Readers’ Comments 8-19-16

Depressing suggestion

Dear Editor:

There have been recent comments about depressing Indian Hill Boulevard under the tracks of the current Metrolink and the proposed Gold Line. For environmental, heritage and economic reasons it is ludicrous to depress Indian Hill to accommodate the motorists who choose to drive through the Village on their way to other destinations.

The proposed depression would begin at about Harrison Avenue and end near Arrow Highway. The depressed road would need a clearance of more than 16 feet at the track-crossing area and would gradually rise on the north and south sides.

This project would cut off access to storefronts on Indian Hill Boulevard. It also would dead end First Street, Second Street, Spring Street and Bonita Avenue at Indian Hill on both sides. It would destroy the carefully enhanced and very walkable Village environment.

Vineyard Avenue at Holt Boulevard in Ontario and Monte Vista in Upland/Montclair from Arrow Route to Arrow Highway are examples of similar projects, although both streets are wider than Indian Hill. They were massive construction projects. New drainage construction, additional support for four sets of rails—the engineering and construction is enormous and Claremont residents would have to pay extra for it.

This enlarged concrete channel running through the middle of the Village would be more of a division and an eyesore than a bridge at the tracks would be, which is not recommended either.

There will be economic costs including disruption of stores and business activities for several years to accommodate a construction schedule. The project would rely on a vote to increase our local taxes (probably more than $30 million in bonds in addition to what Gold Line Authority said they might cough up).

The Claremont Unified School District board has a bond issue up for approval in the November election, plus there is the prospect of a bond approval request for a new police station. There is a multi-issue cost/benefit ratio at play here and the culvert under the tracks loses.

Karen M. Rosenthal



Let’s walk

Dear Editor:

As school begins again this month, I have a suggestion for parents driving their children to school. Don’t go all the way.  

At El Roble Intermediate School, near my home, I observe long lines of cars on Mountain Avenue coming down from Foothill and up from Bonita waiting to get into the school parking lot or looking for a spot to pull in on the street beside the school. There are also children walking and just a few cars parked a couple blocks away. Why not let your child off near the school, say three blocks away, rather than go all the way to the school door?

Having your child walk that short distance has several benefits: it gives the child a little exercise before school, improving mental alertness; it reduces waiting time and traffic at the school; and the child may actually learn to enjoy walking with its slower pace, direct contact with nature and interactions with others on their way to school.

For elementary school students, why not park a few blocks away and walk with your child the rest of the way? It would be a great opportunity to chat with your son or daughter and to experience the pleasures of walking. It just means leaving home a few minutes earlier. So parents, drive your child near your school…and then walk.

Wesley Mason



A past life

Dear Editor:

I very much enjoyed John Pixley’s article [COURIER, August 5] and agreed with his main point about seeing life through other eyes when we travel. I also think that traveling Highway 395 is a special experience. 

I wish, however, that you had mentioned a stop at Manzanar (near Independence), the internment camp where the US government held Japanese-Americans as prisoners, stripping them of their constitutional and legal rights. Most of the people held at Manzanar came from southern California—I have known some of them from when I served First Presbyterian Church of Altadena some years back.

The spirit and resourcefulness of these people shines through when one visits Manzanar, which has an excellent, museum-quality display. The bleakness and often hopelessness of the situation our own American citizens lived through is also very evident, especially when you drive around the grounds of this Owens Valley site.

Given today’s political climate of fear and division, it is time to remember what we did to our own American citizens out of fear in the past. It is time to remember and not repeat what we did when we labeled groups as different—just because of their faith or their cultural and ethnic heritage.

Rev. Dr. Tina Blair


Answers required

Dear Editor:

How did it happen that, over these many election years, our schools’ infrastructure has become so decrepit that $58 million is now required to save the educational experience?

Why were our yearly property taxes, dutifully paid, not used to keep infrastructure maintenance and rational replacement cycles to forestall a $58 million recovery demand?

What are the itemized details of $58 million of catch-up costs to assess the belief that priorities are being assigned, cost reports are meaningful and reserves are conceivable?

Have local contractors given substance validation to the school board’s $58 million of desires and estimates?

What is the itemized timeline for the $58 million recovery, repair and reconstruction activities?

What are the risks to the educational process if timeline and $58 million cost projections are in error?

Why is the $58 million bond thrust as an all-at-once endeavor and not proposed as multi-year offerings with interim results assessed against interim objectives?

Steve Gunter



Claremont’s music

Dear Editor:

I was both honored and proud to be included in the article from the new COURIER Almanac, Claremont’s music scene through the decades.”

Mick Rhodes did a wonderful job of linking the town’s various musical personalities and their music, by starting with the opening of the Folk Music Center in 1958 and leading up to the present time. We have a deep musical history in Claremont and this piece gives the reader an exceptional overview. 

After almost six decades, the Folk Music Center, founded by Charles and Dorothy Chase, still has a great affect on the development of Claremont’s ongoing music scene.

Chris Darrow



Hillary’s economic plan

Dear Editor:

Does Hillary Clinton have any plans for cutting the defense budget? Or is her plan only about making the billionaires contribute?

Now that CentCom has confessed to producing over-optimistic reports about the progress of our wars in the Middle East, possibly at the behest of the Obama regime, will Hillary consider terminating any of our current five foreign wars or cutting the military budget to European levels?

Someone should ask her because she won’t volunteer an answer.

Ivan Light



Conservation costs

Dear Editor:

There is a widespread misconception that we are being punished, rather than rewarded, for conserving water. If you think about it, this is counterintuitive because it costs the utility less to deliver less water.

Since water rates are cost-based, these savings are passed back to customers. So why do we feel we are being punished for conserving water? I blame water utilities for being poor communicators. 

Let me try to convince you with this “simple” example that shows that conservation lowers water bills even after rates are adjusted for the reduced sales.

Suppose the utility’s pre-drought cost of providing water service is $1 million. Most of a utility’s costs are fixed (about 70 percent) and do not vary with sales levels. This means that the $1 million in costs consists of 70 percent or $700,000 that must be incurred regardless of how much water is sold and only 30 percent or $300,000 will vary with the amount of water sold.

Water rates are structured to encourage conservation through price signals. The California Urban Water Conservation Council recommends that 70 percent of revenues be collected through usage charges ($/Ccf). In this example, the water utility would collect 70 percent or $700,000 through usage charges and only 30 percent or $300,000 through fixed charges—a total of $1 million in revenues to match its $1 million in costs.

Because of a serious drought, the State of California calls for a 25 percent reduction in water usage, and we dutifully comply. How does this impact the utility’s costs and revenues?

The utility will save 25 percent or $75,000 of its variable costs (the $300,000 is reduced to $225,000) causing its total costs to fall from $1 million to $925,000 (note: the $700,000 of fixed costs is still incurred).

On the revenue side, the utility will lose 25 percent or $175,000 of its usage charge revenues (the $700,000 will drop to $525,000) causing total revenues to fall from $1 million to $825,000.

Here’s the problem. The water utility foolishly tells its customers that it must raise rates by $100,000 or 12 percent because it is not recovering its costs at the reduced level of sales (i.e., $825,000 in revenues is insufficient to pay $925,000 in costs). Even worse, this message is normally delivered during a rate case,  which involves proposed cost increases totally unrelated to the drought. No wonder customers become outraged when higher rates are proposed after they have reduced their water consumption! Many people actually believe that they are being asked to pay more, while receiving less water. While this reaction to the utility’s message is perfectly understandable, it is also 100 percent wrong.

Water utilities should be telling customers that their conservation efforts have generated $75,000 in savings ($1 million vs. $925,000) that is being passed back to customers even after the rates are adjusted for the lower sales. Assuming the utility serves 10,000 customers, the average bill in this example will drop from $100 per customer to $92.50 ($925,000 divided by 10,000 customers).

However, most customers don’t receive an “average bill,” and water utilities should focus their communications on the impacts of water conservation on the individual customer. If the utility’s usage charge is $3/Ccf, the customer’s bill is reduced by $3 for every unit of water that is not purchased. Those who conserve the most water are rewarded with the greatest savings. Where the reduction in water usage is accomplished by using water more efficiently (e.g., by eliminating excessive landscape irrigation or by replacing inefficient appliances), those savings are achieved without any negative impact to the customer’s lifestyle.  

If I have communicated well enough, you now understand that conserving water is not only the right thing to do, whether or not we are experiencing a drought, but that conservation also provides economic benefits to customers as well.

Dan Dell’Osa



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