Jun 26 2015

Time for Immunizations Between Summer Fun and Vacations?

The Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) is reviewing the immunization records of all students this month. By July 15 parents should receive a letter notifying them if their students lack any required immunizations.  Documentation any missing current immunizations will be required prior to August 17. Students who are not up to date will not receive their class schedules and can not attend school until their immunization records are complete and up to date.

PUSD nurses, Joan Edelstein or Tola Williams can be reached at 594-2751 or by email (jedelstein@piedmont.k12.ca.us or awilliams@piedmont.k12.ca.us).

The Piedmont Unified School District’s Board of Education unanimously endorsed SB 277 (Resolution 15-2014-15) on June 10, 2015.  SB277 is intended to increase vaccination rates in schools and protect community immunity against sometimes deadly diseases by eliminating the personal belief exemption (PBE) from school immunization requirements.

On Thursday, June 25, California legislature passed Senate Bill 277, which mandates vaccinations for all schoolchildren regardless of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs, on a 46-to-30 vote. On Monday, June 29 the Senate will again vote its approval of the bill in its final form and send it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

Jun 23 2015

Deadlines are approaching to plan your

4th of July Block Party!

Get together with your neighbors to plan a street party or organize a  parade group or float for this year’s parade.  The Parade will start at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 4th at Highland Avenue and Park Way and end at Piedmont Park for an afternoon of celebration and entertainment by Big Bang Beat from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Applications to close part of a block are due before 5 p.m. on Monday, June 29 at the City Hall City Clerk’s office. Street barricades will be delivered on Thursday, July 2.

Block Party Street Closure Application


Jun 23 2015

Because the 4th of July Holiday falls on the weekend, the City of Piedmont offices will be closed on the Friday preceding the weekend.

Jun 13 2015

Average speed on Oakland Avenue is 35 MPH despite Police issuing twice as many speeding tickets in 2014 as in 2011 and 2012 combined.

– Public Safety Committee Continues Work on Disaster Preparedness Checklist –

May 28th Public Safety Committee Report by Piedmont High School Student Remy Afong, the only public person attending the meeting –

On Thursday, May 28, the Public Safety Committee met at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers for a regularly scheduled meeting. Established three years ago by a City Council charge, the committee meets every two months to discuss ways to increase public participation in crime reduction strategies and disaster preparedness. It also serves to provide a forum for community members to share concerns regarding public safety issues.
Before addressing items on the agenda, Chairman Lyman Shaffer asked if there was anyone who would like to speak about an item not listed on the agenda. As the only audience member, I was allotted the full 10 minutes of public forum to myself, though I only spoke for one or two. To increase pedestrian safety, I suggested installing a lighted crosswalk at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Sierra Avenue, and at other intersections near schools. I described how on numerous occasions, I have had to run across the street to avoid being hit by a car; each time the car failed to show any signs of slowing down.

School District President Andrea Swenson, a member of the committee, said that she has had similar experiences and agreed that many intersections in Piedmont are unsafe.
After the meeting, Shaffer suggested that I restate my proposal at a City Council meeting.
To begin regular business, the first item discussed on the agenda was a review of the April 26 Fire Department Open House. Shaffer gave a brief recap of the event, noting that there were 100 people in attendance. The primary goal of the event was to help residents register for  CodeRED, a notification system adopted by the Piedmont Police and Fire Departments that uses phone, email, and text messages to inform residents of emergencies and other news regarding public safety. Approximately 3,100 residents and 19 businesses are currently registered with CodeRED. Committee member Michael Gardner suggested that in the future, the Fire Department should host the open house in conjunction with a popular community event to increase attendance. [For more information on CodeRed go to http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/public-safety-dispatches-now-available/]
The most hotly discussed issue at the meeting was the Disaster Preparedness Checklist, an item yet to be released to the community. Shaffer briefed the committee on the origins of the document. It is the project of a task group led by committee member Garrett Keating that
stems from the Tiburon/Belvedere Disaster Preparedness Program. Committee members took a moment to review the 4-page document before discussing improvements.

Shaffer praised the checklist as a nice basic resource to have in everyone’s homes and noted the importance of perfecting the document because it cannot be re-edited after mass distribution. He suggested placing all emergency numbers on the front page, a proposal that was well-received by the rest of the committee. Swenson added that school phone numbers should be removed to prevent them from being overwhelmed with frantic phone calls.
Committee member Ryan Gilbert commented that overall, the document has too much text and suggested narrowing the focus to imperative statements.
Chief of Police Rikki Goede added that the document should be in a more succinct, action plan style. She did not think that the “Map Your Neighborhood” portion, which includes a checklist of necessary resources and instructions on how to organize a neighborhood disaster team, had a place on the document. Rather, there should be a link to a website with neighborhood preparedness information instead.

Committee member Sue Lin, however, strongly advocated for Map Your Neighborhood. She argued that if it is just listed as an additional resource and not elaborated upon, people would not be encouraged to think on a broader spectrum outside their individual lives.
Keating agreed that having an entire page dedicated to Map Your Neighborhood would boost resident participation. His subcommittee will continue to revise the document and the whole committee will discuss the item again at the next meeting.
Personally, I agree with Gilbert and Goede that the Disaster Preparedness Checklist should be as concise as possible to avoid people becoming overwhelmed and disregarding the document altogether. Though I support the idea of Map Your Neighborhood, I think that it
should be separate. This document will be most useful if it is designed in an easy-to-read format that focuses on individual household preparedness.
Following this discussion, Goede led the second to last agenda item, which was a recap of a recent Piedmont traffic study. She reported that the average speed of cars driving down Oakland Avenue is 35 mph, which is 10 mph above the speed limit. Though there have been suggestions of raising the speed limit to 35 mph, Goede believes that it should be kept at 25 mph because if it is increased, people will drive even faster. She described that there are tentative plans to install more speed monitors on the five main streets in Piedmont — Highland, Moraga, Oakland, Wildwood, and Grand Avenue.

A surprising statistic — Goede pointed out that in 2014, the Piedmont Police Department wrote twice the amount of tickets of 2011 and 2012 combined. She explained that most people speed because they are not paying attention, not necessarily because they are purposely intending
to break the law. She said that while enforcement works to some degree, it is hard for people to break out of bad driving habits. Many are also willing to take their chances because they aren’t caught most of the time, which makes up for the one or two times they do get caught.
Relating the topic of unsafe driving to pedestrian safety, Swenson reintroduced the lighted crosswalk idea that I proposed during public forum by posing the question of whether the city has considered such crosswalks before. Goede responded by saying lighted crosswalks, 4-way stop signs, and other safety measures are expensive to install and also have unintended consequences like creating traffic backups. She said that even if more steps are taken to increase pedestrian safety, it really does come down to better driving behaviors.

Other issues briefly discussed at the meeting were the committee’s participation and recruitment at the Harvest Festival, the Get Ready Piedmont Manual (a public safety and disaster preparedness guide to be released to the public by July 1), the promotion of Map Your Neighborhood training, and school safety activities.
The committee’s next meeting will be on July 31.
After the meeting was adjourned, I interviewed Shaffer, who has served as chairman for a year and has two more years to go. A 20-year Piedmont resident, Shaffer volunteered to join the committee because he is committed to making the City safer. He explained that currently, the most significant committee item is the Disaster Preparedness Checklist, which they look “to get into every household before the end of the year.”
Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author. The meetings of the Public Safety Committee are not broadcast but are open to the public. 
Jun 11 2015

– Despite Ever Increasing Water Rates, Few Customers Protested. –

Following its June 9 hearing, the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) unanimously approved new rates and the drought surcharge after receiving only 131 valid written protests from the 381,200 parcel customers. The 8% rate increase takes effect July 1, 2015. EBMUD water rates increased 9.75 %  beginning July 1, 2013, and increased again on July 1, 2014 by 9.5%  as increasing conservation continues to reduce revenue. EBMUD declared a Stage 4 critical drought and set a community-wide goal of 20% water use reduction, 
compared to 2013 water consumption.

At the hearing, residents spoke of their long-standing water conservation habits, expressing worry that there was no further reduction possible.

Stopwaste.org staff members Jeff Becerra and Teresa Eade strongly objected to the EBMUD rebates for replacing lawns with artificial turf at the expense of the environment. Eade detailed the deleterious effects: it off-gases, is hotter than asphalt in the summer and has to be land-filled after its limited life.

San Francisco Sierra Club Water Committee leader Sonia Diermayer, disagreed, “Rebates for replacing lawns are great! My mother and her neighbors in Lafayette have huge lawns that consume so much water.”

Glenda Dugen of Walnut Creek objects to all rebates, indicating that conservation is just common sense and we should all be doing whatever we can.

Former EBMUD Director Helen Burke supported the need for increased rates and the watershed management program that excludes bikes on District lands. She noted the very active efforts of bicycle groups to get access and referred to the many problems and expenses recorded in Marin, after opening water district lands to bicycling.

Several citizens described floods and water damage from a leaking tank of treated water in El Sobrante.

Board of Directors Vice President William Patterson, who represents most of Oakland, urged the staff, “We should go after reimbursement from the State of all the funds we pay for water they have curtailed this year.”

Director Marguerite Young, who represents Piedmont, praised her district, “A whole lot of my district customers are already low water use households.”

DirectorAndy Katz, who represents Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Kensington, and a part of Oakland, added, “We have many customers who are conservers, but we also have customers who use a lot.”

In addition to the rate increases and surcharges, those who do not conserve will be billed penalties. Read about Excessive Use penalties here.

Jun 11 2015

– Attaching Water Trailers to the Budget Bill Bypasses Normal Consideration by Committees and Citizens. –

Three water bills that would affect Piedmonters and other water customers could pass quickly without adequate transparency and citizen awareness, according to East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Board of Directors President Frank Mellon.  June 15 is the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass the budget, very little time for those trying to stop or modify the language of the proposal.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) wants to stop the proposed budget trailer bill 825 or significantly change its language. It would authorize the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to require consolidation of public water systems, overriding local agency procedures, planning and budgets. The California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions, the California Municipal Utilities Association, the California Special Districts Association, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities and the Rural County Representatives of California are joining ACWA to urge legislators to defeat 825 in this letter.

Passing budget trailer bills that arise suddenly at the end of the fiscal year is an expedited process recommended by Governor Jerry Brown, avoiding policy and fiscal committees’ review.  Mellon calls this fast enactment arbitrary, “We need to see the language and not just push through these bills.”

EBMUD is also opposing trailer bill 807, which would substantially change the funding structure of the SWRCB drinking water program by emergency regulation. “The amount of fees charged to each large water system, such as EBMUD, would not have to be based on actual costs…” according to the EBMUD analysis.  Piedmonters should expect that additional fees charged to EBMUD will be passed on to customers.

EBMUD favors trailer bill 807, which would require new multi-family residential buildings and mixed residential and commercial buildings to install individual water meters for each unit. It would have no impact on all the existing multi-family residential buildings that do not have meters for each unit. EBMUD Ward 4 Director Andy Katz agreed, “submetering leads to conservation” by occupants of multi-family buildings. Katz represents Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Kensington, and a part of Oakland.

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Jun 11 2015

Almonds aren’t the only “big gulp” users of California water.

Each almond shipped out of California required one gallon of our water, a crop that has doubled since 2005, and alfalfa grown for animal feed consumes 20% of irrigation water in the state,  much of which is shipped out, as far away as China.

California water is also shipped out in bottles. Nestle’s Pure Life brand and its Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water bottles water come from a spring on the  Morongo Indian Reservation east of Los Angeles in Millard Canyon, California.  As a sovereign nation, the reservation is not under state law.  However, the water leaves the reservation  across the San Bernardino National Forest to reach the bottling plant.  Nestlé Water’s permit expired in 1988. The U.S. Forest Service announced it would reassess the permit.

Nestle’s permit is not the only out of date water permit in national forests in California. The Desert Sun newspaper reported that 616 water extraction permits are past their expiration dates.

Because those permits haven’t been formally renewed in years, the agency largely hasn’t studied how the taking of that water from public lands may be affecting creeks, wildlife and water supplies downstream. Many of the permits listed as being past their expiration dates are for pipelines that siphon off water from wells and springs in national forests. The pipelines run to the tanks of water districts, as well as to cabins, neighborhoods and properties such as cemeteries, lodges and ranches.

Nestlé insists its permit remains in effect, pointing out that it has continued to pay its annual fee of $524 to the National Forest. A spokesman for the the U.S. Forest Service says the application for renewal of the permit has been under consideration since 1988.

Jun 6 2015

– The public hearing will be held Tuesday, June 9, 2015, at 1:15 p.m. in the EBMUD Board Room, 375 11th Street, Oakland. –

If approved, the new rates and the drought surcharge would take effect July 1, 2015. East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has declared a Stage 4 critical drought and set a community-wide goal of 20% water use reduction, 
compared to 2013 water consumption.

An 8% rate increase would begin July 1, if approved by the Board following the hearing. EBMUD water rates increased 9.75 percent beginning July 1, 2013, and increased again on July 1, 2014 by 9.5 percent. EBMUD reports most of its customers have cut back their water use significantly, resulting in the need to continue to increase rates to cover fixed costs.

As of April 15, 2015, single family residential customers are expected to limit indoor water consumption to 35 gallons per person per day. This is challenging many customers since the estimated daily water flow per person even with energy flow toilets, faucets and shower heads exceeds the goal without including laundry or the use of a dishwasher:

10 gallons  = 6 flushes of a low flow toilet

10 gallons  = 1 five minute low flow shower

80 gallons = twenty minutes of low flow sink faucet for hand-washing, teeth brushing, cooking and food/pots/dishes rinsing or washing by hand.

Citizens can direct questions to www.ebmud.com for more information related to the proposed fees.  Phone 1-866-403-2683.

Fee increase protests must be in writing and sent to EBMUD  at:

EBMUD, MS 218, PO Box 24055, Oakland, CA 94623-1055.

Marguerite Young is Piedmont’s Ward 3 representative on the EBMUD Board of Directors.

Mandatory outdoor watering rules:

  • Strict limits on frequency: no more than two non-consecutive days per week 
with no runoff.
  • Strict limits on times: only before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • No watering allowed within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
  • No watering of ornamental turf on public street medians allowed.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles.
  • Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is recirculated.

Read the proposed new rates and excessive use penalties.

Related articles:

EBMUD Excessive Water Use Penalties Hitting Houses But Not Apartment Buildings

California Drought: Will Piedmont Wells be Managed?

Jun 6 2015

– Single family households face excessive water use penalties but multifamily buildings are exempt.  –

The water conservation rates are focused on “encouraging reduced water use” by single family residences. EBMUD established an Excessive Water Use Ordinance #364-15 on April 28, 2015, effective May 29, 2015, that prohibits excessive use of water. Single-family residential customers who use more than 80 units (59,840 gallons) of water per billing period are subject to a $2 penalty for each unit (or portion of a unit) over the 80 unit threshold.

The excessive water use ordinance will penalize single family households that use 1,000 gallons per day, which is four times the amount of water used by the average single family residential customer. Sophia Skoda, EBMUD Treasury Manager confirmed to the Piedmont Civic Association that multifamily buildings will not be penalized for excessive water use.

Multifamily developments also appear to receive preferential treatment in the fee structure for new water meters. New single family homes pay $16,100 – $304,500 (in region 3-D) for a water meter depending on the EBMUD region of the proposed house and meter size. Multi-family developments pay $9,370 – $32,000 (in region 3-D) per dwelling unit in the project.

EBMUD outreach to discourage wasting of water

On May 14, 2015, EBMUD made 5,065 robocalls to their customers explaining the drought restrictions. This calling program cost $3.846 or $0.027 per call. Residents are encouraged to report the wasting of water to www.ebmud.com/reportwaterwaste .  In May, 2015, 4,000 water wasters were reported and investigated.

Jun 6 2015

– EBMUD’s assigned water use reduction target reflects residents’ conservation patterns –

Every California urban and suburban water district with more than 3,000 customers was given a mandatory water conservation target for its residential customers by the  State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) beginning June 1 and continuing until February, 2016. Based on each California water district’s Residential Gallons Per Capita Day (R-GPCD), the Water Board assigned residential water use reduction requirements, that range from 8% to 36%. In general, industrial and commercial customers are instructed to reduce water consumption by 25%. Local governments’ water use is limited not by targets, but by prohibitions on various uses, such as watering public street medians and outdoor landscapes.

Understanding R- GPCD

In California Residential Gallons Per Capita Day is the total residential water use billed in a district divided by the residential population. Some water districts are limited to a single urban district which combines commercial, industrial, government, multi-family residential and single residential household customers. The water supplied for shared public open space is not included.

EBMUD is a large, diverse district –

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), Piedmont’s water district, includes a number of communities with different land use profiles. Piedmont is a single family residential community, while Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, San Ramon, Walnut Creek and others have significant commercial and industrial customers. EBMUD’s R- GPCD combines lower water consuming households, such as Piedmont, and higher level water users such as Danville, Lafayette, etc among the 1.3 million residents served in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. As a result, EBMUD was assigned a 16% mandatory reduction. In contrast, a very near neighbor, the Contra Costa Water District has a 28% target, reflecting its higher R-GPCD over some months of the past year.

Water districts must also “produce” (make available) less water in 2015 than they produced in 2013 by their assigned target percentage (16% for EBMUD). However, urban water districts that provide water to commercial agriculture may exclude that water from their monthly reported water production. The Water Board established targets for levels that widen as the reductions increase, based on urban water districts R-GPCD of less than 65 to more than 215 in the summer of 2014.

Target Reduction Levels

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of less than 65 gallons per person per day in July, August & September, 2014 are required to reduce their use by 8% from June 1, 2015 through February, 2016.

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 65- 80 RGPCD will reduce their use by 12%.

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 80 – 95 RGPCD will reduce their use by 16%.  EBMUD’s mandatory reduction

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 95- 110 RGPCD will reduce their use by 20%.

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 110- 130 RGPCD will reduce their use by 24%.

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 130- 170 RGPCD will reduce their use by 28%.

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 170- 215 RGPCD will reduce their use by 32%.

Urban water suppliers whose residential customers used an average of: 215 or more RGPCD will reduce their use by 36%.

Support for Conservation and new Voluntary Restrictions

The Bay Area has generally been supportive of the new restrictions on water use. In April San Jose outlawed home swimming pools and car washing. Santa Cruz imposed a rationing system of 10 units of water a month per house.

Read about Protests of differential treatment

EBMUD Rate Increase Hearing: June 9