Claremont Insider: Taylordum & Peterdee

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Taylordum & Peterdee

On Tuesday night, the Claremont City Council approved putting the Off Track Trolley idea out to bid, no doubt pleasing Judy Wright, the citizen's committee... that came up with the idea.

An old Claremontster favorite, Sonja Stump, Claremont Chamber of Commerce president, devoted Claremont 400 member, and official city council photographer (her photo of then-Councilmember Jackie McHenry ended up in a Preserve Claremont attack ad in 2005), was at Tuesday night's meeting stumping for the trolley.

The trolley, which is basically a 25-foot bus made up to look like an old-fashioned street car, will run a 1.5 mile loop with four stops from the Metrolink station and the Metrolink parking lot, to a spot near Walter's restaurant, and then over to Oberlin and the Village Expansion.

The trolley line will run three-year pilot program three days a week (Fridays through Sundays or Thursdays through Saturdays) from 11:00am to 11:30pm. The projected total cost is about $887,000. It will cost over $10 per passenger to operate, according to the city's figures.

There will be no fare to ride the trolley, and no plans at the present for advertisements.

City staff claims the cost will be paid for entirely through money from county and state funds, so it won't cost the city anything. However, if the state's budget problems get bad enough, the state may take that part of that money away, and the county money comes from sales tax revenues, which could be down significantly given the current economic downturn, especially in Claremont, where 57 percent of the sales tax is generated from auto sales. All of which could end up leaving Claremont stuck with a good chunk of the trolley bill.

Of course, the city, led by Mayor Peter Yao and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Taylor are jumping right onto to what could end up being TrolleyGate.

The two, Yao and Taylor, seem of one mind on this and other issues, including the Base Line Rd. affordable housing project, on which neither will budge an inch.

Councilmembers Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin also voted in favor of the trolley. Corey Calaycay voted against it, saying he wanted to wait until the May state budget revision to see what was going to happen with that state money.

The discussion on the trolley and other topics, including the lighting of the second baseball field at College Park, was noteworthy, and we'll be up with video of some of that shortly.

We managed to capture the entire meeting from the city's live video stream, and we've been storing it and hours of other meetings, along with all future City Council meetings on the servers at the Insider's new DataCenter in a secret chamber at 207 Harvard Ave. in Claremont.

We plan on putting the video to good use and are going to hold the council (and future councils) true to their words.

Climb under the dais in the council chamber, use the secret code on the hidden panel, and you too can be an Insider: