I'll start with the mildly ugly and then jump head first into the really ugly.
First, the major rewrite of the city's rules governing landscaping and fencing is up for its second reading. In an earlier post, I rattled on about how intrusive this revision will be, and if I get the chance tonight or tomorrow, I'll take one more stab at trying to get the word out. If it passes in its current form and you find yourself under the code compliance microscope, I'd suggest you hold your Council member responsible. After all, I'd be surprised if even 1% of Pomona residents even know about the ordinance, so who else should we blame but our elected representatives. If you care to read it, here you go!
Next in the ugly list is the Public Hearing appealing the Historic Preservation Commission's denial of a Certificate of Appropriateness. Although I belong to Pomona Heritage, on the issue of trees is where I diverge from their publicly stated opinion. I don't believe that every tree in every yard should reach a protected status simply because it's trunk diameter exceeds 10 inches. I also disagree with taxing historic district residents $500 just to find out if their tree CAN be removed. If trees are so precious in this city, why not extend the tree preservation to the rest of the city? Is a mature tree in south Pomona less beneficial to that Pomona neighborhood? Won't future generations from those neighborhoods also benefit from a mature tree canopy if we take the time today to plant trees and also protect the larger specimen trees.
- The particular case before the City Council has to do with several trees in the backyard of a home on McKinley. According to the report, one of the trees is a mere 36 inches from the house and the residents were denied permission for removal. The residents were also denied permission for the removal of several queen palms that are running over and under electrical lines. As stated, all these trees are in the resident's backyard. This lot is not overly large and one carefully chosen shade tree to replace this hodgepodge could provide shade for generations of homeowners. I should also point out that even the city arborist suggested removal, so the city is looking at potential litigation if they deny the appeal and an individual is injured or the structure is damaged. Just as a reminder, this resident has now paid $500 to the city and achieved nothing. This $500 could have gone to a mortgage payment, a car payment, groceries, or to buying clothing. I wonder, if given a vote, how many historic district residents would support tree protection if they knew it would cost $500 just to ask permission. Hmmmmm.
Okay, now for the really ugly. If you didn't know, the recently deceased, long-time elected representative from Pomona, Nell Soto, had been an advocate of the Safe Routes to School program for many years. This program makes funds available for cities to encourage children to walk or ride their bikes to school. I've written posts about biking and traffic safety in the past and will have a few more during bike-to-work week, so I'll limit my discussion to what I find particular egregious in this City Council agenda. In Item 5, we find several projects that the public works department would like to submit for possible funding through the Safe Routes to School program. Of the 5 projects initially identified, three have been considered to be a higher priority and therefore have become the basis for this request. The project I find disconcerting (well, downright ugly) is the proposal to close off Monroe ave at Orange Grove as a higher priority project than traffic alterations in front of Yorba Elementary and Garey High School. How a city can justify using this money for the closure of Monroe when it's intended for encouraging children to walk or bike to school is beyond even the greatest leaps of my imagination? At a time when childhood obesity is at record levels and in a community where forcing parents to drive their children to school creates a financial burden on families, city employees believing a project that will benefit only a handful of residents in one of the historic districts is a higher priority than the two other identified projects should be raising more than a few highbrows on the city council. Here is the school boundary map for PUSD and you can see that it's unlikely to benefit few if any Lincoln Elementary students and in fact, this closure will probably encourage more drivers to cut through other residential streets (particularly Garfield), making the Lincoln Park neighborhood less conducive to pedestrian and bike traffic. If you take the time to drive by our city's schools, I think even the most ambivalent could generate a list of projects that will encourage child safety more than the closure of a side street next to the freeway.
I'm not opposed to closing the street, but when we're requesting money that is intended to benefit children, let's actually put the interest of the city's children first. Sorry for venting, but I felt nauseous after reading this agenda item late Saturday night. Please take a few minutes to send a message to the city that the residents do care and we are watching.
Items I still need to read:
Redevelopment Agency Annual Report