Readers comments 4-20-18
Heartfelt letter of thanks
To our family, friends, neighbors and the entire Claremont community and beyond:?On March 26, our lives were turned upside down after we lost our home to a massive explosion and fire.
Although we are devastated by the experience, we have also been incredibly moved by the overwhelming response and kindness we have received not only our friends and family, but by total strangers and the community.
There are so many of you that offered help and support and continue to check on our well-being. We have been moved by the goodness that has come from such a disaster and although we have a long road ahead of us, we will be eternally grateful.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all.
Partners for a Safe Claremont and a recent COURIER letter are advocating for Measure SC by trying to convince everyone that a new police station won’t cost us that much. Unfortunately, that philosophy is shared by too many who have a voice in how public goods are funded.
Let me explain what is being advocated for by using an example of two homes located in the same Claremont neighborhood.
The first home, at 337 Marygrove Rd., has 1,837 square feet. The second home is located across the street at 358 Marygrove Rd. and has 1,800 square feet. According to Zillow, both homes have an estimated market value of $602,000.
The first home was purchased in 1959 and the homeowner pays property taxes of $1,214 per year. The second home was purchased in 2016 and the homeowner pays $6,931 per year in property taxes.
Under Measure SC, the first homeowner will pay an additional $16 per year for the new station, while the second homeowner will pay an additional $174 per year. The combined cost of the new station for both homeowners is $190 per year.
Under the square-footage parcel tax our city council rejected, the first homeowner would pay $92 a year, while the second homeowner, in the slightly smaller house, would pay $91 a year. The parcel tax would save the two homeowners a combined $7 per year relative to Measure SC. Does this not make sense, given that both homeowners will benefit equally from the new station?
All told, Measure SC will cost homeowners an extra $5 million versus a parcel tax! And as the above example shows, the vast majority of that $5 million is being dumped on our new neighbors. Some people believe that’s okay because they think $200 per year for someone else isn’t that much.
However, Measure SC is just the latest attack on young families. The second homeowner is already being squeezed by Measures Y, S and G for $700 a year while the first homeowner pays just $63 a year. This needs to stop.
Voting yes on Measure SC means young families will subsidize the entire community for a police station that benefits everyone equally, including businesses, non-profits, and the colleges. And putting that burden on young families is having a palpable impact on the community.
Since 2000, there are 484 (9 percent) fewer Claremont children attending local schools despite a 5 percent increase in Claremont’s total population. Our town is becoming less and less family friendly. We should be making it more affordable for young families with children to live in Claremont, not treating them like bottomless piggy banks.
Our dedicated police
After weeks of reading the pros and cons for Measure SC, I have not read about this consideration. This message may not be as eloquent as many of the previous writers but it will offer a different perspective.
I am a 46-year resident of Claremont (since 1972), sent children through the schools and am now retired to a busy life of volunteering. I am currently completing the course for a police volunteer—what an eye-opener this venture is with our police department.
Before deciding on your vote in June, you should “walk in the shoes of a sworn police officer.” As a potential volunteer, I rode with an officer on a Friday night and with others during day shifts. No, volunteers are not involved with the officers actual work, they only help with specified tasks.
This experience and my observations should certainly prompt you to vote yes on Measure SC, if only to reward the officers for protecting our families, community and our visitors. Safety first for every family in Claremont!
My observations on my ride-along included a situation with a person on “meth,” a super drug that induces super-human strength. It took three officers to subdue this person; convincing a belligerent person walking down the middle of a main street to use the sidewalk; surrounding a home at 10 p.m. because a non-resident was hiding in a locked room with a possible knife or gun (as reported by the homeowner); acting as first responders to a 911 call to calm or help the caller before paramedics and the fire department arrived; responding to a house fire to aid the fire department by blocking traffic (no one was home so the fire department had to break down the door while the police stayed to secure the house and organize boarding up the home); locating a missing elderly person in a golf cart who had traveled from Upland; working with families who reported missing family members; visiting a house where abuse had been reported (scary when you don’t know how the knock on the door will be answered).
These are just a few episodes in the schedule of a sworn police officer. Note:?Claremont is not Mayberry, but we are safe because of our dedicated police department.
Shades of Donald Trump
My regrets at the tardiness of this response to the letter to the editor from Joseph Lyons. My excuse is that I did not want to respond “in kind,” by which I refer to his exceedingly mean-spirited and insulting personal attack on the editor of the COURIER, Kathryn Dunn.
I have not read such a vicious personal attack on anyone during my rather long life, excepting the notorious daily tweets posted by Donald Trump.
Though I realize that such is not likely to occur, it would be my hope that Mr. Lyons has apologized to Ms. Dunn both in person and in print. It is also my hope that, in the future, he will read over his negative comments before posting them, then shred them instead.
Mr. Lyons’ use of derogatory language such as “subversive,” “provocative,” “duplicitously selected,” “questionable style,” “duplicitous tirade” and “selectively edited and demeaning references,” [this last being especially amusing considering his own use of multiple demeaning references to Ms. Dunn], and his accusation about her allegedly “confounding the issue” were highly insulting as well as not necessary to explain any legitimate difference of opinion he might hold.
I was particularly amused by his accusation of Ms. Dunn’s “irresponsible expression of personal opinions,” while using a full page in the COURIER to insult her with his own personal opinions, much more irresponsibly worded in his vicious personal attack on her.
I am relieved the COURIER has not, to my knowledge, seen fit to respond in print to his offensive and insulting letter.
In conclusion, it is my fervent wish that those who elected Mr. Lyons will consider their mistake, and replace him at the next election.
Shameful attack on the paper
[The following letter was addressed to Councilman Joe Lyons, with a copy forwarded for publication. —KD]
Dear Councilman Lyons:
Although I am 10 hours north of you now, I still read the COURIER online to keep tabs on happenings in Claremont.
I am appalled by the tone and tenor of your recent tirade against Kathryn Dunn’s editorial about the proposed police station funding.
The council sometimes criticized my tone and tenor as I questioned the quality, competence and objectivity of work produced by city staff on behalf of the people of Claremont—perhaps rightly so in some instances—so I am particularly surprised by your attack of Ms. Dunn’s thoughtful editorial. Frankly, it reminded me of criticism of the press by President Trump.
It is an essential component of representative government for the public or press to criticize their local public officials actions and positions, but the converse is another matter entirely because it can undermine the public process and stifle public discourse.
Government officials can disagree but they should not attack, intimidate or attempt to censor dissenting views and alternative perspectives. You should be ashamed for doing so.
I understand the importance of the police station funding and the city’s financial situation but the financial problems the city faces are in large part due to the council’s decision-making and misplaced confidence in former city staff and contracted officials.
I believe Ms. Dunn had a very valid point. But even if you disagree, her opinions were expressed in an editorial in the paper as part of the public discourse on an important issue. No one should tolerate government officials attacking the integrity of the press to suit their political objectives.
A free and open press is a cornerstone of our democracy and you should celebrate the COURIER as an excellent local paper. My hometown and current local paper pales in comparison to the COURIER and I miss the excellent coverage, in particular the readers’ comments, editorials and content by the publisher. The reporting is excellent as well. This is something to value, not attack.
I believe you owe Ms. Dunn a public apology either in a new letter to the COURIER or at the next council meeting. If not, I suggest you consider resigning from the council for your disgraceful attack on a free and open press. Your former constituent,
Bernard Field Station
I’d like to clarify the relation of the Redford Conservancy to the Bernard Field Station. The Conservancy occupies part of the BFS rather than being adjacent to it, since the BFS extends from North College Avenue to Mills Avenue.
The lawsuit settlement of 2000 gave 50 years of protection to the central portion, which it designated the “Temporarily Restricted Property” (TRP) and the land occupied by the Conservancy is immediately east of that. The settlement allows the area outside of the TRP to remain in use as part of the field station until a master plan is approved for development.
Although the area west of the TRP is currently owned by Claremont Graduate University and Claremont Colleges, Inc. (formerly CUC), and the area east of the TRP was sold to Pitzer, Harvey Mudd and Scripps Colleges, no master plan has ever been brought forward. The terms of the settlement still apply to these new owners and all the land remains in use as a natural laboratory.
The entire area from North College Avenue to Mills Avenue has been in continuous use as a field station since the Robert J. Bernard Trust was created in 1978, and it continues to benefit both the Colleges and the public.
A hotel is a hotel
In response to the article, “City of Pomona regroups after complaints about hotel plan,” I believe that those who oppose the hotel need to build a stronger case.
I can understand that Ms. Hernandez and other residents may be fearful of crime, homelessness and drug use escalation. However, the article does not include hard evidence to suggest this has been a trend. Where are the data and numbers? All of their claims are nothing but words if they aren’t backed with stronger evidence.
At the end of the day, Pomona will make the final decision on whether to build a hotel on their own land. Claremont residents may voice their disapproval, but Pomona will make the final decision for itself.
The best outcome I can see is that Pomona will take responsibility for the crumbling walls and help Claremont residents rebuild them.
I don’t believe Pomona has any obligation to halt its plan to build this hotel. If Pomona believes it will benefit their city then the people of Claremont don’t have a strong say in this decision.
After reading Matthew Bramlett’s article about the arrest of a local student due to criminal threats, I was truly taken aback. It is really mind boggling that this is the third incident since February and all the threats were made by individuals 15 years old and younger.
A quick Google search indicated that this is not unique to local high schools but rather a widespread epidemic. It makes me wonder why this is happening so often especially with younger and younger individuals.
Is it because of social media and the illusion of anonymity? Is it because of the lack of appropriate training for educators? Is it because of the exposure to this kind of news?
Regardless, I agree with the general sentiments of recent readers’ comments: proper dialogue preparedness training, and united efforts are all necessary in moving forward.
Changes to Prop 13
Property taxes were and are still local taxes, meaning they support local government entities. Most property taxes are set to tax a percentage of the value of the property being taxed.
Before Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, a local government needed to have a majority vote authorization from the voters in order to levy a property tax. The amount of tax charged was distributed to local government and school districts that imposed the tax. Property taxes have the advantage to tax wealth and value (so could be considered progressive).
The other side of the argument is that using property taxes to fund local services makes the disparity between property-rich and property-poor districts apparent. In addition, property taxes increased, as the value of the property increased yet the tax might increase so much that the current owner could not afford the tax.
Prop 13 changed the rules for assessing property in California by limiting the tax to one percent of the assessed value of the property at the time of purchase.
In addition to limiting the percentage of tax charged for each property, the disparity of taxes charged on similar properties grew to be unfair.
For instance, the owner of property bought since 1978 when Prop 13 was put in place may be paying as much as 15 or 20 percent more in taxes than the neighbor nearby with a similar property bought in 1975.
Prop 13 was advertised as providing protection to homeowners, but its provisions apply to all property—apartment buildings, farms and even commercial property such as office buildings, manufacturing plants and retail stores.
As time has passed since 1978, commercial properties have paid a smaller portion of total tax revenues and frequently sell less often than residential property. Most economists agree that Prop 13 leads to a bad competitive situation for businesses. In addition, local governments have had difficulty providing services to residents since 1978.
Because of the inequity many community organizations are forming a coalition called Make it Fair to work to reform Prop 13 by requiring non-residential, non-agricultural property be regularly assessed at fair market value.
It is estimated that the additional tax would be sufficient to fund schools and allow local governments to operate fairly, since all types of property would be subject to the property tax that bears a fair share of the property tax burden.
Any change in Proposition 13 would have to be approved by the voters, because it is doubtful that the legislature could muster the two-thirds vote requirement to change the law.
In addition, a plan to change the law was attempted in 2015 (SCA 5) but it did not get out of committee. The Make it Fair coalition remains active trying to raise public awareness of the issue and is working to get endorsements from local governments, elected officials, civic leaders and business owners. California voters should and can study this issue and work toward getting Proposition 13 changes passes.
VP for Advocacy
League of Women Voters of Claremont Area
The April 15 COURIER mentioned that Claremont citizens called on the council to make Claremont streets safer for cyclists.
As someone who cycles regularly, I agree that many streets in Claremont do not have properly marked bicycle lanes. Some people argue that those riding bikes should just take the lane and not be afraid of cars, but the reality is that this is unsafe.
Claremont needs to contend with the growing number of bicyclists and pedestrians in the area, and take the first incremental step to make roads safer. No one should have to resort to riding on sidewalks to avoid dangerous situations.
This is an issue that not only the Claremont Senior Bike Group faces. An increasing number of students in the Claremont Colleges have been using bicycles as a mode of transportation around the Colleges and Claremont.
Pomona College recently launched a bike-sharing program with “ofo,” the world’s largest dockless bike share company. These bright yellow bikes are amazingly practical and can be unlocked or locked via ofo’s mobile app. They only cost 50 cents an hour and make short trips around Claremont more convenient for students without a car.
These bikes can now be seen all over the campuses and the Village. Anyone is welcome to use them, even Claremont residents! With a growing number of bike users and the growing awareness on city-cycling, I am glad that concerns over bike-safety are being raised and heard.