Tuesday, July 21, 2009

DPOA Gets Extended / Council Update

Last night's city council meeting saw a huge turnout of support for the PBID (Property Based Improvement District) which is the ability of the downtown area to tax itself, which also meant that there would be a continuation of the DPOA (Downtown Pomona Owners' Association--the spending arm of the self-imposed tax).

Because it is a self imposed tax, the property owners need to vote (by amount of property owned) on whether to continue the tax. The results were over 77% in favor. [correction: Metro Pomona reports that it was 72% to 28%--sorry for the inaccuracy] This included the votes by the city who are also a major property owner downtown. Congratulations to the DPOA on their extension.


There was a presentation on plans by Metrolink to upgrade the North Pomona Station. The plans call for extending the platform from 14ft. wide to 22 ft. wide and extending the length from 500 ft. to 700 ft (enough to accommodate 8-car trains). In addition they will more than double the parking and improve the gating and safety at the main entrace to the station's parking lot.

Metrolink is also planning on building a new Control Center across Garey, as well as a storage and maintenance facility in an available warehouse next to the new Control Center.

As a regular train rider, I'm pleased that we will be getting needed upgrades to the North Pomona Station.

During Public Participation, the Van Allens and Larry Henry gave very impressive talks concerning the destruction of their homes. They were generous in their thanks of everyone who has shown them support and all of the assistance they've received from a wide range of individuals, organizations, businesses, and city government. Larry Henry was particularly eloquent in his praise of Pomona PD. However, he was less than generous with the LA County Fire Department's handling of the situation. He criticized them for not staging in the 1st Baptist parking lot adjacent to the rear of their property where he felt they could have gotten a handle on the fire. He also reported that fire officials would not enter the house to save his animals, nor would they go back down the side of the house (not yet engulfed) to release a dog from a kennel (a Pomona PD Officer was also asked and did it).

At the end of public comment, Councilmember Rodriguez (disclaimer, councilmember Rodriguez is an Emergency Medical Technician for LA County Fire) [Mea Culpa: Anon set me straight that councilmember Rodriguez does not work for LA County Fire. He works for AMR which works closely with LA County Fire in many communities throughout So Cal.] after extolling the work of the LA County Fire Departnment, asked the Fire Chief to answer these concerns. Evidently there was a 50 page report which was presented to the council, although the families had not seen it. It is a public document so I expect that we will have a chance to see it as well.

Basically, there was a recap of how the fire progressed, from a shed fire on Park, to a tree, to an apartment on Gordon, to a grass fire on Gordon on property adjoining the Henrys' to the Garden and Henrys' properties. The Chief explained that in the high wind conditions that they felt that it would be unsafe to drive equipment down the driveways to get to the rears of the property and that they decided that with the high winds and intensity of the fire that they would create a "line" at Garey. He expressed sadness at the lose of the homes and felt that everything that could be done was done to both stop the fire and ensure the safety of the firefighters and public.

The Appointment of Robert Torres to the downtown Vehicle Parking district was item 9 on the consent agenda. I decided to put in a speakers card, but to speak ONLY if the item was pulled by either a coucilperson or other member of the public for discussion. My thinking was that if no councilmember pulled the item, then they were all in favor and I was not going to be the only one who would speak (a sign of ultimate cowardice?). I then noted that assemblywoman Torres was in the audience. Since the didn't address any other issues, I assume that she was there to support her son.

While I didn't know if the item would be pulled, I was rehearsing in my head what my comments would be. I had decided that my opening would be: "I'm not here tonight to dash the hopes of a mother for her son, nor to discourage a young person who wishes to enter public service, but I have some questions concerning this appointment." However, since it would have been me against the world, I didn't have to make my address.

Having said that. I still question this appointment. I see no qualifications stated on his application which make this a good choice. AND, because he is the son of an assemblyperson and former mayor/councilperson, he should have come under even more scrutiny than anyone else, it comes with the territory. I don't feel qualified for such a position even though I have more education, more life experience, and spend a lot of time downtown. So is it unreasonable to ask what this person's qualifications are? If he is truly qualified and can add something to the commission, I'd be the first to be all for him. But we're not given even a glimpse. Councilman Rodriquez did not pull the item to espouse the man's credentials (something that might have pleased his mother in the audience) so we, the public, don't know anything about him except what he put on his application, that he has knowledge of how city government works and a desire to "provide a safe environment for the citizenry of Pomona." (I'm not sure how you do that on a parking commission, but good luck.)

If you have any questions on other items discussed at the council meeting, please leave comments and I'll try to answer. Now it's off to try and make a living.


Ed said...

Congrats to the DPOA and congrats to Mr. Torres.

It's inspiring to see young twenty-somethings throwing themselves into public service and I only wish we could convince more university students to do the same. Hopefully, the time commitment won't adversely affect the pursuit of your degree. Thanks for volunteering and good luck!

John Clifford said...

Yes, it is inspiring seeing 20 somethings going into public service. I'd just like to see candidates who have some qualifications. Again, if he has been taking traffic studies in college, or has been working at a job that entails studying parking and traffic. If he had been working at a business downtown and was aware of all of the issues surrounding the parking issues. Then I'd truly welcome him. However, we have no idea what his qualifications are. But then I guess we just need to trust our council to make good decisions for us without letting us know how they reached them.

Anonymous said...

For the record Councilman Freddie Rodriguez does not work for LA County Fire I googled it and he works for American Medical Response a private ambulance company a (big difference) So lets get our facts straight....

John Clifford said...

Anon, thank you for setting me straight on the AMR issue. I've updated the original post so readers don't have to slog through comments to see the correction.

I do not set out to intentionally mislead anyone. So actually do appreciate corrections when they're pointed out. It would be more appreciated if your tone were a little better, realizing that we're NOT news reporters but are human after all. Again, at least someone is reporting on what goes on. If we wait for the DB article (Sorry Monica I know you do your best) we'll be waiting for days and then only get what will fit in the space they have.

meg said...

Tone's a difficult thing to judge, and Anon's clarification could be just as easily interpreted as exhortatory as scolding.

Like John, I'm happy to get the facts straight.

Ed said...

Sorry John, but raking residents over the coals for lacking the credentials to volunteer for a position that doesn't require credentials may not be the ideal strategy to encourage others to volunteer.

I haven't even bothered to check who else submitted an application, let alone, volunteer to be on a city commission. My hats off to anyone who steps up and then follows through with the commitment. If he bails on attending meetings or doesn't appear prepared, then I'll question his appointment to the VPD.

John Clifford said...


Very respectfully, while I understand your willingness to accept someone who steps forward and actually appreciate that people actually do volunteer for these often difficult, under appreciated positions.

There are two things that I do question. One is: is this a good person available to represent the best interests of the city and the district from which they're being appointed? AND (sometimes) what is the motive/motivation for seeking the position. Again, I've seen people active in community affairs that seek to be on Cultural Arts or Community Life, I see people who are interested in property issues (they own property, they are business people) who seek planning.

Again, I've never suggested that Mr. Torres won't do a decent job, as with any position serving us, I feel compelled to ask if the best choice was made.

Meg, I think I would have been less sensitive to tone if an anon comment on another blog hadn't suggested that I was spreading false rumors. The "so let's get our facts straight . . ." just felt like more of the same.

Pride in Garfield Park said...

Perhaps we could prepare a letter to Mr. Torres formally congratulating him on the appointment and articulating resources he might find useful as he bones up on the parking and traffic issues facing Pomona. Not that I have any clue what those resources might be, but I bet the collective "we" could sniff out some recommendations. Of course, he presumably has the skills to sniff out these same resources.

calwatch said...

The issue is that they don't usually get those positions that quickly. For example, Ronald Chin is a bright young man who offered himself up for appointment to City Council to fill the Rothman seat. Saunders appointed him to Community Life Commission, which is a great start but not a stepping stone to higher office. I can't name one thing they do. Planning, VPD, and Historic Preservation have actual power. The others are feel good committees that look good on a resume but have little other purpose.

Goddess of Pomona said...

Very happy to hear about the DPOA!!!

John - Thanks for being there to (almost) ask the tough questions regarding Mr. Torres. Thanks also for explaining how it is these things come to pass.

Anonymous said...

I encourage everyone to check out the applications for others on the VPD and other commissions. Just follow the page to Torres' application and do a search. Wow! What a difference! Some have two pages or more of qualifications and reasons, compared to Torres'few lines. Was he even interviewed?

John Clifford said...

I'm sorry, where are the other applications posted? Not on the public documents under city clerk.

goddess of pomona said...

can anyone copy the applications and email them to me or meg to post publicly? I'd like to make the comparison as easy as possible.