City council Q&A: Sam Pedroza
Claremont’s City Council and commission are taking a break from meetings this month, but Mayor Sam Pedroza is keeping busy. In the 2nd installment of a 5-part series, ?the COURIER sat down in the Plaza with Mayor Sam Pedroza, who had biked all the way from Whittier, to talk about the future of Thompson Creek Trail and the new developments he hopes to see in town. ??
Q. With City Council taking a break until Tuesday, Sept. 14, what are you enjoying outside of the City Council Chambers?
A. My politically correct answer is hanging out with the family. But given that, I really enjoy finding new places to cycle, especially when my kids are with me. My wife hasn’t completely adopted the whole hop on the bike and let’s goes somewhere mentality, but my kids really got the bike bug. I’ll say “let’s go ride to Bass Pro Shop just to look at stuff,” and we’ll take the trail there... we’ve gone to the beach a couple of times. It’s pretty fun. ??
Q. When not cycling, what are some of the city projects that are keeping you busy?
A. The things that excite me, personally, are the big regional projects. I am on the Foothill Gold Line Project to bring the light rail from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena, all the way through Claremont, to Montclair, and eventually to Ontario Airport. It will just connect us to a whole other segment of our region, and is just a smarter way to commute. It’s a project that I’m very excited about, and know a lot of residents are very excited to see come to the city.
Another thing I’m very excited about is connecting our bicycle trail system to a much larger region-wide trail. My goal is to eventually connect our Thompson Creek Trail all the way through the San Gabriel River, and then up to Seal Beach and Long Beach. Claremont could virtually be connected to Long Beach via this bike trail, which would be much safer than using the streets. From there, there’s even an idea to expand that project westward all the way to Santa Monica, having a whole regionalized cycling system, and that’s very doable especially now that cycling is so popular. That’s one of my very favorite projects that I’m involved in.??
Q. What are you looking forward to discussing come fall?
A. Finalizing our contracts with our police officers. We are still in ongoing negotiations. I’m hoping we can come to a resolution. We are still in the talking phase, so that’s good. ??
Q. What are your overall thoughts on the recent passing of the 4 MOUs?
A. That was a huge success. I think the effort and input from our employees is often underestimated, and understated. They know the economic situation the city is in probably better than most. And they really do step up to the plate, so we really have achieved tremendous success through these contracts. ??
Q. What issues do you feel the city needs to concentrate?
A. Better situating ourselves for this new economy, and this “new normal.” We are dealing with new realities. Are we ever going to see ourselves in the position we were 5 or so years ago? Probably not, but I think being smarter with the resources that we do have, and using that to build the projects and bring in sales tax generators to the city, is important.??We are looking forward to the grand opening of NORMS, the grand opening of the Super King, and I’m hoping that by the end of the year, we are going to have a finalized contract for Pepper Tree. That would be a great success.
Q. Speaking of Pepper Tree, what would you like to see done with underdeveloped, or undeveloped, spaces in Claremont?
A. Overall, I think it’s very important that we work with the property owners of those parcels, and first see what they want to do. A good case and point would be the vacant property at Vista and Indian Hill, which has been vacant for years. I honestly don’t know, and don’t think the city knows, what that owner wants to do. I see a multi-family housing opportunity there just like what’s across the street from it. It’s viable for something like that, but feel like sometimes our hands are tied. ??
Q. Are there developments you feel the city is lacking?
A. I think overall we are lacking hardware stores. There are a lot of “do-it-your-selfers” that really miss the Powell’s Hardware that used to be in the Village. And I definitely think there is a need for something like that. In general, people want to see places where you can go to buy a screw or buy your underwear, but even at the last workshop someone said I don’t want to buy that stuff in Claremont, I’d rather go over to Montclair because I don’t want to change anything in Claremont. That sentiment is shared by a lot of people.??
Q. What are you doing to address that?
A. We have a very diverse population, and sometimes it’s hard to accommodate everyone, but that’s why these public workshops are so vitally important. Aside from our one-on-one conversations out in the streets or with our friends and family, there are not a whole lot of opportunities to hear what it is our residents really do want so we can serve that.