Claremont Insider: Council Report

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Council Report

Several items of interest from last night's city council meeting:


Speaking of broken promises, the council last night heard a report from Claremont City Manager Jeff Parker during public comment that the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park had been damaged accidentally during the city's brush clearance last month. Parker had Claremont Community Services Director Scott Carroll step up to explain what had happened.

Apparently, according to Carroll, Claremont, which owns the Wilderness Park, was ordered by the Los Angeles County Fire Department to clear brush in the Wilderness park. (The city failed to do this before the 2003 fires, and that cost the city's insurer over $17 million to settle a lawsuit by homeowners whose houses burned down.)

Carroll said that the costs of clearing the amount of Wilderness Park land LACFD was requiring was going to be much more than the city had budgeted for. So someone (Carroll?) decided to use a bulldozer to save money. The city has a Vegetation Management Plan that specifies that only manual clearance, biological clearance (by grazing animals), and controlled burns can be used. Carroll admitted the bulldozer use was wrong, and he apologized to Parker and the City Council for the error. Parker indicated the city was taking steps to repair the damage, which sounded considerable.

The bulldozer apparently ran along Thompson Creek parallel to the homes on Via Padova in Padua Hills. The Padua Hills homeowners association took notice and City Manager Parker said that he and the council received a complaint from the HOA. Padua Hills resident Ludd Trozpek spoke after Carroll finished and stated that he had tried to speak to Carroll and to Claremont Maintenance Superintendent Larry Wheaton in July when they were standing on Via Padova apparently planning the brush clearance. Trozpek said Carroll and Wheaton would not talk to him and "blew me off."

Trozpek stated that he had been around when the VMP was being created and that if Carroll and Wheaton had talked to him, everyone could have been saved the embarrassment and the cost of fixing the problem, which apparently can run into the hundreds of thousand of dollars. Besides the problems of dirt pushed into the streambed and acres of habitat being uprooted, the ground was apparently scraped clean and oaks were knocked over or damaged. Also, there is now a severe threat of erosion because there is nothing to hold the soil together at the base of the hill that Via Padova runs along.

Claremont resident and botonist Susan Schenk, who is active in the Friends of the Bernard Field Station, also spoke and said that some of the damage to the structure of the disturbed soil cannot be repaired, even with reseeding and putting in new plants. Schenk called for the city to put processes into place to ensure that such a thing does not happen again.

Mayor Ellen Taylor, doing her best Marie Antoinette impression, told Trozpek after he spoke that Director Carroll said he was sorry and implied, "What MORE do you want?" As is her wont and arrogant as ever, Taylor ignored the key point: In saying he was sorry, Community Services Director Carroll apologized only to City Manager Parker and to the City Council. He did not apologize to the residents who live above the damaged area nor did he apologize to the citizens of Claremont whose resources have been irreparably damaged and whose tax dollars will have to pay for fixing a thing that could have easily been avoided.

So, score one point for the city for taking the high road and acknowledging its error, and deduct two points for not extending the apology to the real damaged parties and for not being open to input that would have avoided the problem in the first place.


The City Council acknowledged its three new commissioners: Angela Bekzadian-Avila (Human Services), Rosemary Fisher-Anaya (Police Commission), and Sayeed Shaikh (Police Commission).

After they greeted the incoming commission members, the Council bade farewell to Jenetta Harris, Southern California Edison's Local Public Affairs Manager, who has worked with the city and city staff as Edison's public face. Harris later mentioned an upgrade to Edison's infrastructure that would require tearing up the south side of Base Line Rd. between Towne Ave. and Mountain Ave., and the north side between the Indian Hill Blvd. and Grand Ave.

From what City Manager Parker said, the latter sounded as if it required ripping up the bike lane in the newly resurfaced section of Base Line Rd. So there may have been a mixup in coordinating the projects. Parker said that Edison would match the rubberized asphalt that has been installed on Base Line Rd.

The Council also recognized CHS junior Kori Carter for her achievements as a hurdler this past year and the Claremont Kiwanis Club for its support of the city's Summer Concert Series and the Children's Concert Series.


The City Council also approved resolutions against the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Administration's Measure R this November. The measure would increase the county sales tax by a half cent and use the money to fund transportation projects. The resolution said the city was supporting the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

The Council also expressed its frustration with the state budget process (or non-process) by issuing a "Resolution Opposing Fiscally Irresponsible State Budget Decisions that Would 'Borrow' Local Government, Redevelopment and Transportation Funds." (That's a mouthful!)

And, the Council came out with a resolution opposing Proposition 7 on the November ballot. The proposition, which would require utilities in California to get 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025, is opposed by an odd coalition:

  • PG&E
  • Edison
  • Sempra Energy
  • The California Democratic Party
  • The California Republican Party
  • The California Labor Federation
  • The California Taxpayers' Association
  • The League of California Cities
  • The California Solar Energy Industries Association
  • A coalition of environmental organizations that includes the California League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies


The Council also approved the parking permit process recommended by staff allowing neighborhoods to set up the permits. The council made the following modifications to the proposed ordinance:
  • Permitting must be approved by 50% of the responding property owners in a neighborhood seeking permits.
  • The City Council will have some additional purview over the permits.
  • There will be a six-month trial period for permits once they are approved for a neighborhood.
  • The permits will sunset after two years.


The council also approved the staff recommendations for guidelines for a proposed mansionization ordinance.