Friday, March 26, 2010

More staff layoffs being considered

The city council will meet tomorrow morning at a second budget workshop this month. With another major budget deficit on the horizon, the council will need to consider more deep cuts.

The city is preparing its 2011-12 budget and city officials estimate a $2.75 million budget shortfall over the next 2 years.

According to the staff report for tomorrow's meeting, about 20 staff jobs, both full and part time positions, could be eliminated. Among those recommended by the city manager are an economic development officer, city planners, a senior engineer, a community improvement officer, groundskeepers, tree trimmers and more.

According to the report, the cuts could save the city $1,083,727 in 2011 and $1,699,343 in 2012, leaving the city with a deficit of $750,299. Staff recommends dipping into the General Fund reserve to cover the remaining deficit.

You may remember that the city already cut about 15 percent of its workforce last year due to budget problems.

Tomorrow's meeting will take place at the city council chamber from 8 a.m. to noon. It is open to the public.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making the list

For the second straight year, the Drucker School of Management at CGU was voted as one of the top MBA programs in the nation for general management by its students. The report comes from the Princeton Review and will be printed in the April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.

The Princeton Review compiled the lists using data from a national survey of 19,000 MBA students attending 301 business schools. The 80-question survey asked students to report on classroom and campus experiences at their schools and rate their MBA programs in several areas.

To see the entire list of top MBA programs by category as printed in Entrepreneur Magazine, click here.

Foothill Transit neighborhood meeting

Those of you concerned about the proposed cuts to service by Foothill Transit can voice your opinions tonight at a neighborhood meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Foothill Transit will discuss the potential cancellation of 3 bus lines in Claremont. The lines include 197, 292 and 855.

Faced with a $12.5 million budget deficit, Foothill Transit is planning to discontinue 14 bus lines throughout its service area and trim services on several others.

The meeting will take place at the Joslyn Center at 660 N. Mountain Ave.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Appeal withdrawn, no 7-Eleven

Opponents of a 7-Eleven in Claremont will be happy to hear the convenience store has withdrawn their appeal of a negative Planning Commission decision. In other words, they're waving the white flag over their fight to open a store at Mills and Foothill.

The city council was scheduled to have a public hearing tonight at the council meeting and decide whether to overturn the Planning Commission decision. The item will not be discussed at tonight's meeting and the commission's original decision stands.

It would seem that the business applicant did not like its chances of getting 3 out of 5 votes at tonight's meeting. "They could tell which way the winds were blowing with the neighborhood and on the council," as one observer commented.

For now, neighborhood opponents of 7-Eleven can claim victory over the unwanted business. The Mills/Foothill building owner will have to go back to the drawing board and find a tenant willing to pay the high rent being demanded and, at the same time, be embraced by the neighbors.

But in this economy, it's certainly not easy to attract new businesses. The city might be stuck with an empty building at that corner for several more months.

I'd love to hear some viable suggestions for a successful business that area residents would regularly shop at in that building. Any thoughts?

Friday, March 19, 2010

New mayor in action

Here's a nice photo taken by Randy Scott of the Claremont Little League. Mayor Linda Elderkin was asked to throw out the first pitch at last Saturday's opening day. Elderkin used to be president of the Claremont Little League long ago. Good form mayor!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pomona College student detained by airport security

In today's paper, you can read about Pomona College student Nick George and his experience dealing with airport security. After a recent flight from his hometown of Philadelphia to Ontario, he was detained and interrogated by federal authorities for having Arabic language flashcards in his pocket. Now, the ACLU is suing the TSA, the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department on George's behalf. Here's a video of George explaining what happened.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7-Eleven opposition gets organized

I've seen some organized opposition during public comment at city meetings. Some people prepare speeches to exactly fit the 4-minute allotted time frame. Others have given slide shows to back up their arguments. But this one takes the cake!

It's a video posted on Youtube by David Sawhill, a resident who lives near the proposed 7-Eleven site. See below. Sawhill can't attend next Tuesday night's city council meeting due to an open house at Claremont High School where he works, so he's asked city staff to show the video during public comment in his absence.

In the video, Sawhill vividly describes the traffic hazards that neighbors believe will cause problems at the proposed business site and in his neighborhood. He's even come up with descriptive names for the hazards, like "the black hole," "blind man's curve" and "Can you see me now?"

The 7-Eleven opposition has also created a Facebook page, Say NO to Claremont 7-11, dedicated solely to stopping the business from opening at the location. So far, the page has attracted 37 fans.

The city council will hear the appeal on Tuesday, March 23. According to the appeal, which you can read in full here, the business applicant is willing to limit operating hours from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and alcohol sales from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Applicant appeals Planning Commission decision on 7-Eleven

A business applicant wants to open a 7-Eleven in a portion of this building at the corner Foothill Blvd. and Mills Ave.

A 7-Eleven in Claremont may still be a possibility.

The proposed business owner filed an appeal with the city clerk on Wednesday afternoon. Last week, the Planning Commission voted 5 to 2 to deny a conditional use permit for the business. The appeal will give the city council the final say in the matter.

The applicant hopes to open the convenience store at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Mills Avenue. At recent city meetings, residents living in the area have expressed strong opposition to the 7-Eleven, fearing increased crime, traffic accidents and decreasing property values. Others complained about the proposed sale of alcohol until midnight so near to the Claremont Colleges and the fact that 7-Eleven will be open 24 hours a day.

City clerk Lynne Fryman said staff has not determined a date that the appeal would be heard by the city council.

Nude biking okay, says CPD Chief Paul Cooper

Riding your bike around Claremont while naked will not get you arrested, according to Claremont Police Chief Paul Cooper. Well, sometimes it won't.

Cooper said police will not take action against a nude biker as long as witnesses are not offended by the nudity or the biker is not getting sexual pleasure from his/her activity.

"This is a specific intent crime," Cooper said. "The persons exposing their genitals have to receive some type of sexual gratification from this. There's no evidence to support that [in this case]."

The discussion came at last night's council meeting, sparked by public comment from resident Ralph Ruiz, a retired LAPD cop who likes to complain about anything and everything that Claremont cops do.

On a recent Friday evening, Ruiz was driving near the Village with his 14-year-old daughter when a group of 25 to 30 scantily clad college students came riding by on their bikes. Ruiz called the cops, who stopped a handful of the naked riders but let them go on their merry way.

"When you have 25 to 30 students out there naked on their bikes, you have to cite and you have to make arrests ," Ruiz said. "You can't just let them do whatever they want."

Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza called the incident a "shocking reminder that we do live in a college town."

Councilmember Corey Calaycay chimed in on the discussion, saying Claremont is trying to bill itself as a tourist destination and public nudity might harm the city's image. He also seemed offended by what he read in a Pomona College student newspaper about the incident.

"One of the writers referred to one of our officers as a 'douche bag' for apprehending her," Calaycay said. "I just thought that was out-of-line, disrespectful to our officers."

Wait, did Calaycay just say 'douche bag' up on the dais? New Mayor Linda Elderkin couldn't repress a chuckle upon hearing the statement from her colleague. Neither could I.

At any rate, Cooper suggested the possibility of a "public nudity ordinance" that could deter further nakedness around town. The council didn't seem too interested at this time.

Linda Elderkin is Claremont's new mayor

New Mayor Linda Elderkin presents outgoing mayor Corey Calaycay with a plaque from the city.

There's a new mayor in town. Linda Elderkin became Claremont's mayor at last night's city council meeting. Elected in 2007 and a Claremont resident since 1994, Elderkin takes over the reigns from outgoing mayor Corey Calaycay.

"I am delighted to be the mayor because I love Claremont so much," she said. "I really believe strongly I never would have run for council anywhere else. Where Corey said he grew up here, I grew up here as a community person."

Calaycay received a plaque and flowers from the city and was thanked for a job well done. As mayor, Elderkin will lead city council meetings and represent the city at public events. Sam Pedroza, also elected in 2007, will take over as Mayor Pro Tem.

Every March, the city council votes on who will serve as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for the upcoming year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Will south Claremont get its grocery store?

A decision at tonight's city council meeting could lay the groundwork for a new grocery store in south Claremont.

The city is proposing a new ordinance to allow drive-through banks and pharmacies in 4 specific areas around the city in order to attract new businesses to Claremont. The ordinance comes on the heels of a request by Walgreens Pharmacy to open a location at the Peppertree Square shopping center at Indian Hill Boulevard and Arrow Highway. Walgreens has said they will only open a location if they could have a drive-through.

City officials are pushing for the drive-through ordinance because of the opportunity to get a Fresh and Easy Market at Peppertree Square. The grocery store has agreed to open a location at the struggling shopping center contingent upon a Walgreens opening there too.

Expect several south Claremont residents attending the meeting to sway the council in favor of adopting the ordinance. Since Albertsons closed in early 2007, residents in the southern part of town have complained about long drives up to Foothill Boulevard to get their grocery shopping done.

Some will likely be on hand to urge the council not to adopt the ordinance, claiming the city compromising its values to the will of large corporations.

Also on the agenda is an amendment to the city’s Development and Disposition Agreement with Jamboree Housing Corporation, the developer of the proposed affordable housing project on College Avenue. The city is expecting to get $2,750,000 from Los Angeles County to help build the project.

The open session meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at city hall. Residents can also view the council meetings live online by visiting the city website.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Get your tickets, support Claremont parks

The City of Claremont and the Ontario Reign Hockey Team are hosting Claremont Night at the Citizen’s Bank Arena this coming Saturday, March 6.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to support park improvements for Claremont’s youth sports organizations.

The city's parks and fields are used by more than 3,700 youths each year in organized sports groups.

Tickets to the Ontario Reign game can be purchased individually are at a discounted rate for groups. Tickets are available in the upper or lower levels of the arena and range from $12 to $20 for adults and $10 to $15 for children.

To purchase tickets, contact the Human Services Department at (909) 399-5490. The discounted ticket price offer is not available at the Arena Box Office or TicketMaster.

The Citizen’s Bank Arena is located at 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway, CA 91764. The game begins at 7 p.m.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Update on ivory smuggling case

Accused ivory smuggler Moun Chau, owner of Pixie's Donut Shop in Claremont, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing this morning in Los Angeles.

Mr. Chau is charged with illegally importing wildlife into the US. Federal authorities found raw and carved ivory in his donut shop after serving a search warrant in 2006. The ivory came from African elephants, classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

According to Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Mr. Chau's case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder. His next court date is scheduled for April 27. Mr. Chau is now free on a $5,000 bond.

7-Eleven meeting tonight

The city is hosting a neighborhood meeting tonight on a proposed 7-Eleven that a business owner wants to set up at the corner of Mills Ave. and Foothill Blvd.

On February 16, the Planning Commission voted to deny a conditional use permit for the business. But they don't have the final say in the matter as the city council will likely discuss the business at an upcoming meeting.

Most residents attending the Planning Commission meeting were strongly against opening a 7-Eleven at the location, complaining about potential crime, alcohol sales until midnight, the 24/7 business hours. They also felt the Mills/Foothill intersection is dangerous.

Tonight's meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. in city hall, will bring together neighbors, city staff and the business owner. The meeting will give the business owner a chance to a some PR work and try to change perceptions that 7-Eleven is a bad fit for the neighborhood. The meeting is open to the public.