Program: State of the City, Claremont City Manager Tara Schultz
Submitted by Lark Gerry
Rotarian Nick Quackenbos introduced guest speaker, Tara Schultz, City Manager for City of Claremont, who introduced Bevin Handel, the City’s Public Information Officer, who helped produce the presentation.
Since Tara started 10 months ago as Claremont City Manager, she reports that she has been amazed at the number of projects that the City has completed and the innovative programs and services the City provides to our community. The City staff are assisted by volunteers who dedicate their time to making their community better planting trees, patrolling the City, assisting with emergencies, and serving on various committees and commissions. This year several citizen advisory and ad hoc committees were added to advise the Council and staff. They augment a strong commission system — 5 commissions, 10 standing committees, and 9 ad hoc committees — that ensures projects and programs fit the character of Claremont.
Another reason Claremont continues to look and feel so special is because of deliberate planning by the City Council. The City Council, with input from the community, adopts a set of priorities that guide the work of staff. Each year, the Council holds a workshop to review and revise these Council Priorities. Projects within these priority areas come and go, but main principles remain the same. This year the Priority Workshop will change to focus on adopting a mission statement, vision statement, a core values list, and a priority project list. To help the Council develop the City mission statement, vision statement and Core Values list, staff launched the Claremont Core Values Campaign in July. The City asked the community to consider our core values. In addition, City managers met last week to identify action items for priorities for next year. After adoption by the City Council, this list of action items will be reported to the community and progress updates will be given every three months.
On November 6th, voters elected three new Council members. Jennifer Stark and Jed Leano were clear winners. As of November 16, there was only a 44 vote gap between Ed Reece and Zach Courser with 990 provisional and Vote by Mail ballots left to count. (Ed Reece won.) The three new Council Members replace Sam Pedroza, Opanyi Nasialli, and Joe Lyons. At the January 29, 2019 workshop, the new Council will discuss the Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and Core Values and adopt the Priority Project list.
The cost of doing City business is increasing and reflects changes in regulations, requirements, and economic shifts. Last January, City staff were asked to develop their department budgets keeping in mind that the City is facing a structural deficit growing from approximately $1 million in 201920 to $1.8 million in 202122. Staff cut expenses and identified revenue opportunities to close the $1.4 to $3.4 million dollar shortfall. The City Council typically adopts a two-year budget, however, due to increases in general liability insurance, services and supplies, landscape maintenance contracts, PERS retirement, and the Golden State Water settlement, staff presented a one year budget, and in June, the City Council unanimously approved a balanced one year budget of $48,774,178 which includes operating expenses, capital improvements, and debt service.
Tara acknowledged that creating opportunities for our business community to grow and thrive is essential to our long term fiscal health. This past year we have added a few new businesses and now have three car dealerships: John Elway’s Claremont Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Claremont Toyota, and Claremont Hyundai.
The City is moving forward on the Village South Plan. The City received a Metro Grant to create a transit oriented development concept. Sargent Towne Planning consultants held several community meetings and met with property owners to listen to suggestions and concerns for the development. The City Council approved the guiding principles for the specific plan and the City’s consultant is finalizing the draft. The plan will encourage a mix of uses and enhanced pedestrian amenities. Once the draft plan is complete, public meetings will be held for input on the EIR process over the next 12 months.
With all the exciting changes and additions to the Village, including the Pomona College Art Museum which comes online in fall 2019, we are experiencing more issues with parking downtown. The City is working to develop a parking management plan to address the parking congestion during peak times in the Village.
Homelessness is one of our region’s biggest challenges. Officers and City staff have received training on mental health and make regular contact with homeless individuals in the community. The City’s Human Services Department and Police Department work together to identify homeless and atrisk individuals and assess appropriate services. Individuals are then matched with available services and regional agencies to get them the help they need. Our Police Department launched an education campaign, “A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out,” aimed at educating our residents to avoid handouts in favor of participating in a long term solution in cooperation between the business community, residents, and the Police Department.
Tara reminded us that the biggest public safety issue we are facing is the condition of the existing police station. Following the failure of two bond measures, the Mayor created a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to look at options for the future of the station. We know that the station is seismically deficient, and staff have been directed to develop and issue an RFP for immediate safety improvements. Improvements of $5M are needed to make the current police station seismically safe. However, this will not address the station’s lack of space and modernization for the current and future needs of the department.
Quality of Life
Maintaining public safety is a core function of any City, but maintaining quality of life for our residents is also a priority for the Council the intangibles that make living in Claremont special: our parks, special events, arts and culture. Our Human Services Department does an outstanding job of organizing community organizations and businesses. Partners enable the City to produce these events: the Chamber of Commerce, Village Marketing Group, and the service organizations like the Claremont Rotary Noon and Sunrise Clubs, and the Kiwanis Club.
City staff have been creative in utilizing grants and volunteers to fill shortfalls in funding. One program that uses this approach is our reforestation program. Claremont’s trees are highly valued and a big part of the character of this City. Years of fluctuating weather conditions have taken a toll on our urban forest. To tackle this problem, the City and Sustainable Claremont, created an education and outreach program that trains volunteers on tree care. As part of this program, City staff and Sustainable Claremont have organized planned community planting days in which volunteers plant trees in City parks and medians. Two hundred trees were planted in just two days this October! Cal Fire and LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, awarded grants to the City to plant additional trees in the southern section of town and develop an Urban Forest Management Plan for the future of our trees.
Tara reported that in the next few years, we will see several transportation projects under construction. The Foothill Boulevard Project, which began October 29, 2018, will be conducted in four phases over the next 18 months to keep lanes open in each direction. The project includes general road improvements, protected bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, bioswales and storm water catchment, and sustainable landscaping. New iconic entry monuments, signage, and bus stops will be added to reflect the roadway’s Route 66 past. Over half of the $16 million project is being funded through grants awarded the City. The rest comes from funds the City received from Cal Trans and restricted roadway improvement funds from the State. No General Fund money will be used for the project.
Another major transportation project is the Foothill Gold Line. Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority is now proposing a two phased approach to building the Gold Line Extension from Glendora to Montclair. The second phase from La Verne to Montclair is not funded; the four project bids came in millions over the available funding. The Board increased the total project budget by $570 million to cover the construction of the line from Glendora to Montclair, bringing the total project cost to $2.1 billion. Should additional funding be secured, the line will be extended through Claremont and on to Montclair.
For over 15 years, the City of Claremont has worked to bring the line to Claremont. Our community has supported the construction of the line and contributes to the funding of the line through our sales tax dollars. The City is shocked and disappointed that construction of the Claremont Gold Line station is uncertain, but the City’s commitment remains strong.
Upcoming District Events
Southern California East President Elect Resource Training Requires Registration
January 5th 2019