CLAREMONT - City Council members have again pinpointed water issues as a top priority for 2013.

This past weekend, council members came up with their priorities, which includes economic development and financial sustainability as well as local water issues.

"I would recommend that we move Golden State Water to a priority since that is going to be a focus of our attention for this year," Councilman Sam Pedroza said.

City officials have been at odds with the San Dimas-based water company for some time after it asked the Public Utilities Commission to approve a rate increase of more than 24 percent for 2013 and additional increases in 2014 and 2015.

A negotiated settlement resulted in Claremont's 11,000 customers and ratepayers receiving a 15.1 percent rate hike in 2013, 2 percent more in 2014 and 1.8 percent in 2015.

In November, Claremont officials sent an initial offer of more than $54 million to purchase the company's local assets, but Golden State officials have said no.

Additionally, the council has also determined policies for 2013 of bike and pedestrian safety, a healthy communities model, long-term management of urban forest, pedestrian friendly policies, public employee retirement system and the Wilderness Park master plan.

The park's master plan includes an access and parking plan after residents said the two should be combined.

"We've seen the parking issue being dealt with piecemeal. We would prefer to have this be part of the master plan," said Lissa Petersen of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy.

Council members, who met about the issues Saturday, also discussed the potential expansion of the Wilderness Park, including the north terminus of Mills Avenue, specifically the expansion of the lot at the northeast corner of Mills Avenue and Mt. Baldy Road; the west end of Pomello Avenue; and the north end of the Claraboya neighborhood.

The neighborhood would include Mountain Avenue, Via Santa Catarina and Highpoint Drive.

In addition, there is a possible addition of 46 perpendicular parking spaces on the west side of Mills between Pomello and Mt. Baldy to be reviewed by the Traffic and Transportation Commission and traffic surveys conducted to document spillover parking from metered parking lots on north Mills.

Metered parking lots on Mills should be open in February, city officials said.

There will be parking studies of entrance areas in May and June and the results and recommendations will be sent back to council in September.

But City Manager Tony Ramos asked for some time to bring the combined Wilderness parking and master plan item back to council saying the process putting together the parking plan had cost more than $500,000.

"We only want to do this once. We may have to update it in the future and it may take a little longer but it will be done right," he said.

Council members also talked in detail about the need for a public safety facility despite a lack of funding available, the renaming of Cahuilla Park and a decision to not pursue becoming a charter city.

wes.woods@inlandnewspapers.com

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@ClaremontNow