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Measure SC supporters push forward to get out the Claremont vote

The backers of Measure SC had one unifying message: get out the vote.

Around 60 people convened in the courtyard of the Claremont DoubleTree Hotel Sunday afternoon for the kickoff party for the proposed police station ballot measure. The tables and hors d’oeuvres were flanked by Yes on SC signs, and nearly every person in attendance was sporting a pro-SC button.

Ed Reece, co-chair of Partners for a Safe Claremont, welcomed those in attendance, which included the entire Claremont city council, Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen along with a few police officers and numerous other city dignitaries.

“Now is the opportunity for us to do what we do well, which is being a thoughtful and giving and caring community,” he said. “This measure does exactly that.”

The measure is a proposed $23.5 million bond and $1.5 million general fund contribution that would pay for a new 26,000 square foot police station at the same location. The bond would be paid off over 25 years, at $30.33 per $100,000 of assessed property value in the first year of the bond’s life.

The measure has a tough road ahead—it needs a two-thirds majority vote to pass on June 5. This was not lost on the measure’s backers, who urged those in attendance to reach out to their neighbors and convince them to vote yes.

Earlier in the day, an estimated 200 people attended an open house of the police station, according to Partners for a Safe Claremont co-chair Betty Crocker. Residents were given a first-hand look at the current conditions of the 48-year-old facility.

“It is so overwhelming to walk into that station as a Claremonter and see it in such disrepair and such significant need,” she said.

By her count, only four people at the open house were vocally against the measure. When asked what detractors talked to her about, Ms. Crocker demurred. “I just let it roll off my back,” she said.

When asked about the general obligation bond versus a parcel tax, which is a funding mechanism held up by some detractors of the measure, she noted the parcel tax carries a higher financing cost.

“For those folks who aren’t willing to move forward past the parcel tax, I would love to connect with all of them and have them tour the station first hand to see if there’s any ground in the middle,” she said.

She also noted a parcel tax based on square footage would hurt seniors in the community, calling it regressive for those who have lived in their property for decades.

“And if we wait for the perfect financing mechanism, this won’t happen,” she said. “I promise you, as sure as I’m sitting here, that somebody will find a different definition of fair.”

During her speech in front of the receptive crowd, Ms. Crocker took issue with a 20/20/20 plan—$20 million over 20 years for a 20,000 square-foot station—brought forth by those opposing Measure SC.

“Our opposition today tells me, we’ll support it if it’s 20 million dollars,” she said. “Really? This bond is for 23.5 million. Are you telling me 3.5 million dollars, and I would have all of them standing up here going door to door with us?”

Jim Keith said Claremont’s current police station, at 9,800 square feet, is the smallest out of 16 surrounding police jurisdictions.

“There is absolutely no question we need to correct this,” he said.

He also noted that pro-SC backers get their stats and numbers from the police department or the city, and called out detractors for not signing their names on mailers.

Mayor Pro Tem Corey Calaycay, who convened the 15-member ad hoc committee that hammered out the details of Measure SC, cautioned the crowd that they have a limited time for outreach, since absentee ballots go out next week.

“Let’s get them before they cast their ballots,” he said.

Residents in the crowd were uniformly in favor of the station. Rachel Forester noted she would be voting yes due to the current station being seismically unsound and the lack of designated facilities for female officers.

Jim Graham, who has lived in Claremont for 55 years, said he had no idea about the condition of the current station until he took the tour earlier that day.

“It gave me food for thought,” he said.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com