Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Claremont Village Freedom 5000

It's not too late to pre-register for the July 4th 5K Run and Walk events. The races begin at 8 a.m. just after the 1K Kids Run.

To register, follow the links on this page. You can register online for a $3.25 processing fee or turn in your paperwork to the Hughes Center at 1700 Danbury Road. You can also find a course map and other useful info.

Participation in the races costs $25 before July 2 or $30 on race day. The cost includes a t-shirt, bagels, fruit and water.

I am planning on running in the 5K this year. Since I'm not in great shape and I've never run in a 5K race before, I have no delusions about winning.

Last year's fastest runner was 24-year-old Jordan Horn of Alta Loma with an amazing time of 14:31. I'll be happy to finish the race without any major injuries.

T. Willard Hunter passed away

The reverend T. Willard Hunter, author, speaker and creator of the 4th of July Speakers Corner, died last night. He was 93 years old.

The longtime Pilgrim Place resident wrote notable books such as Busdrivers Never Get Anywhere and The Spirit of Charles Lindbergh.

The T. Willard Hunter Speakers Corner will be held as usual on July 4th at Memorial Park with a memorial tribute to be given at noon. Hunter began the Claremont Independence Day Speakers Corner 32 years ago and fashioned it after London's Hyde Park Corner.

The COURIER will have a full account of Mr. Hunter's life in an upcoming issue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jon Stewart pokes fun at David Dreier

Thanks to Charles Johnson over at the Claremont Conservative blog for pointing out the following video.

It appears Congressman David Dreier, who represents California's 26th District, made some seriously questionable comments comparing House Republicans' struggles to those of Iranian protesters.

Comedian Jon Stewart from The Daily Show had his fun with Dreier and other Congressmen for their comments. Click here to watch the video.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New superintendent of CUSD

Terry Nichols of the Duarte Unified School District, pictured above, will take over as the new superintendent of Claremont schools beginning July 1.

He was introduced and approved by unanimous vote at last night CUSD school board meeting.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve this community and the school district of Claremont as the new superintendent,” Nichols said at the meeting. “I see children as the focus and if we keep that focus then we'll work our way through these tough times that we're in.”

Nichhols will replace outgoing Superintendent David Cash who accepted a position with the Clovis Unified School District earlier this year.

A complete report about the Board meeting will appear in tomorrow's issue of the COURIER.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Claremont swap meet?

At the last city council meeting, the council voted to allow a Village business owner to place a display just outside his business.

The display from men's clothing store, Tally For Men, consists of a couple mannequins, a table displaying the store's latest products and a clothing rack.

We all know the shop from the massive and disingenuous "Clearance Sale" signs that owner Michael Talaee draped across the store's front windows for months on end. Strange marketing plan if you ask me, but maybe the gimmick got a few extra people to walk into his store.

In any case, it was an unusual item to be on the city council's agenda. These kinds of squabbles will generally be worked out between business owners and city staff well before the council has to step in.

But Talaee insisted on having his outdoor display despited being cited repeatedly by city code enforcement. Then the Planning Commission got involved and voted heavily against the outdoor display. Talaee appealed the decision, which is why the council got involved.

Tally For Men recently moved from a location on Second Street to a spot on the west side of Indian Hill Boulevard. Talaee had been complaining about a lack of foot traffic on Second Street and other problems with the management of the Village Expansion project.

From nearly the beginning, Talaee was threatening a lawsuit against Jonathan Tolkin, developer of the Expansion, in order to weasel out of his lease. We covered the issue back in February 2008.

Threatening his landlord with lawsuits and fighting with the city over the outdoor display, Talaee doesn't seem like the nicest fellow to deal with. Nonetheless, he got 3 out of 5 council members to vote his way.

Perhaps the pressure to appear business friendly in tough economic times got to Mayor Corey Calaycay, and council members Peter Yao and Sam Pedroza.

"Do we prefer seeing an empty building there or do we welcome a business that has proved to be successful in Claremont by surviving 5 years?" asked Yao at the meeting.

But some observers are questioning their decision, calling it "short sighted." It could very well set a precedent in the Village and across the city with outdoor displays popping up everywhere.

We'll see if applications start pouring in for similar outdoor displays from other businesses. Hopefully, Claremont's Village doesn't begin to look like a swap meet instead of its current upscale look.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blood Drive tomorrow

Don't miss a chance to make a difference at tomorrow's Claremont Blood Drive. The Blood Drive will be held on Tuesday, June 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Taylor Hall located at 1775 N. Indian Hill Blvd.

The Blood Drive is open to the public. All donors will receive a VIP meet and greet voucher for the 2009 Vans Warped Tour.

To schedule an appointment, or for more information, visit www.givelife.org and enter sponsor code: music, or you may contact Kristin Turner, Management Analyst, at (909) 399-5356.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Traffic signal at 10th and Indian Hill

After the unfortunate pedestrian accident last month, the Traffic and Transportation Commission will hear a report from city staff on the installation of a traffic signal at 10th Street and Indian Hill Boulevard.

The city completed a warrant analysis on traffic flow at the intersection and determined that it met the requirements for a traffic signal. The city estimates it would take about 6 months to install the signal at a cost of about $160,000, according to the city staff report.

After the commission review, the city council would still need to approve the project. For those interested in attending the meeting, the T&T Commission will discuss the issue on Thursday, June 25 beginning at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Golden State meeting on water rationing

Golden State Water Company will hold a public meeting tonight to explain their new staged system for water rationing.

The meeting will be held today at 6:30 p.m. at the Double Tree Hotel, Sequoia Room, 555 W. Foothill Boulevard, to explain the rate process and to receive public input.

Written public comment by GSWC customers can be sent to the California Public Utilities Commission's Water Division at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, 3rd Floor, Room 3102, or e-mailed to regulatoryaffairs@gswater.com.

For a full report on the water rationing plan, be sure to check out Saturday's issue of the COURIER.

Suspicious activity

This warning just came in from the Claremont Police Department. Apparently, there were some suspicious individuals driving around last night whom police believe were casing the neighborhood near Baseline Road and Mills Avenue. Here's the warning, courtesy of the Department's E-Watch system.

Suspicious Vehicle & Persons - Possible Burglary Activity

On June 16, 2009 at about 6:30 pm, Claremont PD officers contacted subjects in the area of Mills Ave. and Baseline Rd. after their vehicle had been seen cruising the area. The subjects could not provide a logical explanation for their activities. A records check revealed that some of the subjects have previously been arrested for burglary, fraud, and drug related crimes.

If you see the vehicle and/or subjects in your neighborhood acting suspiciously, please call the Claremont Police Department at (909) 626-1296. We are not releasing the names of the subjects at this time since they were not arrested.

Vehicle: 2002 Chevy Tahoe, CA Lic.# 4VND745, black w/3 inch lift, black "So Cal" sticker bottom/middle of the back window (sticker is a little hard to see), the back window has dark tint, the front license plate may be missing.

Subject 1/Driver: Male white, 23 years old, 5-7, 180 lbs, brown hair, blue eyes, tattoos on hands, arms & neck
Subject 2: Male white, 25 years old, 5-8, 200 lbs, brown hair, brown eyes, tattoos on hands, arms, neck & back
Subject 3: Male white, 28 years old, 5-9, 190 lbs, blond hair, blue eyes, tattoos on hands, arms & neck
Subject 4: Female white, 25 years old, 5-4, 160 lbs, blond hair, blue eyes, tattoos on neck
Subject 5: Female white, 23 years old, 5-3, 130 lbs, brown hair, brown eyes

For those who haven't signed up for the E-Watch system, it is pretty useful for hearing about crime and public safety news in the city and your specific neighborhood. To sign up, click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Get a free ride

Foothill Transit will be handing out free ride coupons for the upcoming "Dump the Pump Day." For a free ticket, visit their website here and fill out a brief survey. The ticket coupons are valid for use anytime this Thursday, June 18.

National Dump the Pump Day is a day to encourage people to ride public transportation to save money, conserve gasoline and help reduce greehouse gas emissions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mayor who?

The COURIER had a major boo boo in its most recent crossword puzzle, published on Wednesday, June 10. The clue for "political decision maker" should have been answered with CoreyCalaycay, mayor of Claremont, but somehow our crossword publisher came up with the name CoreyCallaway.

The only defense I can think of is that our crossword man Myles Mellor simply had a case of mistaken identity. As the photos above show, there is a distinct similarity between our mayor and Cab Calloway, the famous jazz singer from the 1930s and 1940s.

All jokes aside, we sincerely apologize for the mix up and understand how frustrating a mistake like that can be. We'll do our best to avoid similar errors in the future.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Claremont Police Department neighborhood meetings

The Claremont Police Department will host 12 neighborhood meetings throughout June to better connect with residents. Police will provide data to residents regarding crime in your area and information on Neighborhood Watch, E-Watch, and Code Red programs.

Resident can also learn the latests MOs of burglars and scammers and hear tips on how to keep your homes and streets safe. Click here for times and locations of the meetings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4th of July home decorating contest

Dean and Lenna Hatch stand in front of their garage decorated to look like Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Their efforts won them 1st prize at last year's decorating contest.

July 4th is just around the corner. For the past few years, that means dozens of Claremont homes will be colorfully decked out for the city's July 4th home decorating contest.

It is a fun way for residents to get involved in the city's celebration and show their patriotism. However, sometimes people get a little carried away. The COURIER has received phone calls from residents in years past claiming favoritism/nepotism or rigged judging of the contest. This year, I hope people will keep the spirit of the contest in mind and just enjoy the show.

For participation info, here's a news release from the city:

The Claremont Independence Day Committee invites all Claremont residents, living within the City’s border, to enter the House Decorating Contest. For a chance to be the Grand Prize Winner, entries are due by Friday, June 19 at the Alexander Hughes Community Center (1700 Danbury Road). Judging will be based on spirit, appearance, and creativity of outdoor decorations that are visible from the street. Eligible participants must be available to ride in the 4th of July parade if chosen as the Grand Prize Winner.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive recognition at the 4th of July pre-parade reception, receive fireworks tickets (4), a special place in the parade, recognition at the Summer Monday Night Concert, be given a flag that flew over the California State Capital, and a “Grand Prize Winner” sign to post on their property for a week. Second and Third place winners will receive recognition at the Summer Monday Night Concert and a sign to post on their property for a week. Winners will be notified by June 30.

Applications and information on how to properly display a flag are available at "http://www.Claremont4th.org" www.Claremont4th.org and at the Alexander Hughes Community Center.

For further
information, please contact Jim and Phyllis Brost at (909) 624-6227.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The council's unique decision making process

It was quite a pathetic display in the civic process by the Claremont city council tonight. Not because of the decision they eventually came to, but the process they used to arrive there.

The council had a special meeting tonight to consider changes to the affordable housing project on College Avenue. The council had 2 options to consider.

Option one was to leave the project at 45 units for families and 30 units for seniors. Option 2 would lower the density by taking out some family units and replacing them with the smaller senior units.

I’ve never seen a race to make a motion before, but that’s exactly what happened. The first to make a motion wins.

Being the first councilmember to make comments after hearing from the public, Sam Pedroza won the race and his motion carried. The motion carried unanimously, even though 3 out of 5 council members were in favor of the alternative.

Pedroza was in such a hurry to make his motion so he could win the race that he didn’t even bother to share his thoughts about why he’s making the motion or hear what his colleagues had to say.

After a request from Councilmember Peter Yao, he did make some comments. In the name of compromise with area residents, Pedroza pushed for a project with less density and less family housing units.

The project will now have 36 family housing units rather than the 45 that were originally planned. The trade off was an increase of 10 senior housing units, upping the number to 40 from the original 30.

Yao, Mayor Pro Tem Linda Elderkin and Councilmember Larry Schroeder all wanted to keep the project in its original form. But Elderkin seemed more concerned with having consensus on the council than voting for her beliefs. When it came down to the vote, Yao and Schroeder followed suit.

One thing fiscally prudent mayor Corey Calaycay did not mention is that the changes he supported will cost the city an additional $485,000. After squabbling with Yao about Pedroza’s motion, Calaycay threatened to kill any consensus if the motion on the floor was changed.

So in summary, the city council decided to squeeze 9 low income families out of Claremont and pay half a million bucks to do it.

On a positive note; they did it by unanimous decision, even though a majority wanted no changes at all. Good work council.

Council meets on affordable housing tonight

The city council will meet tonight to discuss potential changes to the affordable housing project on College Avenue.

Due to pressure from neighbors about the project's density, staff is considering lowering the number of family units from 45 to 36 and increasing the number of senior units from 30 to 40.

It appears the area residents would prefer low income seniors rather than low income families living in their neighborhood.

City staff estimates the proposed change would cost the city an additional $485,000, which likely would need to come out of the city's General Fund.

The city is on a tight timetable with this project as the deadline application for its main funding source is approaching on June 9. Due to this strict time line, a common complaint is that the project is "being shoved down our throats."

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bear on the loose

It was a wild day in Claremont for this reporter. After my hawk encounter this morning, we got some phone calls about bears wandering in the northern part of town. Beginning around 10:30 a.m., a bear was spotted along Base Line Road and in yards and trees to the north.

I managed to track down the brown bear in a backyard on the 600 block of Martin Way, just off Base Line Rd. and Mills Ave. He/she was not too happy when tried to get a close up shot with my camera. The bear even mock charged towards me and COURIER intern Ren Mullinix at one point, sending us running for the hills. We finally left the bear to enjoy his tree around 3:30 p.m.

Police were out in the neighborhood warning residents about the bear and earlier were trying to chase the bears back up into the hills. Claremont Police Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen said they had informed the California Department of Game and Fish about the bear. They responded that the agency would not come out unless someone or the bears were in any immediate danger. Let's hope it stays that way.

Warning: aggressive hawks attacking residents

A hawk swoops down at me while I'm walking in the Metrolink parking lot Wednesday morning.

There's a couple hawks in town that aren't too happy about people entering into their territory. One is stationed at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The COURIER's office manager Sandy Fasano had a close encounter with the bird on Saturday as she walked up a pathway towards the garden offices and gift shop.

Sandy said the hawk swooped down from behind and struck her on the back of the head. She nearly fell over by the power of the hit and let out a loud scream. "It felt like someone hit me with a basketball," she said.

This morning a reader called in to warn that another hawk was attacking people in the Metrolink parking lot on First Street. I went down there with my camera to check it out. As I was walking through the parking lot looking for the culprit, I got slammed in the back of the head.

The hawk then landed in a nearby tree, waited for about a minute and took another swipe at me. This time I ducked out of its way, but I managed to get a couple photos in. Clearly pestered with my presence, the hawk swooped down a couple more times before I headed back to my car, tail between my legs.

Claremont police showed up at the Metrolink lot a short time later to see what they could do, if anything. Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen told me that they might post a sign similar to what's at the Botanic Gardens: "Hawks Nesting Agressive."

A community patrol volunteer will be stationed at the parking lot today to warn passersby about the aggressive bird.

The hawks probably have nests nearby and are doing what parents do, protecting their young. So take caution at the above mentioned locations, you don't want to get hit. I can attest that it is pretty painful; those hawks are strong and they aren't messing around.

A hawk flies back into a tree after a close encounter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

El Roble Student on The Tonight Show

Some cool news for fans of late night TV. An El Roble student will make an appearance on the new Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien this Thursday night.

Eighth grader Mata Barr and and 13 other members of the Los Angeles Children's Chorus will be singing back up to "California Dreamin' " with guest singer John Mayer.

O'Brien took over on the Tonight Show for Jay Leno beginning yesterday. The show runs on NBC beginning at 11.35 p.m.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Neighborhood meeting tonight

After a short hiatus (I was on vacation last week), I will be back to blogging.

The crosswalk safety frenzy will continue tonight at city hall with a meeting scheduled to discuss another dangerous crosswalk in town at Arrow Highway and Oakdale Drive.

"Over the last ten years, there have been several deaths and accidents on the stretch of Arrow Highway between College and Mills," one area resident said. "The speed limit is 35 mph, but daytime and nighttime speeds look to average around 50 mph."

Area residents will meet with city engineers in a downstairs conference room beginning at 6:30 p.m.

After the recent pedestrian accident on Indian Hill and 10th Street, the city council decided to conduct a "warrant analysis" on installing a traffic signal at the intersection. Over the next couple of weeks, city staff will see if the volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic warrants a signal based on the requirements of the city's insurer, the JPIA.

If it's determined that there is not enough traffic there, the intersection will not get a new traffic signal. In that scenario, the city plans to install an overhead flashing beacon and remove the in-pavement lighting.

In the meantime, the city is repainting the zebra striping at the crosswalk and has posted new speed limit signs there.