Readers comments 8-6-21
Public comment to city council
Our city has a moral and humanitarian duty to protect those who protect us, namely our 94 members of the Claremont Police Department. our safety depends upon their safety.
Reviewing past police facility committees, I found the first committee (a police commission) was charged with developing a plan based on a 2002 space needs study. The building on Bonita was not considered, the service building on Monte Vista was the prime consideration, therefore the architectural/engineering consultant only advised related to the Monte Vista site. I was incorrect that four consulting firms reviewed the station on Bonita. Only data from three firms are relevant.
Twenty years ago our city developed a 2002 PD Space Needs Study. Our 50-year-old site is a jigsaw of desks crammed together in small rooms and closets to provide for our 94 police staff. A survey of 23 PDs show an average of 347-square-feet per officer—not even close in Claremont.
The most serious concern about our current police facility is the structural deficiency of the building, inside and out. A two-foot thick concrete roof/ceiling covers the entire building, the sustaining walls are questionable, there is no flex when an earthquake, tremor, shock hits. There is no indication of any inside seismic precautions. The building needs immediate retrofit to protect all those working inside. Remember what happened in Florida on June 24, i.e., the collapse of a building that was structurally unsound. It was not an earthquake that caused the collapse but years of unheeded reports about the structural flaws.
The Essential Services Building Seismic Safety Act of 1986 defines essential services that must be performed after a major disaster, such as maintaining a 911 call center, access to stored data, securing evidence, etc. If our police facility collapses we will have nothing.
It has been 20 years of committees, commissions, ad hoc this and that; nothing has been accomplished except spending over $500,000, cash paid to consultants who all confirm dangerous faults in our police facility.
I am truly concerned for the safety of our police and have reported to Cal/OSHA the findings of three architectural/engineering consultant findings related to the structural inadequacy of our current PD building, including reports of asbestos and mold, old electrical wiring and plumbing pipes, the probable lack of seismic safety, the question of adequate space, and no observable compliance to the 1990 ADA law amended January 2009 (Title III). I requested OSHA perform an early on-site inspection to observe and judge concerns of the need to retrofit, basic seismic preparedness and other outstanding faults to be addressed.
City council and staff have 20 years of reliable information to act immediately and need not wait for the OSHA report.
The city council and commissioners are having trouble finalizing the Village South Specific Plan. Perhaps this is because the plan is not the right plan. A good plan should be easy to support and implement.
I have expressed concerns about the VSSP since the first proposals were published. My concerns have been the number of proposed housing units and inadequate parking. While the number of housing units has been reduced since the first draft, I believe that the latest number stands at 1,000. That’s nuts! High density housing is not keeping with the character of Claremont and certainly not the Claremont Village.
Then there is the parking issue. While parking under the original plan was wholly inadequate, the would-be developer continues pressure for more and more reductions. An article in the July 16 COURIER that can be viewed on the COURIER website demonstrates the creative ways developers use to convince a city that it is okay to reduce their required parking for a project. There is a “parking reductions summary table” and accompanying explanations of “unbundling,” “car sharing” and bicycle parking. Unbundling is selling parking spaces separately from the residential units. Car sharing is subscription-based car rental. The article had statements like “build a project that prioritizes housing people over cars,” “promoting walkability,” “using alternate modes of transportation” and “uses of bikes.” This all ignores reality, and city officials seem to be buying into it! Most of the residents who are able to use the trains as transportation to jobs will have and use cars. Those cars will need to be housed or parked. There must also be parking allocated for residents’ visitors. Owners and employees of the new businesses will need somewhere to park. Non-residents who would patronize the new businesses in the expansion will require convenient parking. Inadequate parking, as we often have in the Village, will drive those visitors away.
It appears to me that key decisions are being developer driven. Developers are interested in maximum profit. Doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. It’s business. They will develop and walk away. This isn’t like the Indian Hill/Bonita traffic circle; a mistake that was easily undone. The city has one chance to get this right. Whatever this ends up being will be forever. I suggest that the council and commissioners resist pressures from consultants and developers and reconsider their positions on the scope of the Village expansion. Step away from the noise. Create a greatly scaled down plan. Consider only what is best for the future of Claremont.
Response to “Transportation depot name changed again?” letter to editor
In response to a recent letter that appeared in the July 30th issue of the COURIER, I believe there are several misunderstandings and misstatements of the facts that must be clarified and corrected.
First of all, L.A. County Metro allocated $350,000 from Proposition C, a half-cent sales tax providing funds for station improvement used to enhance and restore buildings at various rail stops. In this case the money was used to seismically retrofit the Claremont Depot building, which is an important historic building and a critical multi-modal stop along the alignment, where rail, bus and ultimately light rail interface, creating access to public transportation for local residents.
Over the years, the Claremont Depot has been referred to by many different names, such as the Claremont Metrolink Station, the Claremont Depot Restaurant, the Claremont Transportation Depot, the Santa Fe Depot at Claremont, and now The Claremont Depot. What possible difference does it make whether or not the word ‘transportation’ is used? Our Claremont Depot is currently part of Metrolink’s rail network, and will be part of Metro’s Foothill Gold Line system in the near future. Further, Metro has made it a priority to support art in public spaces at each of its rail stops. It is entirely appropriate for these funds to be utilized at the Claremont stop to support retrofitting and safety. Never has any money ever been taken from funds used to support people struggling to make ends meet as Mr. Magilke implies.
Today, the Claremont Depot is also the home of the Claremont Museum of Art, a 501c3 nonprofit that cultivates and supports local art, education and access by community members who would not otherwise have access to this caliber of work. It is run by a board of directors who are all volunteers. It is the community’s museum and is funded by those interested in supporting and encouraging the acknowledgment of Claremont’s rich history as a center of achievements in the field of art. It is not Elaine Turner’s private club. It does not belong to Elaine Turner, it is not private and it is not a club.
To continue its programming, Claremont Museum of Art is asking for our help. Moving forward, now that the seismic retrofit is finished, funds are needed to complete the restoration of the building guided by strict historic standards. Therefore, a campaign to raise $180,000 is underway to pay for the work and materials needed for the project
For years the Claremont Depot sat in a state of decay and disrepair. Now it is a viable transportation hub and a cultural destination for all of us to be proud of and enjoy. Take the opportunity to visit our wonderful museum and judge for yourself. I hope our community will recognize the importance of our Claremont Museum of Art and help as much as you can.
Response to “Transportation depot name changed again?” letter to editor
In last week’s COURIER, Matt Magilke opened up a very good discussion about government funding for the arts in regards to our local Claremont Museum of Art.
Magilke hoped to solicit a ‘progressive’ response to his allegations that L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority funds were misappropriated by providing a modicum of funding to upgrade an old train depot that currently houses our art museum. I’m stepping up to the challenge, though I don’t self-identify as progressive. I figure I’ve been called it enough—both complimentarily and non-complimentarily—to wade in here.
Magilke maintains that the upgrade of this building for its current usage has nothing to do with transportation and would be better spent on such things as helping people “find affordable housing and fill their gas tanks.”
Here, Magilke is being somewhat disingenuous. The $350k one-time grant money would not go very far to solve either problem. As a professor of accounting, I am sure that Magilke well understands the economy of scale and the pooling of government resources for the common good.
In this case, the money allocated towards the restoration and repurposing of a beautiful and historic building would be a mere drop in the bucket helping private individuals with these problems. Developers are telling me that, right now, due to rising costs of lumber and problems with our supply chains, it costs about a half a million dollars to build a house in L.A. County. And, while car owners could use some relief, the problem is enormous: Los Angeles County right now has at least 5.8 million registered motor vehicles, and in one year alone, L.A. drivers reach a little over 92 million miles.
His question is well taken however—why should a transportation agency pay for the restoration of an old train station that has fallen into decrepitude and disrepair? I’d wager it is because Metro’s objective is to try to get people out of their cars and riding the rails due to the fact that our streets are clogged and our air quality is poor. Metro is helping Claremont establish itself as a destination for tourism, culture and education that can be accessed in other ways than by car.
In truth, our government devotes very little funding for the arts. The National Endowment for the Arts makes up a mere 0.004 percent of the federal budget. And really this is just ‘seed money’—countless research studies have shown that there is a significant return on investment of government dollars toward the arts with $1 of NEA direct funding leveraging up to $9 in private and other public funds. We know this to be true in Claremont. If people come to attend a concert or go to a museum, they stay to shop and eat and generate sales tax that supports our city services.
As to Magilke’s point that the Claremont Museum of Art should not exist simply to serve the “private elites,” I wholeheartedly agree with him. Since the museum is a “public/private partnership,” it needs to be responsive to the public sector in terms of public outreach and education, public curatorial input, exhibiting artists who represent the diversity of Southern California’s populations.
Pamela Casey Nagler
Response to “Woke” COURIER letter to editor
I was stunned to read Jacquie Mahoney’s thinly veiled hyper partisan rant in last week’s paper (“Because Woke”). The Cleveland Guardians name change has been years in the making, and I for one am celebrating this event. As to her explanation that the age of the name justifies its continued usage: Can you imagine being an Indigenous American in 1915? Just think: generations of forced assimilation, displacement, impoverishment, genocide—this is also just 25 years after Wounded Knee—and now you -perhaps a member of one of the 500+ culturally vibrant tribes in this country that has fought tooth and nail for your right to exist—see yourself boiled down and essentialized to a red-faced caricature in order to sell seats at a baseball stadium. It’s disgusting. It always has been, and this country has finally reached a reckoning (a weak start, but I’ll take it).
Yes, the COURIER is a local paper. May I offer a local solution? As a Claremont resident, Ms. Mahoney is fortunate to have access to the world-renowned Claremont Colleges. She can audit a course for free (if over the age of 60). As she had also mentioned Christopher Columbus in her letter, might I suggest a course entitled “The World Since 1492” at Pitzer College, as an introduction to the lasting impacts of colonialism?
Response to “Woke” COURIER letter to editor
On July 30, 2021, you published a letter to the editor titled “Woke” submitted by Jacquie Mahoney. This is a response to that letter. In their letter, Mahoney expressed their frustration regarding the renaming of their hometown football team from the Cleveland Indians to the Guardians. Mahoney went on to say that by this new logic their hometown of Columbus, Ohio should be renamed “because Columbus had the nerve to explore and get into some scrapes with the native people”. Although Mahoney is correct about the need we face in our current society to reexamine why we celebrate certain figures who have caused great pain to specific groups, the term “some scrapes” glosses over much of the suffering Christopher Columbus inflicted on thousands of indigenous people. As a history article by Artem Dunaev titled “Why Columbus Day Courts Controversy” explains, “Columbus and his men enslaved many native inhabitants of the West Indies and subjected them to extreme violence and brutality…Throughout his years in the New World, Columbus enacted policies of forced labor in which natives were put to work for the sake of profits. Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino ‘Indians’ from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold. Many died en route.” Additionally, many native populations Columbus did not directly encounter were devastated by the slew of diseases brought by Columbus and other explorers to their home.
It can be hard to accept that many of the figures previously labeled as heroes by our country’s education system and previous generations are actually the villains in the histories of countless other groups. By naming our cities, erecting statues, and marking national holidays for figures such as Christopher Columbus, we as a society show our support for actions and systems that uphold one group, while destroying others. If we don’t make the necessary changes now, future generations will continue to be brought up by the idea that repressing and harming others for our own gain and profit is not only okay, but something to be celebrated. Many may think that my generation is too “woke,” because coming to terms with the past and making things right going into the future is of such great importance to myself and many of my peers. But addressing past wrongs and working together to create positive and accepting change will hopefully make the world a more humane and safe place in the future, and this can never be a bad thing.
The elephant in the room
At the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, persons speaking from the perspective of the resident elephant in the room, provided the commission, and all those participating and observing the proceedings, with their unequivocal opposition to requiring the inclusion of low income housing in the for-purchase units constructed during the build out of Village South.
And to be absolutely clear, my remarks are not directed at or against anyone who spoke in opposition to applying an amended, low income unit requiring inclusionary housing ordinance to the Village South expansion project. Rather I am writing about the elephant itself, the “free market” and the “free market forces” that create and then constrain and oppose local and global attempts to plan and implement effective responses to mitigate the existential threat of climate change, and the many perennial challenges to the social order, such as the lack of affordable housing and homelessness, as well as the many others associated with the socioeconomic inequities caused by the market forces that drive a free and healthy marketplace.
And herein lies the obvious conundrum for both individuals whose capital is invested in the marketplace, and governing bodies that over time have become more responsible for protecting the investments of its wealth possessing citizenry and corporations, rather than guaranteeing the inalienable rights and general welfare of all our citizens. Which is to say: How do we justify the undermining of our democracy, the destabilization of the social order, and the destruction of the environment that this type of wealth creation inflicts with callous abandon?
Again, let me be clear, my remarks are not suggesting that the elephant, aka capitalism, be shot and its carcass unceremoniously thrown into the dust bin of history—even if we could, and even if we should consider doing so. Nor am I suggesting the adoption of the proven alternative—because in the end, no economic system is capable of guaranteeing that serving the common good of the people will prevail without some form of effective accountability to the people.
Rather, what I am proposing is that we, as individuals and as a community, acknowledge the conundrum and commit to the difficult, but immensely rewarding task of reclaiming our sovereignty as a municipality and our inalienable rights as citizens, in order to take control of our destiny. By establishing the terms of engagement with the marketplace and by identifying and eliminating the means used to obstruct and constrain our ability to live our values and define the character of our community, we can come together as a community to meet the challenges with solutions that reflect our moral values and mutual obligation to each other.
I cannot imagine any path to a better future that does not confront the elephant in the room and require it to place people before profits, the planet’s survival before its own, and the free and full exercise of our inalienable rights as human beings before the right of corporations and whole industries to operate freely and without accountably for the negative social, economic, and environmental consequences of its activities.