Readers comments 5-24-19
SB 50 and the invisible constituency
After listening to the arguments over SB 50 at the last city council meeting and hearing my neighbors’ concerns, I became persuaded that SB 50 as written wasn’t the best vehicle to address the housing shortage. However, a few days later, as I reflected further on the council’s discussion, I realized that something important got lost in it.
If you listen to the discussion (available on the city website), you’ll notice that the overwhelming majority of the outrage is directed at SB 50, its author, and its attack on local control.
The main attack is that it spreads the burdens of providing housing unfairly: coastal communities won exemptions, cities that had multiple metro stops and had otherwise made good progress (Pasadena) would be required to do yet more, and cities that had fewer opportunities to develop land would face greater challenges in meeting their housing-element goals. There were other burdens, too, such as preserving neighborhood character.
Very likely, those who dominated this discussion already had a good amount of equity built up in their Claremont properties. What the discussion lacked (from both the public and council) was the perspective of those frozen out from the opportunity to build equity by owning their own homes. They were the invisible constituency.
As a result, the outrage was not appropriately balanced. Instead of placing it primarily on how we unfairly freeze out younger generations from the chance to build equity—our grown children, new teachers and young families who seek a home in Claremont—the city council placed it primarily on SB 50, its attack on local control, and how the burdens were spread.
But as council member Jed Leano suggested, it’s difficult to occupy the moral high ground on this issue by championing local control when the exercise of local control created the problem in the first place. And the burdens on the invisible constituency themselves became invisible.
I would have preferred to hear from our council constant reminders that, whatever the flaws of SB 50, we as a community still have a responsibility to tackle this intergenerational unfairness by doing our part to remedy it—not to punt this to other jurisdictions or kick the can down the road.
That is to say, I would have preferred some stronger push back from them, as if to recommend humility rather than indignation. (Of all the council members, Mr. Leano, in his remarks, came closest to recognizing this.)
It’s easy for those of us who already own homes to wait for a solution we like while those who don’t bear the brunt of our choosiness. Let’s make sure these issues continue to receive the local attention they deserve.
What do we do?
In response to the letter of May 3 from Connor Gaskin, I am confident that every person in the city of Claremont is also very concerned about the housing and homeless situation in Claremont, this state and this nation. On that we agree. However, Mr. Gaskin has been a resident of this phenomenal city for a mere three years.
Our students at the 5Cs are here for four plus years and there are numerous people who have been residents for 40 or more years, as I am. Believe me when I say, we are all worried about this situation. My question to Mr. Gaskin, what would you like to do?
Professionals all over the United States are grappling with this serious situation and have yet to come up with a solution. But you say, “Claremont had better step up sooner rather than later to provide resources for our homeless…” Professionals in this city have studied this problem and spent hours and hours trying to find reasonable solutions, to no avail.
Then Mr. Gaskin continues and states that Claremont pushes the homeless into Pomona, Upland and Montclair. Where is his evidence? This simply does not happen. I’ve done ride-alongs with our fantastic police department and watched and listened to every officer who stopped an individual who was obviously in great need.
The officer spoke warmly but sternly, advised the person of their rights, asked about the last time he/she ate and treated this individual as a human being and gave directions for the person to get to where he/she wanted to go.
If Mr. Gaskin wants to talk about “pushing individuals to other cities,” then let’s mention the various prisons that bus the released people to cities like Claremont, drop them at the Greyhound station and go back to where they came from. Now, Claremont has groups of people, hanging around Greyhound and getting in all sorts of mischief.
Mr. Gaskin makes accusations with no evidence to back them up. I myself wrote a letter a few months ago addressing the same situation but I asked, “What do we do?” If there was one clear and definitive answer then Claremont and all the surrounding cities would put that solution to work immediately. The affordable housing situation is completely different. We have affordable housing in this city but perhaps it’s not enough.
I leave this issue for the professionals. Projects cost money. Do we want to increase our taxes? Our sales tax is going up to 10.25 percent. Every single one of our city officials work extremely hard and earn their salaries.
Mr. Gaskin has not been here long enough to criticize the actions of the fine citizens of Claremont until he has served on the city council, or school board or professional marketing group. No one wants to see any individual in despair, cold, wet or hungry. So Mr. Gaskin, what would you suggest?
Eight steps to net zero
For some reason many of our town administrators and hired consultants believe that getting to “net zero” for all buildings in the upcoming Village South Project is a big challenge.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Just eight simple steps…and we’re there. “Net zero” means no C02 emissions from the buildings to be built on the old Hibbard Chevrolet lot and the Vortox building. And this is a worthwhile goal, and something future generations of Claremonters might thank us for doing (assuming there are future generations).
All that is needed is to place caveats and restrictions on the buildings to be constructed which follow these eight simple guidelines:
(1) Electrification of all buildings and structures;
(2) Superior insulation in all roofs and walls;
(3) Maximum solar photovoltaic panels on all roofs;
(4) Excellent, high-value doors and windows;
(5) Storage of electric power for each unit/building;
(6) High quality HVAC for all units and buildings;
(7) Attention to ventilation systems in all structures; and
(8) State-of-the-art power management and control systems.
Claremont can protect our heritage, guarantee superior designs, and at the same time achieve “net zero.”
A beautiful “net zero” condo development was just constructed in San Francisco where the solar resource is substantially less than Claremont, making that development a challenge greater than any building in our town. (See: solluxalpha.com ).
In fact, a new tool exists for all developers, construction companies and architects to use to assist in designing all buildings to be self-sufficient when it comes to producing, storing and managing their own power. This tool is available to the public and I encourage the readers of the COURIER to take a look at ajo.earth.
Surely if San Francisco can achieve net zero for their new buildings, Claremont can achieve and exceed this standard as well.
Are we willing to take “second place” to San Francisco? I hope not.
Peter L. Coye
From the Democratic Club
The Democratic Club of Claremont rejects the ongoing witch-hunt conducted by the president and others against representative Ilhan Omar.
Because she is a Muslim, because she is an immigrant, because she is female, because she is non-white and because she speaks what she takes to be truth, she is the subject of attacks.
In the current political climate in this country and given the position of her chief attacker, these attacks are not just unfounded, but put her life in danger.
We call upon all Americans to stand with her and repudiate the witch-hunt.
President, Democratic Club