Readers comments 4-27-18
This is in response to the letter from Victoria Huynh titled, “A hotel is a hotel.”
She is right that to date our objections are based on expert “guesstimates” that a three-story hotel would have a negative impact on the neighborhood in terms of traffic, noise, air pollution, aesthetics, crime, etc.
The residents within 1000 feet were officially informed of the project only in mid-February upon receiving a “Notice of Hearing” from the Pomona Planning Division.
We, the residents of Richbrook Drive intend to undertake the necessary studies to enter as evidence that hotel construction would have an adverse impact for the people living in the surrounding area and that it cannot be mitigated, be it Pomona, Claremont or La Verne.
In our estimation, the city of Pomona has not looked out for the best interests of its direct and indirect constituency. This is attested to by the fact that the planning division of Pomona was not objective in its assessment and instead granted the developer (KU & Associates) Class 32 categorical exemption, which relieves the developer from undertaking rigorous environmental studies, including a soil study of the unstable ground to prove that the construction will not have substantial negative impact on the surrounding area.
Only after our strong objections and threat of appealing the decision if approved did the city of Pomona agree to force the developer to do an initial study, which will take about 10 weeks. Thus, instead of hastily and prematurely approving the hotel project on April 11, the city postponed further deliberation until a proper comprehensive study is undertaken to evaluate how it will impact the neighborhood.
We applaud this decision and request that city of Pomona officials work in the best interest of Pomona residents and surrounding areas instead of promoting the interests of the developer.
Gold Line station
I had a few initial thoughts after reading Matthew Bramlett’s article “Gold Line bridge design evolves during new city review process.”
I agreed with John Bohn’s comments about how present day communities strive for an identity of their own. Mr. Bohn’s bridge design will surely add to the identity of the Village and Claremont as a whole. In addition, I believe the extra emphasis on landscaping will bring a greater amount of foot traffic to the area and attract business to the Village shops.
I am also excited about the proposed parking structure to accompany the Gold Line station. The extra spaces will make parking much easier, especially on the weekends when the Village is the most crowded. Even with the small fee, I think the new parking structure will help draw more customers to the Village.
Pay it forward
Who should pay for the public services and facilities of Claremont? All the residents should. Claremont is the city in which we all chose to live and came to love because every generation before us has supported the facilities, land purchases, schools, parks and services and public safety that have made Claremont the exceptional city it is today—we must “pay it forward.”
Those who are opposing Measure SC tend to be the folks who oppose everything. We do not need their negativity clouding this very important issue. When they were offered the opportunity to have a seat at a recent Active Claremont “pro and con” forum they declined to participate.
One of life’s lessons is, “you get what you pay for.” We have been getting exceptional police service for many years with our officers and their support staff working in very poor and dangerous conditions. It is time we give them the professional working conditions that they so richly deserve.
The thundering silence
It’s been three weeks since Councilman Joe Lyons’ wrote his heart-felt, love letter to the COURIER. Since then, many citizens have responded in support of a free press while condemning Mr. Lyons’ personal attacks on Kathryn Dunn.
We have not, however, heard a single peep on this matter from Councilmembers Sam Pedroza, Larry Schroeder, Corey Calaycay and Mayor Opanyi Nasiali. It’s not that they don’t have time to write a letter. The mayor found time last week to write a viewpoint contradicting his council vote against Measure SC—apparently, it’s okay for council members to change their mind about Measure SC but not the COURIER’s editorial staff.
Their silence can only be interpreted as an endorsement of Mr. Lyons’ attacks on Ms. Dunn and the First Amendment. Our elected officials have sworn to defend the Constitution, not sit by while others attempt to destroy it.
Last week, Jacob Patterson called for the resignation of Mr. Lyons. Given the entire council’s silence on this matter, perhaps they should all consider stepping down. And it shouldn’t stop there. In November, three council seats will be filled and those candidates, whose names appear on the ballot while also sitting silent, should be held to account, too.
Data points to ponder
The proposed police station square footage goes from the current 9,800 to 26,000, a 165 percent increase. The population in Claremont goes from 24,900 (1972) to 36,200 (2018), a 45 percent increase.
City area goes from 7.6 square miles to 14.14 square miles, an 86 percent increase but approx four square miles of that are wilderness, uninhabited and unbuildable, which brings it down to 10.14 square miles, a 33 percent increase.
Sworn officers goes from 24 to 40, a 67 percent increase (but as we know, all 40 are not in the station at once).
So tell me again why they need to increase the square footage 165 percent when the other factors only increased 45, 33 and 67 percent, respectively.
Another point to ponder, Claremont is essentially built-out according to city projections. Therefore, there is no need to build a large police station anticipating future growth.
An article in the Orange County Register recently detailed a plan to spend $70.5 million on housing for the homeless in Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach and Irvine. Obviously, spending money combatting homelessness is a noble cause, but it’s more complicated than one thinks.
The plan is for permanent housing to be built eventually, but in the immediate, temporary tent-like camps will be set up as a band-aid solution. In Laguna Niguel, for example, temporary housing will be constructed on a plot of land next to city hall, a busy area with lots of foot traffic and a school nearby. A friend expressed concern to me about the location and how it could cause outrage in the community, which got me thinking about if something like this were to happen in Claremont.
I’d imagine people would generally not be happy, and admittedly I would be concerned as a student on open campuses like the Claremont Colleges. It’s a controversial plan, but clearly these cities think it is best in terms of making as much of an impact as possible, even if it comes with potential downsides.
While homelessness rates in Claremont aren’t nearly as bad, as recently as last year, Claremont was one of 46 cities approved for additional funding to combat homelessness by LA County. Claremont received a $30,000 grant, according to the COURIER, to continue to implement a “super referral system.”
I’d be interested to know how this program is going and how it compares to other programs like the one described in the Register. Homelessness is a pressing issue for any community and it should always be a goal to combat it as much as possible.
I’d love to hear input or to see continued coverage on the subject from the COURIER, especially if the programs Claremont is implementing are having a positive effect. I’d also love to hear thoughts on the proposed programs in Orange County and whether you think Claremont could, or should, ever embark on a similar plan.
It’s worth opening up a discussion and asking ourselves what we value most when facing serious issues like homelessness.
The actions taken by the Claremont Unified School District have been noble, thus far. It is great to see forums and trainings being held to respond to these horrific situations. I agree with the push for mental health support and awareness. The implementation of a school resource officer and training for parents is a great use of resources.
I think the school, and schools across the nation, would benefit by training children to notice changes in behaviors among their peers. These things often do not happen without warning, and prevention can start from within. Chief Shelly Vander Veen was on the right track when she spoke about noticing changes in behavior patterns.
High school students especially could benefit from a course on how to notice and react to peer’s uncertain behavior. The push to end the stigma regarding mental health will also benefit the city greatly.
Gold Line to Ontario
If logic prevailed, Claremont would not be the terminus of the Gold Line, but rather the Ontario Airport. In this scenario, there would be no need for Claremont to erect a massive parking structure.
I recently flew to Portland where I picked up the Maxline and took an approximately 40-minute light rail trip to my downtown hotel. When my stay was over, I returned in the same way.
It defies logic that southern California agencies working with our counties cannot make the same kind of thing happen here. In the meantime, unless this bureaucratic snafu can be resolved, tax payers will be ponying up for a parking structure in Claremont which no one really wants.
Last week, Matt Magilke compared tax payments for two houses on Marygrove Road regarding Measure SC, the police station bond. He described the effect of Proposition 13, which limited growth in taxable values to a maximum of two percent per year.
I voted against Proposition 13, and my wife worked hard to defeat it due to its devastating effect on school funding. The great news is that out of 11 homes on the Marygrove cul-de-sac, five have been sold in recent years. Four of the new homeowners have children in elementary school or younger.
Despite the higher cost of owning a home here, young families with equity from prior home sales are bidding up the cost of Claremont homes. An efficient, responsive and friendly police department helps attract those families.
As houses with older residents are sold, other Claremont taxpayers will be happy to have a larger community tax base, lowering future police station tax payments.
Almost everyone has made a lot of money on home investments in Claremont. There is a home on Wellesley Drive that has rapidly appreciated, so that the current resale value is $357,000 above its taxable value, even though it was purchased only five years ago. That homeowner also is not paying an equivalent property tax compared to his new neighbors.
If Mr. Magilke wants to fix this imbalance in a significant way, he should try to convince his fellow anti-police station letter-writers to help change Proposition 13.
Back to the police station! We have a much smaller building proposed at a bond cost of $23.5 million, which is 53 percent less than the 2015 proposal. It is in the location Mr. Magilke preferred in his letter of opposition on November 6, 2015. In that letter, he also opposed its parcel tax.
“The problem with a parcel tax, however, is that it’s more expensive than a general obligation bond. Apparently some very vocal residents want the nonprofits in Claremont (i.e. the Claremont Colleges) to share in the cost of the project. This is akin to residents wanting to cut off their noses to spite their faces.”
I agree. He has now flipped to favor a parcel tax that would cost an extra $2.268 million in finance charges over 25 years.
Those of us on the ad hoc committee worked to design an adequate and low-cost police station, but also recommend a financing method that would get at least 67 percent of the vote. All things considered, our committee voted for a GO bond and the city council agreed. Opponents to the station try to divide us against each other, and now contend that this one financing issue is worth killing the plan.
People have asked what will happen if Measure SC is voted down. Who knows how long before a new council brings the project back to the voters? Will the council think that a different financing plan will swing enough voters to “yes”? What about the new “no” votes created in the Colleges and nonprofits?
What about commercial businesses that would be at a further disadvantage in Claremont versus their competitors in San Bernardino, where the lower sales tax attracts customers? Those businesses provide really important sales tax income for Claremont.
Further delay in this project will cost us a lot of money. Our committee was warned that interest rates were headed up. There has now been a year of delay due to debate about the financing method. During that time, the expected interest rate has climbed to 4.2 percent.
The forecasted financing cost has increased by $3.25 million above original projections by the committee. Building costs are headed up, too.
Please look up your home’s taxable value at portal.assessor.lacounty.gov. Multiply by approximately $30 per $100,000 for the first year, and approximately $25 per $100,000 for the average year. I think almost everyone will discover that it won’t significantly hurt their lifestyle.
We need to build an efficient and safe police station before our police officers decide to move to other communities that seem to value them more.