Claremont Insider: Facing Up To Reality

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Facing Up To Reality

A reader pointed us to an interesting link concerning sports parks. As many of you know, Padua Sports Park has been on the city of Claremont's and the Claremont 400's to-do list for many years now.

The issue, like many pushed by the Claremont 400, has been extremely divisive and has pitted neighbor against neighbor. Rather than seek a solution, the Claremont 400 has used the park as a wedge issue for its candidates. Sam Pedroza, Linda Elderkin, Ellen Taylor, Al Leiga, Sandy Baldonado, and Peter Yao have all campaigned as champions of the park.

Claremont's City Attorney, Sonia Carvalho and the firm of Best, Best & Krieger, provided the legal defense for a lawsuit challenging the park's Environmental Impact Report. Ms. Carvalho is also city attorney for the city of Yorba Linda, where former Claremont Assistant City Manager Tamara Gates Letourneau now works.

Our reader pointed out some information regarding Ms. Carvalho. Our reader stated that during the long fight over the park, Ms. Carvalho told the reader after one public meeting that she and her husband had recently purchased a home near a large sports park in Fullerton. The reader voiced concerns to Ms. Carvalho about the lights and noise being imposed on an area that is unlit and extremely quiet at night. The City Attorney told the reader that from her own experience a sports park wasn't so bad and you get used to the noise and lights.

What prompted our reader to write us was a link the reader found to minutes from the May 6, 2006, City of Fullerton Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. Ms. Carvalho, her husband Wayne, and a group of her neighbors were there to address agenda item #3: Fullerton's Good Neighbor Policy at the Fullerton Sports Complex.

According to the minutes, neighbors were seeking one day without any sports activities and a limit on the use of public address systems. Fullerton's Good Neighbor Policy arose out of concerns with the noise generated by the park's PA system.

The minutes state that:

The commissioners asked questions of the speakers, staff and field users, and accepted a petition signed by neighbors of the Sports Complex. Resident Sonia Carvalho pointed out that the funding for the Sports Complex came from park impact fees, and said that there was no environmental review conducted as required prior to amending the development agreement for the building of the Sports Complex.

So, where City Attorney Carvalho argued to our reader for the benefits of a sports park in Claremont and defended Claremont's Environmental Impact Report, Citizen Carvalho was complaining about her own city's sports park and questioned Fullerton's environmental review.

Like many other things in Claremont, one finds the sports park reality is full of irony.


As we've discussed in the past, the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) and Claremont as a whole, including the youth sports groups, are facing a demographic crunch. Families are having fewer kids, household size is declining and parents are hanging on to homes after their kids grow up. Claremont's population is graying, and the rise in home prices have made single-family homes in Claremont unaffordable as starter homes to most young families with children.

Further, a recent Pew Research Center study showed that as a measure of marital happiness, having kids has declined to number eight on a list of key factors for a successful marriage. The survey results placed children below things like "faithfulness" and "sharing household chores" in order of importance.

The Daily Bulletin yesterday ran a front page, above-the-fold article about declining enrollment in the Ontario-Montclair School District (OMSD). The article quoted OMSD's Pete Peterson as saying that statewide half of all school districts are facing declining enrollment, no doubt from some of the same demographic pressures affecting Claremont.

Given the decline in kids, it seems self-serving and irrational for CUSD and youth sports groups to prop up the numbers of children in their programs by allowing in kids from neighboring areas. It's time to face reality squarely, rather than cling to false notions about what our future holds.

Again we ask, at a time when we're contemplating a $100-150 million city purchase of the local water company and building a new police station at $20 million or more, maybe it's time to reassess where we're allocating our resources instead of asking voters and tax payers to shell out more and more for services that are reaching fewer and fewer actual Claremont residents. Maybe its time to think about partnering with our neighboring cities - La Verne, Montclair, Pomona, Upland - on some of these services since they are experiencing the same demographic changes.

It's time for reality-based programs and services.