visitors park their cars as close to the loop entrance as possible but there is not enough parking during peak hours on Saturday, Sunday and holiday mornings, which results in disruption to neighbors from visitors parking in front of or walking by their homes.
If we accept that people will continue to enjoy the CHWP and we want to relieve disruption to adjacent neighborhoods, then the logical solution is to provide sufficient, affordable parking close to the loop entrance. Sufficient parking will minimize unnecessary driving in search of or idling while waiting for spaces. Revenues from parking fees will support park amenities if the daily parking prices are affordable and annual parking passes easy to obtain at the park or online.
The draft master plan suggests that fees increase to $10 during peak periods. This is likely to cause congestion as people wait for hours with lower rates or avoid fees by seeking to park in neighborhoods.
I encourage the city to aggressively investigate the use of overflow parking adjacent to existing parking lots. The solution to neighborhood disruption is not congestion pricing; it is sufficient overflow parking at affordable and consistent prices.
Member of TAC; Member of
the CWC Board of Directors
The great outdoors
This response is in regard to Tony Husson’s letter of October 9, “Done with the Wilderness Park.” I am sorry there is such bitterness in your mind.
In my many years of hiking the trail, I have met some wonderful hikers from many diverse backgrounds. We all agree regular exercise built into our routine of daily living makes for exceptionally healthy aging. We hike with friends and family to catch up on daily and worldly news, and are thankful we live in an area where we feel so safe. We all live nearby and can escape the city life and noise within minutes.
The reason the trees, plants, insects, birds and animals are feeling a wee bit distressed these days is more of a water issue than a people issue. Because I?golf every Tuesday, I?know for a fact where all the deer are hanging out. They have wandered over to the Marshall Canyon Golf Course where their water needs are being met. They are lying under the trees in the shade taking in all the funny swings of the many golfers who pass by, and they seem to be enoying life immensly.?Hopefully, predicted coming rains will bring some of them back to our hiking area.
I would like to thank all the wonderful people involved with the Wildlands Conservancy group who have spent countless hours trying to preserve the park and finding solutions to problems that arise.
Life is good. Aren’t we lucky to live in Claremont?
A Claremont park for Claremont
Tony Husson’s October 9 letter highlights the unforeseen problems that have come from the acquisition of land for, and the creation of, the wilderness park. It has become wildly popular. There is nothing like it in the area. It seems to me there is a simple solution to the problems.
Restrict access to the park, allowing only Claremont residents to use it. We paid for it and should be able to decide who can use it. Require users to show proof of residency then issue permits. Photo IDs would facilitate enforcement by park rangers. The folks who are not citizens of Claremont will be disappointed, but that should be of far less concern than preservation of the park and ensuring Claremont residents’ quiet enjoyment of it. Use could also be restricted to hikers only, furthering the quietness aspects of this unique Claremont asset.
A lesson for teachers
I just came across the obituary for James Elliott Maynard while reading the Claremont COURIER. I remember him as Mr. Maynard, my sixth grade school teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Pomona. The year was 1975, 40 years ago, yet my memories from this school year will be with me forever.
Mr. Maynard was a quintessential yet unconventional educator. His passion, about almost anything, was infectious. Whether it was his dance classes (the only activity I feared during the year) to building model rockets, you couldn’t help but join him in a Jumanji-style immersion in the topic.
He let the class build forts around our desks from cardboard boxes. He would read books (that would never be allowed in a sixth grade classroom now) with such fire that the whole class would be on the edge of their seats. Thinking back, I can’t believe how much we did during a single school year.
I smiled when reading about him learning lock picking…yes, he even shared this with us, and I still remember how to do it. I can’t believe how much we all learned in a single year. Some of it even involved schoolwork. We danced at the LA Fair. I hated it…at the time. But it was a confidence boost that would serve many of us well through life.
Mr. Maynard is what all educators, in any form, should strive to be. From formal classroom teachers to parents, passion—kindness—the joy of sharing in the learning experience, these are lessons we can all learn from.
Tomorrow I will be in front of a class all day and will do my best to honor his lessons that have stayed with me, and I bet thousands of others. Thank you Mr. Maynard!
(formerly of Claremont)
My love affair with diesel
Peter Coye’s letter, “Has VW forfeited its rights?” (Claremont COURIER, October 2) vents righteous anger toward VW for their blatant cheating scandal. It remains to be known how many other companies have falsified their EPA data or devised escapes from the current diesel testing standards and procedures.
The light diesel engines used in cars (TDIs) are inviting for many of us. But the anti-diesel sentiment, especially in California, has been encouraged by the clever technical deceptions committed by VW. The accidental discovery of their tricking the system may be the diesels’ demise.
Recalls and fixes for these TDI vehicles will cost billions. The fixes will decrease efficiency and performance, and increase costs and diesel antagonism. In California, especially, is this goodbye to efficient, relatively clean diesels? Of course, hybrids and electric cars will be given a big market boost. Tesla and others are going to smile all the way to the bank. Electric and hybrid big rigs are being tested now.
What galls me is that I’m a hydrocarbon addict in withdrawal. I’ve driven diesels for years, large and small. I love diesels, even with their quirks and complications. I haven’t bought a spark plug in 50 years. Also, I’ve used much less fuel per mile for years than any of my gasoline-dependent friends.
I’m unhappy about the end of our current diesels, but I’m assured it is for the best. I grew up breathing particulates, from smudging days to warming up cold, smokey diesel rigs at 3 a.m. for a long run. I’m guilty of being a contributor to global warming. There ought to be a punishment for those of us who have caused the ozone hole. I’ve inhaled fumes from Malathion to diesel exhaust and, surprise, I’m still here at 82! But, I do have empathy for asthmatics who suffer from all kinds of pollutants.
I now drive a 1995 Mercedes E300 diesel, having had no engine problems in 270,000 miles. It yields 28 mpg local and up to 36 mpg freeway. That’s relatively cheap driving. Of the seven diesel cars I’ve owned over the years, this car is the best one I’ve had. Diesels don’t produce carbon monoxide and their particulate emissions, with the new low-sulfur fuels, are very low percentages per volume of air. But the nitrogen problem is the challenge.
I’ve used 60 percent café waste oil, a bit less power but cleaner. Rudolph Diesel used peanut oil. He would be pleased. There isn’t any car I could have driven for less money. I’ve driven well over a million miles in diesels. (I’m guilty. Sorry about that.)
Mr. Coye, you refer to VW’s “rights.” What rights? I guess VW has the same rights that any corporation has: to find ways to increase profits to the maximum by any means—legal, hidden and marketable. Corporation ethics are to make money and pay optimum dividends. That’s capitalism. VW got caught.
Diesels are probably moribund, even the newly-engineered, cleaner, opposed piston, two-cycle diesels (OPOCs) that are becoming available. Even this new diesel engine design is going to suffer from the current slap from VW’s scheming ways. We’ll all pay the price, because of prejudiced consumers and lying marketers. Goodbye diesels? Millions of diesel big-rigs make our economy run, each one going 10,000 to 22,000 miles per month transporting what we consume and sell. What’s next?
Alas, I lived during the celebration of the internal combustion engine, but those days are waning. Can’t help it. I’m a vehicle lover. Worse! I love diesels. But love affairs are usually transient. Our affair with the internal combustion engine is about over. “On the Road Again” isn’t romantic any more.
That’s my lamentation for this week.
Reward our police
Claremont needs a new police station. The current one is too old and too small. All you have to do is to tour the police station to see how bad things are.
In considering whether to vote yes on November 3, two important questions need to be answered: Is the parcel tax the fairest way to fund a new police facility? And, two, would the new police station be too large and too expensive?
If the voters had a general obligation bond up for a vote, not all of those protected by our police would have to pay for the needed service. Nonprofits such as our Colleges and our churches would not be paying towards the costs of the new facility. Their failure to contribute would be unfair to the rest of us, as we all benefit by having police protection.
Individuals whose property is not covered by Prop 13 could very well see an increasing tax burden every two years due to property value increases. A general obligation bond is the wrong choice to fund the needed new facility.
The more difficult question is whether the new building would be too large and too costly. Yes, Claremont has twice the population it had when the original facility was built. But public safety facilities now have certain rules and regulations for earthquake standards, jail requirements and Americans with Disabilities, which would necessitate a larger facility than one would think you need.
The costs to build anything has gone up dramatically. I am not an architect nor an engineer nor do I pretend to be. The potential cost is up to $50 million. If someone can explain what could be cut from the plan, I am ready to listen but otherwise we should rely on the experts. Our city council should be trusted in this case to have chosen the least costly plan for what we need.
The reality is that you get what you pay for. A recent author of a letter referred to Upland. Well, Claremont is 17.5 percent less dangerous to live in than Upland, and Upland has an incredibly high auto theft and rape crime rate. Maybe, just maybe, some newer equipment might help Upland.
Our police have been successful in protecting the residents of Claremont. People move here with the expectation of living in a safer community. We need to reward our police by having a modern police station so that they can continue to do their job. Our quality of life is enriched by having a good police force that puts their lives on the line every day. The least we can do is to plan for the future and not be willing to let our infrastructure crumble.