Aug 31 2015

The Piedmont Park Commission will meet on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue to consider setting a “neighborhood meeting” in October to discuss Dracena Park’s off-leash area, signage, and permission for off-leash dog usage of the upper grassy area.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Park Commission by neighbors concerned about unclear signage and the desirability of allowing dogs to run on the grassy area next to Dracena Avenue.

Bordered by tall redwood trees, Dracena Park’s canyon area between Dracena Avenue and Artuna Avenue has for decades been designated an off-leash area for licensed dogs under human command.

At the June Park Commission meeting a petition signed by 107 Piedmonters was presented noting inconsistent and confusing signage indicating on and off-leash areas.   Permission for off-leashed dogs to play at designated times on the upper grass area of Dracena Park was requested.

Dogs are sometimes seen catching frisbees or playing with other dogs on the upper grass area of Dracena Park; however, this is technically not an off-leash area.  If an animal control officer catches a dog on the grass, according to testimony, the fine is $300.

Commissioners requested more information on the issue, including a map of Dracena Park, potential issues, and availability of other off-leash dog areas in Piedmont.  One commissioner remarked that where dogs are allowed to run freely in a limited space, the result can be bare dirt.

Dog owners often schedule their trips to the various off-leash areas  to be with friends while exercising themselves and their dogs. Trips to the dog parks represent an important part of many Piedmonters physical and social activity.

Piedmont’s off-leash areas for dogs are limited to the dog park near Linda Beach Playgound, Main Park near the creek, Dracena Park canyon, and Blair Park on Moraga Avenue.

Blair Park on Moraga Avenue long designated as an off-leash area for dogs, receives limited use because of remoteness and lack of a fence to protect dogs from going into the heavily trafficked adjacent roadway.

The September 2 Park Commission meeting will be broadcast, on KCOM Comcast Channel 27 and live streamed through the City website. The meeting is open to the public for comment.

To view the June 2015 meeting when the Park Commission previously discussed the issue, go to the video record of the meeting here and start at the 40 minute point.

Aug 23 2015

District Facilities Master Planning Process, District Assistance with Litter in Main Park, Civic Center Parking Issues, City Facilities Planning – Space Analysis for the Recreation Building and Study of Options for Possible New Aquatic Facility,  Police Department Training “Response to Mass Casualty,” Holiday Book Drive, and Landscaping Issues are on the agenda for discussion. 

The School Board/City Council Liaison meeting will be held Tuesday, August 25, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. in the City Council Conference Room.  The meeting is open to the public for participation and comments. Because of construction work, participants must enter City Hall through the entrance to the Fire Department.  The meeting will not be broadcast.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015  4:00 p.m. 

City Hall Conference Room, City Hall,

120 Vista Avenue,

The agenda is below.

Open Forum: Public participants may speak to items not on the agenda – overall time limit – 10 minutes.

Public participants may address the following items as they come up on the agenda.

1. Briefing by District on Progress with the Facilities Master Planning Process

2. Discussion of Littering in Main Park and Opportunities for District to Assist with Control

3. Discussion of Civic Center Parking Issues

4. Discussion on City Facilities Planning:

(a) Space Analysis for the Recreation Building

(b) Study of Options for Possible New Aquatic Facility

5. Briefing on Police Department “Response to Mass Casualty” Training

6. Discussion of Landscaping Issues

7. Discussion of the Annual City/School Holiday Book Drive

8. Schedule of Future Meetings

(a) November, 17, 2015

(b) February 9, 2016

(c) April 26, 2016

Aug 17 2015

Piedmont’s Public Safety Committee published it’s new disaster preparedness manual within hours of the earthquake on Monday. Get Ready, Piedmont is a 50 page guide packed with information on preparing for and responding to, earthquakes, fires, landslides, and other emergencies. Chapters include: Vital Documents, Insurance, Living Without Power, Sanitation, Water and Food.

Using the Mill Valley, Belvedere and Tiburon guides as a model, the manual has been adapted to Piedmont. It is available online here and in several locations on the City website. Citizens are invited to print it at home in whole or in part to fit the needs of individual Piedmont families.

For additional information, please call Public Safety Committee Chairman Lyman Shaffer at (510) 780-6996.

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Aug 17 2015

Piedmonters were jolted this morning at 6:49 a.m. by a 4.0 earthquake on the Hayward fault, centered less than a mile from Piedmont. It occurred at a depth 3.3 miles according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It was followed by an 2.3 aftershock at 7 a.m.

Helicopters circled over Piedmont and the Hayward fault for 30 minutes. No damage to transportation corridors was observed.

The quake was centered near the junction of the 24 and 13 freeways. Seven aftershocks followed.

BART halted service until 7:24 am for track inspection, also finding no damage.

Berkeley residents reported “pots and pans flying” and pictures sliding on walls.

Read more.

Aug 13 2015

Piedmonters will be encouraged to sign up for A C Alert beginning in September 2015.

While the rest of the current contract with Code Red, Piedmont’s emergency notification system, runs through April 2016, the City will have free use of A C Alert through May 2016. Lisa Douglas, Police Department Support Services Manager, recommends a six month trial to compare the two systems side by side. The current cost of the Code Red program is $5,000 per year. It is anticipated that when Piedmont is asked to pay for A C Alert in future years, the cost will be considerably less than Code Red, since the platform will be in use across a number of communities.

The Alameda County Grand Jury Final Report 2012 – 2013 mandated the County to obtain a mass emergency notification system. A C Alert is the result of this mandate.

At present, cities in Alameda County use a variety of different mass notification systems, which do not interconnect. For example, Berkeley uses BENS, Berkeley Emergency Notification System.

Read the Alameda County Grand Jury Final Report 2012 – 2013.

Aug 4 2015

On Thursday, August 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue, the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee will consider items critical to Piedmont’s financial stability.  The public can attend and participate in the meeting.  There will be no audio or written record kept of meeting discussion or presentations. Additionally, no broadcast via the internet or cable TV will be available.

• Review the financial projections prepared for the City’s Annual Budget and provide comment on whether they provide for the long term sustainable financial future of the City. This review shall take place between the preparation of the budget in April and its approval by the City Council in June of each year.

• Review and provide comment on the Mid-Year Budget Reports.

• Provide a financial review of any new program commitments and funding sources in excess of $250,000 in any fiscal year.

• Periodically review and comment on the sufficiency of funding for long term obligations, including the Sewer Fund, Equipment Replacement Fund, Facilities Maintenance Fund and the City’s pension and retiree healthcare costs and funding.

• Periodically examine the need for the Municipal Services Special Tax (Parcel Tax) and recommend whether this tax should be continued, and if so, at what rate.  This charge shall be accomplished not later than eighteen (18) months prior to the expiration of the tax as set forth in Chapter 20B of the City Code.

Approval of prior meeting minutes are on the agenda:



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.”