Aug 25 2014

The Public Safety Committee (PSC) will meet on Thursday, August 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will not be broadcast, video recorded, or live streamed, however the public is welcome to participate and address issues of interest.  The Committee has come up with many innovative suggestions on how to increase public safety awareness in Piedmont.

AGENDA INCLUDES:

- Discussion of Harvest Festival Participation 

- Discussion of Planning for Piedmont Night Out – Piedmont has never held “National Night Out” neighborhood public safety gatherings.  October is being discussed as a possible month when Piedmonters would actively participate in a Piedmont Night Out.

- Update on School Liaison Activities

- Update on Neighborhood Meetings 

- Discussion of Managing Solicitors

PSC Committee Members: Scott Fitzgerell, Police Chief Rikki Goede, Michael Gardner, Ryan Gilbert, Garrett Keating, Sue Lin, Fire Chief Bud McLaren, Andrea Swenson (School Board Represenative), Lyman Shaffer, Chair

Council Liaison:  Mayor Margaret Fujioka 

Aug 17 2014

Piedmont’s Draft Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan (PBMP) will be presented to the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education.  The meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 20, at 7 p.m., in the City Hall Council Chambers (120 Vista Avenue). The presentation to the PUSD Board will focus on improvements for creating “Safe Routes to School” to encourage Piedmont youth to walk or bike to school. The meeting will be broadcast on Channel 27, recorded, and live streamed on the City website. 

Draft Piedmont Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (This is a large document, which may take several minutes to download)

Appendices: Comments received through the two online surveys on the needs assessment and on the improvement options

More information about the PBMP is available from Kate Black at kblack@ci.piedmont.ca.us or at (510) 420-3063. To be added to the email list for the project, contact Janet Chang at janetchang@ci.piedmont.ca.us or at (510) 420-3094.

Aug 17 2014

Increases will be 4.57 % in 2015 and 5 % in 2016.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC ) unanimously approved Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) request for increased rates. PG&E rates for all customers will increase 4.57 percent in 2015 and 5 percent in 2016. (PG&E had asked for rate increases of 5.9 percent for 2015 and 6.1 percent for 2016.)

The initial increase begins September, 2015.  PG&E estimates the average residential customer who pays $129 per month for its gas and electricity bill will see an increased charge of $7.50 per month next fall (2015).

PG&E service area covers over a 70,000 square mile area stretching from Eureka to Bakersfield with 15 million people.

CPUC released the following statement on the increase:

“After reviewing the findings of independent safety consultants and others, the CPUC adopted revenue requirements that balance the priorities of safety and reliability with just and reasonable rates. PG&E requested a 17.5 percent increase ($1.16 billion) over the currently approved revenue requirement for 2014-2016. The CPUC reduced PG&E’s revenue increase request by $700 million, authorizing an increase of $460 million, which is an increase of 6.9 percent over the currently authorized revenue requirement. The decision approved attrition increases of 4.57 percent for 2015 and 5 percent for 2016. PG&E requested attrition increases of 5.9 percent for 2015 and 6.1 percent for 2016.

Rate cases for PG&E are conducted in three-year cycles. For the first time in a rate case the CPUC retained outside experts to evaluate risk assessment, risk mitigation, programs and policies, as well as PG&E’s corporate policies, goals, culture, and the efforts being made to bolster PG&E’s system safety and reliability. The findings of the consultants, along with those of the CPUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates, TURN, and other intervenors were important factors in determining the appropriate level of funding to authorize.

Today’s decision authorized programs to increase the safe operation of PG&E’s system in a cost-effective manner and hold PG&E accountable for the safe operation of its system. The programs focus on infrastructure upgrades and improvements and include the creation of a Gas Distribution Control Center to provide real-time visibility and remote control of dynamic gas pressure and flows within PG&E’s system; tools to meet a superior standard of safety in detection and repair of gas distribution pipeline hazardous leaks; the acceleration of the replacement of aging distribution pipeline; tools to reduce electric outages and mitigate wildfire risk; and the replacement of poles previously scheduled for replacement in prior years (a reduction was adopted, however, to assign a share of responsibility to PG&E shareholders, rather than ratepayers, for pole replacement deferrals previously funded by ratepayers).

The CPUC’s decision also includes requirements and rate-making mechanisms that will increase the accountability of PG&E and help ensure that PG&E is using the increased revenues prudently and effectively, as well as several requirements that will improve the showing on safety and risk in PG&E’s next rate case.”

Aug 11 2014

After an extensive recruitment and selection process, long time Piedmont resident Sara Lillevand has been selected by the City Council to be Piedmont’s new Recreation Director.  Lillevand has two children in the Piedmont schools.

City of Piedmont Press Release

CITY COUNCIL SELECTS SARA LILLEVAND

AS RECREATION DIRECTOR

Following a rigorous recruitment process, the City Council has selected Sara Lillevand as Recreation Director of the City of Piedmont. Ms. Lillevand was chosen unanimously by the Council from a field of 50 candidates. Her formal appointment will be made at the City Council meeting of September 2, 2014.

This selection follows interviews of five highly qualified candidates by a City Council subcommittee and the City Administrator, a panel of residents, and the City’s management team.

Following that process, the candidate field was narrowed to two, who were then interviewed by the full City Council. Ms. Lillevand’s selection by the City Council was unanimous and all agreed that she will be a great asset to the community and the Recreation Department.

Ms. Lillevand was educated at Stanford and U.C. Davis, and holds a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Boston University. For the past 14 months, she has served as the Director of Athletics for California State University East Bay. Prior to that she served as Associate Director of Athletics as well as Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Kinesiology Instructor.

Prior to joining CSU East Bay in 1997, she worked at UC Davis and Wellesley College as Assistant Basketball Coach and at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford as a Physical Therapist. Ms. Lillevand grew up in Piedmont and is a graduate of Bishop O’Dowd High School.

“We are pleased that we had such a highly qualified pool of candidates, in particular Ms.Lillevand,” said Mayor Margaret Fujioka. “I would like to express my appreciation to members of the Council subcommittee, Councilmembers Bob McBain and Teddy Gray King; as well as the members of the interview panels including Recreation Commissioners Nick Levinson and Kim Hebert, former Recreation Commissioner Dick Hunt, PHS Assistant Athletic Director Megan Hernandez, and Amy Wooldridge, Recreation and Parks Director for the City of Alameda.”

“Each of the finalists was highly qualified,” said City Administrator Paul Benoit. “Piedmont would have been well served with each of them, however Ms. Lillevand distinguished herself among this outstanding group.”

“I am honored to have been selected as Piedmont’s Recreation Director,” Ms. Lillevand said.

“Piedmont is a wonderful community with an excellent Recreation Department and I look forward to serving the City.”

For further information, contact City Administrator Paul Benoit at 420-3040.

Aug 10 2014

After months of outreach, surveys, community involvement, and meetings, Piedmont’s Draft Pedestrian and Bike Plan will be considered by and presented to the  Piedmont Planning Commission at their Monday, August 11 meeting starting at 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  The meeting will be broadcast via Channel 27 and live streamed from the City’s website.  A retrievable video recording will be made of the meeting.


Dangerous crosswalk on Moraga Avenue

Dangerous crosswalk on Moraga Avenue

Get involved—these are your streets and sidewalks. Your voice is important!

After a months-long planning process, the Draft Piedmont Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan is now available for public review and comment. The Draft Plan outlines the recommended pedestrian and bicycle improvements to be carried out in Piedmont over the next ten years. The Draft Plan can be accessed at the following links:

Draft Piedmont Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (This is a large document, which may take several minutes to download)

Appendices: Comments received through the two online surveys on the needs assessment and on the improvement options

The Draft Plan will be presented at the August meeting of the Planning Commission. The meeting will be held onMonday, August 11, 2014 at 5 pm in the Council Chambers in Piedmont City Hall (120 Vista Avenue). At the meeting, the City’s consultant on the plan will summarize the contents of the Draft Plan and be available to answer questions. The public is invited to the meeting to learn more about the Draft Plan and to provide any comments.

To submit comments on the Draft Plan to the Planning Commission, please either email your comments to City Planner Kate Black at kblack@ci.piedmont.ca.us or mail them to 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 by Friday, October 3.

Additionally, the Draft Plan will also be presented to the Board of Education of the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD). The meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 20, at 7  p.m. also at the City Hall Council Chambers (120 Vista Avenue). The presentation to the PUSD Board will focus on improvements for creating “Safe Routes to School” to encourage Piedmont youth to walk or bike to school.

The CEQA document will be posted online and available for public review by the September 8 Planning Commission meeting. The CEQA document and any revisions to the Draft Plan will be presented at this meeting, including possible changes resulting from Commission and resident comments.

This Final Plan and CEQA document will be presented again to the Planning Commission at their October 13 meeting, and subsequently to the City Council for official adoption by the City.

For more information about the PBMP, contact Kate Black at kblack@ci.piedmont.ca.us or at (510) 420-3063. If you would like to stay up to date on the development of the plan, contact Janet Chang at janetchang@ci.piedmont.ca.usor at (510) 420-3094 to be added to the email list for the project.

The PBMP is being funded entirely through a grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC; www.alamedactc.org) and through the City’s existing funds for pedestrian and bicycle improvements (pass-through Measure B funds), also distributed by the Alameda CTC.

Information above provided by the Piedmont Planning Department
Uneven sidewalks especially challenge young and old pedestrians

Uneven sidewalks especially challenge young and old pedestrians

 

Aug 5 2014

 -  Wednesday,  August 6,  CIP Review Committee will once more meet at 5:30 p.m. in the small City Council Conference Room to discuss possible projects eligible for Measure WW Funding.  -

~~ Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) ~~

The CIP Review Committee plays an important role in recommending to the City Council many of Piedmont’s expensive capital improvement projects.

A long laundry list of projects ranging from curtains to safety matters have been discussed.

At previous meetings, interest focused on needed improvements particularly to Hampton Field, where water and sand has harmed the tennis courts presenting dangers and the outfield is rendered useless during wet weather. The large cost of Hampton rehabilitation would likely require phasing of the work.

Funds derived from the East Bay Regional Park District’s voter approved WW Bond measure can be used by Piedmont for specific projects. (Read about the project list.)  Piedmont’s entitlement is $575,000.

The CIP Review Committee meeting is open to the public.  However, The Brown Act meeting notice requirement appears to have been breached as time, date and location of the meeting was announced but timely notice of the meeting agenda was not distributed to aid citizens interested in participating in the meeting.  Prior CIP meetings have been held in locations outside of general public view. None of the Committee’s meetings have been broadcast or recorded.

The majority of the members on the CIP Review Committee are composed of those from the Park Commission or Beautification Foundation. There is no active representation from the Planning Commission or the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee.

Following an interview process, four members of the seven member CIP Review Committee were appointed by the City Council.  They are: John Cooper (Chair)Ryan Gilbert (member of the Public Safety Committee), Bobbe Stehr (former member of the Planning Commission and member of the Piedmont Beautification Foundation) and Jamie Totsubo (member of the Park Commission).

Piedmont Garden Club’s Piedmont Beautification Foundation appointee:  Michelle Winchester (President of the Piedmont Beautification Foundation)

Park Commission representative: Sue Herrick (Chair of the Park Commission and member of the Piedmont Beautification Foundation)

Recreation Commission representative: Nick Levinson (Chair of the Recreation Commission)

City Council liaison observer: Vice Mayor Jeff  Wieler alternate: Councilmember Teddy King 

Staff to the CIP Review Committee are:

 Chester Nakahara (W) 420-3061 & Mark Feldkamp (W) 420-3064

 

1 Comment »
Aug 5 2014

- Where does it all go?  What should be recycled?  What should be composted? - 

League of Women Voters View Recycling and Compost Operations

On a recent tour of Republic Services’ recycling and compost operations in the city of Richmond, members of the Piedmont League of Women Voters got a close-up look at the massive and complex business of sorting, storing and transporting our discarded cans, bottles and paper and composting our food and garden waste. The group also learned first-hand what should and should not go in recycling and green-waste bins.

Peter Nuti, a 30-year Republic Services employee and currently Municipal Relations and Contract Manager, led the tour, patiently answering dozens of questions. Republic Services acquired Piedmont’s former contracted waste collection firm, Richmond Sanitary Services, in 2001 and has had a waste collection contract with Piedmont since 2001.

The company, headquartered in Phoenix, is the second largest waste collection firm in the U.S. First on the tour was a cavernous, high-ceiling, aluminum warehouse, where all curbside recycling trucks unload their daily collections. The loads are metered and transferred to a conveyer belt that screens and successively drops out garbage, paper, bottles and cans. Cardboard and non-recyclables are pulled out by hand. Larger plastic containers, those labeled PET #1 and #2, go to a different sorter and ultimately are sent to a processor to be converted into a raw material. The plastic is shredded, washed and made into products, such as carpet fibers. The final separator screens and breaks up glass, and a “waterfall” sucks up the smallest pieces of debris. Mountains of paper are stacked in the warehouse by forklift operators, packed onto pallets for transport to the port of Oakland and from there most likely shipped to Asia to be remade into new paper products.

According to Peter Nuti, there are strong markets for newspapers, cardboard and PET #1 and #2 plastics. “We have to close the loop,” he said, “by buying recycled products and products with less packaging.”

From the warehouse, Mike Davenport, President, Davenport Securities whose company provides security for both Republic Services’ operational sites, drove League members to the composting area, located high above the Bay, atop a 356-acre, capped landfill. Surrounded by 2-story hills of maturing compost, Nuti explained the process of transforming food and green waste into reusable compost. Through various stages, the mountains of waste are separated and ground into small pieces of similar size and texture.

In one critical stage, pieces of plastic, the bane of compost, are separated out by hand. Wood products, such as plywood and wood pallets, are ground into chips for erosion control products or shipped to co-generation electric plants farther north for fuel. During the 90-day composting process, the material is monitored daily to ensure it is not overheating and tested periodically for contaminates such as pesticides, chemicals, or salt. The final compost product is sold wholesale by the cubic yard to wineries, farmers, and the general public ($12 to $18 per cubic yard). The compost dregs that contain plastic and cannot be sold are used as cover at Republic Services’ Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg.

Republic Services produces its own electricity from methane gas released by garbage in the closed landfill and uses reclaimed water collected during the rainy season and wastewater from Contra Costa County Waste Water District The company is working on a new system to collect “industrial organic waste” (food waste) from restaurants and grocery stores to compost.

Asked about the economics and environmental costs of recycling, Nuti acknowledged that recycling processes do require more energy, water and labor than burying waste in the ground. “But, he said, “Recycling paper saves a lot of trees; recycling aluminum, for example, saves 90 percent of the energy required to produce aluminum from bauxite. And composting enables us to recover and utilize the nutrients from the green/food waste.

Furthermore,” he said, “with the high cost of buying, permitting and operating a landfill, it’s important to us to recycle everything we possibly can.” The view from the compost facility looks out on the barren hills of the vast Richmond landfill created by garbage collected from the 1940s until September 2006.

Recycling and Green Waste Tips from Republic Services:

• The less paper in green waste, the better for composting.

• Some paper plates and utensils that are labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” are not what they claim and not worth buying. Better to purchase old-fashioned paper plates.

• Badly soiled paper plates, pizza boxes and other such paper products can go in the green waste bin. If they are relatively clean, they should go in the blue recycling bin.

• Not all compost pail liner bags are biodegradable, as claimed. Use green “Bio Bags” (available at Piedmont Grocery, Berkeley Bowl) newspaper or a paper bag for pail liners.

No need to rinse cans and bottles before placing them in the recycling bin. Put plastic bottle caps back on the bottles.

Milk cartons and ice cream cartons have interior plastic linings and are not compostable. They should go in the blue bin.

• Better to buy milk in plastic containers that can be recycled instead of cartons.

Juice pouches are not recyclable. Do not buy them!

• Large, plastic containers, such as for yogurt, are easier to recycle than small ones.

• Combine all junk mail and shredded paper into a paper bag for recycling. No need to shred paper for privacy purposes.

Plastic bags should be combined, “bag in bag in bag,” and tightly knotted before putting in recycling bin.

• Used aluminum foil should be balled into larger balls and put in recycling bin.

Do not put auto parts, garden hoses, or barbecues in the recycling bin! (Yes, people do!)

Think big! Combine like items together into larger packages to recycle.

And purchase larger sizes to discourage production of small sizes. Since manufacturers track the type of containers you buy, “Vote with your dollar.”

League members with Republic Services rep., Peter Nuti (far right)

League members and Republic Services staff

Information provided by the Piedmont League of Women Voters

Emphasis added.
Aug 2 2014

Piedmont’s much belabored efforts and those by other public entities to meet legal obligations to reduce sewage inflow and spills into San Francisco Bay has resulted in a settlement agreement.  

Weeks prior to the settlement, the City Council had considered whether or not to place an additional tax before the voters for approximately $1 million derived from an increased Real Property Transfer Tax. When the Council learned of significant unexpected funds garnered from existing Real Property Transfer Taxes, they decided it was not appropriate to ask voters for more money.

The EPA law suit and overstated sewer costs were used as the impetus to ask Piedmont voters to increase taxes in 2012.

 In February 2012, the City Council asked Piedmont voters to double their already high sewer property tax to gain $11 million to increase the  Sewer Fund.  When citizens calculated the City’s sewer cost numbers and discovered large overstatement of costs through miscalculations and unsubstantiated EPA threats, Piedmont voters rejected the heavily endorsed 2012 Sewer Tax Measure.

Questions remain on the large differential from $11 million to the now $1 million to accomplish the same amount of sewer replacement work.  The city has recently stated costs were miscalculated.

Sewer Fund expenditure records were previously not kept in a manner to verify proper use of the Fund.

The City now states that the current funds generated by the ongoing Sewer Tax will allow rehabilitation to proceed in a timely and cost-effective manner without additional tax revenues.  

There have been no statements by the City on the long term impact of sewer rehabilitation on the sewer tax amount.  Will the sewer tax be reduced once sewer lines are updated and operating properly? 

The consent decree imposes civil penalties on EBMUD and seven communities totaling $1.56 million to be paid to the US EPA and the California Water Quality Control Board (CWQCB). The civil penalties to be paid to the US EPA are identical to the penalties due to CWQCB except that Oakland is penalized $850,000 by US EPA and EBMUD is penalized $170,800 by US EPA and $30,800 by CWQCB.  Piedmont’s penalties are approximately $20,500 to CWQCB and the same amount to US EPA for a total penalty of approximately $41,000. 

The Council’s consideration of the Consent Decree and Piedmont’s Sewer System Management Plan revisions are on the August 4 Council meeting agenda. There are three staff reports related to Piedmont’s sewer system.

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2014-08-04/consentdecree.pdf

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2014-08-04/ssmp.pdf

8/4/14 – Consideration of a Revised Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP) Pursuant to the Consent Decree and the State Sewer Audit of June 26, 2014

The  7:30 p.m. meeting in the Council Chambers will be recorded and broadcast.

- READ MORE BELOW - 

EPA press release of 7/28/2014 follows:

Historic Clean Water Act settlement will prevent millions of gallons of sewage discharges into San Francisco Bay

Seven East Bay communities and municipal utility district to repair systems and pay civil penalties

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a Clean Water Act settlement requiring the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and seven East Bay communities to conduct extensive system repairs aimed at eliminating millions of gallons of sewage discharges into San Francisco Bay. Under today’s agreement, EBMUD and the communities will assess and upgrade their 1,500 mile-long sewer system infrastructure over a 21-year period. 

The work is expected to cost approximately $1.5 billion. The entities will pay civil penalties of $1.5 million for past sewage discharges that violated federal environmental law.

Since 2009, EPA, state and local regulators and environmental groups have worked to reduce sewage discharges from East Bay communities. During that period, interim actions required EBMUD and the East Bay communities to improve their sewer maintenance practices and gather information to identify priorities for investment. 

The San Francisco Bay covers 1,600 square miles and is the largest Pacific estuary in the Americas, a host for millions of migratory birds and a hub of commerce and recreation for more than 7 million Bay Area residents. 

Unfortunately, the Bay is under threat from many sources of pollution, including crumbling wastewater infrastructure that allows sewage to escape from the system. During rainstorms, in particular, older sewer systems can be overwhelmed, releasing rivers of sewage before being fully treated.

In addition to polluting waterways, raw and partially treated sewage can spread disease-causing organisms, metals, and nutrients that threaten public health. Sewage can also deplete oxygen in the bay, threatening fish, seals and other wildlife.

“For many years, the health of San Francisco Bay has been imperiled by ongoing pollution, including enormous discharges of raw and partially treated sewage from communities in the East Bay,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Many of these discharges are the result of aging, deteriorated sewer infrastructure that will be fixed under the EPA order.”

Today’s settlement is the result of a Clean Water Act enforcement action brought by the EPA, U.S. Department of Justice, State Water Resources Control Board, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board, San Francisco Baykeeper and Our Children’s Earth Foundation.

“This settlement will result in major reductions of sewage discharges into the San Francisco Bay,” said W. Benjamin Fisherow, Chief of Environmental Enforcement in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “These improvements will help reach our goal of eliminating pollution in the neighborhoods in these cities and in the Bay so that citizens may rest assured that they reside in a safe, clean environment.” 

The seven East Bay communities in the EBMUD settlement are:

City of Alameda
City of Albany
City of Berkeley
City of Emeryville
City of Oakland
City of Piedmont
Stege Sanitary District (serving El Cerrito, Kensington, and a portion of Richmond) 

“The public has been required to repair their own sewer laterals for over two years now, so it is past time that the local agencies aggressively repair their sewer systems,” said Bruce Wolfe, Executive Officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board. “This settlement spells out how the agencies will work with the public over the next 21 years to do just that and protect the Bay.”

“Baykeeper will be watching the progress of these repairs closely to ensure that pollution of San Francisco Bay is reduced and eventually eliminated, and we will take action if the repairs fall short,” said Baykeeper Executive Director Deb Self. 

On an annual basis, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage are discharged directly to San Francisco Bay. Also, as much as 600,000 gallons of raw sewage from community sewer systems is first discharged onto streets and other public areas—through outlets such as manhole covers—before it drains to the Bay.

As part of the agreement, EBMUD and the seven communities will:

repair and rehabilitate old and cracked sewer pipes;
regularly clean and inspect sewer pipes to prevent overflows of raw sewage; 
identify and eliminate illegal sewer connections;
continue to enforce private sewer lateral ordinances; and
ensure proactive renewal of existing sanitary sewer infrastructure.

EBMUD will also immediately begin work to offset the environmental harm caused by the sewage discharges, which are expected to continue until these sewer upgrades are completed, by capturing and treating urban runoff and contaminated water that currently flows to the Bay untreated during dry weather.

Keeping raw sewage and contaminated storm water out of the waters of the United States is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. 

Read the settlement at: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

Learn more about the settlement and earlier EPA wastewater enforcement in the East Bay at:http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/npdes/compliance.html#ebmud 

EPA is working to restore San Francisco Bay, learn more at: http://epa.gov/sfbay-delta 

Learn more about EPA’s national wastewater enforcement initiative at: http://go.usa.gov/5pak

Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165 (d) / 415-265-2863 (c), skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

Excerpts from the decree follow:

“11. No later than 30 Days after the Effective Date of this Consent Decree, each Defendant identified below shall pay to the Water Boards the sum appearing next to its name, as a civil penalty, together with interest accruing from the date on which the Consent Decree is lodged with the Court, at the rate specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1961 as of the date of lodging:

City of Piedmont $20,519 “

Following is Piedmont’s  July 29 press release:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California State Water Resources Board (State Water Board), the Regional Water Quality Control Board (San Francisco Bay Region), San Francisco Bay Keeper, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation have reached an agreement with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and the seven agencies whose sewage is treated by EBMUD (the Cities of Albany, Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Piedmont and Stege Sanitary District) that requires EBMUD and each of these agencies to continue updating its sewer infrastructure to help protect the San Francisco Bay.

The agreement, in the form of a Consent Decree, resolves a lawsuit filed in 2009 to prevent sewage spills into the Bay and local overflows throughout the East Bay region. All parties worked extensively to reach this agreement.

“Based upon previous agreements with the State of California, the City of Piedmont has worked diligently to upgrade its aging sewer infrastructure. Piedmont will continue to update the remainder of the system which will not only comply with the Consent Decree, but reduce costly sewer repairs, and help protect the Bay. It is the right thing to do,” said Mayor Margaret Fujioka.

“The City of Piedmont has already replaced 64% of its sewer system,” said City Administrator Paul Benoit. “We will continue to improve our system to do our part to be a good steward of the bay.”

This matter has been scheduled for the August 4, 2014 regular City Council meeting. Public Works Director Chester Nakahara and Deputy City Engineer Mark Obergfell will update the Council and the public.”

To learn more about the Piedmont Sewer Tax, go to the following links:

http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2011/12/19/new-sewer-tax-surcharge-arguments-for-and-against/

http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2012/02/01/commentary-the-piedmont-sewer-fund-simple-facts-and-simple-questions/

http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2012/01/12/piedmont-sewer-fund-runs-short-of-money-why-are-there-deficits/

http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2012/01/06/opinion-resident-finds-problems-with-sewer-tax-measure/ 

http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2014/06/20/new-sewer-taxes-june-24/

http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2014/06/24/sewer-tax-will-not-be-on-november-ballot/

http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/2dd7f669225439b78525735900400c31/d07727f638dc519e85257d230068e750!OpenDocument

Aug 2 2014

- Opponents of Sewer Tax Measure Proven Correct - 

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lawsuit against the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and communities has been the primary argument on behalf of increasing the Sewer Tax, the EPA settled for an agreement to have the sewer repairs in the involved communities replaced over the next 21 years. In addition, the City of Piedmont will pay two $20,519 civil penalties (to federal and state agencies) for historic discharges. Former Council member Garrett Keating explained the decree penalty will likely be offset by future smoke testing and flow monitoring being done by EBMUD rather than Piedmont, saving the city $20,000 each year.

The City has previously hired E2 Consulting Engineers to conduct the tests, which involve blowing harmless smoke into parts of the sanitary sewer system to find damage, improper connections, and where unwanted storm water may be entering the City’s sanitary sewer system.

The consent decree contains a number of future penalties for failure to fulfill its requirements. The comment period is July 31, 2014 to September 2, 2014.  The Council will explore the ramifications of the agreement at the August 4 City Council meeting. 

The sole signer of the opposing ballot argument to the failed February, 2012 Sewer Tax measure was resident Rick Schiller, who provided context to the agreement:

“The $11 million that was needed 3 years ago magically went down to $1  million earlier this year [2014], and then zero when Real Property Transfer Taxes came in higher than expected. Under our current budget, we can complete the mainline sewers by utilizing inexpensive state loans.  In addition, I suspect a high percentage of Piedmonters, are replacing their private sewer laterals at considerable individual household cost. Piedmont remains at the forefront in compliance.”

Schiller also commented on details of the decree:

1. Piedmont’s Asset Management Implementation Plan (AMIP) put in a year ago is accepted. We knew it would be.
2. Paragraph 96(a) requires a minimum of 1.15% of our system be rehabilitated annually. We are already doing that.
3. We are to categorize needed repairs and Paragraph 100(a)(i) establishes what is high-priority. If repairs are included in that, per Paragraph 100(a)(i) which states P100(a)(i) work counts toward the P96(a) requirements, then we are well ahead. This should be clarified.
4. As I recall, at our current pace without doing three rapid phases utilizing state loans, our system would be finished in about 17 years. The Consent Decree is requiring 21 years. The Council will be going ahead with phasing the rest using the State loans and likely be complete in 12 years.
5. Paragraph 103 makes little sense to me. EPA is requiring a 5 year cleaning schedule of the entire system and this would included the 65% of our mainline that is already replaced? Why?
6. There are Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) mandates for the City at Paragraph 97(a)(b) et al and we voluntarily signed on to that several years ago; we are the “poster child.” We already have those requirements codified.
7. Related to 6 above, would homeowners found to have even a slight offset in their existing PSL be required to repair/replace their entire lateral? Illegal cross-connections should trigger repair, but a single leak in a pipe several feet down contributes virtually nothing to an infiltration of rainwater into the sewer system and realistically a clay PSL triggers total replacement. “
Aug 2 2014

The City has installed 29 bike ranks near major activity centers in the Civic Center, including Piedmont Park tot lot, tennis courts, the Community Hall, Police Station, Veterans Hall, and the Center for the Arts. The project was funded by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and is intended to encourage biking by Piedmonters. (Read the Civic Center Bike Rack  proposal.)

 

New bike racks at Veterans Hall

New bike racks at Veterans Hall

 

 

New bike rack at side entrance to Center for the Arts

New bike rack at side entrance to Center for the Arts

 

Chosen Bike Rack Design

Chosen Bike Rack Design