Jan 22 2017

Hi, Neighbors,

Have you read the 535 page staff description of proposed changes to Piedmont’s zoning?  

Rather than simply affecting the commercial and “civic center” zones, this proposal has become a massive set of changes affecting essentially every Piedmont single family residence (SFR).

The changes appear to include:

  • reducing minimum square footage required Single Family Residence lot size by 25% (8,000 sf  to 6,000 sf)
  •  reducing frontage – reduced by 33% (90 feet to 60 feet)
  • reducing side setbacks by 50% (to as little as 2 feet (using language that falsely appears to expand the setback!)
A simple proposal for “Grand Avenue zoning fixes” appears to have expanded exponentially. If this proposal moves forward, it could potentially significantly increase the density of Piedmont’s residential areas.  It would allow substantially larger structures next to your home . . closer to your home, allow many larger lots to be subdivided, and allow much larger second homes on one lot.
Is there any description in the voluminous city documents of the total eventual impact on our city?  Will these proposals, in combination, lead to a tear down of many old Piedmont homes? Will residents only find out what’s really in this massive proposal after the Council passes it?
Unfortunately, no effective executive summary of the 535 pages is provided, nor any effective notice of specifics in this massive mission creep.
Changes having the potential to transform Piedmont should not be obfuscated within a 535 page document.  It now seems to cover everything from Airbnb rules . . to parking . . . to 4-story civic center buildings with zero (0) setbacks . . . to increasing density for virtually every Single Family Residence lot.   All important issues – and in some cases “hot-button” issues for Piedmont.

The multiple issues encompassed in this hydra-headed proposal should be dealt with separately, with appropriate opportunity for public input for each.

Staff was initially simply working on clean up language in the ordinance and a few zoning changes affecting the Grand Avenue commercial or civic area. Why have Single Family Residence changes been slipped in? Does the citywide impact on single family residences, commercial, and public property make a citywide vote necessary . . . . or at least desirable?

For those who have a few spare days to review it, the 535 page staff report is here:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/publicworks/docs/planning/ch17revisions/2016-11-10_report.pdf

The Council will be educated at a Council Study Session on Monday, January 23, 2017 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 120 Vista Avenue.   Live viewing will be from the City website and on Cable Channel 27. The meeting will be video recorded.

Comments can be sent to the Council as a whole at the following link:

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

Comments and contacts for individual Council members are as follows:

Jeff Wieler, Mayor

jwieler@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 428-1648

Robert McBain, Vice Mayor

rmcbain@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 547-0597

Jennifer Cavenaugh

jcavenaugh@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 428-1442

Teddy Gray King

tking@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 450-0890

Tim Rood

trood@ci.piedmont.ca.us

239-7663

Comments for PCA publication can be submitted at the bottom of this article.

Jan 20 2017

Did you know the City is considering big changes to what you, your neighbors, developers, and the City can construct in Piedmont? Once proposed Piedmont laws are approved, resident concerns can become moot. 

Some of the issues:

  • No surveys of Piedmonters’ preferences
  • Scant public input
  • Short term rentals recommendations (airbnb, etc.)
  • Zone use changes without citizen vote
  • Numerous building rule changes 
  • Reduction in parking requirements
  • Zero lot line construction
  • City Staff review and decisions on projects rather than control by citizen commissioners who know the community standards best
  • Building requirements for public property removed
  • No public workshops
  • Exclusion of public input in staff documents.

Study Session: 6:30 p.m., Monday, January 23, 2017, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  Viewable from the City website and on cable Channel 27.

Ask your neighbor, friend, or any resident if they are aware of the zoning and building changes being considered for Piedmont and you will likely get a shoulder shrug.  Despite the fact that the Planning Department and the Planning Commission have spent enormous amounts of time reviewing Chapter 17, engagement with the residents of Piedmont has been minimal.  The mammoth amount of documents present challenges to even a hardy observer of Piedmont zoning and construction rules.

Recently, the City Council on January 11, 2017 held a “Study Session” in an unrecorded meeting in the Emergency Operations Center of the Piedmont Police Department.  The purpose of the meeting was to educate the City Council about staff driven changes to Chapter 17 of the Municipal Code. Piedmont residents could not watch the proceedings from their computers or TVs because the meeting was not broadcast or recorded. Relative few residents attended that meeting or other prior meetings.

When is the public going to be educated on the proposals? 

Were hundred or thousands of Piedmont residents expected to go to the Piedmont Planning Commission meetings and wait for hours to be heard or to learn about the proposed changes?  When was the opportunity for an open exchange of ideas between policy makers and Piedmont residents? The residents who attended a Planning Commission meeting often found the allowed 3 minute time snippet for input often ignored rather than engagingly discussed?

Some changes purport to clean up Chapter 17, the ordinance controlling construction in Piedmont, other proposals change rules: allow the City to build whatever it wants on public property, change zone uses without voter approval, increase density, reduce parking requirements, and so forth.

The changes are too numerous and undelineated to list here.  All changes have not been listed by the City in a cohesive and manageable form. The voluminous public documents overwhelm the reader. Rather than small pieces considered in an orderly manner, interested residents are faced with about 500 pages of documents to slog through.  Yet the City presses on without surveying residents or setting up workshops as done with garbage, recycling, and recreation.  No round table discussions, extensive outreach to residents, or on line surveys have been provided by the City.

One speaker at the recent “Study Session” suggested minimally sending a comprehensive and specific letter to all Piedmont residents. An announcement was subsequently sent on January 17 to all Piedmont addresses.  The City announcement is brief and does not alert or inform the recipient of the numerous significant changes proposed.  Readers are directed to the mountains of information online without issues enumerated. The “public hearings” held by the Planning Commission praised in the announcement received little publicity and little public attendance or engagement.

The City relies on unfounded legal documents, an outdated poll, and the obscure generally unknown Piedmont General Plan, which was approved following limited public input with contradictory internal statements and inconsistencies.

Public Engagement During the Election –

Public engagement was frequently mentioned during the recent 2016 Piedmont election, however thus far the public has been largely screened out of the zoning and construction change decisions by indeterminant consideration times, difficult or no broadcast of considerations, unclear documents, and confusing data.  Organization of the material for ready residents understanding has been lacking.

As of this writing, the City has planned no further actions to inform and engage the Piedmont public.  The planning staff is pushing ahead for a prompt adoption of the voluminous ordinance on March 6, 2017.

Is the public intentionally being disregarded by a lack of clarity and opportunities for meaningful involvement?

The following letter from the Planning Director was sent to those who took the initiative to ask to be informed.  The links lead to complexities difficult for most residents to sort through.   _______________________

You are receiving this email because you had asked to be notified of any activity by the Planning Commission or City Council related to revisions of City Code Chapter 17 (the Zoning Code) and/or revisions to regulations of short term rentals.

Notice

As noted on the City of Piedmont’s website, the City Council has undertaken the process of considering a recommendation from the Planning Commission regarding updates to the Planning and Zoning Provisions of the City Code, the City’s Design Guidelines, and Policies and Procedures related to Planning matters in early 2017. The Council held a study session on January 11th and will be holding another study session as follows:

Study Session: 6:30 p.m., Monday, January 23, 2017, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  [This session is evidently going to be broadcast from the City website and on cable channel 27 as it is being held in the Council Chamber where video streaming is available.]

The City Council will not be taking action at the study session.

Following the study sessions, the Council is tentatively scheduled to take the first step in considering the recommendation for adoption at its regular meeting of March 6, 2017.

      Regular Meeting: 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 6, 2017, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue

Documents on the City Website

The staff report to Council dated March 6, 2017 [It is unknown why this 522 page report has been produced and dated prior to hearing from the Council or public.], the Planning Commissioner’s Summary and Navigation Tips, and other documents related to this project are available on the City’s website at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us. The webpage also contains links to previous staff reports, meeting minutes, the General Plan, the current Zoning Code (Chapter 17) and the Zoning Map.

Public Engagement

The opportunity for public input is available throughout this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the study sessions and regular meetings at which the City Council will consider this item. Questions about the project and requests to receive email notification of activities related to Zoning Code revisions should be directed to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or (510) 420-3039.

Written comments to the City Council on this matter may be submitted by clicking the following link > citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us  or 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

Please let me know if you wish to be removed from this email distribution list.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jackson, AICP, Planning Director, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 Tel: (510) 420-3039 Fax: (510) 658-3167

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more City produced information, click here.

Article updated on January 21, 2017

Jan 20 2017

The following letter was sent to the Piedmont City Council on January 15, 2017.

Mayor Jeff Wieler
Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch, City of Piedmont

January 17 Agenda Item 7: R3 Presentation on Waste Collection Services

Dear Mayor Wieler and Council,

The current Piedmont 32 gallon service which includes 1 each refuse, green waste and recycling is $54.80 for curbside service. The equivalent 32 gallon Oakland service is $36.82. In Tiburon this same service is $39.02 for flat areas and $46.47 for hill areas; in Mill Valley the rates are $41.61 and $47.73.  Small affluent bedroom community San Marino with its excellent school system has been used as a comparable City to Piedmont. Their rate is $42.05 monthly and is backyard service only, plus 2 cans each for refuse, recycling and green waste (source: 10/26/2016 Irene in S.M. City Clerk’s Office).

Piedmont’s rate is then 15% more than the similar topography hills of Mill Valley to 49% higher than surrounding Oakland.

The Piedmont service includes unlimited green waste and recycling, others may not. Piedmont has 4 bulk pickups annually. Tiburon and Mill Valley are serviced by Mill Valley Refuse Service (“MVRS”) which serves nine Marin County cities. No City MVRS serves has less than two annual bulk pickups. There may be other inconsistencies in the services provided; comparing Waste Collection contracts is sometimes like comparing rotted apples to moldy oranges.

While the current package of services is appropriate for Piedmont, perhaps limiting to two annual bulky pickups from four will keep costs down. Regardless, the current Piedmont contract was neither researched nor negotiated as vigorously as the renewal contract is apparently being done. Piedmont is no longer an “Easy Mark” by service providers; the mainline sewer work and excellent bids received by J. Howard Engineering being one example.
The current Republic Services contract excludes Ivy. In Ivy infested Piedmont it is difficult to understand how this was allowed.

For Seniors 70+, disabled and blind all nine cities served by MVRS have a curbside rate for backyard pickup. Normally backyard pickup by MVRS is charged either an additional $5 monthly for “on premise” service or $15 monthly for “on premise plus.” Seniors receive no financial consideration in Piedmont by City Hall or the School Board. The MVRS model of backyard service at curbside rate for seniors & disabled should be incorporated into the new contract RFP.

I propose homes in Zone E pay a slightly higher overall fee. All lots are over 20,000 square feet and generate larger and more frequent green waste pickup; additionally all backyard services in Zone E require more work by the refuse company. This Zone E slight increase would easily cover any small subsidy for a reduced backyard service fee for seniors, blind and disabled.

Sincerely,

Rick Schiller

Cc: Paul Benoit

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
3 Comments »
Jan 14 2017

Unexpectedly, High School Principal Brent Daniels is resigning his position mid-year for an administrative position in the Berkeley Unified School District.  Daniels last day in the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) will be January 27, 2017. At the January 24, 2017  School Board meeting, Assistant Principals Eric Mapes, and Irma Muñoz are expected to be appointed by the Board of Education as Co-Interim Principals of Piedmont High School (January 30th – June 30th) for the remainder of the 2nd semester of the 2016 – 2017 school year.

The recruitment process to fill the position of Piedmont High School (PHS) principal is noted below. 

~~~~~~ PRESS RELEASE ~~~~~~~

January 12, 2017 –

On January 11, 2017, Mr. Brent Daniels was appointed as the new Director of Human Resources in the Berkeley Unified School District. Berkeley Unified is a remarkable fit for Mr. Daniels as he resides in Berkeley, he and his children attended Berkeley schools, and his father was a teacher, coach, and administrator in Berkeley Unified.

Principal Daniels helped usher in a focus on the social and emotional health of students. His efforts resulted in a dedicated partnership with Challenge Success, a new bell schedule that allows for more sleep, and increased capacity at the Wellness Center, both in student-led outreach programs and interns to address student concerns. He worked with staff to create an instructional calendar that moved final exams prior to the Winter Break, and he instituted a 9:30 p.m. curfew on all extracurricular activities. Brent also responded to student and community concerns to provide a gender-neutral Senior Celebration and a gender-neutral graduation.

Principal Daniels also provided key leadership in the implementation of the Common Core Math Standards, pathways, and curriculum, and assisted in developing additional Computer Science and World Language courses.

“While this is a tremendous loss for PUSD, I wish to congratulate Principal Daniels on this exciting new chapter in his professional life. I want to express a tremendous amount of thanks for his dedication and leadership of Piedmont High School for the past 4 years,” said Superintendent Booker.

Principal Daniels’ last day at Piedmont High School is Friday, January 27th.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

On January 24th, the PUSD Board of Education will be asked to ratify the Superintendent’s recommendation to appoint both Mr. Mapes and Ms. Muñoz as Co-Interim Principals of Piedmont High School (January 30th – June 30th) for the remainder of the 2nd semester.

“I have complete faith and full confidence in both Ms. Muñoz and Mr. Mapes and their ability to provide the needed leadership to carry the school through this transition. I am so proud of Piedmont High School and its staff and student community and know that as a team of educators, families, and students, we will have a fantastic 2nd semester,” said Booker.

The District will facilitate a process to advertise, interview, and select a new PHS Principal for the 2017- 18 school year.

Selection Process for PHS Principal 

Advertising the position:
The advertising of a Principal position across the country is facilitated via local, state and national papers/sites, including colleges and universities and school districts. ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) produces a broadly distributed and well-read publication called the Ed-CAL where all districts publish job postings.

The District will publish the position posting on February 1st on Edjoin.org. Below is a link to the position brochure that will be sent to colleges, universities, county offices of education, and school districts across the state.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-vdk-LUzFEkY1pzcjRKY0pfYTg

Due date for applications: March 10, 2017. This allows for our position advertisement to occur in the Ed-Cal on the following dates: February 6, 13, 27, & March 6.

Community Engagement
It is important that our community of educators, students, and families have an opportunity to provide the District with input as to the desired traits and educational vision of the next PHS Principal.

The Superintendent will meet with administrators, staff, parents, and students during the month of February to gather their input as to the desired traits and educational vision of the next PHS Principal.

PUSD Admin Team: February 7, 2017 – 9 am Admin Team Meeting PHS Staff: February 10, 2017 – 8:00 am PHS Staff Meeting
PHS Students: February 15, 2017 – 3:30 pm
Parents: February 15, 2017 – 7 pm

Recognizing that not all families, staff, and students can/will attend the input meetings, the District will also develop an online survey/feedback tool for all constituents to be able to provide input as to the traits and educational vision desired in our next PHS Principal.

The input gathered from these meetings and the online survey/feedback tool will be provided to the PUSD Board of Education and the Interview Committee.

Interview Process
The first round of interviews will include representatives from teachers, classified staff, administrators, students, parents, and 2 Board Members:

(1) Superintendent
(5) PHS Teachers
(2) PHS Classified Staff
(2) PHS Students
(1) Director
(2) School Site Administrators (5) PHS Parents
(2) Board Members
___
20 Members

The District will work with the PHS Parents’ Club President to determine which parents serve on the committee. The District will also work with union leadership to determine which teachers and classified staff serve on the committee. Lastly, we will collaborate with the PHS Associated Student Body (ASB) Leadership Class to determine which 2 students serve on the committee.

This first interview will occur on March 21st.

At the end of the 1st round of interviews, the committee will make a recommendation to the Superintendent of their top candidates.

The District will schedule a 2nd round of interviews for the top candidates to meet with the Superintendent. The Board of Education will also interview the top candidates and may perform a site visit.

The target date for a final decision by the Board of Education is April 26, 2017. This will provide adequate time for a positive transition in preparation of the start date of July 1, 2017.

Superintendent Randall Booker

Jan 14 2017

Piedmont tradition of honoring Martin Luther King, junior continues to grow.

All are welcome to attend and participate.

Monday, Jan. 16th – 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Veterans Hall on Highland Avenue above the Police Department.

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration will take place on January 16th, 2017, from 1 – 3:30 p.m. at Piedmont Veterans Hall, 401 Highland Avenue, Piedmont.

This is a free event that is open to the public.

Speakers will include Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler,  U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond.

Enjoy musical performances by the Oakland Youth Chorus and Oaktown Jazz. Also included are original spoken word pieces by Together We Slam, featuring students from Piedmont Middle and High Schools, and the Freedom Project by Piedmont High School students.

This event is jointly sponsored by the PADC (Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee) and the City of Piedmont. More information can be found at www.padc.info. Please bring your friends and family to enjoy this day! To see the flyer, click here

Jan 14 2017

Climate Change

Volunteers will be needed if Council approves plans to appoint a committee to advise on Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan for 2030.  The matter will be considered at the Tuesday, January 17, 2017, Council meeting. The full staff report can be read here.

Public Notice ______________________

Piedmont City Council will be considering two climate-related items at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall’s Council Chambers. Council will receive a report on Piedmont’s 2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory and will vote to establish a temporary, advisory task force to assist staff in the development of a 2030 Climate Action Plan. We invite you to attend the hearing to express support for either of these items. You may view the City Council agenda for Tuesday’s meeting here http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/agendas/2017-01-17.pdf. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Emily – Emily Alvarez, LEED AP BD+C
Assistant Planner | City of Piedmont
120 Vista Avenue | Piedmont, CA 94611
T: (510) 420-3094 | F: (320) 223-0537
E: ealvarez@ci.piedmont.ca.us

1 Comment »
Jan 8 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 7:30 p.m. in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center is the first Study Session.

Concerns:

  • Lack of usable/comprehensible public information and citizen input
  • Eliminating requirements for construction on public property
  • Changing land uses without voter approval per the City Charter
  • Charging the Planning staff with approvals for projects under $125,000 rather than the Planning Commission
  • Allowing construction up to a property line
  • Reducing the number and size of parking places required
  • Leaving the Appeal process uncorrected
  • Handling of short term rentals
  • Neighborhood and emergency concerns over density and commercial increases next to homes, schools, and public property

No broadcast or recording of the Council meeting will be available.

The Council is to be educated on proposed zoning changes on January 11, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center.  This room has no equipment to visually memorialize or broadcast the proceedings.   Meetings regarding the City budget are typically held in the room, also without public broadcasting. 

The meeting is open to the public.  How the public can participate in the discussions, navigate the proposals, or query the presentation by Planning Director Kevin Jackson is unannounced.  

The volume and organization of the content is not listed under staff reports on the City website. The proposed changes are unclear relative to existing law.  Some members of the public have asked that specific items be identified and publicized so the public can come and speak to items as they arise.  No public workshops, surveys or study sessions have been organized. 

The factor most often mentioned regarding the Chapter 17 changes has been lack of public involvement in the Planning Commission recommendations, which were not unanimously approved by the Planning Commission. Surveys for recreation facilities and waste management have been widely publicized unlike the impactful changes to Chapter 17.  What the City, you, your neighbors, developers, can do with public and private property in Piedmont fall under Chapter 17.   The proposed changes generally originate from the staff. 

A few Piedmonters, the City, and developers have pushed to further densify the City, change zoning, and remove restrictions on use of public property.  A few knowledgeable Piedmonters have voiced objections to rezoning and changing land use without a public vote, allowing fewer and smaller parking spaces, encouraging buildings next to property lines, and removing approval processes from public consideration.  Voices expressing the preference to uphold Piedmont’s small town feeling appear to have been negated.  Appeal processes, Planning staff decision increases, commercial development intensity next to emergency facilities, homes and schools, involvement of the residents on a broad base have been issues.

Read City documents on the proposed changes here.

_____________________________

PUBLIC NOTICE FROM THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT

Study Session, 7:30 p.m.,Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Study Session, 6:30 p.m., Monday, January 23, 2017

Regular Meeting, Monday, March 6, 2017

At Study Sessions on January 11th and 23rd, 2017 the City Council will begin the process of considering a recommendation from the Planning Commission regarding updates to the Planning and Zoning Provisions of the City Code, the City’s Design Guidelines, and Policies and Procedures related to Planning matters in early 2017. No action will be taken at the study sessions.

Study Sessions:

7:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 11, 2017, EOC, 403 Highland Avenue – [This location typically precludes broadcast of the session.]

6:30 p.m., Monday, January 23, 2017, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue – [There has been no announcement regarding broadcast of the session.]

Following the study sessions, the Council is tentatively scheduled to take the first step in considering the recommendation for adoption at its regular meeting of March 6, 2017.

Regular Meeting: 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 6, 2017, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue

Background

The City of Piedmont General Plan, adopted in 2009, and the 2011 and 2014 updates to its Housing Element include actions and programs that mandate revisions to Chapter 17 of the City Code, otherwise known as the Zoning Code. Additional revisions to consider are voluntary but equally important to improving and streamlining planning services in the city. Beginning in 2012, the Planning Commission and City Council held a series of meetings resulting in the adoption of planned revisions in 2012 and 2013. In addition, in 2014 and 2015, the Planning Commission and City Council separately discussed regulations of short term rentals.

Current Effort and Planning Commission Recommendation

The larger goal mandated by the General plan is a comprehensive update of the zoning code. In 2016, in a concerted effort to achieve this goal, the Planning Commission has held and completed discussions about a variety of topics related to potential revisions during five regularly scheduled meetings and two special meetings. At a subsequent special meeting held on November 10, 2016, the Planning Commission unanimously adopted a resolution recommending that the City Council adopt a revised Chapter 17,

Planning and Land Use, adopt an Interim Design Guidelines, and repeal policies incorporated into the Code or Guidelines.

Documents on the City Website

The staff report to Council dated March 6, 2017 and other documents related to this project are available on the City’s website at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us. The webpage also contains links to previous staff reports, meeting minutes, the General Plan, the current Zoning Code (Chapter 17) and the Zoning Map.

Public Engagement

The opportunity for public input is available throughout this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the study sessions and regular meetings at which the City Council will consider this item. Questions about the project and requests to receive email notification of activities related to Zoning Code revisions should be directed to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or (510) 420-3039.

Written comments to the City Council on this matter may be submitted to citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

As noted in previous email notices, the City Council will be considering the Planning Commission’s recommended revisions to Chapter 17 of the Piedmont City Code, which contains land-use and planning regulations, including regulations of short term rentals. The Planning Commission also recommended adoption of an Interim Design Guidelines. Prior to its consideration of the revisions for adoption, the City Council will hold two study sessions regarding the matter. The meeting dates are as follows

  • Study Session: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 – 7:30 p.m., EOC, 403 Highland Avenue
  • Study Session: Monday, January 23, 2017 – 6:30 p.m., City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue
  • Regular Meeting: Monday, March 6, 2017 – 7:30 p.m., City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the study sessions and the regular meeting. Written comments may be submitted to the Council via email at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or via US Mail addressed to City Clerk John Tulloch at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

Please visit the City’s Webpage dedicated to the proposed revisions to Chapter 17 and Interim Design Guidelines for more information, including the report to Council and my recommendation on how to navigate the report.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jackson, AICP, Planning Director, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Tel: (510) 420-3039  Fax: (510) 658-3167

1 Comment »
Jan 8 2017

Do residents have an appropriate opportunity to be heard during Planning Commission and City Council hearings?

For weeks Piedmonters have noticed the story poles that seem to double the height of a house on Moraga opposite the Mountain View Cemetery.  This proposed enlargement has struck some as controversial.  However, it was approved by Piedmont’s Planning Commission and the neighbors’ appeal was denied by the City Council. Council found no procedural error and denied the appeal of neighbors objecting to building an additional story on top of a house.  The construction will more than double the size of the house.  The Planning Commission action was upheld on the basis that no error had occurred in the process when considering the house extension application.

The objecting neighbors thought their view was supposed to be protected but were told that Piedmont only protects views which are “panoramic”, not the ridgeline view from the Ronada house.  Most Piedmonters do not have “panoramic” views, but value their views of hills, parks, or the Olmsted landscape of the cemetery, etc. Since few Piedmont homes have “panoramic” views, this limited view protection  is a benefit for only a minority of Piedmont property owners. Chapter 17 requires consideration of any proposed constructions effect on “… neighboring properties’ existing views, privacy and access to direct and indirect light …” but does not  limit consideration to “panoramic” views.

17.2.79: View. “View” means an existing significant view involving more than the immediately surrounding properties, including, but not limited to, any of the following: city skylines, bridges, distant cities, geologic features, hillside terrains and wooded canyons or ridges. (Ord. 656 N.S. 8/05)

Piedmont has a narrow appeal process that eliminates an evaluation by the City Council of the full merits of an application.  The appeal ordinance has been publicly challenged for an inability of the Council to fully consider various aspects of the Planning Commission actions. If there was an error during the consideration process by the Planning Commission or the City Planners, the responsibility of identifying any such errors falls on an objecting appellant who is required to pay approximately $700 to seek justice and right the error.

Reimbursement by the City to appellants for their expenses including the City fee or their legal costs because of an error or omission by the Planning Commission is unknown and has not been announced.

Appellants face a difficult task when presenting their case to the City Council. The judgement of the Planning Commission in applying Piedmont laws and the actual judgement of the decision cannot be considered.  Time limits imposed, although not found in Piedmont law, further restrict the public or opposing party, typically neighbors, to present their concerns.

At the December 19 appeal, Planning Commission Chair Eric Behrens and Planning Director Kevin Jackson explained to the Council that the applicant had made some adjustments in their plans, but the applicant indicated they could not lower the second story by 4 feet. The vote by the Planning Commission was unanimous as was the City Council’s vote.

To read the full staff report on the appeal click below:

12/19/16 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding an Appeal of the Planning Commission’s Decision to Approve with Conditions an Application for Variance & Design Review at 108 Moraga Avenue

Given the significant responsibility and credibility bestowed upon the Planning Commission by the City Council, every detail, fact, and public point becomes vital to any decision.

The City is currently looking at changes to the ordinance known as Chapter 17 governing construction in Piedmont.  Some proposed changes are controversial, but the major complaint heard in the City revolves around no knowledge and no timely engaging community meetings to discuss changes or gain adequate input from the residents.

Under proposed changes governing construction in Piedmont, a greater number of applications will fall under the jurisdiction of the Planning staff rather than the Planning Commission further removing the public from open hearing processes.

Jan 8 2017

Should the City seek a new solid waste collection and disposal services provider beginning July 1, 2018?

WORKSHOPS

Friday, January 20th, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue

Thursday, February 2nd, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Veteran’s Hall, 401 Highland Avenue

TAKE ONLINE SURVEY HERE

The City of Piedmont is seeking resident input at community workshops and via an online survey on a new waste collection and disposal agreement, which would come into force on July 1, 2018.

The current solid waste collection and disposal agreement with Republic Services ends on June 30, 2018 and the City of Piedmont has begun the process of selecting the next solid waste services provider. Community members are invited to participate in two workshops to help assist the City in securing quality garbage, recycling, and composting services. Community input is sought to assess the community’s opinion of the current solid waste service offerings, and to determine the most appropriate garbage and recycling services for Piedmont customers for the next ten years. The goal of this effort is to reduce waste sent to the landfill while continuing to provide quality services to the Piedmont community.

To learn more about solid waste services in Piedmont visit: www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/recycling-waste.shtml

For more information on the current procurement effort and to add your name to an email notification list for the solid waste services procurement process, please contact Jennifer Gavin at jgavin@ci.piedmont.ca.us or 510-420-3054.

Background

On November 7, 2016 the City Council approved a consulting services agreement with R3 Consulting Group (R3) in the amount not to exceed $87,240 to help the City with the request for proposals for a new solid waste services agreement. R3 will conduct the two workshops, educating the public on the procurement process and soliciting community input.

The deadline for participating in the survey is February 20, 2017.

Dec 20 2016

   I went to the City Council meeting on Monday, November 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Piedmont’s City Hall.  The City Council meets every first and third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.  The members of the Council and various citizens meet to discuss and solve prominent issues within the community.

    Throughout the course of this meeting six major issues were discussed, the first of which was a report by the Chief of Police regarding recent crimes in the neighborhood.  The Chief of Police highlight a recent series of break-ins, robberies, a pig’s head being left at the doorstep of a resident, and remarks about deportations written in chalk on Linda Avenue. In response to the series of break-ins and robberies the Chief of Police assured the citizens that they review their patrolling patterns and devise a cohesive plan.  After a short investigation, the police discovered that the pig’s head was meant for another former resident as a joke.  The police have no further leads on the remarks written on Linda Avenue, though this leaves troubling thoughts in my mind as a resident of Piedmont living on Linda Avenue.  It deeply troubles me that someone living in what I viewed as an inclusive environment could justify in any way using language regarding deportation.  Even more troubling is its proximity to Beach Elementary School where the language used could show younger children that what was said was socially acceptable.

    The second issue discussed was the consideration of a fee waiver request for the residence of 42 Craig Avenue.  The residents received a design review which lasted for twelve months, after which it would become void.  After twelve months and the review becoming void the claim was submitted by the residents in addition to a request for the payment required for the submission to be waived.  The City Council ruled that the second fee would not be waived as the work done to clear the waiver needed to be paid for even though the work had already been done in the past.

    The next issue discussed was the elimination of the parking restriction of the 700 block of Highland Avenue from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.  This restriction was initially put into place in 1971 due to complaints of young people convening there and creating noise.  Removal of this restriction would in turn create sixteen parking spots.  The daughter of a current resident spoke out against the removal of this restriction stating that in the short term its removal could increase noise and crime, while in the long term home value could drop.  The City Council ruled to accept the motion, removing the parking restriction from the 700 block of Highland Avenue.

    The fourth topic discussed during the meeting was whether to refute or remain impartial on the subject of Alameda County Waste Management’s new 2016 ordinance that would ban the use of plastic bags in Piedmont stores and restaurants.  Choosing no action would only impact McMullins and Ace Hardware, forcing them to remove plastic bags and charge ten cents for paper bags in an attempt to push for reusable bags.  Piedmont High student Keith Sibal spoke in favor of choosing no action, drawing on his knowledge of the dangers of plastic bags pooling into the environment stating that the small cost of their removal will be outweighed by the protection afforded the environment.  The City Council ruled in favor of no action.

    The subsequent topic was authorizing the implementation of a community choice aggregation program.  The City Council approved the aggregation program, stating that it would give the people of Piedmont more choices and freedom to choose.

   The final topic covered during the City Council meeting was considering the agreements with Computer Courage for IT support services and Client First Technology Consulting for IT management services.  This was primarily to discuss the proper compensation for the work the two companies have done and will do in the future.  The City Council approved a budgeted compensation for the two companies.

   With the scheduled topics coming to a close and the City Council meeting being adjourned I had the opportunity to interview Jen Cavanaugh.  Ms. Cavanaugh stated that her presence was due to a letter she helped write from the School Board revolving around inclusion in schools that the City Council read.  She then explained that her next step is to meet with the School Board in an attempt to get real change going, stating, “There’s talk and then there’s action”.

Jacob Watson, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.