Readers comments 7-2-21
Kudos to you, the COURIER staff and, especially, Mick Rhodes for last week’s compelling issue. The investigative reporting on Rooter Hero was eye-opening to say the least. I had no idea there were scam artists like that in the area, but we’ve had the good luck to have a long-time professional and honest plumber. It is particularly appalling that this plumbing company uses their bait and switch tactics on the seniors in the area, who often don’t reach out for referrals, or seek another bid. I look forward to the next three installments.
The second article by Mr. Rhodes made the scourge of drugs in our society and community very real and very personal. It was beautifully and sensitively written, and I applaud the family for sharing their tragic journey with their son with the wider community. The writer’s empathy for the family and “the wounded walkers among us” had a deep impact on me as a parent and grandparent, and, I’m sure, on every parent who read the article.
Mary F. Weis
Thank you so very much for printing the powerful and moving article about Per Dahlin and her son, Sam. I’ve known Per for many years because our kids grew up together and I remember enjoying Sam’s performances at the Claremont High School theater. Per is an incredible woman. No matter what she is suffering, she always has a cheerful smile and a kind word for everyone. It was incredibly brave of her to share her full story with our community. I know that she is allowing her and her son’s story to be told to enable the rest of us to grow in compassion for our unhoused or addicted brothers and sisters and to support efforts to help them and their families. May it be so. Thank you, Claremont Courier, for bringing us this story, and thank you, Per, for being such a monumental voice for compassion in our midst.
Breaking with the past
At Tuesday’s meeting of the city council, the unsettling and unsettled issue of our community’s commitment to addressing our current and future residents’ affordable housing needs, became the issue of greatest concern during public comment on the Village South Specific Plan (VSSP). In its current and still contested version, the VSSP does not include affordability of its housing component as a priority, despite proposing a development that will account for most of the residential units built in the foreseeable future.
Additionally, and because most of the discussion and public debate has focused on issues relating to maintaining parking, building height and other current building code and zoning designations meant to preserve the single story, low density character of our City, the process seemingly ignored the monumental challenge posed by the parallel attempt to create and adopt a housing element that will achieve the unprecedented state mandated numbers of low income housing units that were promised but never built in Claremont, and most cites throughout the state.
Historically, Claremont, like most municipalities in the state, has drafted its periodically required housing element updates and revisions in a reactively compliant and publicly contentious manner that exclusively addresses meeting the State’s allocation, while only acknowledging our obligation to meet our self-assessed housing needs. This passive-aggressive, quasi-adversarial approach has resulted in housing elements that lack either the public or private support to achieve implementation, which in turn encourages a level of NIMBYism that acts as a deterrent to affordable housing developers.
Practiced statewide, this perfunctory response to California’s very real affordable housing needs must be viewed as a direct cause of California’s affordable housing and homeless sheltering emergencies – and on a local note, was a basis for the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s determination that Claremont’s initial 2017-2021 update was out of compliance, resulting in a penalty that requires our city to conduct and submit a housing element revision every four, rather than every eight years.
By allowing our animosity towards complying with non-local legislative mandates to permeate the public process and the housing element derived from that process, we fail to meet our moral obligation to implement the housing policies that reflect the values and principles embedded in our 2006 General Plan, and the inclusivity, diversity, and socioeconomic equity envisioned in our housing element.
I will conclude by recognizing and commending the contribution our city staff makes to facilitate civil public engagement and informed participation in one of the most demanding and contentious public processes conducted in our community. And although significantly constrained by the inertia of existing policies and precedents, they must also be credited with providing reports that accommodate public input, and supply more than sufficient demographic data to assist our council to define our local needs in objective terms, and in a deliberative manner confront NIMBYism, remove constraints, and adopt unambiguous housing policies that facilitate fulfilling our collective moral obligation, while appreciating that state mandates are nothing more than a reminder of the cumulative impact of not meeting that obligation.
And finally, at Tuesday’s meeting I suggested that the council consider using the concept of the housing continuum as a possible alternative to processes that by design insulate the status quo and result in more of the same. I hope that the concept of the housing continuum will allow staff to: 1) assess our affordable housing and homeless sheltering needs in a comprehensive and integrated way, by providing a conceptual framework that obligates consideration of the housing and sheltering needs of every Claremont resident, from persons experiencing homelessness and/ having special needs, through the household income spectrum from very low to well above the median; and 2) as a data management and organizational tool, to assess and categorize the abundant demographic data, both internally generated and imposed by mandate, in ways that describes our current and future residents‘ housing and sheltering needs.