Getting a whiff of caution in Claremont

by John Pixley


Claremont COURIER/Friday, November 4, 2016 6

Earlier this spring, I had a couple of

piercing rings removed. I might

have had it done at the Claremont

Tattoo Parlor but, according to the establishment’s

website, the Claremont Tattoo

Parlor only does tattoos—no piercings.

So I ended up going someplace in Upland, on Mountain

or Central Avenue, that does piercings as well as tattoos.

Besides, it was closer than the Claremont Tattoo


That’s right—a place in Upland that does tattooing

and piercings is closer than the Claremont Tattoo Parlor.

How can this be? How can an establishment in Upland

be closer to Claremont than a Claremont business?

No, it isn’t because the Claremont business is across

town while the Upland business is just across the border.

It’s because the Claremont Tattoo Parlor isn’t a Claremont

business. The Claremont Tattoo Parlor is actually

in Rancho Cucamonga.

The Claremont Tattoo Parlor is a Rancho Cucamonga

business because Claremont didn’t want to have any

business with it when it tried to get a space in the Village

some 20 years ago. The city decided to not have any

business with tattoo parlors and banned them. Well, they

eventually decided to allow such establishments in

Claremont a few years ago but only in industrial parks

or other such in-the-dark, out-of-sight-out-of-mind

places. I don’t even know if there is a tattoo parlor in

Claremont at this point, which is probably the point.

At the time, the debate over whether to let the tattoo

parlor locate in the arcade off Yale Avenue in the Village

went on for some weeks—well over a month, actually—taking

up time at two or three city council

meetings. City officials said the concern was over health

and safety issues. However, there was plenty of talk and

letters written about not wanting that kind of business,

not wanting the kind of people that kind of business attracts,

in Claremont, much less in our Village.

Never mind that, even at that time, it was plainly evident

many people who visited the Village and patronized

its businesses indulged in the services offered at a

tattoo parlor. Never mind that there were guys working

at Some Crust Bakery in the Village—just a block from

the proposed site—serving up its renowned, beloved

treats, whose arms and legs were covered with tattoos.

Never mind that, not many years later, I felt comfortable

getting my piercings and having them seen in public

in Claremont and even in the Village. (I had them removed

primarily because of the pain they were causing.)

It is all too easy to see that this kind of thinking is behind

the city council’s recent unanimous decision to ban

pot dispensaries in Claremont. The council took this step

before Tuesday’s election, in which Proposition 64 to

legalize the recreational use of marijuana as well as dispensaries

and various regulations and taxes in California

is likely to be approved. The measure permits local governments

to make such moves, banning marijuana businesses,

regulating cultivation and banning outdoor


In going ahead and taking this step to ban dispensaries,

but not personal use and cultivation of marijuana

in Claremont, the city council mainly cite legal and technical

concerns. The worry is that while legislation will

occur immediately after Proposition 64 passes, businesses

won’t be able to apply for licenses until January


In order to keep illegal commercial dispensaries from

opening here, possibly resulting in legal costs, and to

observe how the proposition will work in other cities,

the council concluded that a ban is best. As City Manager

Tony Ramos said, this “put[s] in safeguards to protect

this community and then allow this community, if

[Prop 64] passes, to have the appropriate dialogue about

what they would like to do with recreational marijuana.”

It is all well and good to take time out and have a ban

or moratorium while an “appropriate dialogue” takes

place. But is this what the ban is about? If it is, why is it

taking place now, just before recreational pot may be

legal, and when it has been a hot topic for several years

(at least)?

After all, medicinal marijuana has been around for

decades, but there are still no medicinal marijuana dispensaries

in Claremont. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised

when there are also no recreational marijuana

dispensaries in Claremont and, perhaps, a Claremont Pot

Shop opens up in San Dimas in a handful of years.

This would be too bad. If we stepped up as a community,

a truly “appropriate dialogue” could lead to a

creative, innovative, responsible way to deal with what

“to do with recreational marijuana.” Dealing with recreational

marijuana use like this, rather than banning dispensaries

or putting them in the shadows, when drinking

alcohol can cause at least and probably more damage,

would reflect Claremont’s caring, outgoing spirit.

Claremont can do better than to be so overly cautious

and ban the dispensaries that are coming probably

sooner than later, not to mention the ones already here.

This community can do better than the man who said he

feared for his daughter’s safety when there were people

camped out in front of city hall during the Occupy


Pitzer College, of all places, can also do better. The

student senate at the college, known for its progressive

outlook and activism, decided to withhold funding from,

and thus cancel, the student-run Reggae Fest, which was

slated for this month and has been going on annually for

14 years. The decision was based on concerns expressed

by some students and faculty that the festival, at which

a number of bands play and vendors offer goods and

food, is “cultural appropriation.”

The fear here is that, frankly, a bunch of white students

are taking on and exploiting the creative expression

of black artists. There is also concern that the

festival, which usually kicks off at 4:20, glorifies pot use

and, as one international student from Jamaica said,

“perpetuates the idea that Jamaicans (and Caribbean

people in general) just sit around and smoke weed all


The Pitzer Student Senate also decided to increase its

funding for the school’s Rockabilly Festival. Doesn’t

this exploit Latino artists and appropriate Chicano culture?

As a disabled, gay man, I’m all for people being sensitive.

I want people to take care and be gentle with each

other, including me. I understand the desire to be heard

and to protect.

But again, as with the tattoo parlors and pot shops, we

can be too careful and end up hidden from and scared of

each other. What good will ignoring reggae music do?

Will “trigger warnings” and having only black roommates

in college—an issue that arose recently at, yes,

Pitzer College—help in getting along in the world?

A wall keeping us in is almost as bad as a wall keeping

others out.

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