For those of us who read the pages of the COURIER each week, we know that water has been a hot topic in Claremont for many years. I’ve stayed on the sidelines and, until now, have only shared my thoughts with family and close friends.
I’m writing this piece because Measure W, the $135 million bond measure on the November ballot, will cost Claremont families much more than we’re already paying today. Ask yourself, why would you place $135 million in debt on the community if it would result in higher water bills for all residents for decades?
Well, is anyone surprised that another Golden State-backed group (“Stop the Claremont Water Tax”—more on that name below) has emerged to oppose our buying the water system?
Unfortunately, like the former group, this one has also misunderstood the publicly-available information, resulting in misleading assertions in last week’s Viewpoint. If we conduct a “thoughtful engagement of issues based on facts,” as they suggest, it would show the following to be true.
This fall, Claremont residents will be asked to weigh in on a consequential ballot measure that, if passed, would result in water bills approximately $100 per month higher than they are today. The city is seeking voter support for a $135 million water bond.
A local coalition of community members, some of whom were born and raised in Claremont and all of whom have a vested interest in the future of our city, have joined together to oppose Measure W and educate the public about its harmful consequences.
With nearly eight in 10 California voters supporting improvements to the state’s initiative process that increases clarity and provides voters more information, SB 1253 (Steinberg) was approved by the California senate.
SB 1253, the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act (BITA), will create clearer initiatives, simpler ballots and better information for California voters. Introduced by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, BITA is supported by a broad and diverse group of organizations that includes the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, California NAACP and the California AARP, among others
Long ago, Claremont decided to allow a private company, Southern California Water Company, to own and manage its water. For quite some time that worked well enough. Although buying the water system was proposed a number of times, the water was reliable and prices increased slowly enough so that the majority of Claremont residents felt the costs of buying the company outweighed the possible benefits of owning it.
I consider myself quite lucky to be born and raised in Claremont. Now, as a parent, I still think it’s a great place to raise a family. But over the past 50-plus years much has changed and, somewhere along the way, the town of Claremont turned into a city.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Claremont went through a decades-long growth spurt that continued beyond my graduation from Claremont High School in 1974.
In a community entrenched in dialogue and process, and defined by a never-ceasing desire to promote good government, Claremont and Claremont’s politics can be complicated.
This was embodied in the recent city council decision to enter into an agreement with Golden State Water. But, after weighing the choices and reflecting on the values of our community, the council made the right decision.
At its core, the trouble with the agreement wasn’t the agreement itself, but rather GSW’s Machiavellian history.