Village South and Economic Growth
The structural deficit will act like an albatross if we are unintentional with our city budget. The failure of Measure CR was a major setback for Claremont that left our city operating without a safety net. We must commend our city officials who balanced the budget this year, but now face the economic shocks from a global pandemic.
However, this presents the community with an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the Claremont Colleges. The Colleges are an economic beacon that attracts nearly 100,000 Claremont visitors annually. Many are parents moving their kids into their dorms and visiting our landmark sites, which produces roughly $400 million annually for the region. Furthermore, 20 percent of the city’s transit occupancy tax comes from the families and guest lecturers that stay overnight and visit the consortium each year.
This is why the Council will partner with the Claremont Colleges to deliver a post-pandemic economic recovery plan. We need our government and educational institutions to work side-by-side to craft a strategy that positions Claremont to prosper economically while serving the pedagogical needs of our college students.
In the recent budget cuts, the Claremont Chamber of Commerce lost $40,000 in funding, leaving a fixture in our community struggling to stay afloat. Our city’s ability to expand our regional reach to attract commerce is essential for an economic bounce back. This is why we propose investing in upgrading the Chamber’s gift card program. A complete rebranding of the card that can reach more merchants across the city is key.
Furthermore, we see a philanthropic opportunity to serve low-income individuals and families struggling to find employment. Through state and federal funding and local grants, we will set up a COVID-19 relief program that funds Chamber gift cards for families hit hardest by the COVID pandemic. Awardees would be able to use the gift card at any Claremont business that opts-in to the program. This will both invest in our struggling businesses and provide financial support for our neighbors in need.
We will expand on current financial literacy programs that are done by the Teen Activity and Senior Center to encourage families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to attend virtually. These services will be available to support families and seniors living on a fixed income to maximize their spending power and identify government assistance programs they can enroll in.
In 2014, we launched the first citywide civic hackathon to encourage our smartest and brightest college and high school students, business owners, and government officials to collaborate on creating technologies that can improve government delivery systems and reduce costs. We will reintroduce this idea in the first year on Council.
The Southern California Association of Governments has mandated that Claremont build an additional 1,703 units within seven years. The affordable housing landscape in Claremont is not ideal—the current wait for a 2-3 bedroom affordable unit at Courier Place, for example, is 5-7 years. That is unacceptable, and we must do better.
Unequivocally, we are for the expansion of affordable housing in Claremont and we will reassess our current inclusionary housing policies in the first year we are in office. To meet the housing crisis and to fully realize our potential to be truly inclusive, we must expand the number of affordable units required to build.
Village South has attracted a furious debate on the role that development will have in Claremont. Some argue that affordable housing will invite overdevelopment. We are not for overdevelopment. This is a community that understands affordable housing will invite working families from diverse backgrounds into Claremont. Our city population has skewed older and retired. We must recognize our CUSD classrooms will suffer from the lack of diversity and small class sizes and the public school funding that comes with it. Furthermore, affordable housing near the Village will invite young entrepreneurs looking for portable work spaces to partner up with our business and college community. Win-win.
This will invite more collaboration for Claremont residents to crowdsource ideas to attract businesses that break from the mold. We will push for immersion art activities you see in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where small to large storefronts are turned into art mazes and outdoor seating to watch old movies. This will encourage Claremont residents to disconnect from their mobile devices.
More affordable housing will lift a community struggling to cap rent costs and invite creativity and innovation into our storefronts across the city. We will encourage through the Village South expansion for more local markets that serve healthy foods and larger attraction sites that bring students, families, and seniors together for shared fun activities.