Claremont Insider: Base Line Project Notes

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Base Line Project Notes

Saturday's Courier had a letter from former Claremont League of Women Voters president Katie Gerecke, who along with her husband, Claremont Democratic Club president Bob Gerecke, are pushing hard for the Base Line Rd. affordable housing project.

The same letter also appeared today in the Daily Bulletin.

Katie Gerecke's letter argued that the health concerns regarding the project are negligible. The letter was notable for what it did not address: The section of the project's environmental impact report (EIR) that mentioned the USC Keck School of Medicine study that found that children who live within 500 yards of major highways have an significantly increased chance of lung impairment.

Gerecke, rattling off the main talking points of the project proponents (mainly the League of Women Voters), did not discuss the USC study at all. Instead, she focused on the cancer risk at the Base Line site. You're seeing the Ol' Misdirection again. Gerecke did this because she is intentionally trying to confuse the two issues, to blur the distinction, because she cannot credibly attack the USC work, which looked at 11,000 subjects over a 10-year period. The study is also unassailable by Gerecke because it was peer-reviewed and published in the British medical journal The Lancet last year.

Rather than dealing with the area that raised the most health concerns, Gerecke ignored the USC study and just beat on the cancer risk drum, claiming that "a variety of mitigations" would take care of the problem. She concluded by presenting her unstudied opinions as fact:

I believe that the physical health of all children living near freeways (not only those in the Baseline Road development) can be protected through a variety of mitigations and that the participation of these children within our city not only benefits them but enriches the city. I believe that there are overriding benefits in intellectual, emotional and social health to children living in Claremont. By locating the affordable housing throughout the city, (including the BAHD) rather than just in the south area, the new children will be more influenced by the community and will have fewer problems than if they are all in one area.

Don't be surprised if you see the language of Gerecke's letter adopted by the city's staff and City Attorney Sonia Carvaho in the form of a proposed statement of overiding concerns that would supersede the EIR's findings.

Gerecke's last sentence reveals another yet false statement. The project proponents have been arguing for fairer geographic distribution of affordable housing. They have also claimed that it would take too much time to build the project on an alternate site.

Yet, word comes to us from several readers that The Olson Company, the developer of the 67-unit condo project proposed for the old Courier building on College Ave. may be open to putting an affordable housing project there. This alternative would solve all of the opposition's concerns and would end up creating more units than the Base Line site.

The condo project at College Ave. is on hold because of the deteriorating housing market, and one can easily see why Olson would be open to something that might get construction going rather than having the site just sit there until the market rebounds.

So why not build the affordable housing project on that site, where the air quality concerns would be none existent and where an EIR might not be needed?

Gerecke and the League won't consider that more reasonable approach because they do not really want the affordable housing project in the Village. They really don't want to provide a responsible project that would be close to public transit and shopping, and which would really provide an opportunity to integrate the project residents into the community.

Gerecke's and the League's posturing about housing inclusivity is a lie when you come right down to it. Their approach is to have the Base Line project or no project at all. What they seem really to want is to segregate the project and its inhabitants as far as possible from the center of town.

If they were really as concerned about equity and inclusivity as they claim, the League and Gerecke would be joining with the people who've opposed the Base Line Rd. project and would be sitting down with them to meet with the College Ave. developer to get the project done there.

Instead, you will continue to see them make false and insupportable arguments that cherry pick what information supports their shaky conclusions.

Here's a hint for dealing with Gerecke's and the like's arguments: Ignore the patter and just keep your eye on the peanut.

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The Base Line project is supposed to come back to the Claremont City Council for approval on February 12th. We're still waiting to hear what all the closed session meetings with the Base Line developer, Mark Gelman, have been about. Is the city going to sign on for a bigger monetary commitment?