Claremont Insider: Going Along to Get Along

Monday, August 20, 2007

Going Along to Get Along

We received a recent email from a reader regarding the proposal that Claremont work with neighboring cities like La Verne or Upland to develop a shared sports park that would serve the needs of each of the municipalities involved.

The reader wondered if there were any examples of cities working together, how would costs be divided, and if the park were located in another city, would Claremont have to reciprocate by hosting something here.

We don't know about the details of such an arrangment, but several examples of Claremont working with neighboring cities exist. The obvious one is Tri-Cities Mental Health, which is a cooperative effort by the cities of Claremont, La Verne and Pomona to provide mental health services that in most other parts of the state are provided by counties. Tri-Cities, though, does have a number of problems unique to its set up and the services it provides, and it has only recently emerged from a 2004 bankruptcy. So these cooperative efforts to have to be well planned and executed to avoid such problems.

Other instances include Claremont's general liability insurer, the Joint Powers Insurance Authority (JPIA), which is a cooperative consisting of many California cities that have pooled their risks and who pay into a fund to cover them in the event of a claim.

Claremont's $17.5 million settlement with the Palmer Canyon homeowners over the October, 2003, Padua Fire was covered by JPIA, so the financial impact to the city is far, far less than it would have been if Claremont had bourne the cost of settlement itself.

Other examples might include towns that share school districts or police services. The idea that Claremont might to look to Pomona or Upland to partner in a joint jail facility has been floated by city staff recently.

And today's Daily Bulletin carried an article by Andrea Bennett that talked about how the cities of Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario work together when it comes to attracting companies to relocate to their towns. According to the article, the two staffs communicate regularly and never bid against each other. They seem to recognize the benefits of working cooperatively.

Claremont may be heading in this direction, which would be a welcome change. In the past, our institutional arrogance has precluded the possibility of working with our neighbors, and as a community we have paid the price.