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Readers comments 2-5-21

May neighborhoods be affordable!

Dear editor:

Claremont has a wide array of neighborhoods.  Most are primarily residential, predominately single family, with some townhouses and low-rise multi-family units. Some are nonprofit institutions, such as the Claremont colleges and retirement communities, or commercial, such as the Village and shopping centers.  

These neighborhoods already provide housing for individuals and families who can afford market rate housing.  However, they offer only limited housing for those who can’t, such as the teachers, nurses, police officers, clerks and delivery workers providing essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Affordable housing has become an irresolvable oxymoron nationwide.  Businesses locate where employees cannot afford to live. Major institutions don’t view it as their responsibility.  Residential associations oppose it, in part because developers use it to leverage high density projects. Developers, except rare nonprofits, try to build as little as possible;  then only for higher income individuals, not lower income families. Local governments zone it out, prepare dust-gathering plans, and plead poverty. Not surprisingly, most well-intentioned efforts become consumed in nerve-wracking public hearings.  

If insanity is defined as pursuing the same unsuccessful strategies, repeatedly, then most  affordable housing advocates must be certifiably crazy. 

Thanks to Pilgrim Place, my neighborhood, I am beginning to see hope for meeting Claremont’s affordable housing needs. Pilgrim Place is making a large lot available for housing the unsheltered.  Fellow residents are concerned about welcoming these newcomers into our neighborhood and protecting the lot for affordable housing in the future

I hope that Pilgrim Place sets a precedent for others to become affordable neighborhoods.  Could all neighborhoods and key institutions, such as the Claremont colleges, shopping centers, residential and retirement communities, as well as faith-based, educational, and non-profit organizations, work with City government to find affordable housing sites?

Also, could the sites found be set aside for affordable housing well into the future? This would help overcome a shortcoming of past efforts—such as tax credits, inclusionary housing, and housing vouchers—which only slow down the market forces that inevitability make all housing, and the land it is built upon, unaffordable for any but the income privileged.  

Together, Pilgrim Place and other neighborhoods choosing to be affordable could work together and challenge everyone else to do the same.  I suggest calling this effort the Claremont Affordable Neighborhoods (CAN) Challenge.  En espanol, los Asequibles Barrios de Claremont (ABC). 

The timing is right.  The twin pandemics that we are fighting—the new COVID-19 health one and the four century-old racial justice one—vividly display the consequences of inadequate affordable housing.  The COVID-19 one unleashed an overnight threat to all when some could not safely shelter in place.  The racial injustice one turned historically “redlined”, now overcrowded housing into COVID-19 killing grounds.  

Coincidentally, Claremont received its new Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which sets targets for new housing sites by jurisdiction, statewide. Claremont is developing a plan to meet its 1707 new housing unit share in the next eight years.  Over half of the units need to be affordable, 554 for the very low income and 309 for the low income.  Developers will build some of these units to satisfy their inclusionary housing requirements, but nowhere near all.  

If each Claremont neighborhood and key institution responded to the CAN Challenge, based on its size, the balance of the RHNA target could be more than met.

Claremont city government would need to breathe life into the CAN Challenge by coordinating the resources required to make each neighborhood affordable.  It could recruit experts from county/state governments, banks, developers, non-profit housing organizations, and foundations, as well as experienced Claremont residents and inspired college and high school students, to help find sites and design housing units.  It could also work with all levels of government to provide predictable funding, including putting up some matching funding, an incentive that has been successful in other places.

With these resources in place, Claremont neighborhoods and institutions could focus their attention on identifying sites, especially non-traditional ones, such as on faith-based, college, store, office building, or garage properties and vacant parking lots.  And, consider new types of housing, such as tiny homes.  Individual home owners who want to make their neighborhoods affordable could tap the help needed to provide ADUs. Finally, the resulting affordable housing sites, other than ADUs, could be contributed to a community housing trust to assure that some Claremont housing stays affordable.

Everyone would benefit from affordable neighborhoods. Workers could live near where they work, improving air quality and reducing road wear.  Developers could take neighborhood-endorsed housing projects to City government.  Neighborhoods could require that affordable housing fits in with existing housing.  County, state, and national governments could focus on subsidizing housing that would stay affordable.  City government could reward affordable neighborhoods, such as prioritizing their requests for city services and cutting property taxes on affordable ADUs. Overall, Claremont neighborhoods could become renowned for the rich mix of their residents.

The Claremont Affordable Neighborhood Challenge will help assure that Claremont’s neighborhoods are welcoming to all, now and for generations to come.  

Bill Didge

Claremont

 

My Shot

Dear editor:

I am not passin’ up my shot.

I am not passin’ up my shot.

Like so many in the country

I just wanna run free.

I am not passin’ up my shot.

If you ask me, “Why, sir?”

I don’t want to die, sir;

I tell you that it’s wiser

To take a dose of Pfizer.

 

When my time came in the line-up, I gave it my best to sign up

But the web site they were usin’ was really quite confusin’

It had a lotta flies floatin’ in the ointment

I made a lotta tries, got me an appointment.

They sent us to the mega-POD out at the county fair site

Helpful folks stood at the gate and told us we should bear right

Snaked our way all through the lot, rounding every pylon

We weren’t passin’ up our shot!  My wife she had a smile on.

Now we stand just cars away as we approach the white tent

I call out hurray! hurray! to let out my excitement.

That Monday was a rare day, a snowflake in the air day

In Southern California, it doesn’t get much colder

I still roll down the window and offer up my shoulder

They ask to see my own ID that shows them I am older

Than 65; I comply; then I

Peel away my shirt—

Nurse gives me a squirt—

Next day, a little hurt—

I finally got my shot!

Still got to keep my distance, don’t go to any lax scene 

But now I got resistance, thank you to the vaccine.

Don’t need to stew and fret so much about those little bugs; 

And now I’m one step closer to giving out some hugs. 

Like so many in the country

I just wanna run free.

I did not pass up my shot.

James Van Cleve

Claremont

 

Getting in trouble

Dear editor:

My name is Mary and I am seven years old.  I hope you can help me with something that confuses me.  My grandma gets your newspaper and suggested that you might be able to help me with my question.

I know I can be a really good person if I understand the reason things are the way they are.  My mommy and daddy were talking about what happened at the Capitol on January 6.  They always want me to make up my own mind about stuff so they asked if I wanted to watch a video about it.  I said, “yes.”  Mr. Trump said some awful things to his supporters before they marched over to the Capital to ruin the building and scare the people inside.

I think that words and actions can both cause bad things to happen.  I don’t understand why some people don’t want to punish Mr. Trump for what happened on January 6th.  Mommy and daddy said it’s because those people say that Mr. Trump is no longer President, so he shouldn’t get in trouble.

If someone steals money from their employer and then they quit and leave the job before they get caught, does that mean they shouldn’t get punished?  If somebody hurts somebody else and the criminal gets caught years later, would that criminal be punished or will they get away with their crime since the something bad happened a long time ago.

Why should Mr. Trump get away with doing something bad, but when I do something wrong, I get punished?  I can assure you, if I did something like Mr. Trump, I would be in really BIG trouble with my mommy and daddy and I would definitely get punished.

Mary and Robyn (mom)

Kootenai County, Idaho

 

TO: City Council (CC), city manager, Claremont Courier, Daily Bulletin, L.A. Times, Claremont Move it Forward (CMF)

 

Senior living

Dear editor:

Speakers from the above organizations espoused their tenet to “encourage seniors living alone (widow/widower) or with a “spouse” to downsize and give up their home so it could be sold to a younger family. This mass movement of seniors would provide more housing for new Claremont residents. Suggested moves were to small apartments for adult living or to one of the many retirement facilities in Claremont.

Most of the seniors in our city, who live at home, moved here 30 to 60 years ago. We were impressed with the serenity, space, large lot sizes, single family houses and small population; a perfect spot to raise our children. We worked hard for many, many years to pay off mortgages, send our children to a good K-12 school and then for higher education. Now, in retirement, many choose to remain in their home because we enjoy our homes and neighbors. No, we do not want to downsize. 

Many people wish to live in Claremont. They can do what we did 30-60 years ago, i.e., work very, very hard, save and buy what you can afford. Remember, a wish is not a right!

The CMF/CC organization(s) rally the cause for affordable housing, but never define what they mean by this term. They rally for high-density building—NO SPOT or LOT to remain barren. Following this logic, Claremont will become overpopulated. It will never again resemble that little spot of heaven at the end of L.A. County that we found 30-60 years ago. 

Claremont has already more than met state and local expectations: ex., 720 homes along Base Line Road; Colby Circle project; Indian Hill (south of the RR tracks) with 1,000 dwellings. Maybe the city needs to put a moratorium on any more building before we move onto Johnston’s Pasture, Wilderness Park and attach every little piece of mud for building. Maybe no one has noticed that more people are moving OUT of California than moving IN. Give building a breather and protect your senior residents and listen to them. 

D.R. Cserpak

Claremont 

 

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