Time to make affordable housing a priority for Village South

Now that The Commons development proposal has been rejected, it’s easy to see the intense emotions housing proposals bring to a community. Managing growth is so difficult, and in that respect, Claremont is no different than other communities. One look at the latest jump in housing prices confirms that affordable housing is just a pipe dream for so many.
Claremont is such a great town to live in, we really are not much of a secret any longer. The city is getting closer to becoming a destination location for a night out. This has clearly helped local businesses and the city’s tax revenue. But as the next major development kicks off with Village South, I wonder if this will be just another missed opportunity to address affordable housing, even in a small way.
As someone who was born and raised in Claremont, I view any type of development with trepidation until I see the facts, figures and renderings. Especially since few of our recent developments are anything to brag about. I still remember the time as a kid when my outdoor playground behind our Moab Drive home with more than 10 acres of trails, large trees, brush and lemon groves, was bulldozed for a development of large homes. The Bentleys owned and then sold the property before they sold their longtime business, Bentley’s Market on Yale Avenue.
My father Martin was particularly upset, not so much because my backyard was going away, but that none of the plans for the land included any affordable housing. Especially given the amount of land being used for just a half dozen single family homes. Yes, 25 years ago affordable housing was an issue!
It’s to that point now that I wonder how many Claremonters are willing to commit to making affordable housing a reality. Are we simply so comfortable that we don’t want any change? I’m feeling like we have trouble approving any development, let alone one that includes any type of affordable options.
The Commons location, however, was clearly deemed unsafe by officials and residents alike. The key problem was the location of Cable Airport’s runway, as planes take off to the west, right toward The Commons at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Monte Vista Avenue. That seemed to be a rallying cry for many, even for the city council who nixed the project. But does anyone realize how many low flying planes and helicopters cruise over Claremont? Dozens every day. Hundreds every week. And don’t forget about Brackett Field in La Verne, where plane traffic is even higher than Cable.
Try taking a few minutes to look up to the sky around Wheeler Park, or Padua Park to the north, to see the low flying planes cruising at 300 to 500 feet. It’s a common sight. They’re everywhere! That’s why Claremont is almost completely covered by restricted airspace. The dynamic of planes flying low is not limited to any one spot in the city. I speak from years of experience flying drones over just about every part of the City of Trees.
My point is that after seeing what happened to The Commons, I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was just another convenient excuse not to build. It’s an obvious half empty approach. We have so many success stories in our city’s history. Why can’t we figure this out? Maybe it’s time to face facts and use our smarts and creativity to develop innovative solutions to accommodate those who cannot afford an expensive Claremont single family home.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the Village South Specific Plan, which has a unique opportunity to build homes of all sizes near current and future mass transit. There’s a commitment by many in town to build affordable housing at this location. It would make Village South a huge success story on so many levels.

Major reporting project starts today
It all started when a COURIER reporter first heard a complaint from a Claremont senior who searched online for a “plumber near me.” Turns out the plumber she hired from Montclair initially charged $2,080 job. As reporter Mick Rhodes began his interviews, he learned more and more about the company’s alleged manipulation of customers and the system through shady marketing practices. This in-depth report goes into detail about a business set up in ‘Gaming the System.’ Part one of four starts today.

New hires for COURIER 2.0
We have several new faces at the COURIER who have instantly made an impression here in Claremont. Our newest member is designer Skylar Anderson, a graduate of the University of Oregon who will focus on COURIER print edition design, while also working on the new website as a producer/editor.
Reporter Andrew Alonzo was hired three months ago, but he is already changing how we report the news. We discovered a hidden talent in his photography skills, and he’s been a hit with podcasting as we get ready for the debut of our reimagined website in a couple of weeks.
Hannah Nelson will be helping us develop our popular lists section for this year’s Almanac, which highlights key information from over 100 organizations, nonprofits, churches, city government, schools and more. She’s been calling each organization in the lists to confirm that their company information has not changed. Hannah is also good at breaking the ice, quickly reassuring people she’s not a salesperson.
This will not be the end of our hiring as the COURIER continues to evolve to better serve our readers and the Claremont community. And it would not be possible without your support.

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com


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