Claremont Insider: Leap of Faith - Updated

Friday, August 29, 2008

Leap of Faith - Updated

Janus has got to be the patron god of Claremont. We've long noted the incredible skill with which Claremonsters of all stripes are able to hold two contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time. It's a talent they constantly use to argue one way when it's convenient for their purposes and then adopt the opposite position when it's not.

A case in point: As we noted on Monday, the City of Claremont has applied for a grant of over $1.6 million from the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) to help pay for Padua Park in Northeast Claremont.

The first of three phases of the park has gone out for bid, and the city has allocated approximately $2.4 million to the project, whose total cost is estimated by the city to be between $10-12 million. Because of the flaws with the park design, the city has already been turned down for three state park grants worth a total of $3.2 million.

The city's RMC grant is curious because the RMC is a conservancy. It's supposted to save the type of habitat that the city will have to bulldoze when they build the second and third phases of Padua Park. (From what we're hearing from a number of outraged readers, bulldozing seems to be Claremont's mitigation of choice when it comes to native habitats, and the city's stewardship of its open space in a number of areas seems to consist of ripping it out and putting up a plaque to commemorate that which they've destroyed - but that's a story for another post.)

Below we've posted an image of page four of the RMC's updated listed of Tier 1 grant applications. These are projects for which the RMC staff is recommending granting money. Padua Park, which had been a lower priority Tier 2 project, has gotten a bump up to Tier 1 as of the most recent listing:

Click to Enlarge

Notice the difference, though, between the city's intentions for Padua Park and what the RMC staff is recommending. Also note the omission of certain information inconvenient to Claremont's money-grab. Here is the present Padua Park description:
Padua Park is planned to be a 22 acre facility located in the northeastern portion of the City of Claremont. When fully developed the park will feature both active and low impact recreation spaces. This funding request is for Phase 1 which includes the entryway, parking, nature trail with fitness stations, native plantings, restroom and soccer field. Phase 1A and 2 are planned to include an extension of the networked walking trails with fitness core training stations, along with ball fields, tennis courts and play areas.

What the city of Claremont neglected to tell the RMC, however, was the fact that of that 22 acres they're speaking of, 8.9 acres is a certain kind of habitat known as Riversidean Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub - the same stuff the city was arguing needed to be saved from gravel mining by Vulcan Materials on the land adjacent to the Padua Ave. site. No wonder the city had to find a man who had a mail-order Ph.D in theology to be their biology expert for the park's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - like all city of Claremont endeavors, rationality and reasoned argument went out the window. This one was a faith-based initiative from the beginning.

On top of the city's hypocrisy over the sage scrub, the city also ignores the fact that their own EIR for the park states that the park will drink 86,400 gallons of water every day or 31.5 million gallons a year and at peak times water usage would be up to 50% higher, hardly the portrait of a xeriscape paradise the city painted in their RMC grant application:

From the Padua Avenue Park DEIR, Page 3-10.3
Go to page 169 of the City's online document.

The RMC staff recommendation is to approve Claremont's application for about half the requested amount:
Partial funding recommended ($800,000) of the passive and natural elements. RMC funding for this project includes a portion of RMC funds for restoration of the habitat on site, and a feasibility study of the site should be completed. Also a recommend a commitment from the City to seek funding from appropriate sources to undertake restoration activities.

But if the city goes ahead with its plans for Padua Park, those plans will necessarily include the removal of all of the very on-site habitat the RMC is talking about. How do they make the two square? Right now, the city is going forward only with Phase 1. As soon as they start the next part, Phase 1A, the habitat in question will be removed and replaced almost entirely by an asphalt parking lot and active-use park space with sports field lighting.

So, again we have to wonder if the city is merely using a bait-and-switch tactic with the RMC, promising on the one hand to restore habitat in order to qualify for the grant, then on the other hand proceeding to do the opposite of what RMC suggests once the city receives its money. We have no idea if the RMC's grant conditions are binding, but they sure ought to be given Claremont's history of manipulating or misrepresenting facts to get what it wants.

This one appears to be heating up, and we'll try to keep you up-to-date on the double-speak as it flows out stereoscopically from the two faces of Claremont.