Claremont Insider: Village Expansion Mail

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Village Expansion Mail

A reader weighs in on the Claremont Village Expansion:


I have been reading about the Village parking problems and it's amusing to me because the Village has had the same parking problem for over 20 years. When the new parking structure was being planned in the new Indian Hill mall in the Village did the planners take into consideration how much parking West Village was going to require? Since the Village was already in dire need of new parking wouldn't logic dictate creating more new parking in the west? Restaurants need more than a few parking spaces at lunch and the dinner hour and there are some supersized restaurants and many drinking places in the mall not to mention a hotel and a movie theatre. Great planning.. the old "build it and they will come " mantra... but neglect to give "them" a place to park. I have also noticed when I visit the expansion how difficult crossing Indian Hill has become along with entering the expansion itself . I see near pedestrian hits every time I am there and shake my head in disbelief that more thought was not put into allowing cars and people to enter and exit without putting their lives at risk. Am I the only person who has thought of a left turn light onto Indian Hill from the expansion? Am I the only person who has witnessed cars backed up beyond Bonita on Indian Hill while someone is attempting to turn right onto First St into the expansion but is waiting for a flock of strolling shoppers to cross the street? I am no expert on traffic movement but I can attest to what I have witnessed and it's absurd.

Every time I stroll past the plaques (in the two big rocks, in front of the hotel ) dedicated to the super brains on the city council who orchestrated the Village expansion I have to chuckle. Isn't it typical that they spent the time to think of and dedicate a memorial to themselves rather then make sure the finished product was "finished" and not a joke? It might be wise for them to stop patting each other on the back and finish the job and make their brain child a viable customer friendly environment.

I shudder at the thought that the Village we loved is gone forever. It's like a bad face lift, one that leaves the face unrecognizable with all distinguishing features altered and all character gone. When the city installs parking meters in the old Village the dismantling of the small town, stop and chat atmosphere will be complete. The city has pimped out the Village and told us it was for our own good. The question is does anyone buy that????

Thanks for letting me vent......

The reader makes some very good points. Traffic planning, for one thing, may be an oxymoron. Claremont has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last 20 years on traffic studies from experts like Urban Crossroads, who are really paid to present findings that support projects, not to present information that might actually change a project or stop it if there are real problems.

Because they're worried about getting a given project approved, traffic experts tend to ignore or downplay things like the cumulative effects of multiple projects. Oh, they say, this project will only generate this many roundtrips and will and only that many pedestrians, so it really has a very small effect. Go ahead and build it, there won't be any problems.

The problems start when you add the car and foot traffic from multiple projects, and you get a traffic mess. Don't believe us? Just take a look at Indian Hill Blvd. and 1st St. on any weekday late afternoon.

The experts, like the Claremont 400, are great at the theoretical. Their ideas just don't translate very well into the real world.

* * *

Another worry the reader brings up is the effect the Village Expansion will have on the Old Village. We really wonder if the Expansion can generate enough year-round business to sustain the shops that have gone in. As we've indicated in the past, the restaurants certainly seem overpriced for the area. Heck, they'd be overpriced for New York City or Paris, and the service is uniformly bad in the new and old Village.

When you get down to it, Claremont is still an Inland Empire town, and shoppers looking for to make an event out of their buying experience will go to Victoria Gardens to the east or to Pasadena's Old Town to west for that sort of strolling, shopping, dining, movie experience, especially when the facilities here are bad, the service is poor, and the parking and traffic are unbearable.

People will come out of curiosity initially, but over time, the traffic will tail off. In the meantime, the mom-and-pop sort of shops and eateries in the Old Village will not be able to compete with the chains in the Village Expansion, and Claremont will end up losing the unique charm it once had.

Such is the price of the Claremont 400's vision for our town, and no amount of advertising can paper that over, as another reader observed:

chamber/city ad campaign

Is “postmodernist” another way of saying “trashy” or perhaps déclassé? What sort of vapidity have we sunk to? These ads are AWFUL.