Readers comments 5-11-18
The time is now for SC
I think we can all agree that our city has wasted some money that could have gone toward the new station. The water fiasco, that stupid roundabout and that trolley shuttle thing (what was that and who actually rode it?) come to mind. But this police department is badly needed.
Some of the reasons a lot of people are antsy about this bond is that we as Californians are taxed out. I get it. I hate the gas tax. This police department is a necessity though. If we don’t pull the trigger now, we are just kicking it further down the line and it won’t get cheaper.
There will never be a plan that makes everybody happy. Is this plan perfect? Nope. When it first came out I felt everybody who lives, works or visits Claremont in any way should help pay for it.
Can the Colleges come up with more money? Probably. In the last election they promised $1 million if it passed but now we are at $750,000 from them. Who’s to say if we lose this time their next pledge won’t be lower?
Maybe we can raise parking violation costs? Maybe increase business license fees by a small amount so that won’t hurt them but would help the station? Maybe the police station can have fundraisers to help out??Measure SC isn’t perfect, but nothing is going to make everybody happy. With that said, I urge my fellow Claremonters to vote yes on Measure SC.
Social justice and equity
Of all letters and editorials in the COURIER regarding Measure SC, Diann Ring’s letter about public financing of city projects stood out to me.
At the end of her letter, she asks us, “What will you leave to the next generation?” I can say now unequivocally what I do not want to leave my son—a city that treats its employees unequally based on gender and physical disability.
Most letters about SC concede the need for a new police facility because the existing is seismically unsafe and outdated, but rarely discuss the need to build an adequate female locker room and hallways and doors that accommodate people in wheelchairs.
At a coffee with a cop event held at Sanctuary Coffee, I asked some of the officers about the women’s locker room. What they told me that day had me in total shock. Over 30 female employees of our police department use a temporary trailer as a locker room, which is barely the length of two small tents.
Under the law, all employees of the police department—sworn officers, dispatch and administrative support—must be in uniform, and they cannot by law drive to work in uniform. They have no legal option but to change into their uniforms at the police station.
Originally built without a female locker room, Claremont started using a storage closet a few years ago, which could only accommodate two at a time. After the closet was deemed too small, they started leasing the temporary trailer unit placed behind the station.
Additionally, because the facility was built before the enactment of regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people in wheelchairs cannot access administrative offices to speak privately with police.
Able-bodied residents have the benefit of speaking privately in offices with police personnel. People with disabilities only can access the public lobby, whose counters sit too high for wheelchair-bound residents to complete forms or make basic inquiries.
When asked what I want to leave my son, my answer is this: a city that treats its employees and the public with dignity and respect. I want to leave my son a city that treats all people equally and fairly, not only in compliance with the law, but because doing so is the right thing to do.
If these facts are as offensive to you as they are to me, you can work to immediately fix these inequities and vote yes on Measure SC.
The current police station building is not getting a lot of love from the proponents of Measure SC, who seem to be putting the wrecking ball cart before the preservation horse.
They claim all sorts of dire deficiencies with the building and invoke the “findings” of the mayor’s hand-picked ad hoc police committee and a small coterie of city-paid “experts.”
The police station building was designed by the firm of locally-renowned architects Criley and McDowell. I feel a certain responsibility to raise this issue because Ted Criley was a friend and neighbor of mine for many years, and I’ve acquired a number of books on architecture from Fred McDowell’s library when it was dispersed after his passing. Also, no one else has yet done so.
The structure, built in the early 1970s, is a case of form following function and an example of the architects accommodating fairly severe constraints imposed by the city and funding agencies. It is an excellent representative of the architecture of the time with use of texture, plants, pergola and walkway features to soften what the proponents derisively refer to as “bunker-style.”
In fact, reflecting the fears and tenor of the times when it was constructed, it was built as a bomb and fallout shelter with a foot-and-a-half thick solid concrete roof. There were radiation shielding requirements imposed.
These requirements may seem quaint given our sophisticated sensibilities now, but isn’t preservation supposed to keep us from forgetting history?
The EIR for the building tells us that it was designed to be “the safest building in Claremont” and that it was specifically designed to be added onto or expanded when the need arose. Even as built, the EIR says it was designed to accommodate 75 personnel, more than the police department’s full time roster.
It seems to me that all of these facts, coupled with the thoughtful approach to blending such a building into the surroundings ought to make the community give it more consideration.
I also note that just last fall a mid-century modern home in our community designed by Mr. McDowell, the principal architect of the police station, was placed on the historic register by Los Angeles County.
A month ago the COURIER carried an article about the old Pomona College infirmary in the undeveloped property north of Foothill. The article said that even though the building had been disused and damaged for many years, a demolition permit for it was denied. Now, Pitzer has re-adapted and is reusing that building in innovative ways while preserving it. If that building could be adapted and reused, why not the police station?
We are told that Claremont is all about thoughtful planning, but in this case it seems the recommendation to demolish it has been preempted by an ad hoc committee with no discussion of the issues, with little expertise, and no consideration of alternatives.
And from reading the city’s “informational” statements, it appears the city has assumed that conclusion through some secret and opaque process.
It is a corruption of procedure when the conclusion is reached first and then the reasons for it are figured out only later. The whole process seems, like the mayor’s committee and like Measure SC itself, to be quite ad hoc.
Ludd A. Trozpek
The great divide
I’ve been reading a lot about Measure SC and am, frankly, puzzled by the logic that those who have moved to Claremont recently should foot the majority of the bill.
Does the fact that I moved to Claremont recently mean that I somehow have more money than longtime residents? I definitely won’t use the police station more than those who’ve lived in Claremont for decades.
In reading the arguments of the Yes on SC campaign, I was taken aback by the “us versus them” mentality, as in “don’t worry, real Claremonters won’t have to pay much—those new outsiders can do it because they aren’t really part of our community.” I’m really tired of these kinds of insider/outsider arguments in national politics, so I was disappointed to see them being used to divide Claremont into those who belong and those who don’t.
I am happy to pay my fair share for a police station and, based on what I’ve read, we need one. I will, however, be voting no on Measure SC because a police station is something all residents should all contribute to—equally.
Proposition 68 endorsement
Proposition 68, The Clean Water and Safe Parks Act, would fund efforts to assure clean water, strengthen conservation efforts, and help preserve and protect our state and local parks.
The long list of communities and organizations supporting Prop 68 is diverse and growing: American Heart and Lung Associations, Association of California Water Agencies, Audubon California, California Chamber of Commerce, California State Parks Foundation, League of California Cities, Sierra Club, the Trust for Public Land and the Nature Conservancy.
Newspapers across the state also support Prop 68: Los Angeles Times, Mercury News, Monterey County Herald, Press Democrat, Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the words of the Monterey County Herald, “Proposition 68 is a comprehensive plan that will improve two vital aspects of life in our state: water and recreation. That’s why it’s supported by a broad coalition of business, civic and environmental groups.”
The San Francisco Chronicle writes, “California’s landscape is an enduring treasure, but its rivers, beaches and parks require public stewardship, especially as harsh weather and population growth take a toll. That’s why voters should support Proposition 68.”
Please join us in working to pass Prop 68. Our earlier letter to the editor mistakenly indicated that passage would require two-thirds of the popular vote. In fact, approval requires a simple majority.
Tom Ilgen, Terry Grill, Arlene Andrew, Dave Bedell, Jill Benton, Dago Lopez, Meg Mathies, John Norvell, Lissa Petersen, Beverly Speak, Jim Van Cleve
Board members of the
Claremont Wildlands Conservancy
Another money grab
Measure SC is brought to you by the same folks that wasted $12.5 million to purchase Johnson Pasture in 2006 that the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy could have bought for $2.5 million, and wasted another $14 million in a disastrous attempt to purchase the city’s water system in 2015.
The judge in the water case held that the measure would not in any way benefit residents of Claremont and would result in higher rates. The city was so giddy with its attorneys that lost the case for them, they paid them another $300,000 to “supervise” the appeal, which the city later abandoned. This is your money being wasted.
Regarding the police station, they first tried to dupe voters to approve $55 million for a pretty police station a couple of years ago. Now they are trying to convince voters to approve a pretty station for $25 million. Does this mean we would have been ripped off had we voted for the original proposal?
The current station was built in 1972 and is one of the newest buildings in or around the Claremont Village. They argue that: (1) it does not comply with current code; and is (2) “unsafe.”
First, the building code is constantly changing and nothing built five years ago complies with current building codes. Whether or not the current police station complies with current building code does not mean that it is “dangerous” as the proponents want to scare you into believing.
Second, there is no credible evidence that the station is “unsafe.” I toured the police station during the recent open house and it is built like a vault.
It may not be as pretty as the stations in Upland or Montclair, but there is no credible evidence that it is “unsafe.” The current station has concrete construction with 24-inch walls, according to the officer who gave me the tour. It has sustained no earthquake damage during the last 50 years.
Tell me how a pretty police station makes us “safer.” Aren’t the officers supposed to be driving around responding to crime? Measure SC is another money grab that will not contribute in any way to the safety of the community.
Rod E. Fehlman
Chicken and the pig
For 15 years we knew we needed a new police station, but we really didn’t make it a priority, because there were several other things the city and many Claremonters wanted more.
The city incurred huge indebtedness and while not always knowing the cost, forged ahead. For example, recently, the city voted to be part of the Los Angeles Community Choice Energy with unknown, but obligated costs. There are also obligated but “unknown” costs for the Gold Line, and there still remains unfunded police pensions. When the city voted to purchase Johnson’s Pasture and then paid $11 million in legal fees in the attempt to acquire Golden State Water, we lost the financial ability to fund a project as large as Measure SC.
But the crux of the matter is funding. Since only property owners will be taxed and obligated to pay for the bond, they should be the only ones to have a right to vote. It is not fair that non-property owners—renters, students, residents of non-for-profit facilities such as Pilgrim Place—will vote for indebtedness for those who must pay the bond. Businesses will get approximately $2,800 in tax breaks in this GO bond funding.
The Colleges have said they will donate $750,000, which is nice, but much less than the $4 million they would have paid under a parcel tax. Under the parcel tax, homeowners would pay less than under this GO bond.
Partners for a Safe Claremont states, “86 percent of the homeowners will pay less than $200 a year.” Allow me to counter: 100 percent of the non-homeowners who vote will pay nothing a year. How is that fair? Only those who will pay, should be the ones who vote.
Consider this: A chicken and a pig were walking one morning when the chicken said to the pig, “Let’s have breakfast, bacon and eggs.” The pig said to the chicken, “For you, it is an effort, for me a commitment.”
The police station serves the entire community; therefore the entire community should share in the commitment to finance it. If not, a no vote is warranted.
Don’t hire the sheriff
Opponents of Measure SC to replace our obsolete police station have suggested that Claremont contract with the sheriff instead. This will be unwise.
First, Claremont officers get to know our town and us. When they are promoted, they stay here. Sheriff’s deputies may transfer from station to station and usually do so to be promoted. Our officers won’t all decide to work for the sheriff, and those who do will eventually retire, transfer or apply elsewhere. We will face constant turnover and lack of local knowledge, especially among those in charge.
Second, the sheriff’s department has significant problems. The county pays millions of dollars every year to settle lawsuits. The current sheriff is trying to reform the department but is meeting resistance. There are morale problems, tension between management and deputies, and over 1,000 vacant positions.
Third, the sheriff will not adjust his department’s practices just because our city council asks for it. However, our own police are subject to local direction. To our police, we are the employer. To the sheriff, we will be a small customer.
Fourth, the sheriff will not build us a new station. He may not use ours at all, because its particular construction is exceptionally vulnerable to the inevitable major earthquake along the nearby San Andreas fault. At the least, the existing station’s inadequacy will cause him to locate some activities elsewhere.
There will be fewer emergency resources in Claremont and more delays in responding to our needs, residents will have to travel to another station for some purposes and deputies will be absent from our streets during parts of patrol shifts to transport detainees to a jail elsewhere.
If we give up our own police force, we will kick ourselves later.
Don’t be fooled by Villaraigosa
I saw that California gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa recently made a whistle-stop in Claremont at a private event. As a retired public educator, I am urging Claremonters to scrutinize Mr. Villaraigosa very closely—much of the funding for his campaign comes from charter school backers in their bi-partisan effort to privatize public education.
Mr. Villaraigosa, if elected governor, would be detrimental to public education in California, and good public education is the foundation of a democratic society. Here in Claremont, we stand to be a little complacent on the issue. We have a citizenry who, up until now, have protected public education.
We have invested in a locally-elected school board that supports traditional public education ensuring that our school facilities are safe and that education is inclusive and accessible to all. However, the rest of the southland, the state and the country face challenges to the public school system from a predatory charter school movement backed by billionaires.
Public educators in cities like Los Angeles, Anaheim, Santa Ana and San Diego are struggling to protect public education as charter schools expand in their city limits, siphoning off scarce public resources for privatized schools that are not accountable to the public.
This is a point many do not understand—although charters accept public money, they do not have elected school boards and their budgets, salaries, curriculum and facilities do not operate with the same transparency as public schools. It’s hard to frame the insidiousness of the charter school movement in one letter, but I will try.
Charter schools do not adhere to the same education codes as traditional public schools. The laws that ensure privacy, equal access, non-bias and safety do not apply to them, and this is part of their business model. This is what Mr. Villaraigosa refers to as “cutting red tape.”
If charters do not have to invest in infrastructure in the same way as traditional public schools, this frees up money for their top-level administrators and outside investors, which is precisely the reason charters are backed by billionaires. Education is turned into a for-profit venture.
One of the strange sidebars of this winter’s hurricane season in Florida was that across the state only traditional public schools were designated for disaster relief. Since none of Florida’s many charter schools had undergone safety investigations, the government could not ensure these facilities would meet safety standards in the storm.
One of the most compelling arguments is that NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in July of 2016 called for a moratorium on charter schools because, according to their research, charter schools have only contributed to segregation.
Do not be fooled. Antonio Villaraigosa is not a good choice for California.
Pamela Casey Nagler