Readers comments 6-7-19
Mayor on SB 50
I want to thank State Senator Anthony Portantino for holding Senate Bill 50. We agree that there is a fundamental housing problem in California, but Senate Bill 50 lacks the flexibility needed to meet the state’s housing goals, while also acknowledging community input and engagement.
SB 50 would have given developers tremendous authority to override local decision making and community input, and would undermine locally adopted general plans, housing elements and sustainable community strategies.
The Claremont City Council is supportive of legislation that includes respect for a community’s cultural and historic elements and does not show favoritism to developers and builders.
The city council is dedicated to incorporating the spirit and intent of SB 50 into an amended proposal and we thank Senator Portantino for holding the bill at this time and allowing us that opportunity.
Mayor, City of Claremont
As a result of the Foothill Boulevard Master Plan Improvements Project, the city’s unmaintained trees and shrubbery on the south side of Foothill just east of Mountain Avenue were recently removed, exposing the historic river rock wall for about two-thirds of the road and one-third of cinder block wall for the remaining. Some of the cinder block has not been maintained, was not built on proper foundations or was damaged by the trees that were removed.
When Claremont took ownership of Foothill Boulevard from CalTrans in 2012, it should have known the walls were not in good condition and that some portions would need to be replaced or repaired, or the height extended. In California the “good neighbor” fence law states that there is a presumption that neighbors equally benefit from a common fence, and that the cost for building or fixing a common fence should be equally shared.
Since the wall is shared between the city of Claremont and the property owners on West 12th Street and West Baughman Avenue, any costs “by law” to replace, repair or extend the height should be shared by the city and the property owners. The full burden of this cost should not be put on homeowners.
Someone with Claremont city government should step up and take charge in forming a plan so that the wall along the south side of Foothill will look presentable. This should be done before any more work is done.
Yes, this work may not have been worked into the costs, but isn’t that what budget contingencies are for?
Thanks to Char Miller for his mention of California Senate Bill 307 proposed by State Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside) in last week’s COURIER.
It is imperative that environmentally conscious Claremonters join me in letting our own Senator Anthony Portantino know that we want him to support this important bill which would “require…that the transfer of water (from the Ice Age Mojave Aquifer) will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources of federal and state lands.”
The Cadiz project, which is the target of SB 307, is a water grab that intends to exploit the ancient aquifer underneath the Mojave Desert and profit from selling the non-replenishable water to Southern Californian consumers, like us, in order to water our lawns, etc.
While rain water has been plentiful this year, it took millions of years for the ice age water to percolate into the ground and create the aquifer underneath the Mojave Desert that provides year-round moisture on which the native plants and animals depend. Readers can research “ground water depletion” or “fossil water” and see that ground water around the world is being depleted faster than it is recharging.
Both deserts and cities have become unsustainably arid due to ground water depletion. Cadiz Inc. plans to profit off our ignorance of the value of the Mojave’s ground water: the very aquifer that sustains our Mojave National Preserve, the Sand to Snow National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park.
I encourage those interested in protecting our environment to contact Senator Portantino and voice support for SB 307 and also become familiar with the Cadiz project and it’s plan to profit from depleting the Mojave Desert’s aquifer.
The invisible constituency
When I read Chris Naticchia’s letter published in the May 24 edition of the COURIER, “SB 50 and the Invisible Constituency,” I found it resonated with me. I have never owned a home. I am a long-term renter.
The discussion and decision-making regarding housing does seem dominated by homeowners and I am unsure just how much weight a story like mine has in the discussion of affordable housing in Claremont. I do sometimes feel like I am part of the “invisible constituency.”
I moved from my home town of Chico to Claremont with my wife in 1990 to attend what was back then the Claremont Graduate School. We rented a three bedroom, two-on-a-lot, house for $850 a month. The plan was to get in and out with my doctorate and back to teaching in a tenure track position as soon as I had completed my degree.
In 1994 our first daughter was born, and that changed everything. Decisions were no longer about me and my career, but rather about my daughter and what was best for her, and her sister who came along five years later.
It was clear to us then that Claremont was a world-class place to raise kids, so in 1996, with my diploma and $70,000 in student loan debt in hand, I began applying for teaching positions and found myself competing against national reputations and Academy Award winners.
Like many other visual and performing artists, I pieced together part-time teaching jobs and, in addition to playing gigs and teaching privately, I was able to pay the bills. But when my wife began to develop a series of life-threatening illnesses, I was compelled to find work close to home and a job with health and retirement benefits.
The opportunity for our girls to grow up and have a contiguous education, from pre-school through high school, was the highest priority. Seeing where they are now reassures me that staying in Claremont was the right thing to do.
I am all too quickly approaching retirement, although I have no intention of actually retiring. I plan on practicing my music, visual art, writing, teaching and volunteering in the community. But I am beginning to doubt that I will be able to do that here.
My combined retirement income from Social Security and a 401k will most likely be about half of my current income, and I know I will not be able to afford the rent where I currently live.
Will there be a place for me in Claremont in four or five years? I’m kind of high maintenance—I have musical instruments and sound equipment in most every room, a beagle and a ceramic wheel in the back yard. I’m not really apartment friendly.
My plan B is to move back to Chico and live with my brother in the house where we grew up. Chico used to be a lot like Claremont when I was a kid. It’s not like that anymore. They made a lot of mistakes and they’ve had some pretty tough luck, with thousands of refugees from the Camp Fire exacerbating their already critical housing crisis.
It would seem to me we could solve the affordable housing crisis by simply building affordable housing. If only it were that easy. Everyone seems to have a different idea about how it should work. We all see things from our own perspective, through our own living room window so to speak.
Whatever the future brings for me, and others like me, I will always love this town.