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November 7, 2004

Comments on General Plan Survey of Residents
by Susan Schenk
Chair, Friends of the Bernard Biological Field Station

Distributed to Claremont City Council, PlanningCommission, Architectural Commission, and GPAC

Pool of respondents:

Within the subgroup examined, the demographics seem close to those of the City. Unfortunately since the callers did not identify the survey as part of the General Plan, the pool would not include the many who dislike talking to strangers on the phone, especially for unclear purposes.


Most of the questions seemed worded to avoid undue bias, except those regarding the Bernard Field Station. It seemed clear from the consultant's response at the presentation that this was due to a lack of understanding of the issues.

Question 15 asks if the respondent is aware the 90 acres is College-owned, but fails to mention that all of it has been in academic use as a Field Station since 1976 even after the respondent answers. This means any respondent who did not already know this would likely be misled by question 16.

Question 16 states: "The Colleges have agreed to set aside approximately one-half of this land as open space to be used as an academic field station for the next 45 years. I'd like to read you two different opinions about the other half of the land that is not set aside as open space."

There are several problems with this.

  • First, the entire 90 acres (except for the infirmary portion) has always been "open space" in the general sense, and it is not zoned "Open Space", but "Educational".
  • Second, the entire area has been used as a field station for many years; unofficially from the 1960s to mid 70s and officially since 1976. Reduction to 45 acres would make it half the size it is now (see map on reverse).
  • Third, the lawsuit settlement defines the Field Station as the entire 90 acres, while the 45 acres that are set aside are called the "Temporarily Restricted Property". This portion is protected for continued use as an "academic field station" even if building takes place on the rest of the property. In accordance with the lawsuit settlement, the unprotected eastern portion of the Field Station continues to be used for "academic field station purposes" until the City has approved a Master Plan for all the undeveloped properties owned by CUC, as well as specific plans for the Field Station.

Question 16 alternatives: "After I read both opinions, please tell me which is closer to your own. The first opinion is that the remaining half of the land should be kept as open space because it cannot be replaced if it is developed."

The first opinion clearly implies that if the land is open space this conflicts with it being useful to the Colleges. However, it already is open space and has benefited the education of generations of Claremont College students.

"The second opinion is that the Colleges should be allowed to develop the remaining half of the land for potential campuses or related facilities as the Colleges and the City have always planned."

The second opinion suggests that the field station is not already part of the College campus or a College-related facility but, in fact, the land has been in educational use as a related facility since 1976. If it were not, then it could not be zoned educational. For this reason, the land owned by KGI and the part east of the Temporarily Restricted Property are still used as part of the Field Station.

Question 16: The lack of other alternatives.

Question 16 only allows the respondent to choose between the two extremes of eternal preservation and no preservation, and ignores any compromises. For example, one option might have been for the Colleges to agree to postpone building on the whole area for 45 years, or on the eastern portion for a shorter period. Another could have been for the Colleges to agree to build on their other undeveloped properties first. Another could have been to build an institution on a small portion of the Field Station and preserve the rest as part of that institution's campus.

Most people hope for a resolution that everyone can live with and have no desire to prevent the Colleges from continuing to benefit from using the land as a field station or even from some eventual building. The Colleges have every right to benefit from the land, just like any other landowner, and certainly the uses to which the land is put can change. However, it may not have been clear to the respondents that it is well within the powers of the City to restrict the type of use permitted within any zoning designation when it is considered in the best interest of the citizens.

Question 17: "To ensure permanent preservation of the land as open space, the City may need to purchase the land from the Colleges using money raised by a local tax measure."

Whatever its intention, the effect of this question would be to worry those who opted to preserve the land as open space by implying that the only way to do that is to buy it. There are ways in which it can continue to be both natural open space and useful to college students and to the community.

Conclusion: Since, for whatever reasons, questions 15-17 inaccurately describe the situation and the options, these survey results should not be included in or influence the General Plan. In addition, whenever the survey or a copy of the CCC October 20 comments is handed out, a copy of this comment sheet should accompany it to clarify the problems.

Map of the BFSThe left portion on this map of the Field Station is owned by KGI, the center portion is the Temporarily Restricted Property (TRP), and the right portion is the unprotected portion.

If the very narrow TRP were all that remained of the Field Station, noise, water, pesticide, air, and light pollution would affect all of it, and it would be even more subject to invasion by non-native species. Most of the rare coastal sage scrub ecosystem would disappear. There would be many fewer plants and animals, and species would be more likely to become locally extinct.

The very short Foothill frontage would eliminate most of the view of the mountains and change the character of the road. It would be more difficult to accommodate elementary school classes.

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