Claremont Insider: Bulldozing Reality

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bulldozing Reality

The January 19 Claremont Courier had a Tony Krickl article about Claremont Community Services Director Scott Carroll leaving Claremont to take a job as general manager for the Costa Mesa Sanitation District.

(Sorry, no link to the actual article, which is archived behind the Courier's paywall.)

December 31 was Carroll's last working day. The article detailed some of Carroll's more notable accomplishments, such as his negotiating a deal to have Claremont's trash taken to an Orange County landfill, a move that saved the city $200,000.

The article also also touched on the 2008 bulldozing of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park that was one of the low points in Carroll's Community Service tenure. You might recall some of the damage done by the contractor the city hired to clear brush mechanically, rather than hiring crews to do the work by hand as Claremont had promised to do under its own Vegetation Management Plan for the park. Here's what the park looked like in the summer of 2008 shortly after the brush clearance:

(Click on images to enlarge)

After the damage occurred, the city faced scrutiny from county, state, and federal agencies. As part of the City's penance, Claremont was supposed to monitor the area to see what grew back and then was supposed to come up with a plan to replant the area with native plants to restore the area to its former state.

The City made a lot of representations to the public and to the various government agencies it was dealing with. But did they follow through?

You have to remember that, this being Claremont, once the spotlights go off, then the real work of holding City Hall to its word begins. In the Courier's article on Carroll's departure, Carroll addressed the Wilderness Park damage:
"That was really unfortunate," Mr. Carroll said. "But I took full responsibility for what happened and was determined to resolve the issue. We got the approval of different interested parties involved and fixed the problem before the rainy season began. Now if you go up there, it looks the same as before the damage was done."


We didn't recall any of the promised revegetation happening, so we went up to the park a few weeks ago and snapped this photo:

The photo was taken facing north from the S-curve at Via Padova. All you have to do is compare the right side of the photo (the damaged east side of the canyon) to the left or west side. The creek runs down the center of the canyon, and that is marked by the trees. Although the damaged areas are now green, what has grown back are non-native grasses that will have be cut back each year. Those golf course fairways on the right side of the photo should actually look like the hills on the left side.

None of the revegetation has occurred. Not that it matters. The California Department of Fish & Game and the Army Corps of Engineers have gone away without any apparent follow-up enforcement. Ditto for the press. Hence the Scott Carroll farewell quote.

And that, dear readers, is how public perception is shaped. One thing hasn't changed a bit, as was demonstrated by the inadvertent felling of the elm tree at Tenth St. & Indian Hill Blvd. in December, Claremont's trees and city-hired construction machinery don't mix.