Claremont Insider: City of Angles

Thursday, August 2, 2007

City of Angles

Northeast Claremont has changed drastically in the past 20 years, a period coinciding with the regime of former City Manager Glenn Southard, whose planning philosophies and "vision" (to use a Claremont 400 term) are embodied in the residential developments between Mills Ave. and Padua Ave. and north of Pomello.

The other northeast development that Southard managed to avoid dealing with is the ongoing attempt by Vulcan Materials Co. to mine aggregate in the San Antonio Spreading Ground area below the San Antonio Dam.

The Spreading Grounds (seen in photo at right) is owned by a non-profit corporation called the Pomona Valley Protective Association (PVPA). PVPA was founded almost 100 years ago and was created to protect the water rights for users in La Verne, Pomona, Upland and Claremont.

The Golden State Water Co. controls nearly 50-percent of the PVPA. Remember them? Golden State Water also supplies Claremont's water, and the city has been looking at buying out Golden State to form a municipal water utility. The price? Over $100 million. Wheels within wheels.

The Vulcan mining proposal was a big election issue, pushed by an anti-mining group called Citizens Against Strip Mining (CASM). CASM has pretty much disappeared since the election after being manipulated by the Claremont 400 into endorsing Linda Elderkin, Sam Pedroza, and Mike Maglio in the municipal election last March. (Hey, CASM, what happened to the two of you?)

Mining, though, hasn't gone away, and this City Council won't be able to avoid dealing with it and the litigation Vulcan has thrown at the city in order to exercise the mining rights they lease from PVPA.

PVPA, in the meantime, is working on a deal to sell about 400 acres of the spreading grounds' 560 acres of open space. Will Bigham in last Sunday's Daily Bulletin had an article about a new report commissioned by PVPA that found that developing the 400 acres in question would not affect the spreading grounds' ability to collect runoff to recharge local groundwater basins.

Tony Krickl in the Claremont Courier also had an article on the subject. For more information on the background of this issue, check out the CASM website.

The land is still zoned by the City of Claremont as open space, so any proposal for housing or mining would have to be approved by the city. Seems like there's a lot of angles to work here.

Luckily, we have the Claremont 400 to guide us. Of course, these are the same geniuses who leased away Claremont's water rights in 1998 and who signed off on our current water rate structure - something that has allowed Golden State Water to justify charging Claremont much higher water rates than its neighboring towns. The minutes for that 1998 Council meeting noted that then-Councilmember Diann Ring was all for the water deal:

Councilmember Ring thought the proposal was historic and that many such agreements take twenty years to final[ize]. Mayor Smith agreed and thought it set a good tone for the future.

[City Council Minutes Minutes of 5/26/98 Agenda Item #17]

Not exactly a record to inspire confidence.