Thursday, May 20, 2010

goodbye, historic Pomona, it's been nice knowin' ya

I just finished reading through the city manager's budget recommendations that Anonymous just posted in the comments to John's comedy club report, and it's a doozie. Go read it now -- I'll wait.

There are some things that make perfect sense to me, like reducing graffiti removal, deferring median maintenance, and not keeping the cop-chopper up in the air circling over my house when there's no crime underway/reported (for a savings of $132k). All of these cuts will have negative effects on the city, but they seem easy enough to beef back up in better times (assuming we ever have better times).

The library cuts -- $800k worth -- pain me enormously. If these proposals are accepted, we'll be going from 18 positions to 10, with many of our favorite library employees being cut to halftime. The library would be open only four days a week, and they'd close the computer lab (which, as someone mentioned in the April 19 city council meeting, is the only place to get on the internet for free in the city). It's enough to make you weep.

The budget proposal also pretty much does away with the historic district entirely, leaving only the fancy signs. No more in-progress violation support (whether it's stripping materials from foreclosed homes, unpermitted construction, or illegal tree-trimming; greatly-reduced enforcement overall.

Moreover, the report recommends the dissolution of the Historic Planning Commission (among others), and that is what I interpret as the city manager's complete dismissal of the historic districts. Without code enforcement or the HPC, tearing down your Craftsman bungalow and building a zero lot-line McMansion in its place will be officially in violation, but there won't be anyone to do anything about. At least, not unless the neighbors go vigilante. Want to cut down the city-owned sweetgum or linden tree in front of your house? The city says, "Go right ahead!"

There are many terrible cuts recommended in the budget report. Most departments are getting it in the neck, the police most of all (from what I can tell). There will be many negative effects for our fair city, on nearly every level and for nearly every citizen. Over and over, the budget report describes the impact as reduced property values and increased crime.

I am not saying that historic preservation is more important than library services, after-school programs for kids, or police protection; it's not. But the historic districts are what drew me and K. to Pomona in the first place, and several of our friends have followed us here for the same reason. If historic preservation becomes a thing of the past, the city will lose cultural diversity and become even more the cesspool that the rest of the county thinks we are now.

Claremont Insider used to call us Poor-Moana, and I -- ever the optimist -- thought that was unfair. But not any more. Our city is poor, and I'm moaning.


Ed said...

Wow, I wonder how people feel about the proposal to increase the utility tax now?

From the description it sounds like the library computers will just be moved upstairs.

The elimination of the commissions didn't include any cost savings, so I wonder about the rationale. City commissions allow the public to be involved in the management of the city and with the city facing employee reductions, perhaps rethinking a commission's role vs elimination is the prudent choice.

I'm not a huge fan of the squeaky wheel approach to code compliance and question the economic efficiency of it, so I don't really share Meg's view that the reduced response time will be that detrimental to the historic districts. Dismantling the Historic Preservation Commission is more problematic, and as I indicated, I'd advocate for tweaking the procedure/role (if possible), rather than eliminating public input.

Just curious, how many of the blog readers are currently volunteering at the library. I'm not.

The fire department is really gnawing at me.............(to be continued).

We need revenue folks. Shop Pomona!

Pride in Garfield Park said...

I don't volunteer at the library, but would do so gladly (Ms. Lous, let's talk). I shop Pomona whenever I can (sure wish we had a Trader Joes and a Target). And, I'm all for paying higher utility rates if that delta will be used responsibly.

Pride in Garfield Park said...

Stew told me about a strategy touted by some successful Weed & Seed grantees in other states to use community prosecutors to get people to actually comply with codes and to pay fees associated with violation of these codes.

Might we do something like this in Pomona as a way to offset the costs of the code compliance office? People violate codes around here all the time; might a community prosecutor help get the city the bucks it is due?

calwatch said...

That's unfair to state that the HPC's functions would go away. Likely those functions could be transferred to the Planning Commission or City Council, who I'm sure would be happy to deal with these issues. Usually, they put out a doomsday budget, based on ceteris paribus assumptions on wages and benefits. Will the unions accept a bigger pay cut, for example. Maybe we zero out the council's discretionary budget, to share the pain. etc.

Anduhrew said...

historic preservation committees and things like that aren't typically the groups that enforce codes. they typically make grander decisions typically in terms of restoration or creating proposals to include buildings or boundaries(which end up on the planners' table anyways) or changing Historic preservation codes. the codes that are already in place likely won't be changed and are enforceable by the code compliance officers. I Don't think the historic districts are going to suffer much. but it may take some volunteering and community based enforcemont to make sure the neighbors are staying up to code.

Anduhrew said...

how many times can i typically say typically in a paragraph

Skrip said...

Oh no, not good. Here we go, we are on our way of becoming the new South Central L.A. (of bad times).

Like certain craftsman homes (gorgeous but left to rot) in South Pomona with no historic district, there will be stucco crap houses right next to once beautiful homes. Not to mention increase in garbage renters, crap cars, dogs, trash, and weeds/dead lawns.

Of course, this could be a bit of an overreaction. When neighbors take to themselves, areas or I should say streets, can still be preserved. The key is Code Enforcement, yes, calling in on violating homes.

On the other hand, I've seen this happen too many times in Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs. Once proud lovely towns are now pure sh*t and there is no hope of them EVER going back to what they once were.

Oh Pomona, please dont let this be. Sure we have bad parts of town, but we also have some great parts and people who take pride in their homes/community.

It's late, I'm tired and this probably doesnt make much sense.

Anonymous said...

Skrip -

you are so way over reacting. The districts are not being removed, historic codes will remain intact, there will still be code enforcement officers.

And youre labeling of "garbage renters" just makes us think the world of you :)

Skrip said...

Yes Anonymous, you are correct, I did overreact, which I felt I was doing anyways that late. And I didnt mean every renter is garbage, just that it could lead to more of the bad type.

That's all... I dont care what the world thinks of me really. :)

I love the world anyways!

Anduhrew said...

I'm a renter. but a big part of that is because EVERY house i've put an offer on has received a cash offer and then it goes up for rent a month later. I can't afford the more expensive and available houses. and i can by no means make a cash offer. the rich get richer and i still rent.