Readers comments 6-11-21
Claremont needs affordable housing
Claremont needs more affordable housing, especially low and very low-income housing. Currently, many people who work here, from front-line workers, grocery workers, teachers, college students and graduates, to young families, seniors, and yes, young adults who grew up here, cannot afford to live here. I write to you today to put a face on this issue. I urge the city council to make sure the Village South project includes plans for addressing the housing needs of those who want to live here, who deserve to live here, but are priced out of the market.
I have been a renter my entire adult life, including the 31 years I have lived in Claremont. When my wife and I moved here in 1990 we found a two-on-a-lot, four-bedroom house in the Village for $850/month. We lived there for 15 years and started a family. I earned my degree from CGS (now CGU), and worked to support our two girls. We lived in three other rentals in town and came within a few days of being unhoused once. Happily, our girls went to school here, grew up and both graduated from college.
My wife passed away last year after a long illness, and now I live with my old beagle in a small two-bedroom cottage for about $1,900/month.
I am rapidly approaching the age of retirement, but as I would be living on a substantially smaller income, I am increasingly worried I will not be able to continue living here in Claremont. I want to enjoy the next phase of my life, to teach and play music, to write and paint, to volunteer in the community, to go camping, and travel some. I’d like to have a place where my daughters could stay when they visit their hometown. I’ve built a life here, and have cultivated many friendships and affiliations. Make no mistake, I am privileged because I can move back up to Chico, and live with my brother in the house of our childhood, but that would mean leaving behind the life I have built here in Claremont.
It is discouraging to me when I hear so many voices speak out time and again against any housing project, especially those that would include low and very low-income housing, ironically when many of those voices already own their own homes. It is discouraging to hear and read unfounded comments to the effect that higher density will inevitably lead to higher crime rates, traffic gridlock, and turn sections of town into a “ghetto.”
Our beloved community needs to live up to its legal responsibility to provide housing compliant with our RHNA mandated numbers. But perhaps more importantly, we need to live up to our moral responsibility to provide housing that is inclusive and affordable for those of us who want to live, work, raise our families, and retire here. Even though by the time truly affordable housing is finally built, it will probably come too late for me, but it is my hope that adding my voice to the conversation here may at least mean it won’t be too late for the young people and families Claremont will need to remain a vibrant, inclusive, adaptable, and resilient community.
Build near transportation
Housing policies that push to build affordable housing in areas of Claremont far from public transportation centers/corridors will fail to assist that population, particularly those essential service workers with lower incomes. The Washington Post in its “Momentum builds for free transit” [WaPo May 23, p.1] outlines the economic problems facing those with limited incomes. In particular, maintaining a commuter car drains a large proportion of the income of those workers…not to mention increases in environmental damage. Building affordable housing near bus and train lines/transportation hubs, coupled with targeted fare assistance, is the ticket to smart planning.
Masks at pooch park
I was disappointed to note that only about half of human users of Claremont Pooch Park were wearing masks when I visited on Tuesday evening.
Perhaps this will motivate more mask wearing:
Researchers have found that the Pfizer vaccine is significantly less effective against the Indian variant of SAR-2-Covid. Due to PC, variates are no longer named after their place of origin. The Indian variant is now DELTA (Source: “Outbreak News Today”).
DELTA has been found in California since the beginning of April. It is unclear whether it will replace the current dominant variant but folks should be aware that it’s not over yet and these should continue to frequently wash their hands, wear masks, and social distance. Vulnerable people are encouraged to self-isolate.
David Null, PhD, MScPH
AKA “Dogman Dave”
The shameful liens
Oh goodie. My favorite item in the COURIER—just ahead of the Police Blotter—the annual thrice-published list of Claremont property owners in arrears on their city taxes. Woohoo!
There’s the address of the guy from around the corner who loves to brag to me about the many properties he owns in other places. Every year he makes the list. What a guy. And new to me this year, we see some owners are in over 8K to the city for picking up our trash, cleaning our streets. Some of the same addresses year after year.
Please, my comments are not aimed at those in truly sad circumstances or at anyone who owes because of an innocent situation. Sorry for you, I hope the city “cuts you some slack” as we used to say in the Dark Ages. No, my target is my neighbors and fellow Claremonters and the folks who own property in our fair city who make the Lien List, sometimes every year, because they don’t or won’t pay their fair share. What gives, people!? It’s OK with you that the rest of us have to pay for what you flush down your toilet? Well, it’s not OK with me. While you were sitting on it, in case you haven’t noticed, your property value is way up right now, even if you have let the place run down. You can do your part and pay like the rest of us.
Mick Rhodes has reached out to the family of the homeless man in question below to write a story about him growing up in Claremont. You will see the profile in an upcoming edition shortly.
I was dismayed by the police blotter entry in last week’s COURIER about the young man who was repeatedly arrested for breaking into cars. We know this young man and have witnessed the pain of a family who is bearing up under an impossible burden because that is what families do when a child’s life is at stake. I feel strongly that it was wrong for our community newspaper to poke fun at this young man.
We are in the midst of a dual national crisis of mental health and drug addiction that reaches into every community. Even in a town like Claremont, even in loving families, individuals like this young man suffer in both body and spirit. Drug addiction is an urgent public health issue that should not be treated as a crime, and it certainly cannot be remedied by repeatedly arresting a person who needs medical attention. The young man’s plight illustrates the need for better integrated mental health and social support services.
The family of the young Claremont man in question has been through a lot and deserves our support as a community. Their suffering should not be aggravated by the thoughtless sarcasm of the Police Blotter. The job of the COURIER is to inform and to report on the goings-on in Claremont in a manner that is consistent with the values of our community. Last week’s Blotter piece fell short of that standard.
It takes a village
It takes a village to raise a child. When drug addiction and multiple strokes leave a child we raised in dire straits, that village mourns.
We loved the dreamy artistic child he was, and we continue to love the 31-year-old unhoused man whose life has gone terribly wrong.
Is it the role of our village newspaper to poke fun at him (e.g. “This week’s flourish began…” and referring to him as “prolific”) in its writing and editing of the Police Blotter? We don’t think so, and we hope that, on reflection, you will agree.
Eleanor Brown, Wendy Menefee-Libey, Katya Fairbanks, Jennifer Mawhorter, Beth Bodnar, Rachel Huang, Shaila Andrabi, Patricia Guenther-Gleason, Taku Chakravarti, Claremont
I would like to respond to a correction made in the June 4th Police Blotter. A repeat offender had been mistakenly reported as 32, when, in fact, he is 31. The Police Blotter finds this young man to be of particular interest because he appears so often in the COURIER, perhaps seven or even eight times this year alone. I would like to let the COURIER and its readers know that this person has been arrested for theft, public intoxication, possession of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, yet his frequent citations in the COURIER, in the police records, and in various area courts have not prevented any harm. The amused stance of the COURIER’s Police Blotter has not broken the escalating cycle of harm he brings to the community or to himself. The cutesy citations in the COURIER cannot cure his serious mental illness, it cannot heal his addiction to drugs, it cannot restore the sections of his brain damaged by multiple bilateral strokes. It certainly does not ease the burden of those family and friends who have loved this Claremont resident since he was a pre-schooler at Claremont Presbyterian, Claremont Methodist, and the Mary B Eyre schools, not to mention the teachers who helped him through Sycamore, El Roble, and Claremont High School. Your reporting never covers the compassion shown to this suffering person by many police officers, neighbors, EMT’s, or the incredible staff at Tri City Mental Health. You are missing a complicated story of a community’s love.
In the future, please print my son’s whole name, and get his correct age, 31, since it seems unlikely he will make it to 32.
One last suggestion: Re-name the Police Blotter “Sounding Brass.”