Readers comments 5.3.13

Liquidambar trees

[Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Claremont City Manager Tony Ramos, with a copy forwarded for publication. —KD]

Dear Mr. Ramos:

We have lived on West 11th Street for 5 years and are deeply concerned about the dangerous, as well as unsightly, year-round drop of seed balls from the liquidambar trees lining the street.

During the time we have lived here, we have had several incidents of pedestrians losing their footing as a result of accidentally stepping on one or more of those seed balls. One of our friends recently fell and injured her hip as a result of inadvertently stepping on one of those seed pods. They are a constant and treacherous danger.

While investigating this problem we learned that many cities have blacklisted liquidambar, not only because of the hazardous seed balls but also because of the damage to sidewalks, streets and home foundations from their rapidly spreading and invasive root system.

In a peer-reviewed research article in the publication California Agriculture, March-April of 1994, researchers Ed Perry and Allen Lagarbo identified the fruit of liquidambar as hazardous to public safety and reported the results of the city of Modesto using Ethepohn spraying to eliminate the spiny balls—with no noticeable negative effects to the trees or surrounding vegetation. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo has also conducted research on the problems associated with liquidamber trees.

We would strongly recommend the city not pursue further planting of these trees. In addition, we would like to request the city actively explore solutions to this problem, propose various methods of eliminating the seed pod hazard, and make these suggestions available for public discussion.

John Roseman



College creep

Dear Editor:

I much enjoyed reading Mr. David Cressy’s recent letter [CGU Master Plan far reaching, COURIER, April 26]. He sagely raises points which deserve very serious consideration by Claremont residents, Claremont’s city planners and the Claremont Colleges themselves.

I’ll not repeat here the points Mr. Cressy made, since his points are very ably described in his own letter. However, if I may condense it to its most basic essence, the issue regarding the Colleges (the 7Cs) is this: How big is big enough?

Claremont is, after all, a town of fewer than 40,000 residents. Most of us realize that in the Claremont Village area, space is already at a premium. Claremont is not Westwood, nor is it downtown Los Angeles. Nor should it strive to become like either of those 2 places. Yet, if the Colleges persist in pursuing a policy of endless, pointless growth, Claremont will incrementally develop into an unpleasant place indeed.

Mr. Cressy either coined or used a phrase that struck me as supremely apropos, namely “college creep.” A very appropriate description for the Colleges’ nasty habit of encroaching on surrounding neighborhoods.

According to one source, the Colleges have 6300 students, 700 faculty and 1600 other personnel. Now, that’s a big enterprise—more than big enough for downtown Claremont. I suggest that the Colleges just focus on providing the very best education they can to those 6300 students already attending, and eschew any more “college creep.”

Douglas Lyon



A final run for Joe

Dear Editor:

I have been a subscriber to the COURIER for many years and I have to say that no story has touched my heart as the one I have just read, “A Final Run for Joe.”

I do remember seeing him run around Claremont and I wish I knew him. It is wonderful to read something heart warming come out of all the destruction that happened in Boston.

I will be visiting Boston next month  and it is good to know that there is a fellow friend from California watching over us in Boston.




Opposition to KXL Pipeline

Dear Editor:

 The League of Women Voters opposes the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline. Please join us and write to Secretary of State John Kerry and ask that as he considers the project he will also keep these comments in mind.

The Canadian tar sands that will be carried by the KXL pipeline are the dirtiest oil on the planet. Producing synthetic oils from this substance will generate three times the global warming pollution of conventional production. The US should be a leader on fighting the effects of climate change, not facilitating the creation of additional pollution to harm the planet.

The proposed pathway for the KXL pipeline goes through the Yellowstone River and the Ogallala Aquifer. Both of these water sources are essential to providing drinking water to humans and for irrigating agriculture. A spill along the proposed route would put public health in danger.

The US needs to focus on creating sustainable and clean sources of energy.  Approving the KXL Pipeline will produce more dirty oil that will increase the threat of climate change and increase the world’s dependence on oil. If the US is serious about creating a clean energy economy, we need to lead the world towards the creation of clean energy production.

Please pass your opinion to Secretary of State John Kerry since our opinions are important in this momentous decision. We hope he can take the opinions under careful consideration as he weighs the high risks that are associated with the building of the KXL Pipeline.

Ellen Taylor

VP of Advocacy

LWV of Claremont Area



Hiding behind the Constitution

Dear Editor:

Reading Douglas Lyon’s letter of April 19, someone could get the impression that Moses brought down from the mountain the Constitution and Bill of Rights along with the 10 Commandments.

According to Mr. Lyon, these 2 documents are never to be changed or altered.  This is ridiculous, as they have constantly been amended and interpreted over the years. In fact, the Constitution which was approved in 1789 was a replacement of the original constitution The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union which was approved in 1777.

To the issue at hand, gun controls, Mr. Lyon appears to be trying to make the argument that these documents are proof that unrestricted gun ownership is a right from God. Of course the framers of the Constitution could not have foreseen that guns would eventually become as powerful as they are today. Back in the 1700s the musket was the most technologically advanced weapon capable of shooting one bullet before it had to be reloaded by hand. Today’s military grade rifles can kill dozens of people in the span of a few seconds, reloaded and ready to kill dozens more in a moment. The right to own such a weapon is certainly not guaranteed by the Constitution.

The truth is that gun restrictions lead to less violence and less deaths by guns.  This is a proven fact.

The vast majority of We The People want to have, at the very least, a background check of everyone that wants to own a weapon. Something that is already required for 60 percent of gun purchases.  Yet the will of the people is being thwarted by powerful lobbyists including the NRA.

Those that advocate for unrestricted gun ownership argue that unless the solution is complete and 100 percent perfect that it shouldn’t be implemented.  Those of us that believe otherwise only look for these restrictions to improve safety; we don’t require them to overcome an unrealistic threshold. We know that gun restrictions will reduce the threat that currently exists.

They also argue that these restrictions will not eliminate criminals from getting weapons illegally. In other words, why write a law that criminals will break?  Isn’t breaking laws the very definition of criminal behavior? I lock my car when I leave it parked despite the fact that a car thief can find a way to get inside and steal it. Prevention of a crime by a law doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be effective.

Mr. Lyon warns of the slippery slope.  Give away one right and the next thing you know all rights will be taken away!  This is, of course, idiotic and to use his own word, bloviating. Passing sensible gun restrictions does not in any way limit a law abiding citizen from owning a gun.  It would make it more difficult for a criminal or potential criminal to get a weapon.  It would make it more difficult to shoot as many bullets and kill as many children as we saw at Sandy Hook Elementary.  If you have heard the parents of the 20 children slain at Sandy Hook speak, how could you not want to do everything possible to help prevent such an act of violence from happening again?  They call on all of us to stand up for sensible gun restrictions.

Shame on you, Mr. Lyon, for hiding behind the Constitution and standing with those that advocate for more violence.

William Stevenson



Covering the water bases

Dear Editor:

Before the city of Claremont moves forward on the water issue I have a question. Has the city sought a remedy to our problems with Golden State by going to the parent company for redress?

Golden State Water is a subsidiary of American States Water Company. Perhaps American States is unaware of what Golden State has been doing especially regarding the surcharge on water usage if you happen to have used less water and you were charged money for having saved on your water usage.

The city if they have not contacted American States needs to do so, so Claremont can claim that they have exhausted all potential remedies before any potential eminent domain proceeding which may or may not occur.

The city has a burden of proof, and that is whether or not what is being charged to customers for their use of water from Golden State is unreasonable and out of line with what others are being charged. What has the PUC said about what Claremonters are being charged? If they, the PUC, has stated that what is being charged is proper and reasonable, the city will have a heavy burden of proof to overcome.

This is not an attempt to decry the city’s intent on going after Golden State Water, but just an effort of my part to encourage patience and caution before Claremont commits itself any further in the battle to make sure the residents of Claremont are being treated fairly regarding their water rates.

It might be possible that the parent company would recognize that changes need to be made and have better oversight over their subsidiary and rectify the wrongs that Golden State has done.

We look forward to hearing some answers on where we are on the hot issue of the year in the city of Claremont.

Gar Byrum



Comparing water systems

It’s good to see the Readers’ Comments in the COURIER on the possible acquisition of Claremont’s water system.  The community needs a forum such as this for reasoned discussion of the issues involved.

Today let’s consider the validity of comparing the municipally owned water system in La Verne with the system in Claremont, owned by Golden State Water Company. 

According to the comments from the League of Women Voters in the April 26  COURIER (and the opinion of the Editorial Board at the Daily Bulletin), it makes sense to compare the 2 systems. 

To the contrary, Dan Dell’Osa finds such a comparison to be a “False concept.” He sees similarity in comparing water rates with comparing mortgage rates between newly purchased and older homes. But is that a valid comparison?  Water rates do not equate with the cost of acquiring the system. Rates and purchase costs may be related, but they are quite different financial considerations. 

The La Verne and Claremont water systems are quite similar in age, size and quality of management and service, but they have different managers.  So a more reasoned question would be “With 2 similar properties, one managed by a for-profit management team and the other by a non-profit team, which would have the lower management fee for similar quality of management?” 

Most would agree it would likely be the non-profit management. Actual rate comparisons by the League show the average La Verne customer pays about $52 per month less than in Claremont for the same amount of water, or about $7 million per year summed over all the customers in Claremont—very likely enough to pay for the water system with a 30-year bond, without raising water rates or increasing taxes.

Whether or not there is validity in comparing the system in La Verne and Claremont is important. Claremont is fortunate to be able to compare our water system with a municipal system in a similar neighboring city, for it gives us a clear idea what it would be like if we too had a municipally owned and managed water system.

If Claremont does acquire its water system, La Verne is likely to be willing to cooperate in its management. We would not be alone in this venture.

I hope others who support or differ on this, or other acquisition issues, will make their reasoning known so together we can find the best possible result.

Freeman Allen



The critical question

Dear Editor:

Others have spoken more eloquently on the Golden State Water mailing of April 16, but I’ll weight in anyway. At the suggestion of GWS I looked at the study by Dr. Smith. There is food for thought there and, not surprisingly, some things I didn’t understand. Here are just a couple of questions for GWS.

In Table 2 the Revenue Requirement increases from $13.4 million in 2007 to $16 million in 2011, an increase of just 19 percent. For that same period my water cost increased by 61 percent, while my water usage declined. If I am correct for usage, the increase is about 100 percent. How can my costs go up 5 times as much as yours?

Your figure, Figure 2, is certainly graphic but I don’t understand the Capital Charge. Assuming a $104 million purchase price, Table 7 suggests a real capital cost of $128 million and Table 9 a Capital Charge of $15.8 million a year to pay for it. For a 30 year loan. that’s $474 million. That’s a lot for the initial loan. What am I missing?

Of course, studies have to cut off somewhere, so Dr. Smith’s does not include the rate increase for 2012 and the pending request to the CPUC for another 24 percent increase.

The important question is not, will I pay more than I am now if Claremont buys the water system, but rather, will I pay more to Claremont or to GWS over the 30 years, the bond period. The study does not address this crucial question.                                                                                 

Ed James








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