Sep 30 2015

Meeting Saturday, October 3 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the upper area of Dracena Park next to Dracena Avenue – 

The Park Commission and Public Works staff will host an initial meeting with Piedmont residents, community members and all stakeholders to discuss a proposed change to the existing off-leash area located on Dracena Avenue.

The meeting is noted as a “brain storming” session to open discussion including restricted dog use of the grassy area at the top of the park, signage, neighborhood concerns, dog use hours, off leash fines, etc. An Animal Control officer will be in attendance to provide information and answer questions.

The informal meeting is to gather input on the issues and options going forward.  No decisions will be made at this meeting and additional fact-finding meetings may be held prior to a public hearing in November.  Send written comments to the Park Commission at or for further information contact Mark Feldkamp at 420-3064.

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Sep 30 2015

Piedmont resident Cisco DeVries will be the featured speaker at the Tuesday, October 6 Home Energy and Water Conservation Symposium at the Middle School library. DeVries earned an MPP from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and a BA from UC San Diego and is the co-founder and CEO of Renew Financial.

Renew Financial provides financing to homeowners for 100% of solar installations, super storage batteries or other home ecological project costs. The loans can be repaid over up to 25 years, expecting the project induced savings to offset the monthly repayment.

The October 6 symposium is sponsored by Piedmont Connect, Piedmont Middle School Green Team, and the League of Women Voters Piedmont.

Home Energy and Water Conservation Symposium

Piedmont Middle School Library

Tuesday, October 6, 7 – 9:30 pm

7 pm Keynote Speaker

Cisco DeVries, President & CEO of Renew Financial presents financing options and new developments.

7:30 – 8:10 pm, 8:15 – 8:55 pm  attend 40- minute presentations:

Solar Energy presented by Mel Burns, Domino, and Pete Shoemaker, Renewables Program Coordinator at PG&E Pacific Energy Center.


Energy Upgrade Home Performance Speakers: Royal Huey, Green Pro Network and contractors.


Water Conservation: Speaker: Tony Madrone,  Indra Designs.

9 – 9:30 pm Question and Answer Period

More details available at Piedmont Connect

Sep 24 2015

On Saturday morning, September 26, the annual FallFest 5K run/walk will be held on the streets of Piedmont, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. For runner safety, several roads in Piedmont will be closed to vehicles from 8:15-9:45 a.m. with limited, intermittent access. Sections of the course are posted “No Parking” and vehicles may be towed for violation of the posted signs. PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

For an hour and a half beginning at 8:15 a.m., traffic will be rerouted from or delayed on Craig, Crocker, Farragut, Highland, Hillside, King, Magnolia, Mountain, Parkway, Sea View, and Wildwood Avenues and cross streets including Oakland Avenue. 

Check the FallFest 5K website for additional information, to register, and to see a map of the course. If you have questions, contact Karen Snow Hawkins at

Sep 22 2015

The Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee will meet in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue on Wednesday, September 23, at 6 p.m.  The Committee will review:

  •   7- year Budget Projections
  •  Parcel Tax
  •  Future agenda items

The meeting is open to the public.  There will be no public broadcast of the meeting.

Sep 22 2015

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Safety Committee in on

September 24, Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

All members of the public can speak to items on the agenda or bring up a new issue or idea under Public Forum.  The meeting will not be broadcast on KCOM or the city’s website.


Public Forum: This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the committee.

1. Update on Neighborhood Meetings

2. Report on Signups at Piedmont Soccer Photo Day Event

3. Update on CodeRed/Everbrite Emergency Notification System Transition

4. Update on School Liaison Activities

5. Update on Get Ready Piedmont Brochure

6. Update on Promoting Map Your Neighborhood Presentations

7. Discussion and Approval of Disaster Preparedness Checklist Document

8. Discussion of Initiatives Regarding October Shakeout Events

9. Discussion of 2016 Committee Meeting Dates

10. Update on City EOC Protocols and Response Manual

The charge to the committee is:

1. Investigate ways to increase public participation in crime reduction strategies, including but not limited to the following:

a. Neighborhood meetings

b. City-wide meetings

c. School events

d. Web-based and other community networks

2. Increase public participation in disaster preparedness, using the resources of the Public Safety Committee.  Members of the Committee shall directly work to organize increased public participation of those programs/events approved by the Public Safety Committee.

3. Provide a forum for residents to share comments, issues or concerns regarding public safety issues, including crime prevention, community outreach, disaster preparedness education and training and the like.

Sep 20 2015

City staff prepared options for prohibiting or regulating AirBnB rentals for consideration by the City Council on Monday, September 21.

  • Prohibit short-term rental of the 18 Second Units developed as low income housing. Staff strongly encourages the Council to adopt this provision, pointing out that the imposed rent restrictions would limit the AirBnB rate to $25 (very low income units) to $35 (low income units) per night for the units, before AirBnB takes its cut.
  • Prohibit short-term rental of the 110 approved Second Units, which are not rent restricted. Staff notes that few are rented. Instead they are used as guest quarters or a home office.
  • Prohibit short-term rental of the 66 apartments in Piedmont.
  • No regulation of Home Swaps.
  • Prohibit or regulate with standards short-term rental of rooms in a house. If allowed, the number of allowed rental days per year could be limited.
  • Allow vacation rentals of whole houses with restrictions, perhaps limiting the number of allowed rental days per year.

Read the staff report here.

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Sep 20 2015

Piedmont’s Family Oriented Zoning and Short Term Rentals will be considered on September 21 at the Council Meeting – 

Short Term  and Overnight Rentals Are Generally Not  Legal  Under Piedmont Ordinances and the City Charter. 

On September 21, 2015, the Council will consider the issue  at 7:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

In May 2015, City staff reported to the City Council that although Piedmont prohibits Air BnB and VRBO type short-term rentals,  they are listed online on several sites. While many cities around the world have adopted regulations, oversight and special taxes on short-term rentals of apartments, homes, condos and second units, Piedmont has yet to respond as AirBNB type rentals continue to operate in violation of existing laws and the City Charter.  

Questions Regarding Voter Participation

The City Charter has in recent years been skirted by changing zoning uses and requirements without voter participation.  This has caused dramatic changes for Piedmont’s previously stable single family residential zoning.  The Charter states:

“SECTION 9.02 ZONING SYSTEM The City of Piedmont is primarily a residential city, and the City Council shall have power to establish a zoning system within the City as may in its judgement be most beneficial. The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election. No zone shall be reduced or enlarged and no zones reclassified unless a majority of the voters voting upon the same shall vote in favor thereof; provided that any property which is zoned for uses other than or in addition to a singlefamily dwelling may be voluntarily rezoned by the owners thereof filing a written document executed by all of the owners thereof under penalty of perjury stating that the only use on such property shall be a single-family dwelling, and such rezoning shall not require a vote of the electors as set forth above.”

Piedmont Law Does Not Allow Customers to Come to a Piedmont Residence. 

The Municipal Code currently states:

“The occupational use shall not generate pedestrian or vehicular traffic or parking needs beyond that normal to the district or neighborhood in which it is located. No business invitees shall be permitted to visit the premises;”

Piedmont law further states:

“No more than one room in the residence or any structure on the premises where the residence is located shall be used in connection with the home occupation, and under no circumstances shall a garage be used in any way related to such home occupation;”

Renting a room without using another room such as a bathroom or a kitchen is improbable.

 Permits Are Required Prior to Using a Home for an Occupation –

“All of the jurisdictions, like Piedmont, report that many hosts operate their short term rentals ”under the radar”. However, unlike most communities, it is relatively easy for Piedmont staff to identify illegal short term rentals because we have relatively few of them, we have active neighbors who report unpermitted activity, and matching an advertised rental with a specific property is generally not difficult for staff.” Staff report September 21, 2015

Piedmont’s current law  requires a permitting process that includes involving neighbors as well as City determinations for business use of residences. Since customers are not allowed to come to a residence, nor can there be use of the residence for publicity, short term rentals are currently not allowed.

During the discussion and consideration by the City Council on Monday, March 16, 2015, the rental of Piedmont rooms through internet companies, such as AirBnB,  the Piedmont Municipal Code requirement for use of a residence as a “Home Occupation” was not mentioned.

Piedmont’s Home Occupation ordinance states:

“There shall be no advertising, notices, publications or other written or oral means used to connect the occupation with the premises on which it is conducted and particularly there shall be no use of the address of such premises in any way connected with the occupation, provided that this shall not prohibit the use of name cards, stationery or invoices with the address of the premises.”


a. In order to conduct a home occupation on any premises located in Zones A, B, C, and E in the City of Piedmont, an application must be made by the resident proposing such an occupational use upon a form and in the manner prescribed by the City Clerk.

b. In addition to the application form the applicant must submit a rendering of the floor plan of the house showing which room or portion of a room will be used for the home occupation. This drawing should be accurate in its representation of the premises but need not be an architectural rendering.

c. The fee for a home occupation permit shall be non-refundable as set forth from time to time by resolution of the City Council.

d. The applicant or applicant’s representative shall mail to all adjacent residences (as defined in Sec. 17.2) a notice of intent to conduct business, the form of which shall be prescribed by the City Clerk. Said notice will set forth (1) The applicant’s name (2) The address of the proposed home occupation (3) The type of business to be conducted (4) A fifteen (15) day period during which comments on the home a fifteen (15) day period during which comments on the home occupation may be directed to the City Clerk.

e. The applicant or applicant’s representative shall provide an affidavit of service to the City Clerk as proof of satisfaction of Sec. 17B.3(d) above.

f. No home occupation permit shall be issued during the 15 day notification period.

g. Upon completion of the notification period, the application and any

g. Upon completion of the notification period, the application and any comments received shall be reviewed by the Public Works Director and City 17B-3 Home Occupations 17B-4 Administrator who shall determine if a home occupation should be granted under this section based upon the fact that none of the restrictions of Section 17B.2 have been violated or will be violated due to the proposed nature or conduct of the home occupation.

h. All persons receiving a home occupation permit shall be required to have a valid city business license. Lapse of six (6) months or more in a business license shall constitute grounds for cancellation of the home occupation permit.

i. Home occupation permits shall be valid so long as there is no change in the location or nature of the business and a valid city business license is on file in the City Clerk’s office and none of the restrictions of Section 17B.2 have been violated. (Ord. No. 349 N.S., §3; Ord. No. 388 N.S., §3, Ord No. 532 N.S §3, Ord. 709 N.S. §2)” 

Read Piedmont’s Home Occupation ordinance. 


Unintended Consequence of Promoting Second Units in Piedmont –

To provide affordable and low income housing in Piedmont, City policies have promoted second units, granting variances and retroactively allowing apartments in homes. The City has sought and gained awards for this approach to providing for low income and affordable housing. However, rather than becoming rental housing for full time lower income families, these new units have proved ideal for AirBNB rentals. As online short-term rental services have mushroomed, these housing options have opened Piedmont to a commercialization never seen before and according to staff, in most cases without payment of Piedmont’s rental income tax to the City.

From the City’s view, although the one-time weekend renter does not occupy any seats in Piedmont schools or request city documents, the second units are not providing affordable or low income housing for permanent residents, as intended by City policy. Meeting goals for housing units are defeated by the transfer of housing to short-term rentals as a hotel or bed and breakfast.

As Piedmonters commercialized their properties, Piedmont’s desire for low income and affordable housing has been partially undercut by some property owners’ desire for increased income by converting their house or second unit to short time rentals.

Staff states in their September 21 report:

“Piedmont does not have the tourist draw of beaches, shopping or entertainment venues the cities with the largest problems have. In fact, based on reading reviews left by people who have rented Airbnb listings in Piedmont, they tend to be in town for local social events such as weddings and anniversaries, or regional events at UC Berkeley.”

In the staff report there is no assessment of safe, convenient, lodging near Piedmont.  For those residing in Piedmont, it is generally known that finding safe, nearby lodging can be challenging, making Piedmont homes and second units desirable and potentially in high demand for short term lodging.

Full time Landlord Duties May Be More Onerous than Occasional Weekends –

Piedmonters with second units often consider being a year-round 24- hours-a-day landlord too great a nuisance. Some have opted to rent for few days only when it is convenient through online services instead, knowing that parents bringing their students to Berkeley or Mills College won’t be doing much cooking, complaining in the middle of the night, withhold rent, or exercise the right to “repair and deduct” and they will be gone in a couple of days. AirBnB vets the renters and collects the payment for the hosts.

Express your opinions and ideas. Alternatively, you may watch the City Council hearing on KCOM, cable 27 or by logging on to the city’s website at on the right hand side of the homepage under the “City Council” heading, click on the “Online Video” link, then click on the “September 21, 2015” heading, click on the “Video” or “In Progress” link, and start watching!

Written comments may be sent to the City Council, c/o Piedmont City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 or by email to: Correspondence received by the City Clerk is considered part of the public record.


“Additionally, as a means of reaching as many Piedmont residents as possible, staff was directed to continue to work with the press to make sure that there was high level coverage, and to continue to send direct notices and reports to the email list of people wishing to participate in the discussions.” Staff report dated September 21, 2015.

Read the entire staff report here.

Editors’ Note:  PCA is on record requesting all City public notifications, press releases, agendas and agenda staff reports, thereby allowing PCA to inform our hundreds of readers of City news. PCA was not included on the recent notification list regarding short term rentals as were some other media outlets. 

Sep 20 2015

Residents have expressed concerns about the influx of short-term rentals. The City Council will consider the matter including adding new laws and enforcing existing laws on September 21.

Council and Staff Encourage Second Units as a Technique for Meeting  State Housing Goals.

Adding second units on single family parcels has been heartily embraced by the City Council and staff as a method to meet State goals for more housing, particularly for low income /affordable units. Piedmont frequently allows, through variances, low income housing units with no off-street parking, even where on-street parking is difficult for neighborhood residents’ guests and service providers.

Recently, when an affordable second unit built without permits was brought to the City Council on the basis of inadequate parking, the Council held to the policy of encouraging and approving second units, despite a failure of the property owner to provide required parking in the heavily impacted neighborhood.

Issues of safety, privacy, noise, and parking from short term rentals – 

The May 16, 2015 Council meeting record states:

“Alicia Kalamas, and John Mittan each spoke against short term rentals, citing negative effects on the community, the possibility of criminal behavior, and lack of connection of the renters to the community. Tom Ferguson expressed a recommendation that there be tight regulations if they are allowed. Steve Wubbens expressed concern that affordable long term second units like his will be replaced by more lucrative short term rentals, making it difficult for divorced people like him to live in town close to his children.” 

“Mayor Fujioka explained that the issue of short term rentals was brought to the Council’s attention because of neighbor complaints, and that this is the beginning of a long discussion on the topic.”

Further negatives for short-term rentals are: ever changing transient populations, potential increased fire and police demands, parking and noise problems, administrative costs, and failure to tax the commercialized properties.  Neighborhood cohesiveness has been noted as a concern. These problems have been brought up if homes are turned into businesses generating vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Many credit Piedmont’s desirability as a residential city to heavily supported schools and excellent infrastructure largely based on stable zoning, quiet, safe neighborhoods, and general concern for the well being of the community.

While Piedmont neighbors complain of noise, parking problems, loss of privacy and uneasy feelings as a result of short term rentals, Piedmont’s long standing law, “Home Occupation, Chapter 17B.2.” has not been enforced in response to the recent flurry of short-term rentals.

In prior years, when a  Piedmont home was identified in publications as a “bed and breakfast,” the City was prompt in sending legal notice to the owners to cease and desist the illegal use. The notices referred to limitations on “Home Occupation” under which “bed and breakfast,” use of residences in Piedmont was not allowed.

Piedmont Lacks Staffing to Oversee Current Rentals – Affordable or Short Term.

Piedmont currently has no system or staffing dedicated to verifying whether or not City approved affordable units permitted to meet State housing goals and receiving City tax exemptions and parking variances are maintained during the required time period, as an affordable unit. Additionally, once the required time period lapses for affordability, the parking variances and second units remain available to be rented at market rates or, depending on Council actions, as a short term rental.

Awards for the innovative manner Piedmont provides affordable housing by permitting rent restricted second units can, in the long term, be used for short term rentals, negating genuine long term provision of affordable housing.

San Francisco unions, land owners, affordable housing advocates and neighborhood groups unhappy with the adopted ordinance have placed an initiative on the ballot that is being heavily opposed by AirBNB and other online services. (See Related article on Prop F) No ballot measure by initiative or Council action has been mentioned in Piedmont as an option with the exception of not wanting to place a tax before the voters due to the cost of the election.  

 Taxes An Issue

Single family parcel owners are taxed per parcel rather than per residence for School Taxes.  The previous progressive school parcel tax recently changed to a flat parcel tax approved by voters requires a one-bedroom cottage on a tiny lot to pay the same school tax as a 20-room mansion on several acres. And contrary to the recently approved School Tax ballot language, people who own two parcels with one residence have been taxed as though the property is only one parcel.  Further, properties with a second (2) legal dwelling unit on a single parcel pay the same amount as properties with only one residence on the parcel.

Read the full staff report here.

You are encouraged to attend the September 21, Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. and express your opinions and ideas. Alternatively, you may watch the City Council hearing on KCOM, cable 27 or for a live webcast by logging on to the city’s website at on the right hand side of the homepage under the “City Council” heading, click on the “Online Video” link, then click on the “September 21, 2015” heading, click on the “Video” or “In Progress” link, and start watching!

Written comments may be sent to the City Council, c/o Piedmont City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 or by email to: Correspondence received by the City Clerk is considered part of the public record.

Sep 20 2015

On April 17, 2015 and May 6, 2015, the City sent two page letters together with “Rental Tax Forms” notifying 13 homeowners that if they had short-term rental income in 2014 they were liable for the tax plus penalty of 50% or 100%. Also enclosed was an “Intent to Rent” form to be completed. The homeowners receiving the letters had been identified by City staff from listings on AirBnb.

The letters explained that under Piedmont’s current code it is legal to rent an entire residence while the owner is away, but it is not legal to rent any part of the residence for less than 30 days while  the owner is at home. The letters further noted that Planning Director Kate Black is developing regulations for short-term rentals.

Most of the 13 Piedmont homeowners responded promptly to the letters. Some had listed a short-term rental availability with AirBnb but subsequently removed their listing. One protested the high minimum tax, saying it would not be worth renting with such a high tax to pay. One expressed support for neighbors having short-term renters. Four owners did not respond. Three owners promptly paid their tax and penalty.

Read the staff report here.

Sep 17 2015

San Francisco’s New Short-Term Rental Law and Office

San Francisco bans all residential rentals of less than 30 days unless the hosts have a conditional use permit – an expensive and cumbersome process, according to its supporters.  San Francisco’s new short-term rental law became effective on February 1, 2015. (Ordinance 218-14)  To administer the new category an Office of Short-Term Rental (OSTR) was created. After an in-person appointment with a staff member of the OSTR office once the applicant has certificates from both the City Treasurer and the City Tax Collector and provides proof of liability insurance for the rental in the amount of $500,000 or more, etc. The Short-Term Residential Rental Registry allows this type of rental.  San Francisco’s budget analyst reported in May that  23 – 40% of potential housing for San Francisco residents were instead rented to short-term visitors.

San Francisco defines those who rent out rooms for more than seven days per month or a whole unit for five days per month as Commercial Hosts. Casual Hosts (70%) rent a few weekends per year. The report finds that Commercial Hosts are motivated by the opportunity to net more income with several short-term rentals than a full time tenant, regardless of neighborhood. During 2014 there were 6,113 listings on AirBNB, with 4,191 occasional or “Casual Hosts” earning $260/month city-wide average and 1,191 “Commercial Hosts” earning $2440/month city-wide average.