Reader’s comments: April 8, 2022
The train has left the station
First, I would like to express my gratitude for everyone at the COURIER for being a vital cog in the wheel of our community. As Neil Young says, “Long may you run.”
Last week Mick Rhodes reported on Rhino Records’ exit from our community, taking with them another unique slice of our community’s culture. Losing other touchstones of Claremont’s arts and performance venues means we continue to shed creative threads of culture that built our sense of Claremont pride. The loss of Rhino, Laemmle, Candlelight and what could possibly be next, The Press, all point to the fact that the train has left the station for destination gentrification.
After reading Mick’s story, it brought me back to the gentrification of the Claremont Depot. The depot no longer provides a respite for travelers, rather it serves a select few who turned the historic building into an art museum. Anti-art I am not, nor am I anti-gentrification. I am pro community with a balance of art and commerce.
The last time I spoke with a (now former) employee of the City of Claremont, I was told that the tenants of the Depot pay one dollar annually for the space. Additionally, I have seen reports in this paper that the city used a portion of public transportation funds to renovate the space for the museum, not for the community or travelers.
It was reported in the COURIER two weeks ago, that the museum received a $1 million donation, yet you cannot use the restroom or seek shelter as you wait for the next train at the depot. The optics are out of focus for a community that claims to care about others. I once attempted to enter the museum but was told I had to pay an admission fee. Should members of our community be subject to a fee to enter a museum housed in a public transit structure?
The decision to remove public access to our depot is a signal of our community’s direction. When the whip came down on the decision to force travelers to walk a tenth of a mile to city hall to use a public bathroom or buy tickets from a live person, it served as a tipping point towards more commerce and less culture.
According to Google Maps, the Claremont Depot is a historical place that is “temporarily closed.” My question is…when will it open?
Impactful decisions made by leaders without providing timely information to the public, makes one feel like we are not part of the process. That is why local community newspapers are crucial to this process of holding our local leaders accountable.
It is easy to point fingers, but that is not my point. Most people are doing the best they can with what they must work with. I believe we all can benefit from being informed and having access to what direction our leaders plan to take us. I appreciate the opportunity to live in this town and to work with my fellow Claremont citizens to build the best community now and for everyone’s future.
Balanced, transparent changes can keep our culture and community strong.
Proposed low-income housing project
The January 28 COURIER posted an article describing a proposed low-income housing project on a vacant lot currently owned by Pilgrim Place. Citizens for a Safe and Transparent Claremont has a Facebook post describing a wholly different sort of project. The COURIER article describes an apartment building with 33 tiny apartments and amenities “for individuals who are formerly or currently experiencing homelessness.” It would be 100% low-income housing with onsite management provided by Housing with Heart which “Delivers high quality supportive services necessary to help residents succeed in staying stably housed, as well as oversees the multiple agencies, partners, and volunteers who will also be engaged with the residents.” The Facebook posting describes the project as more of a halfway house for people with drug and mental health issues. I wonder; which is it? A follow-up by Mr. Felschundneff could help sort this out.
Losing Candlelight is a tragedy
Amen Douglas Lyon! (“Bye-bye Candlelight” COURIER, March 25 ed.)
You hit the nail on the head when you used the term “short sightedness” describing poor decisions made by our non-beloved city council. Losing the Candlelight Pavilion due to parking is a tragedy! The dollar signs have blocked the councils’ view to support our quaint community and all who visit, enjoy, and spend their hard-earned money here. Somebody order eye drops and maybe a couple of AED machines to shed some light and jump-start the hearts of our city council; this community can’t take it anymore.
Claremont Little League does not use La Puerta Sports Park
My name is Jenny Ballesteros and I am the president of Claremont Little League. On April 1, a letter from a resident was published in your paper with incorrect information. The letter was from a woman named Pamela Hawkes. She is complaining about Claremont Little League leaving trash all over La Puerta Sports Park. I’d like to clarify that Claremont Little League never uses La Puerta Sports Park.
The letter mentions La Puerta Sports Park in the very first sentence and Claremont Little League two or three times throughout the letter. It hurts my heart to know that a resident would bash a program spending so much time and energy on helping kids in our community in this way, without at least first reaching out to us to see if we were the culprits. This letter has upset many people in our Little League community as they put so much blood, sweat, and volunteer hours into our fields to prevent these types of issues.
CLL takes pride in our parks. We had over 100 volunteers show up to College Park, Blaisdell and Chaparral Park the week after the windstorms to help clean up the parks we mainly use. We work with the city to provide extra trash cans and have extra pick ups at College Park during our spring and fall season. We even work closely with the city to make sure we use the correct trash liners in the trash cans we empty numerous times throughout the week. We even bring in a porta potty to College Park to help keep the bathrooms clean. Four times during our 12-week spring season we have Park Clean up days. These days we pick up trash, sweep and rake the grounds and hand wash bleachers and dugouts. We also spend over $30,000 every year to keep the parks we use in superb shape.
I think it is also important to say that this issue is in the process of being resolved between the city and the volunteer youth sports community that does use this park. The neighbors of this park also need to be aware of how many countless hours volunteers use every day to pick up dog poop all over the fields. A reminder, dogs are not allowed in any park in the city of Claremont except the dog park. Responsible dog owners should follow the city’s rules and be watched as closely as the volunteers that pour more than 40 hours a week into the future of our community, the children.
At the very least, I would like the Claremont COURIER to correct this letter publicly and to notify the resident that Little League does not use this park.
Claremont Little League President
Successful permanent supportive housing could be possible in Claremont
On Thursday night, Jamboree Housing Corporation hosted a community meeting to share plans for the new permanent supportive housing program, Larkin Place, that will be built on the vacant lot adjacent to Larkin Park. I listened quietly trying to identify how the Housing and Homelessness Collaborative of Claremont (Housing Claremont) can do its best work to support the project, serve as an honest broker of information, engage in good faith conversations about community concerns, and help move the discourse away from “how do we stop this” and toward “how do we make Larkin Place work for the entire community.”
That night, I heard the frustration many community members feel about decisions that were made without their input. I heard many questions asked in the spirit of learning, and I heard the disappointment and hurt from some who have been made to feel like heartless NIMBYs for expressing their concerns. I heard traumatic stories of lives impacted by homelessness, doubt about the efficacy of the permanent supportive housing model, conjecture about the behaviors of people who will eventually live at Larkin Place, and fear for the safety of our schoolchildren and seniors. It struck me that what I heard most—and from nearly every person who spoke—is that helping people who are unhoused is a good thing. That seems like a good place to start.
If we can agree that having concerns about the project doesn’t mean that you oppose helping the unhoused, we might also agree that supporting Larkin Place doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the safety of our community. Maybe we can agree that Jamboree isn’t trying to pull one over on Claremont and stands behind its commitment to being a good neighbor. Perhaps we can believe in their tenant vetting process, staff to tenant ratio, and trained, professional staff. With careful planning and engaged stakeholders, we can serve the unhoused and maintain safety. We can engage in a community process to create accountability and safety plans that ease our misgivings. We might even take ownership and pride in the success of Larkin Place.
There are some who will never be convinced that a project like this will work, and I expect they will oppose the proposed parking easement (resulting in a less community-oriented design) and $1.5 million city investment (resulting in less accountability by the city for the project’s success). Both might delay the project, but neither will derail it because the project is protected under by-right housing law—law that was enacted to prevent neighborhood opposition to new housing that has contributed for decades to California’s housing and homelessness crisis.
Someone on Thursday night worried that the project’s supporters simply “hope” that it will all work out. In fact, there is ample evidence supporting the efficacy of permanent supportive housing and Jamboree’s success delivering it. But more than that, isn’t hope a good thing? Housing Claremont hopes that the community will come together to show that successful permanent supportive housing is possible in Claremont, and we look forward to creating opportunities to do so.
Housing Claremont, Board President
5cs should have unified COVID policy
I wanted to start by thanking The Claremont COURIER for helping me as a student to connect with the Claremont community. As a sophomore in my first year on campus at Pitzer College, the newspaper has proven to be an invaluable tool to help me connect to the larger Claremont community where I live and study during the school year.
I am writing in critique of the Claremont consortium’s lack of a common sense, unified approach with respect to COVID 19 pandemic/masking policies. Recently, Pitzer College made the decision to switch the McConnell dining hall back to take-out only dining due to a recent uptick in COVID cases. This action may seem like a logical and necessary precaution until you examine this policy in the context of what the other Claremont Colleges campuses are doing with respect to COVID restrictions. For example, Claremont McKenna recently ended all indoor masking except in classrooms. With cross-campus dining as an ongoing option for all Pitzer students, many will simply make the 10-minute walk over to CMC (or any other 5c) and enjoy indoor dining with little or no COVID restrictions. Pitzer’s continued pandemic restrictions make no sense given recent CDC, state and county health guidelines. Furthermore, such measures offer no significant impact on preventing new COVID cases if the other Claremont Colleges do not impose similar restrictions. The 5cs need to be unified with their COVID 19 response. Developing a constructive multi-campus strategy is the proper approach. This strategy should thoughtfully consider all the relevant issues such as CDC, State and County health guidelines rather than knee-jerk or feel-good measures that only offer a false sense of security. I fully recognize that each school is its own separate entity with their own respective decision-making processes, but there is precedent for all five campuses working together on many issues of common interest including athletics, dining, academics, degrees, social events, etc. Therefore there should be a 5c wide COVID policy.
COVID 19 is not going away so it is incumbent that all five Claremont College campuses work together to jointly develop a consistent, multi-campus strategy that considers student, faculty, and community needs in order to successfully combat the ongoing pandemic.
Pitzer College sophomore
The importance of learning financial literacy before it’s too late
Financial literacy? What does that even mean many might ask. To put it simply, financial literacy is having the ability to understand how to spend, budget, and invest your money. Financial literacy can give a person financial freedom when they know exactly what’s happening to their money but this key skill is not taught in our school systems. Some are lucky enough to learn from their parents or a private school that instills this knowledge in them, however this doesn’t apply to everyone. Teaching financial literacy should start early. Education level is highly correlated with financial literacy. I believe it is crucial for our society to invest in education for youths, especially in underserved communities to develop this skill set.
Financial literacy empowers communities. It leads to a stronger and educated workforce, food security, less stress in our lives and happier individuals and families. In financially capable communities, everyone benefits. Financial literacy in underserved communities must be a national priority. I believe this can only be possible if we leverage partnerships in the community.
Due to current events in our country and international affairs our American dollar is worth less everyday unless the modern American is saving and investing their money responsibly. Underserved communities in this case have very little or no financial buffer to absorb the economic shock. So they end up turning to credit cards, loans, and even overdrafting their bank accounts. A key component of financial literacy is knowing how to maneuver banks and insurance companies’ efforts to reel you in with money offers. Knowing how much it costs when you don’t pay after a certain period, how that impacts your credit score in the future are essential if you don’t want to be taken advantage of. This impacts millions of people because no one has taught them financial literacy, no one is directing them or even speaking to them about how to manage their money. Banks and insurance companies’ tactics of printing out millions of credit card offers with sneaky fees have ruined peoples lives if they didn’t understanding their finances.
My mother when she was in college was one of those affected when college students were flooded with credit card offers. Luckily she taught me crucial financial knowledge since she didn’t want me making the same mistakes she did. Here’s her perspective on what she went through and how growing up not being taught financial literacy impacted her.
“Growing up my parents lived paycheck to paycheck. I only know this because my mother had to always wait for my father’s payday in order to pay rent and buy groceries. Month to month it was the same. We were never without food or housing – the cycle of waiting for the next check to finalize the purchase or payment was our reality. Even my clothes, school supplies, and shoes were all a waiting game. We lived on lay-away. When you live this way – you know there are people living with more money than you and that there are people living with less money than you. Everything is transactional – nothing is financial. In fact I don’t think I learned that term – financial – until my senior year in college (in my one finance related course – I have a degree in English, C’mon).
Back tracking, I got my first credit card at a student festival on Wesco Beach at the University of Kansas. I thought I was signing up for a t-shirt. Weeks later a Discover Card arrived in the mail. Two weeks later, I signed up for another t-shirt and a Visa arrived in the mail. Two months into the semester I got a Maurice’s credit card – for the jeans of course. I read no fine print, paid payments sometimes, and maxed out each card within a year. And when I moved from off campus to on campus – my mail got lost in translation. I didn’t think about it again until I wanted to move off campus during my senior year and couldn’t secure a lease. My credit score was that bad. I slept on people’s couches until I was able to secure a lease at Seedy apartment complex by begging the property owner to give me a chance. She did so begrudgingly – noting my credit score. I knew nothing about credit scores other than I had a bad one. I didn’t know what to do – nor did I actively seek out information in order to figure it out. I instead lived paycheck to paycheck in order to pay rent and buy groceries because that’s what I knew.”
So after hearing from my mom’s experience, let’s look inward whether you are a college student or not. We all at the end of the day have choices to make about our finances regardless of our level of understanding in financial literacy. But we as a community and as a nation have to make teaching financial literacy early rather than later or more people will remain in debt and in a low-income status for the rest of their life.
Claremont Mckenna sophomore