Readers Comments 9-6-19
A cap that is not a cap
The city of Claremont and the proponents of Measure CR are shading the truth at best, and outright fibbing at worst, in their efforts to advance a narrative for support of the regressive Claremont sales tax measure. They are attempting to normalize the exorbitant and extravagant 10.25 percent tax rate that would result from the passage of Measure CR.
One pillar of their argument is that if Claremont doesn’t impose this tax, some other agency will do so, up to a “statewide cap” of 10.25 percent in total tax rate. Let’s be honest about this: there is no 10.25 percent statewide cap.
What “cap” exists in the law, and it is only a soft cap, is a two percent limit on local sales taxes. Claremont is already subject to 2.25 percent in local taxes, so Claremont is already over the cap.
This occurs because the so-called cap in the revenue and taxation code is a legislative creation, and what the legislature giveth the legislature can taketh away. And the legislature grants exemptions to this cap routinely—dozens and dozens of times in the past few years.
Two of our four local transportation taxes are exempted from the cap, which is why Claremont’s local taxes exceed it already. Moreover, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is right now exploring a sales tax which it plans on exempting from the cap.
So the argument fails as a practical matter. It is not a choice between either Claremont getting the money or the Big Bad County getting the money. If Measure CR were to pass, and another county agency were to later impose a sales tax, it’s a near-certainty that Claremont would be paying both. The legislature can easily make that happen; it has done so many times.
Without exaggeration, adding the 7.25 percent state sales tax to three or more percent local sales taxes, we would then be well into double-digit sales tax levels and heading towards truly European levels of 11 percent, 12 percent and on into the teens.
Ludd A. Trozpek
Yes for Claremont
Just as I was poised to write this letter in favor of Measure CR, the August 30 COURIER arrived with readers’ comments expressing precisely the considerations I was preparing to share: Bob Fass—CR’s positive impact upon education and community quality of life; and Teddie Warner—the city’s continued funding support for community based nonprofit organizations serving the most vulnerable among us.
Some proverbial wisdom suits the decision we will make by voting for the three-quarter cent sales tax increase: “Pay me now, or pay me later!” We can either approve a local sales tax now to be used specifically for the needs of Claremont, or wait until later when we will inevitably pay an equal increase adopted by county voters.
Please join me in voting yes for Claremont by voting yes on Measure CR.
Claremont United Church of Christ
Attention city council!
Urgent letter to the Claremont City Council! Beware! The decision you make today can cause a financial legacy of hurt to the city, the residents and the visitors of Claremont!
Steep increased costs to the city and higher taxes to the citizens! Declining property values in surrounding homes and commercial areas! Ongoing emergency vehicles! Potential personal hardships! Ongoing traffic issues! Decrease in the quality of life in Claremont! Merchants declining store rental in an oversaturated market are but a few of the issues!
The overwhelming problem with the design of the Colby Circle 96 units and 30 adjoining units (126 in all) is that there has never been an environmental report done.
In 2007, when the entire project was proposed, the land was mostly barren, the congestion was lighter and there were homeowners who could easily move around the area. In the proposed plan, The Colby Circle access road to the connecting Indian Hill will be cut off. The only access would be Indian Hill and a relatively small alley between Trader Joes and the Bucca restaurant. In fact, there are rumors that some of those establishments may move or close forever.
Now, in 2019, the initial project has been built in relatively tight quarters where parking is a premium. While there will be a two-story parking structure built, most of the spaces are already spoken for. The population of not only the subject area, but also the high school, has grown enormously. The resulting traffic on Indian Hill is dense and may require a new signal, which could create a dangerous traffic situation for the students, the high school and the surrounding neighbors, citizens and visitors.
The interior of the design is flawed. There are too many units, too close together, creating an invasion of privacy, no common area for residents, just two underground parking spots with an additional half-space (not defined as to who parks there or if overnight parking is allowed).
Emergency vehicles cannot fit through the alleys and would have to back out. Trash is designed to be pulled to the main street, Colby Circle.
Since the Griswold’s complex was built, there has been a connecting road on the north lot of Colby Circle for trash trucks and other vehicles that cannot come through the front entrance. This connecting road to the complex has been peacefully in use since 1981.
In the plan it will have to go up a four-foot incline and jog twice before entering the complex. This will cause a noise and pollution problem for weekly trash pickup and occasional repair vehicles.
Additionally, ingress and egress can be denied by the new homeowner group if they consider there to be two violations of their rule.
The economic impact of approving this extremely high-density project in the midst of an already crowded commercial and residential area will have negative consequences for the image and financial health of one of the most attractive and inviting communities in Southern California.
You were elected and placed in a position of power and influence to protect and enhance the aesthetic and financial integrity of our community.
You were not elected to casually destroy the image and appeal of Claremont that has been passed on to us by those with the vision and foresight to create what we now lovingly call “Claremont.”
Do not let this be your legacy.
Suzanne H. Christian
Village South is a betrayal
My family moved to Claremont in 1954 when I was five years old. I attended Vista, El Roble and Claremont High School and after college, met and married my husband Bob. We raised two daughters who also attended Vista, El Roble and CHS. My mother and brother still live in Claremont, a few blocks from my home in the south part of town. All of us have been supportive of bond issues and other taxes to keep the integrity of our beloved city.
But, I fear we will become two cities, one north of the tracks, quaint and charming, and a small Pasadena where people want to go from all over our region. My fear is that the new development will be a continuation of Montclair or a city like Garden Grove with urban blight.
It seems to me what the city is proposing will isolate those who live in the south and people will continue to think of the south as a ghetto or “Baja Claremont.” We were very happy about the discussions that put a priority on bringing our area into the rest of Claremont through a beautiful and lively Village South, producing a cohesive flow from the current Village into Village South and into our neighborhoods.
I feel betrayed by the current proposal for 1,140 units in 17.5 acres. My husband and I volunteer throughout town and have attended meetings over the two-and-half years there have been discussions about the Village South Specific Plan (VSSP). In all of those meetings, never did I hear anything like what is being proposed to be studied in the environmental impact report (EIR). It’s just too many people in one small area.
We tried to go to the movies in the Village last night and could not find a parking place. With 1.3 parking spaces for each of the proposed 1,140 units, it will get much worse and I don’t know how many people will stop being consistent visitors to the Village.
The VSSP upon which the EIR is being based will produce a traffic nightmare, with autos parking in the Village that is already impacted and spilling into the neighborhoods.
Currently traffic congestion around the south entrance into the Village is very difficult to maneuver with pedestrians and cars vying for space. During commute hours, the traffic on Arrow Highway and South Indian Hill makes turning dangerous. With the addition of 1,140 units, the Gold Line and a possible hotel, the congestion will be almost unbelievable.
If I were a merchant in the Village, I would be worried about my future business. If people can’t park or maneuver through the streets safely, they will go to surrounding communities. Even with the lower Tier I at 736 units, there will be a significant increase in traffic.
There are many other issues to be studied, one is the incomplete specific plan. I am wondering why we are going ahead with an EIR that does not adhere to the Planning Goals and Guiding Principles. That document seems to have been disregarded, even though it was based on more than two years of community meetings and passed by architecture, planning and the city council.
We currently have an incomplete Village South Specific Plan. My suggestion is that we don’t have an EIR until we have a complete specific plan based on the Planning Goals and Guiding Principles.
Village South EIR
I agree with the readers’ positions expressed in the August 30 edition about the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for the Village South Specific Plan. Here’s a brief recap of some of the comments:
1. “For two years now, Claremont residents have been assured that Village South will be ‘compatible in scale and character with the Village…’ ”
2. “This draft specific plan is not ready for an EIR. It should be sent to the planning commission and then to the city council for comment and then rewritten to reflect Claremont’s vision.”
3. “City staff have said the details haven’t been finalized yet. How can an accurate environmental analysis be done on this? There is no information about passive energy conservation or solar panels, and nothing about water conservation features such as gray water recycling.”
4. “The EIR should be completed by someone who has no connection with the firm that was involved in developing the proposal the EIR will evaluate.”
The Tier II plans the city wants to include in the EIR violate the goals and principles adopted by the council in June 2018. Tier II would allow four- and five-story buildings with up to 1,140 residential units, a 75-key hotel and a heckuva lot of business space yet not have enough parking places to support all this activity.
So, only the more-reasonable Tier 1 plans, after following the points above, should be submitted for the EIR. We don’t need an urban development in suburban Claremont.