Claremont Insider: Traffic (and Other) Woes

Friday, November 30, 2007

Traffic (and Other) Woes


Parking in downtown Claremont is really tight, as anyone who has tried to find a parking spot at lunchtime can attest to. The addition of the new 477-slot parking structure in the Village Expansion hasn't helped much at all, and you can waste a good 10 minutes on a bad day trying to find a place to park.

The Daily Bulletin ran an article yesterday about the problem of "shuffling." That's where employees of downtown Claremont businesses take up the prime, two- and three-hour parking spots and then move their cars around during the day to keep from getting ticketed.

According to the article, city of Claremont officials say there are about 650 parking spots in the Claremont Village, but over half of them are taken up by vehicles belonging to some of the 450 employees working in Village shops.

Claremont's Traffic and Transportation Commission wrestled with this problem at their meeting last night. Some of the possible solutions included installing meters and instituting a law prohibiting parking within 500 feet of a prior spot.


The Claremont Courier also an article in its November 24th edition on the same subject. The article mentioned one resident's annoyance with the city's habit of waiving rules and suggested that the lack of enforcement exacerbates parking and traffic problems.

For instance, the article cited the city's approval of a planned 9,900 square-foot retail building going in at the northwest corner of Mountain Ave. and Foothill Blvd. That building required 40 parking spaces, but was allowed to go in with only 12 spaces. The overflow parking will be shared with existing businesses.

You may also recall that the city requires new businesses or businesses that are expanding, to provide a certain amount of parking spaces based on a set formula the city has developed. However, Claremont also provides a loophole called an in-lieu fee which allows business to avoid the parking requirement by paying $9,000 for each required parking space.

In October, the city proposed raising the in-lieu fees to $20,000, but we found some defects in the city staff analysis, and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, which hadn't been consulted on the matter, was apparently upset enough to get the item pulled from the City Council agenda.


Claremont's downtown traffic woes seemed to echo the problems over at Claremont High School and at El Roble Intermediate School, where the traffic at peak times - mornings, primarily - can be quite a headache for drivers and residents trying to navigate the nearby streets while avoiding stressed-out, rushed parents as well as kids walking to school.

Claremont City Councilmember Linda Elderkin was quoted on the subject in a November 7th Courier article:

“I think a lot of the problem that we run into—from the city’s point of view—is very discourteous parents who are in a
tremendous rush,” Ms. Elderkin said. “I think that parent education would be beneficial, which could be done by PFA. Or if not them, then the city should take it on because it’s a big part of the problem."

This seems an odd bit of thinking on Elderkin's part, but it does really epitomize her thinking, or non-thinking as the case may be. Elderkin, always one to intellectualize anything and then talk it to death just to show you she knows more about it then you, doesn't have a clue about how people behave in the real world.

True, parents picking up kids can be discourteous, but no amount of Linda's "parent education" will change that. You can't legislate behavior. People get rushed, they've got to drop off the kids, get to work, their cell phones start ringing - you've been there. Perhaps its not so much discourteousness as distraction.

Of course, none of that matters in the Elderkin schema. The fatal flaw in Elderkin's view of things is that she, like the rest of her Claremont 400 friends, take their fantasies of how people behave in an ideal world and project them onto city problems and planned projects. Then, when reality hits and things don't develop the way Elderkin, et. al., thought they should, they lash out at the public. Oh, you stupid people, they say, why can't you be more like us?.

Remember the 2006 Parks and Pasture Assessment District? The 400 pushed that as a way of sneaking a tax in under the guise of paying for open space. They were warned by many people that the assessment would fail, but they chose to ignore that advice, and the results of the city's own polling. In the end, the measure lost 44% to 56%.

Afterwards, then-Councilmember Sandy Baldonado lashed out at the voters, pretty much saying that they didn't deserve her (maybe the the most accurate take Baldonado ever had about the voting public).

Look in the future to see more of these silly Elderkinian interpretations of why things got so messed on this or that issue that we had mapped out in such meticulous, perfect detail.

One thing we do know from years of past experience: In their thinking and their actions, Elderkin and the rest will go to their graves inflexible and incapable of change.