Aug 3 2015

The Piedmont Park Commission will meet on Wednesday, August 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

Agenda for the meeting:

Approval of June 3, 2015 minutes

Public Forum

Update on Linda/Kingston Triangle

Update on Hampton Sports Field

Update on Crocker Park Garage

Update on Highland Garden Walk

Monthly Maintenance report

Aug 2 2015

On Monday, August 3, 2015, starting at 7:30 p.m., the City Council will consider Community Hall parking lot restrictions, City Hall ground water routing into sanitary sewer system, and 5K race street closure.

  • Piedmont High School FallFest 5K race street closures on Saturday, September 26 to raise funds for the Wellness Center. Several blocks of Craig, Crocker, Farragut, Highland, Hillside, Magnolia Mountain, Park Way, Sea View, and Wildwood Avenues would be closed from 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.  Read more here.
  • Community Hall Parking Lot options: “The primary purpose of the lot is to serve the users of the Community Hall.” A one-year trial of new parking restrictions is proposed. The majority of the lot would be limited to two-hour parking. Five slots would be limited to 15 minutes from 8:45 – 9:30 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m. for drop off/pick up. Three slots would be reserved for the Recreation Department vans and five slots would be reserved for PUSD employees from 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. There would still be days when the entire lot would be closed for special events. Read more here.
  • Approve a League of California Cities Resolution urging the State to provide sufficient funding for local street and highway roadbed maintenance. Read more here.
  • City Hall sump pump rerouting for collected groundwater into the sanitary sewer $19,000. City staff has been working with the Alameda County Environmental Health Department since a leak was found in former fuel tanks in 1988.  Read more here.
Jul 22 2015

Transbay BART Tunnel Closing for Repairs and Maintenance –

Piedmonters should carefully plan transportation for any activities in San Francisco the first weekend of August. BART announced that the details of the shutdown are not yet finalized, but a bus bridge will be provided from the West Oakland Station to Embarcadero Station in San Francisco on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2. The crossover tracks between the West Oakland BART station and the Transbay Tube are more than 40 years old and need to be replaced.

For more information on the BART service interruption go to the following links:

Most up to date information:

Jul 21 2015

Property Line Between Early 20th Century Houses Raises Issues for New Owners –

On Monday, July 20, 2015, the City Council heard its first Planning Commission appeal for the year. The appellant was Alice Creason, who lives next door to Seamus and Fernanda Meagher.  The Meaghers’ application for 212 Bonita Avenue called for extensive remodeling of their newly purchased 1908 home owned for 57 years by Herbert and Marjorie Michels.

The application included increasing garage space to accommodate four cars, parking court, additions to the house, landscaping, redesigned frontage fence and gate, and a habitable space over the three car garage.

Most neighbors, including the appellant, thought the improvements to the home would be highly desirable. The garages, parking court, and large new habitable space presented issues for some of the neighbors, particularly Creason, whose privacy was impacted.

At the Planning Commission hearing on June 8 and prior to receiving their approval,  the applicants assured the Commission that their plans would all be on their property.  A week later Creason, relying on the surveyed property line, had fence installers on the job building a property line fence. The applicant physically prevented the fence installation by moving cars and trucks onto Creason’s property.  After which, Creason appealed the Planning Commission decision based on new relevant evidence regarding the property line.

City Attorney Michelle Kenyon advised the Council that they could not consider property line issues.  The applicants’ plans showed the surveyed property line.

After hearing from numerous speakers, the Council acted to deny the appeal, uphold the Commission’s findings, and add a new construction management condition to the approval.  Proposed by Councilmember Tim Rood, an architect and planner by profession, the following was added to the conditions required of the applicant. The following condition is similar to conditions required on other approved projects.

“Neighboring Property Owner Permission –

Should the execution of the project, including the demolition of the existing garage in its entirety, require access onto a neighboring property for demolition or construction, the applicant shall submit prior to the issuance of a building permit the signed written statement from the adjacent property owner granting permission for access onto his or her property for purposes of demolition or construction.  As an alternative to gaining the signed written permission of the adjacent property owners for access to accomplish the demolition of the existing garage, which must be demolished in its entirety, including its walls and footings, the applicant shall include documentation in the construction management plan that clearly identifies and outlines how the applicant can demolish the existing garage including its footings without accessing a neighboring property.”

Councilmember Bob McBain urged a harmonious resolution.

Vice Mayor Jeff Weiler, officiating at the Council meeting in the absence of Mayor Margaret Fujioka, stated, “Where I grew up this is called the opportunity to play, ‘Lets make a deal’.  I would encourage both parties that they each want something from the other party to try to figure out a way to obtain their desire by working with the other side.”

Jul 18 2015

Construction debris and removal dominate Council Agenda on July 20 –

The Piedmont City Council will meet Monday, July 20, beginning  with a Closed Session in the City Hall Conference Room at 7 p.m. for consultation with legal counsel on anticipated litigation. Any action taken will be reported in the following open meeting, expected to begin at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the public meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.


A public hearing on an appeal of a Planning Commission approval. Staff Report

Consideration of $339,745 purchase of Motorola radios for Police, Fire Department and Public Safety. Staff Report

Consideration of agreement with Green Halo on reporting of construction debris and removal according to California law regarding recycling.  Staff Report

First reading of City Code amendment on construction debris and removal. California law requires construction waste management plans for new construction or additions costing $50,000 or more. Staff Report

Jul 18 2015

The Police and Fire Pension Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, July 22 at 4 p.m. in the Council Chambers was cancelled on July 16. A new date for the meeting has not been announced.

Jul 9 2015

It is outrageous that the California Public Utilities Commission released its plan for changing electricity rates on Wednesday before the July 4th weekend, and approved it on Friday, giving no time for public comment, or even for public awareness of its action.  Current rates which reward energy conservation will be reversed, so low-usage customers will be paying higher rates while high-usage energy wasters will pay lower rates.  This would mean higher bills for about 75% of electricity customers in the coming years, while rate reductions would go to the top 5% of users.  That just ain’t right.

In addition, customers who have installed solar power will pay an additional surcharge “to keep the electric grid running.”  What about California’s goals for clean and sustainable energy?  These rate changes shove in the wrong direction.

Can Governor Brown reverse the CPUC’s bad decision?  Can the Democratic-majority legislature save us from this blunder?  Perhaps yes, if enough angry citizens let them know we aren’t gonna take this any more.

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jul 5 2015

Mixed Commercial/ Muliple Family Residential development to be presented –

On Monday, July 6 at 5 p.m., the City Council will hold a joint work session meeting with the Planning Commission to learn about a development proposal for 29 Wildwood Avenue from the project team. The site is the long established Shell gas station at the corner of Wildwood and Grand Avenues, owned by City Gateline, LLC. The 10,478 square foot lot is primarily in Piedmont, but 789 square feet are within Oakland. Like the former PG&E site, which was not developed as affordable housing, this site meets the state and ABAG criteria for affordable housing.

29 Wildwood elevations

29 Wildwood elevations


The Shell gas station would be demolished and replaced with a three story mixed use structure featuring retail space on the ground floor and two floors of three two-bedroom residential units on the upper floors. As proposed in concept drawings, staff notes that the project does not meet Piedmont’s parking requirements.

This unique pre-application presentation by a private owner on a planning matter at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission will not be broadcast or visually recorded. The special session will take place in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC), 403 Highland Avenue.

29 Wildwood floor plan

29 Wildwood floor plan


The public is invited to be present and comment on the proposed project.

Recent controversy centered on a City Council enacted zoning change allowing multiple family residences in the Commercial zone.  The change eliminated the long standing requirement permitting only commercial uses or single family residential dwellings in the Commercial zone.  The City Charter states zoning changes require Piedmont voter approval.

This is the first multiple family proposal under the new Commercial zoning change.

Jul 5 2015

Photos of the parade –

Piedmont’s annual celebration of July 4 started early with the Recreation Department’s Pancake Breakfast in the Veterans’ Hall, beginning at 8 a.m. By 10 a.m. most marchers had arrived and the empty chairs that had lined sidewalks along the parade route for several days were soon occupied.

Floats were created by: Havens 2nd Grade, San Carlos Avenue Neighborhood, Ramona-Ronada Neighborhood Kids, Bellevue & See View Neighborhood, and Friends & Neighbors of July 4th

Current School Board members and Council members rode in cars, and nine former Mayors walked together in a group. The Piedmont Community Band volunteers, after only one rehearsal, had prepared a significant repertoire for its march down Highland Avenue.

People lined the parade route

People lined the parade route

Piedmont's Community Band

Piedmont’s Community Band

Rare vintage cars  dominated the entries

Rare vintage cars dominated the entries


Piedmont Former Mayors


Zenith New Orleans Parade Band


Fire Department Vehicles

Ramona-Ronada Float

Ramona-Ronada Float

Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums

Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums



Bellevue and Sea View Float – Gruber Family and Friends



Bruce Wolfe as Uncle Sam

Jul 3 2015

On Monday, July 6, the Council will consider a full release of all claims against the engineering firm Robert Gray and Associates in exchange for $500,000.

Michelle Kenyon, Piedmont’s City Attorney recommends that the City Council authorize the settlement agreement with Robert Gray and Associates (RGA) in the amount $500,000. The City’s lawsuit originated in 2011 in connection with the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding project.

Agreement with RGA by the City Council is not the final step, as it would still have to be approved by the Superior Court of Contra Costa County.

Read the full report here

The City’s litigation against the additional engineering firm, Harris and Associates will continue.