Jun 22 2016

Mayor’s resignation leaves a vacancy on the Council to be filed by the remaining Councilmembers.

Council applications must be delivered to the City Clerk’s Office by

5:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

Postmarks will not be accepted.

NOTICE OF INTENTION TO FILL A VACANCY ON THE CITY COUNCIL BY APPOINTMENT

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the City of Piedmont will accept applications from qualified voters for appointment to the City Council to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Councilmember Margaret Fujioka, effective at 11:59 p.m. on June 21, 2016.

To be eligible to serve on the City Council, a person must meet three requirements.

  1. First, the person must be a qualified voter in the City.
  2. Second, the person must not hold any other office or employment with the City.
  3. Third, due to the City Charter’s term limits provision, the person must not be a former Councilmember who served two full terms and left office in either 2012 or 2014.

The term of this Council seat is from the date of appointment until the results of the General Municipal Election of November 8, 2016 are certified, which likely will take place at the first Council meeting in December.

Applications must be delivered to the City Clerk’s Office by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Postmarks will not be accepted.

The City Council will interview candidates separately in a public meeting and each applicant will have the opportunity to present their qualifications and discuss their candidacy with the City Council.

At a special public meeting of the City Council on July 19, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. each applicant will be asked to make a brief presentation to the City Council.

The applicant may then be asked to respond to questions the City Council may have regarding their presentation or application.

An appointment will NOT be made without a Council interview.

The City Council may make an appointment at the special meeting or may direct staff to place the matter on a future agenda for action. Upon appointment, the successful candidate will be required to complete and file a > Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests. For more information on this requirement, please contact the City Clerk.

Applications are available from the City Clerk’s Office and on the City website

at:   http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us

Application Period: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 through July 13th at 5:00 p.m.

Application Deadline: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Postmarks will not be accepted.

Return applications to:

 City Clerk’s Office – 120 Vista Avenue – Piedmont, CA 94611

For more information on the application process, please contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at (510) 420-3041 or jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us

Read Piedmont City Charter  > here.

Jun 20 2016

Piedmont voters will be asked to approve a $66 million school bond at the General Election on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Board member Rick Raushenbush noted that the $66 million figure will not cover all the unmet needs. The campaign in support of the vote for the bond will be co-chaired by Claire Amo and Chad Olcott.

Also on the November ballot will be the election of two PUSD Board members.

Finalization of the Bond Measure will be considered by the Board at approximately 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 22.   The meeting open to the public will be broadcast live from City Hall on Channel 27 and also from the City website under online videos.

Read the full > agenda  and staff reports for the June 22, 2016 Board of Education meeting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Residents may comment to the School Board by sending an email to the link below:

Superintendent Randall Booker    >  rbooker@piedmont.k12.ca.us
594-2614

Read East Bay Times report  > here.

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Jun 18 2016

On Monday, June 20 starting at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall, the City Council will adopt the FY16-17 Budget, levy the FY 16-17 Municipal Services Tax and Sewer Tax,  approve “other Funds Budget” and fees, make year end appropriations, carryforwards, and reclassifications, approve Project Sport closure of southbound Grand Ave on August 13 and other agenda items.

June 20, 2016, Council meeting agenda items can be viewed by clicking on the individual items below:

06/20/16 – Approval of a Renewed Agreement with Alameda County Regarding Collection of Taxes 

06/20/16 – Approval of a Street Use Request from Project Sport, LLC Regarding Use of Grand Avenue on August 13, 2016 to Conduct a Portion of “The Town’s Half Marathon” 

06/20/16 – Consideration of FY 15-16 Year-End Appropriations, Carryforwards, and Reclassificiations

06/20/16 – Consideration of a Resolution Implementing Employee Payment of an Additional Portion of the PERS Employer Paid Member Contribution for Miscellaneous Employees as Previously Agreed to by the City Council and Employee Groups

06/20/16 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding the Proposed Budget for FY 16-17 and the Levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Municipal Sewer Tax and Consideration of the Following:

a. By Resolution, Adopt the FY 16-17 Operating Budget

b. By Resolution, Adopt the FY 16-17 Other Funds Budget

c. By Resolution, Approve the FY 16-17 Schedule of Fees and Charges

d. By Resolution, Confirm the City’s Annual Appropriation (Gann) Limit 

06/20/16 – Consideration of a Resolution Levying the FY 16-17 Municipal Services Tax 

06/20/16 – Consideration of a Resolution Levying the FY 16-17 Municipal Sewer Tax 

The meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and from the City website under online videos.

Read the entire agenda > here.

To send an email to the City Council click below:

jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us

Jun 18 2016

The Piedmont Planning Commission made a recommendation to the City Council that the proposed Building Energy Savings Ordinance (BESO) not be adopted.  

The online survey yielded considerable opposition to the ordinance from residents.

Voluntary rather than mandatory….

A new ordinance proposed by the City Planning Department to require an energy audit of Piedmont homes and properties prior to being sold did not receive approval by the Planning Commission on June 13. The ordinance, intended to support Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan, was considered by the Commission for approximately an hour and half at the Planning Commission meeting as the Commission listened to public testimony and deliberated on the matter.

An online survey that had been conducted by the Piedmont Planning Department showed overwhelming opposition to the proposed ordinance.

Most of the public participants at the meeting supported the ordinance. Former Council member Garrett Keating and members of Piedmont CONNECT, including Margaret Ovendeen spoke in favor of the ordinance indicating a desire to make the ordinance even broader, more comprehensive and rigorous.*  Debbie Fitzgerald, a real estate agent, argued that when properties are sold many reports are done – termite, roof, chimney, etc. – and adding another report would not be burdensome to home sellers.

Speaking against the ordinance was Piedmont real estate agent Nancy Lehrkind, who detailed her negative experiences with Berkeley’s BESO law.   She explained that energy information from PG&E can readily be provided on properties without a new law requiring the added expense and complications of a consultant.

A letter from Piedmont resident Rick Schiller pointed to another cost being placed on seniors who were already heavily burdened with local taxes.

Commissioners opposing the law and the use of energy consultants preferred audits on a voluntary basis for individual homes, further noting that information can be obtained through PG&E, which actively provides not only energy usage information but information on ways to reduce energy consumption. Mentioned was that reports prepared prior to the sale of property are voluntary rather than required by law making the ordinance contrary to market driven practices.

Heat source replacement, caulking, solar panels, double pane windows, insulation, roofing, etc.

Ordinance requirements:

The proposed ordinance requires energy consultants to complete an energy audit paid for by property owners prior to the sale of property.  The consultant would inventory an entire home or building looking for ways to reduce energy use.  Projects identified in the professional audit could range from heat source replacement, to caulking, to solar panels, to double pane windows, to insulation, etc. An energy grade would then be assigned to the building accompanied by a list of projects and qualified contractors to do the work.  The audit  itself would cost approximately $300 to $500.  The completed audit would then be filed for a fee with the City and become public information.

 The State of California establishes building construction requirements to reduce energy use.

Commissioners pointed out that when remodels are permitted by the City, they are required to reduce energy usage through the permitting process.  Since only approximately 150 of the 3,800 Piedmont homes sell each year, to accomplish a change in energy usage by the proposed sales method would not meet the 2020 goals in the Climate Action Plan.

The Planning staff was asked about the actions already taken through the more prevalent remodeling permit process and the impact on achieving energy goals.  Statistics have not been kept  by the Building and Planning Departments regarding the ongoing achievements made through the course of the permitting process.

The Planning staff was encouraged by Commissioners to come up with ways to promote energy reduction through information services, perhaps at festivals or other public information methods.

Preferring market driven, voluntary actions, Commissioner Tony Theophilos, an attorney, was vigorous in his opposition to the proposed law to be imposed on homeowners as being ineffective and problematic.  He was joined by Commissioners Tom Zhang and Aradhana Jajodia both of whom are architects, who felt the approach would yield few results towards reducing Piedmont’s carbon footprint, while imposing more costs on home sellers by an unproductive law. The three Commissioners voted to not recommend adoption by the City Council.

Supporting the proposed ordinance were Commissioners Eric Behrens and Tom Ramsey, who wanted to work towards meeting Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan goals and saw the requirement as a small way to encourage reduced energy usage.  Although supporting the ordinance as a first step, Ramsey, an architect, wanted a stronger ordinance that was more comprehensive.* The two Commissioners voted against the motion.

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The proposed ordinance and Commission recommendation to not adopt the ordinance will be agendized at a future Council meeting.   

Read Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan > here.

Read the staff report and proposed ordinance > here.

Click the link below to send an email  to the City Council via the City Clerk, John Tulloch at > jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us 

*Revised 6/19/16

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Jun 18 2016

Unconfirmed application deadlines for Council vacancy:

 Application: July 13th          Interviews: July 19th

On June 20, 2016, the last item on the Council agenda addresses the process for selection of an appointed Council member to replace resigning Mayor Margaret Fujioka to serve until December 2016.  The appointee under the City Charter will be able to seek a full four year term at Piedmont’s Municipal Election in November 2016.

City Administrator Paul Benoit makes the following recommendations to the City Council.

Consideration of the Process for Filling the Council Seat Vacated by the Impending Resignation of Mayor Margaret Fujioka

RECOMMENDATION:

1. Direct the City Administrator and City Clerk to solicit applications for the Council vacancy that will be created when Mayor Margaret Fujioka’s resignation becomes effective on June 21, 2016.

2. Set the deadline for applications at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13th

3. Schedule a Special City Council meeting to interview applicants and consider the appointment for Tuesday, July 19th.

BACKGROUND

On June 8, 2016, Mayor Margaret Fujioka delivered a letter addressed to the City Council and City Administrator announcing her intent to resign from the City Council effective June 21, 2016.

When a seat on the City Council is vacated for any reason, the City Charter spells out the way in which the unexpired vacancy is filled.

Within thirty (30) days from the date of a vacancy, the City Council must take action to appoint a successor who serves until the people vote for a new Councilmember at the next regular municipal election.

If the Council fails to act within 30 days, the Mayor is empowered to name a successor.

To be eligible to serve on the City Council, a person must meet three requirements.

  • First, the person must be a qualified voter in the City.
  • Second, the person must not hold any other office or employment with the City.
  • Third, due to the Charter’s term limits provision, the person must not be a former Councilmember who served two full terms and left office in either 2012 or 2014.      
  • Given Mayor Fujioka’s declared resignation date, the Council appointment of a successor must take place no later than Thursday, July 21, 2016.
  • The appointee will serve until the results of the General Municipal Election of November 2016 are certified, which likely will take place at the first Council meeting in December.
  • If the appointee desires, they will be eligible to run for two full terms on the Council, as they will have served fewer than eighteen months as an appointee.
  • The Charter specifies that any person who serves as a Councilmember for more than 18 months is considered to have served a full term under the city’s two term limit.
  • The Charter also addresses the issue of a vacancy in the office of the Mayor, as will occur in this instance. It states, “The Vice-Mayor shall act as mayor during the absence or disability of the Mayor.” This means that Vice Mayor Wieler will act as Mayor until the Council selects a new Mayor and Vice Mayor after it certifies the results of the November election.
  • Once Mayor Fujioka’s resignation is effective, the Council may wish to take action to elect a Vice Mayor to serve until the certification of the November election.
  • Considering the July 21st deadline for Council action on an appointment, I would recommend that the Council consider moving forward with a public process for filling the vacancy similar to the process used to fill vacancies on Commissions and Committees. Specifically, I would suggest that the Council authorize the City Clerk to issue an Official Notice of Vacancy and solicit applications for the open position, with an application deadline of 5:00PM on Wednesday, July 13th.
  • In order to dedicate sufficient time to meet with prospective candidates, I would recommend that Council hold a special meeting to conduct interviews. Given the benefit of notifying candidates of the interview schedule as a part of the application materials, Council should set an interview date at tonight’s meeting. I would recommend the special meeting for interviews on Tuesday, July 19th. With this schedule, applicants will have an ample period to complete and submit their applications. In addition, if Council needed additional time to consider the applications, additional meetings could be held on the 20th and 21st . 

The Council meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and on the City website under online videos.  Interested applicants should confirm deadlines and processes with Paul Benoit, City Administrator or John Tulloch, City Clerk, who can be reached at 510/420-3040.

Jun 10 2016

The proposed energy saving ordinance has met with strong opposition from Piedmonters.

Most respondents to a City Survey did not encourage the Council to adopt Building Energy Savings Ordinance (BESO) mandates in a new ordinance. Even real estate agents largely opposed it.

In April, 2016 the City invited real estate agents, contractors, residents “who had previously indicated interest in Climate Action Plan updates” and others to complete an online survey about possible Building Energy Savings Ordinances (BESO) for Piedmont. The survey was intended to help City staff develop a BESO ordinance.

The BESO would require a home energy assessment at homeowner expense whenever a house is sold, at a certain date for every owner, or at the time of renovation to a yet to be determined extent.

The assessor would prepare a Home Energy Report on the property which would result in an official Home Energy Score (HES) from the Department of Energy.

Piedmont homeowners who responded to the survey were overwhelmingly opposed to a BESO ordinance.

Real estate agents who are not Piedmont residents were inclined to support a BESO ordinance that was only triggered by renovation, not by sale of the home. Real estate agents who are Piedmont residents opposed BESO triggered by either renovation or sale.

The matter will be considered at the Planning Commission, meeting Monday, June 13, 2016 starting at 5 p.m. at 120 Vista Avenue, City Hall.  The meeting is open to public participation and will also be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City website under “online video.”

Agenda for the June 13, 2016 meeting <

Read the staff report and the BESO survey here.<

The proposed ordinance is part of the City’s Climate Action Program agreed to by the City Council in their efforts to reduce Piedmont’s carbon footprint.  Since Piedmont does not have factories or large polluting facilities, energy reduction in housing has been turned to as a way to control energy usage in Piedmont.

Notification about the proposed homeowner energy retrofit requirements was sent to some of those requesting information, as follows:

“You are receiving this email because you had asked to be notified of any activity by the Planning Commission or City Council related to the City’s climate action program.

Item 3 on the agenda for the June 13, 2016 meeting of the Piedmont Planning Commission is the consideration of revisions to City Code Chapter 17F to include requirements for a Building Energy Report and Score at the time of sale of a residential building. Posted on the City’s website are information on this topic and a link to the staff report, Exhibit A of which outlines the proposed code changes.

“Planning Commission will consider whether to recommend that the City Council adopt the code changes, known as a Building Energy Savings Ordinance (BESO). The recommendation will be brought to City Council at a meeting later this summer.

“You are encouraged to provide your comments on the Code changes under consideration by attending the meeting and/or by submitting written comments. You can submit your written comments to the Commission by sending an email to Assistant Planner Emily Alvarez or on paper to the address below.”

Kevin Jackson, AICP

Interim Planning Director

City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Tel: (510) 420-3039

Fax: (510) 658-3167

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Jun 10 2016

The Piedmont Planning Commission will hear and consider a presentation by staff on proposed revisions to the City’s Zoning Code (Chapter 17) on Monday, June 13, 120 Vista Avenue, City Hall.  The report by Kevin Jackson, Interim Planning Director is available here.<

Variances are Likely to be Granted

In response to requests from the Commission, staff researched several areas. (Read the City staff report here.)  The Commission wanted to know the rate at which variances are granted. Between 1996 and 2015, variances were generously granted at a rate of 81% for the whole decade. The leniency increased to an annual rate of 88% in the years 2013 -2015.

Staff advises that modifying the Code could reduce the necessity to request a variance. 

For example:

  • Parking requirements could be reduced to allow fewer parking spaces and smaller off-street parking spaces.
  • Setback requirements could be reduced and/or accessory structures might be allowed in side and rear yard setbacks.
  • Lot coverage limitation of 40% might be changed or differently expressed.

Threshold for Commission Review

In 2000, the exterior construction threshold for Planning Commission review was increased from $10,000 to $75,000, greatly increasing the numbers of building permit applications authorized for review by the City staff. Staff proposes increasing the threshold to $100,000 or $125,000.

At the public hearing the Commission will take testimony from members of the public on the revisions under consideration. The Commission may then provide comments or direction to the staff on updates and revisions to the City’s Zoning Code  and Residential Design Review Guidelines.

Read the June 13, 2016 Planning Commission agenda here.<

The meeting is open to the public and will be live broadcast on Channel 27 and webcast on the City’s website.   Consideration of the zoning changes are Item 16 on the agenda for the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, June 13, 2016.  The hearing is item 16 on the agenda, scheduled at the end of the meeting at an undetermined time.

City Code: Current Chapter 17, the Zoning Code.

Jun 10 2016

The following letter was written to the Piedmont Planning Commission opposing a Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO). 

June 9, 2016

Piedmont Planning Commission
c/o Asst Planner Emily Alvarez

Re: June 13 Hearing on BESO 

Dear Planning Commission,

The June 13, 2015 Staff report summarizes at page three 72% of residents and 72% of Real Estate professionals are opposed to any form of BESO. Additionally the most onerous form of BESO, the “date-certain” requirement for all homes had a low 1 in 14 approval rating. Considering the overwhelmingly negative community response to BESO, this matter should be tabled.

PG&E provides a wealth of free information. Double paned windows, adequate insulation and other energy conservation issues are easily and readily understood and available; most of us know how to make our homes more energy efficient and have taken steps in that direction as family budget allows. A separate Energy Audit at owner expense is not needed. While the City of Berkeley BESO includes buildings by a certain date, the Berkeley BESO phase-in schedule applies to all “building(s) except houses 1-4 units.”

(http://www.cityofberkeley.info/BESOschedule/).

This is a regressive ordinance that would potentially place considerable increased costs on fixed income seniors in older homes. If required at time of sale, those seniors in older homes will now have a report on home energy efficiency used against the sales price. Another layer of government is not needed in an already complex landscape.

Respectfully,

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 10 2016

Piedmont’s mayor, Margaret Fujioka, was elected in an uncontested race  to the Alameda County Superior Court on June 7, 2016. Although her term on the Court does not begin until January 2017, Fujioka has announced that she will resign her City Council position on June 20, 2016.  Her Council term extends to November 2016.

The City Council or Mayor is required to fill the vacancy. The appointed Councilmember will remain on the Council until the next election,  the Piedmont Municipal and California General Election is November 2016.   If the Council fails to make an appointment within 30 days following Fujioka’s resignation, the new Mayor (who will be elected by the Council) is responsible for making an appointment to fill the vacancy.

The Piedmont City Councilmembers have not made a determination on their approach to fill the vacancy. This will be scheduled for an upcoming Council meeting.  In past years when vacancies have occurred, the Council has opened the process up to all interested Piedmont registered voters.

Applicants have then been publicly interviewed and an individual chosen openly by the Council to complete the unexpired term of the vacancy. In this instance, the individual chosen would then have an opportunity to seek a 4 year term on the City Council at the November 2016 Election.

Currently, the Vice Mayor is Jeff Wieler.  The City Council will determine the next mayor. Piedmont mayors are elected by the Council from the Council and serve at the pleasure of the Council.

The City Charter states (emphasis added):

SECTION 2.05 VACANCIES; FORFEITURE OF OFFICE; FILLING OF VACANCIES

  1. (A)  VACANCIES. The office of a Councilmember shall become vacant upon his/her death, resignation, removal from office in any manner authorized by law, or forfeiture of office.
  2. (B)  FORFEITURE OF OFFICE. A Councilmember shall forfeit office if the member:
  1. (1)  lacks at any time during the term of office any qualification for the office prescribed by this Charter or by State law;
  2. (2)  violates any prohibition of this Charter; or
  3. (3)  is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

(C) FILLING OF VACANCIES. A vacancy on the City Council shall be filled by appointment by the Council, with said appointee to hold office until the next general municipal election, when a successor shall be chosen by the electors for the unexpired term. If the Council does not fill such vacancy within thirty (30) days after the same occurs, then such vacancy shall be filled by the Mayor.

Jun 10 2016

June 30th is the deadline for terminating the exemptions to the School Support Tax, Measure A.

   Otherwise, the District will lose another $130,000 in revenue in FY 2016-17. Fear of a lawsuit is the explanation given to me for continuing the unlawful exemptions, but I believe this fear is unfounded.
     

  The bottom line is that Measure A is the law and it allowed no such exemptions.
     

  I take no great pleasure in finding fault with the District. But what I first thought was a simple accounting error has morphed over time into gross negligence and an appalling indifference to the law.

William Blackwell, Piedmont Resident

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