The Plan

Sustainable and Creative Solutions that Work for Claremont.

Prevention is better than cure.

With this in mind, I am looking at long-term sustainable solutions, not Band-Aids that cover problems for the short-term and then resurface later as even bigger problems.

That is why I’m looking at water management to save water and redirect some of it to our trees. Why wait for drought to hit and trees to start dying before getting serious about this problem? With mandatory water conservation targets, we have to be smarter about how we manage our water so our trees are no longer in the front line of cuts.

I also want more police officers on the street, working with the community. A highly visible police presence and a vigilant public is a massive deterrent to criminals.

In addition to collaboration between the police and community members, we should have the same kind of relationship between our colleges and community that can be found in other university towns, like Harvard. When our colleges thrive, Claremont thrives. When our colleges make more money, Claremont makes more money.

As a real estate professional, I have seen first-hand, over and over again, how investing in infrastructure, community, the environment and relationships can give an immense rate of return because of the tangible and intangible value that it adds to community members’ lives.

I understand what it takes to balance "Traditional Claremont" with "New Claremont"

I am proud to call this "City of Trees and PhDs" home for the last 25+ years.  Like many, my parents came here to provide a brighter future for their children. Claremont , with its diverse culture, outstanding education, beautiful nature, and warm community spirit, changed our lives.  To this day, it affirms that anything is possible.

WATER: OVERVIEW

The United Nations has stated that by the year 2050, water will be the leading global issue. California, and more locally Claremont, already have their own issues. Water is the source of life, and we need to do whatever we can to protect it. Known to be the “City of Trees and PhDs,” Claremont, as a city, has one of the highest water consumption rates in the U.S.

Key Issues:

  • Claremont’s Water Rates continually rise at a very high rate.
  • Many Claremont residents have a fixed income, and the rise of water rates hurts them drastically, as their fixed income does not rise proportionally.
  • Current water provider Golden State Water is a private company seeking only to protect their investors’ pockets, and is not interested in upgrading the system to prevent leakage and waste.
  • The PUC (Public Utility Commission) is over-regulated and forces water company monopolies.
  • We have water in Claremont itself that is not being used.
  • The current City Council has wasted over $6,000,000 of Claremont’s reserves on fighting a battle that can’t be won.
  • The city is taking money from other fund reserves to pay for attorney and legal fees.
  • Claremont did not fully disclose to the residents the full picture of this lawsuit before starting nor during.
  • Claremont did not hire the correct counsel. The lawyers completely did a horrible job at fighting this case.
  • After losing the eminent domain lawsuit, the council members had 60 days to appeal the case.  Less than 10 days left to appeal, the city held a meeting to decide to appeal or not.  The city is now forced to rush and hire the appellant law firm.

Key Solutions:

  • Full transparency to the residents.
  • Appeal the court ruling, mainly to avoid citizens paying for the defendant’s attorney fees.
  • Appeal with better legal counsel and an improved organized brief.
  • Bring together others in the Region 3 Water Districts as well as other regions to fight the PUC to deregulate.
  • Negotiate with the current GSW on rates.
  • Create a low-income water fund for those on fixed income until we get a resolution.
  • Be proactive in involving the city and not waiting till last minute.

Long-term Vision:

  • Own or partner with a water company.
  • Keep rates stable.
  • Improve water quality through investments in infrastructure.
  • Invest more resources and time into the Water Committee and, as part of a Town & Gown Initiative, liaise with our colleges to establish a Faculty of Water Management. Water management is not just a problem here in California. It is one of the biggest global issues of the twenty-first century, and with the help of our academic community, we could build a pioneering water management system that would be the envy of the world. This would also bring revenue to the city from exporting our know-how to other countries, and tourism dollars from fact-finding missions visiting the City of Claremont.

PUBLIC SAFETY: OVERVIEW

Spending on the Claremont PD in recent years has not kept pace with the developing needs of our officers. Chief Vander Veen and her team are doing a great job considering the rise in population and the fact that the force has been downsized by 3 officers since 2010.  Claremont relies heavily on property tax and businesses to fund its services. Research shows that property values increase and overall business increases when security is shown to be effective, so a safer Claremont is a richer Claremont.

Key Issues:

  • There is an apparent increase in both residential and commercial burglaries.
  • Some of the elderly are excluded from the evening social life of the city because they feel insecure going out at night.
  • The police are having to deal with a transitional legal situation whereby, due to state funding issues. Since Proposition 57 came into force, more criminals are released into the community without extra rehabilitation infrastructure being in place.
  • The current police station was built in the 1970s for a smaller police force. It is not ADA compliant, nor does it meet current earthquake standards. Electrical and mechanical systems also need replacing to facilitate high tech systems.
  • With the increase in population and tourism, we need additional police officers.

 Key Solutions:

 

  • Employ more officers to reduce the current workload and put a larger police presence on the streets to aid deterrence and deal with the fallout of proposition 57.
  • Help the police to publicize and implement their “See Something, Say Something” program, which is starting to get some real traction.
  • Replace the current police station with one that is disabled-friendly, earthquake ready, energy efficient and ready to meet the needs of the next 40 years. There comes a point where the costs of repairing and ‘making do’ exceed the long-term cost of a new building. Twenty-five million dollars for a modern facility that helps our police department protect us better will also pay off financially. As I said before, a safer Claremont is a richer Claremont.
  • Create police substations in schools to expand Claremont PD’s current program which has a single officer rotating between locations. This will increase security, deter the presence of drug dealers on campus and, at the same time, provide police officers the chance to get to better know the community they serve.
  • Create additional officer programs at schools.

Long-term Vision

 

  • Get the number of officers back up from 39 to 42 to deal with the increased population and the fallout from proposition 57.
  • Ensure the current plans of the ad hoc committee to replace the antiquated main station appear on a ballot in 2017. Work to make residents aware of the benefits of this development.
  • Start a “Walking Buddy” program. This type of program is a system in which elderly residents who feel nervous venturing out at night can find a volunteer to accompany them for a walk or a visit to the mall. This should be incorporated into our Town & Gown Initiative.

URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT: OVERVIEW

Claremont is known as the “City of Trees and PhDs,” but at the moment it’s more like we are the “City of Dying Trees.”

Key Issues:

 

  • City trees are dying from the effects of drought and disease.
  • Foreign insects are migrating into our city, destroying trees.
  • Many residents are not aware of what signs of disease or infestation to look for in their trees.
  • The city plans on spending approximately $300,000 on a “clinical trial” insecticide with no information about the effects these chemicals will have on our animals.

Key Solutions:

 

  • Urgent action to stop our trees from dying due to drought and disease.
  • Strengthen our partnership with the OpenTreeMap project and Urban Arboretum project championed by the Tree Action Group of Sustainable Claremont.
  • Improve water management for the city’s trees.
  • Negotiate with GSW to initiate a recycled water  program as part of the water management plan.
  • Full support for reforestation efforts.
  • Do additional research on the effects of this chemical combination and how it will affect animals.
  • Create awareness among residents on how they can help and how to prevent trees from becoming diseased or dying.
  • Prioritize the Urban Forest Master Plan.

Long-term Vision:

Look for sustainable, holistic solutions. For example, the California almond industry spends around $300 million a year hiring commercial beehives from all around the U.S. to pollinate their crops. The City of Claremont can help nature and bring in revenue from a managed bee colony operation.

TOWN & GOWN DIVIDE: OVERVIEW

Claremont is famous for its colleges, but we’re not a college town – we’re a town with some colleges.

Key Issue:

 

  • We have some of the brightest minds in the U.S. teaching and studying in our community, but the interaction and synergy between “Town & Gown” is non-existent.
  • The colleges in the area are big revenue makers, but their voice in Claremont affairs is small.
  • Parents who visit their kids at college want a family experience, not a few hours in a restaurant and then back to the hotel.
  • Some businesses feel they have no voice.

Key Solutions:

  • Start a Town & Gown Initiative to encourage more college participation in Claremont’s activities. Talk to the colleges and student organizations about what events and facilities would help to bridge the divide. Give them a voice in our community.
  • Look at modernizing the short-term rental laws. Occupancy taxes could also bring in additional revenue for the city, which would benefit all residents.
  • Work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and business owners.

Long-term Vision:

  • Work to establish Claremont and its colleges as pioneers in water management by sponsoring Faculties of Water Management. Let’s turn the negative of Golden State Water into a positive that makes Claremont a global thought leader.
  • Bring education and business together. Invest in business start-up incubators to help Claremont’s entrepreneurs.

COMMERCIALIZATION OF CLAREMONT: OVERVIEW

Claremont has its own distinct culture and heritage. As with any growing city, there is tension between the old and the new.

Key Issues:

  • Some people feel Claremont is losing its small-town feel.
  • The city center is not as vibrant as it used to be.
  • Not enough overnight parking for residents.
  • Big business modernization is increasing throughout our small town.
  • Only in certain parts of the city is it possible to purchase long-term parking permits.

Key Solutions:

  • Look at tax breaks for small businesses to help keep them in the center.
  • Encourage more events, live music and family-friendly festivals in the city center.
  • Allow other parts of city to offer the purchase of long-term parking permits, as long as the area does not cause a safety issue.
  • Invest in our public areas to preserve our city’s heritage.
  • Make additional changes to keep the heritage and culture in the Foothill Redevelopment plan.
  • Redesign all of Claremont’s entry points to create the look and feel of the Claremont Culture, which helps build a sense of community, continuity and history for residents and tourists alike.

Long-term Vision:

Take the redevelopment plans for Foothill Boulevard a step further and make it a hub for new business. The entry points on Arrow and Foothill will reflect a prosperous, modern city, and we will relieve pressure on the city center. If we’re able to redevelop those entry points, we’re going to have more businesses that want to be there, which will increase the property values and business sales, and, naturally, bring more taxes to the city.

WILDERNESS PARK: OVERVIEW

Our Wilderness Park is one of the jewels of Claremont, and it needs protecting.

Key Issues:

The Wilderness Park is crowded and it’s losing the very thing that made it special in the first place..

Key Solutions:

  • Introduce a pay wall for non-residents to reduce numbers. People coming from outside Claremont would have to pay a fee to enter the park.
  • Set up a Park ‘n’ Ride shuttle from the city center, where visitors would park. This would also increase footfall and the amount of time visitors spend in the city itself which will help business sales increase.
  • Presently, visitors can purchase an annual permit for $100 (Claremont residents get two free permits per household). Either increase this fee or remove the annual visitor pass completely and funnel all visitors through the Park ‘n’ Ride shuttle.

HOMELESSNESS & PANHANDLING: OVERVIEW

This is a nationwide problem and one for which no city council in the country has easy answers.

Key Issue:

  • Getting homeless people off the streets and back into the community.
  • Some panhandlers are aggressive.
  • Safety Issues and loss of business due to high homelessness and the areas in which they stay.

Key Solutions:

  • An ordinance to ban aggressive panhandling might meet with legal obstacles. Last year, Springfield, MO had an aggressive panhandling ordinance struck down by a federal judge. We need an increased police presence and help from members of the community to be proactive in reporting incidents.
  • Partner with additional non-profit organizations to help get the homeless back on their feet.

Long-term Vision:

  • The city already has several programs dealing with this issue, but the difficulty lies in the high cost of helping people who do not want to get off the street and back into mainstream life. Again, we should talk to our colleges for their input on how we can best deal with this. They can help research successful projects from around the country from which we can learn. For example, a homelessness project between February 2010 and June 2014 run by Artists Helping the Homeless saved Kansas City taxpayers $7,500,000 dollars in ambulance, hospital, police and judicial fees.
  • We need to partner with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other districts to come up with a coordinated plan of action.

GOLD LINE EXTENSION: OVERVIEW

Measure M passed in November, and plans for construction are moving ahead. The project is due to be completed in 2025.

Key Issues:

  • Balancing the need for parking with open spaces and not changing the Claremont’s signature visual appeal.
  • Many years of construction will cause disruption to traffic and local business.

Key Solutions:

  • Ensuring any plans take into account the existing architecture of the city. The community still has the opportunity to influence some small areas of the project.
  • Work closely with contractors and the Police Department to avoid traffic bottlenecks and keep sidewalks in front of businesses accessible.

PUBLIC EDUCATION: OVERVIEW

As the Claremont Educational Foundation (CEF) says in its Strategic Plan 2015-18, public funding of education in the State of California is simply not enough to match the level of quality we expect from Claremont schools.

Measure G just passed – a $58 million property tax bond which will be used to renovate, replace and upgrade 11 sites.

Key Issues:

  • In the US News 2016 High School Rankings table, Claremont High was rated a disappointing #331 in California.
  • A WalletHub analysis in 2015 found only 8 states in the U.S. performed worse than California academically.
  • The same survey found that only Indiana and Washington, D.C. schools were more dangerous than California schools.
  • Ensuring oversight and transparency in use of the Measure G funding.

Key Solutions:

  • Work with the CEF to help it build its network of initiatives and partnerships.
  • Work with non-profits that are pioneers in innovative education research. For example, the Clayton Christenson Institute has shown how traditional school districts improved student learning outcomes after implementing blended learning.
  • I make no apologies for saying this again – we need to work with our colleges. Harvey Mudd College is a thought leader in flipped classrooms, and they can be an important resource in improving our colleges.
  • Create additional police officer programs at schools.
  • Encourage administrative to have and to create a better “Teacher to Student” ratio.

Long-term Vision:

Funding for education is always an issue, and, even with the hard work of the CEF, Claremont is not reaching its full potential. Children are our future! The City Council must help fund more innovative educational programs that will improve our school system.

SENIOR PROGRAMS: OVERVIEW

Too many communities see seniors as a burden. I believe that our seniors are an incredible resource of wisdom and knowledge that we need to embrace.  We need to do greater in caring for our seniors.

Key Issues:

  • After retirement, many seniors feel they don’t have a direction or purpose in life.
  • Seniors can become disconnected from the community.
  • Many seniors struggle with technology.
  • Seniors feel nervous going out at night.

Key Solutions:

  • Work with our colleges to develop startup incubators where our seniors can be involved in new business ideas and offer the benefit of their experience.
  • A 4G (four generation) program, where we encourage interaction between the generations, in particular our teenagers and seniors can help our seniors navigate the world of technology, while in return our younger citizens can be mentored by seniors’ experience and have a friendly ear for their problems.
  • Create an inter-generational program where senior citizens go into the schools to work with and tutor students in different areas.
  • Provide more technology training for our seniors and give incentives to computer retailers to give in-store training. Work with our colleges and schools to develop appropriate curricula.
  • Start a program like the CNA online language exchange, in which seniors in retirement homes in Chicago helped young Brazilian students practice their English.
  • Start a “Walking Buddy” program, a program where elderly residents who feel nervous venturing out at night can find a volunteer to accompany them for a walk or a visit to the mall. This program should be incorporated into our Town & Gown Initiative.
  • Develop an extended matinee program for theater and other entertainment so seniors can choose to have a more active social life without having to go out at night. This could also bring about an increase in visitors from neighboring cities.

Long-term Vision:

Seniors who are active mentally and physically are healthier and live longer. Let’s keep our seniors busy and plugged into the community.

SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT: OVERVIEW

We need to preserve Claremont’s environment, unique character and sense of community. At the same time, we need to recognize that this is not possible without economic prosperity.

Key Issues:

  • Water shortages.
  • Dying trees.
  • Maintaining our open spaces.
  • Keeping Claremont’s heritage and special charm.
  • Increasing city revenue.
  • Developing Claremont’s economic base.

Key Solutions:

  • Work closely with and supporting the Tree Action Group and Sustainable Claremont (see Urban Forest Management).
  • Expand the number of school gardens to help our kids understand and connect with the land.
  • Ensure that new developments, particularly the Gold Line Extension, fit in with Claremont’s architecture.
  • Develop Foothill Boulevard into a business hub.

Long-term Vision:

In this high-speed, hi-tech world we live in, I think we need to step back sometimes and reflect on things through the eyes of a farmer. At the top of their mind is always the thought, “How can I preserve and improve this land before I hand it over to my children?” We don’t want to be telling our children, “Things were better in the old days.” We want to be telling them, “Claremont was never better than it is now.”

SANCTUARY CITY: OVERVIEW

We have wonderful mix of people in Claremont who contribute to the beauty of our city. People come to our country for many reasons, including economic opportunity or to escape from their homeland. A sanctuary city is one that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, instructing local law enforcement officials to not investigate the immigration status of suspects or prisoners in their custody. The thinking behind this is that, if people are not afraid of being deported, they will come forward and report crime, or be willing to testify as witnesses.

Key Issues:

  • In August 2016, Donald Trump vowed to strip sanctuary cities of their federal funding and since then has said he will make good on this promise.
  • As a sanctuary city, Claremont stands to lose $491,000 in federal funds and potentially even some school & police funding as well.
  • There is no federal legal definition of “sanctuary city,” as each local jurisdiction uses different language and details.
  • A sanctuary policy can be either written in law (de jure) or observed only in practice (de facto).
  • Several anti-sanctuary bills have been presented (and failed) in the House of Representatives and the Senate since 2011.
  • Being a sanctuary city doesn’t mean unauthorized immigrants can’t be arrested. Indeed many have been. The issue is whether they are handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation or released. Sanctuary cities instruct local law enforcement officials to not investigate the immigration status of suspects or prisoners in their custody.
  • The City of Claremont and its officers have a duty to serve the best interests of their citizens. If Claremont were to become a sanctuary city and, as a consequence, federal funding were to be withheld, we would be in a difficult legal position as councilmembers because of the funding Claremont would lose. How would we fill this hole in our budget?
  • Do we have the right to order Claremont’s law enforcement officers and city employees not to cooperate with the federal authorities? If they feel it is their duty to cooperate with ICE should we punish them if they disobey any sanctuary city directive?
  • The Supreme Court affirmed in Arizona vs. U.S. (2012) that only the federal government had authority over immigration enforcement.
  • Will a Sanctuary City be a band-aid or a long term solution?
  • If they drove outside of Claremont to a city that was not a Sanctuary City, would there be protection? Would that make them feel trapped in our city?

 

 Key Solutions:

  • I am honestly conflicted by this issue. I believe we have a duty to help those that are undocumented, as we are a country, state, and city built on helping our neighbours. Not to harbor those who may have committed a crime, but to help those without a criminal record on the road to citizenship, if the US allows them.
  • Claremont already does not force the issue and we don’t need to have the title to create a spotlight on us. In a sense, we are pretty much an undercover sanctuary city.
  • I am for creating a volunteer committee, using some of our resources as well as gathering volunteers to help those who are undocumented get documented permanently.
  • On balance, I feel I have to oppose Claremont officially becoming a sanctuary city on 2 grounds: the first is that, while not cooperating with ICE is legal, I feel it against the spirit of the law; the second is that I don’t think the council has the right to take a decision that causes such a negative financial impact on all the citizens of Claremont without a referendum. If becoming a sanctuary city means, we have to raise taxes or cut services I think it is only right for everybody here to vote on this matter.
  • However, this does not mean that we should turn our back on undocumented immigrants. Quite the opposite. I want real solutions to this issue. Local solutions for a national problem. Claremont City Council needs to create a committee to help undocumented immigrants to get their citizenship. To work with all our colleges to help people who came here for a better life to achieve their dream. To lead by example and show other American towns and cities that you can still help your fellow man and woman without the label “sanctuary city”. To the very small percentage of undocumented immigrants that have a criminal record I say, “Don’t come to Claremont because we will not offer you sanctuary.” But, if you are one of the vast majority of undocumented immigrants who are tired of moving from town to town, from job to job, every minute of every day looking over your shoulder in fear, I say, “Claremont will help you to become a citizen of this great country so you can share our blessings and good fortune.”
  • Further research and evaluations are being conducted in these areas. We value the importance of doing thorough research instead of just stating a non-researched solution. If you would like to talk to Abraham Prattella regarding any of these issues or if you have ideas and solutions, please email him directly at Abraham@Abraham4Claremont.com.

YOUTH PROGRAMS

With the rise in technology use among our younger citizens, there is a danger that they are losing their social skills. We need to look at programs that focus on developing ‘in-person’ as opposed to virtual relationships. 

Further research and evaluations are being conducted in these areas. We value the importance of doing thorough research instead of just stating a non-researched solution. If you would like to talk to Abraham Prattella regarding any of these issues or if you have ideas and solutions, please email him directly at Abraham@Abraham4Claremont.com.

NON-PROFIT ORANIZATIONS

I endorse non-profits because they create their own culture. We need to partner with more of them, looking at ROI in terms of value to the community, not just profit. 

Further research and evaluations are being conducted in these areas. We value the importance of doing thorough research instead of just stating a non-researched solution. If you would like to talk to Abraham Prattella regarding any of these issues or if you have ideas and solutions, please email him directly at Abraham@Abraham4Claremont.com.

CITY FINANCE & BUDGETING

The members of the finance team are doing a most creditable job to keep Claremont in the black. With their expertise, we can initiate more programs to help Claremont prosper.

  • We need to negotiate to bring in an additional car dealership south of the 10 freeway.
  • Create an additional parking structure just south of the railroad tracks with a bridge overpass to the current parking structure which will increase business downtown.
  • We need to finalize the new hotel coming to town.
  • Invite more businesses to come into the "soon-to-be" redeveloped Foothill Boulevard.
  • Keep property taxes low.
  • Create additional programs for those on fixed incomes to help meet their housing needs.
  • Generate more business by marketing our services and plans which will increase greater revenues.
  • Revisit and audit our current city contracts.
  • Create additional revenue streams.

 Further research and evaluations are being conducted in these areas. We value the importance of doing thorough research instead of just stating a non-researched solution. If you would like to talk to Abraham Prattella regarding any of these issues or if you have ideas and solutions, please email him directly at Abraham@Abraham4Claremont.com.

MUNICIPAL SEPARATE STORM SEWER SYSTEM (MS4): OVERVIEW

Cities are held responsible for ensuring acceptable water quality standards with respect to stormwater and non-stormwater discharges.

Key Issues:

  • The stringent guidelines put into place by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality board are an additional ongoing cost to the city.
  • The city, believing it had no other legal choice, is moving forward with implementation.

Further research and evaluations are being conducted in these areas. We value the importance of doing thorough research instead of just stating a non-researched solution. If you would like to talk to Abraham Prattella regarding any of these issues or if you have ideas and solutions, please email him directly at Abraham@Abraham4Claremont.com.