Readers comments 12-14-18
[Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the Claremont City Council and city manager, with a copy forwarded to the COURIER for publication. —KD]
Parking fees in the Village
Dear City Council and Ms. Schultz:
I am writing to tell all of you that I do not think charging for parking in the Village is a good idea. I have talked to lots of merchants who also think it is a bad idea.
Our city and Village depend on sales tax that will be lost from the stores if customers have to pay for parking.
Former City Councilmember
Instead of charging for parking in the Village, why not just close Village streets to cars altogether?
When I think about my favorite Claremont traditions, they all involve closed streets: Village Venture, farmers market, CicLAvia, Fourth of July and others.
Claremont should close the area within Indian Hill, Harrison, College and First and create a pedestrian-friendly zone free of cars. I’d love to see more outdoor seating, micro-parks, food trucks and pop-up retail. I think these would all boost Village visitation and enjoyment.
Also, tax revenues from additional commercial activity might raise as much money as charging for parking would. And it would make for a safer and much more community-friendly atmosphere in the Village.
If you agree, please include this proposal in your comments to the city’s new survey on paid parking in the Village.
Village South project
Last week the California State Building Standards Commission voted to mandate that as of 2020 all new homes in California must include solar panels.
This unanimous vote continues the drive toward “net zero” (that is, the mandate that all buildings produce the energy they consume) for all buildings, including apartments, factories, institutions and governments.
In Claremont we have the opportunity to lead the state in moving quickly to the “net zero” standard with the new Village South project on Indian Hill Boulevard, located in and around the old Hibbard Chevrolet auto lot. This 17-acre project will be at the very entrance to our fair city, and can be a showplace for the forward thinking residents of Claremont.
Let’s put our best foot forward by making all the new buildings to be constructed on the site meet the “net zero” standard.
Essential to a successful Village South Project is to begin the planning process with the unadulterated mandate that all buildings produce, store and manage their own power. This can be done. However, if our city leaders sit on their hands and do not put a priority on solar generated renewable electricity for these buildings, Claremont may lose out on a chance to be a true leader in the coming world of clean, renewable power.
Let’s not miss this opportunity!
Peter L. Coye
Old and new
‘Tis the season, or maybe not! The recent letter to the editor in favor of establishing district-based elections had an edge to it that seems rather unfair.
I’m guilty of being a part of the “old guard,” so maybe I’m not the best person to comment, but the results of the recent city council election was as representative of Claremont’s increasing diversity as any imposed districts could provide. The three newly-elected members bring more racial, gender and sexual diversity to the council than Claremont has ever seen. That said, I, for one, am not opposed to establishing districts if that is the best decision for Claremont.
The other issue the letter referred to in making a case for dividing the city into districts was the rejection of the PS bond.
The fact that Jim Keith commented that the “new” people would be the ones paying a disproportionate amount in taxes for the bond measure was apparently received by some as elitist.
Mr. Keith is not only a resident of south Claremont, but he has to be one of the most inclusive, dedicated volunteers in town. His comment was taken totally out of context, and he is correct in that those of us who purchased homes before Prop 13 would have been taxed less annually than those who purchased homes after 1978.
Maybe “new” wasn’t the most PC word to use, but Mr. Keith was simply lamenting the obvious and unfortunate fact that the costs would not have been spread out equitably among all Claremont residents. How anyone could be angered by that very fair analysis is beyond me, and I seriously doubt it was a key reason why the bond was defeated.
It appears that the PS bond went down to defeat for numerous reasons. One of the most obvious to me was the ham-handed way The Claremont Colleges involvement was handled. Instead of simply expecting the Colleges to commit millions to the bond effort, it might have been more effective to work on building a positive and collaborative relationship with the several new college presidents by providing them with some historical background and a well-reasoned case as to why a larger, more technologically-advanced police station would be extremely beneficial to the Colleges and their students.
Instead, the cultivation method used was to try to publicly shame the Colleges into contributing, which obviously was not well received. Let’s hope our new, diverse council understands the importance of this issue and focuses their energy on rebuilding a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship with the Claremont Colleges, which is long overdue.
Mary F. Weis
Bernard Field Station
I would like to clarify one of last week’s articles: the Memorial Infirmary which houses the Robert Redford Conservancy is not next to the Bernard Field Station but is on it.
The BFS still extends north of Foothill from College Avenue to Mills Avenue, although some college administrators try to reduce it to the temporarily restricted property, which is west of the conservancy.
Although parts of the BFS have been sold to different colleges (see fbbfs.org), the lawsuit settlement of 2001 clearly states that the TRP will be protected for 50 years and that the rest of the BFS can be used as a field station until the consortium develops a master plan for the golf course, the quarry east of Pitzer, and the BFS.
Although a master plan still has not been created, most of the quarry has been sold to Pitzer and CMC. Claremont Graduate University owns land in the western BFS. In addition, the eastern 36 acres of the field station were divided and sold to Pitzer, Harvey Mudd and Scripps several years ago.
The administration stated publically that when this happened, the TRP would be given permanent protection. This has not happened.
Since then, Pitzer has renovated the infirmary as the base for the Robert Redford Conservancy and pledged to leave the rest of the 12 acres it bought, which borders the TRP, in its natural condition. This renovation of a historic structure and commitment to the preservation of natural habitat benefit both those within and those without the college community.
Harvey Mudd, Scripps and the Claremont Graduate University have not provided any information about their intentions for the parts of the BFS that they own, and there is still no master plan.
However, until such time as the habitat is dug up for buildings or sports fields, the entire area from College Avenue to Mills Avenue will be in use as a field station, serving as an irreplaceable natural laboratory and as a reminder of Claremont’s historic landscape.
Water under the bridge
As we welcome a new city council, it seems time to put to rest the failed attempt to place our city water in public hands (Statement of Final Decision, Case No. BC 566125, December 9, 2016).
With respect to the continuing expenditure on the water issue, it was public knowledge from the beginning that, if our attempt failed, the city would be charged both our own legal costs and those of our opponents. Although the election itself had an additional cost, nearly 72 percent of Claremont voters endorsed the effort to make our water a publicly-held resource.
Why did we lose our case? For one thing, the assigned judge, Judge Richard L. Fruin, Jr., stated in court that he knew little of water law. Also, he admittedly believed that water companies were better run by large corporations and that local communities did not run them efficiently. Repeated attacks on La Verne and its ability to run a water system efficiently were not effectively rebutted.
A major issue was the administrative record, which “forms the foundation for the findings in the city’s ‘Resolution of Necessity’”; it was offered and indexed by our law firm, Best, Best and Krieger LLP, several times, but it was not accepted by the judge.
According to the city manager at that time, Tony Ramos, in his official report on the case, “Judge Fruin refused to review it and required it to be removed from the courtroom right after closing arguments. The judge’s statement that the administrative record, when submitted with our objections, had no index is simply wrong.”
The judge limited the time for a League of Women Voters witness to testify, spending more time objecting to her testifying than he allowed for her testimony. He also limited the content of the testimony so that a member of the water task force was not allowed to address significant water issues.
We now wonder if the Claremont public should have been more of a presence in the court room, but we were not.
We hope we can now move forward in a cooperative and civil manner to achieve the best outcome for Claremont with respect to our water issues.