Apr 23 2017

Blight, Commercial zone, winter impacts, paving, and solar panel installations.

On the twentieth of March, 2017,  the City Council discussed at their meeting  the rundown house of 954 Rose Avenue,  the dates to discuss Zone D in the City Code,  the City’s response to the winter storms,  the paving project, implementing solar panels, and actions regarding the damage to Cavendish Lane roadway.

The rundown house was an important and key point at the meeting as it was claimed there was a lessening of neighborhood value by hazardous, safety concerns. It had been over a decade and the property had not changed indicating to the City there was a need  for the City to take action. The property owner had started to make progress and had asked for an extension from the 27 of October to the 6 of January, but no further progress  was made.

Currently, the homeowner’s hut is falling in the neighbor’s driveway. Also, there is a big hole about four to five feet from the sidewalk; the staircase and chimney are broken; and there is a hazardous tree. In this meeting, many neighbors spoke upon these matters. One neighbor who is putting her house on the market expressed that she had to play guard for the house on Halloween as children think it is a haunted house. She also has to help the delivery guy to deliver packets to the owner and stated that people ask her: “Is it a crack house that you live beside?”

The difficulty in this case was that there was no previous similar case making the situation new territory. The Council realized the nearby property owner needs help as his renters are leaving and no progress is happening.  The City needs to pay their staff and there is no magical money coming from the issue. Therefore, a daily hundred dollar penalty will occur from the twentieth of March for three months. If there is no progress occurring such as repairing the stairs and chimney or having a construction schedule, then the City will take this to court on July first.

It is my opinion that this will bring Piedmont greater safety and a less blighted place, especially on Rose Avenue which has been a hurting street.

For Zone D, it has been a lengthy and complex process for residences, but the City has come forward with dates. The short term rentals are going to be scheduled to come back to the City council in April. The Grand Avenue area needs different approaches.  Work Session meeting to take further public input will be held to solicit concerns and issues.

In the City of Piedmont, we have been lucky to have Public Work’s Dave Frankel here 24/7. He is making sure Piedmont stays safe from falling trees, trash filling up the City, or creek overflows. In the winter months, it is hard to get anyone out to help, but Frankel and his staff have always been on the case. The winter months have therefore not been too devastating.  The streets have been regularly and repeatedly had the street sweeper. There have been 800-900 yards of trash picked up on scheduled street sweeping and 500 yard of unscheduled sweeping. The Council thanked Frankel and  his team for the hard work to keep the City clean.

The City’s pavement is being planned by contract City Engineer, John Wanger, who rates the pavement a 63. Since there is a budget for pavement, work is done on pavements which are badly degrading and preventive maintenance on pavements subject to degrading. Magnolia Avenue is waiting for renovation sewer work and Harvard Drive has been delayed. There is a lot more work needed on the pavements because of an increase of water cracks caused by the wet winter. There has been many improvements to come with better pavements, stop signs, pumps, and cycling lines.

The City of Piedmont may soon be clean and renewable energy per Jonathan Whelan who discussed the solar panel assessment. He discussed the location of the solar installation, the interconnection program, and the financials.

Clean renewable energy is something I personally support a lot and I spoke for solar lamps being put in the parks and other locations so that pedestrians can walk safely from athletic practices and other places.

This meeting went over a great amount of points to make our city better. This is why many of our citizens and organizations come to these meetings to get their voices heard and understand their city better.

Public Works Director Chester Nakahara came and was involved in the meeting. He was at the meeting on a number of issues including the paving program.  He talked about the work done to keep the roads clear and the City safe during the storms.

With all these wonderful people making sure our city is at its best and the citizens involved, we continue achieving goals to have a vibrant city.

by Lea Rygg, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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On March 20, 2017 City Council had it’s biweekly meeting in Piedmont’s City Hall. The City Council covered issues pertaining to the City of Piedmont like infrastructure, blight, solar panels, and the job of public works. The meeting began with an honoring of the City’s relationship with the American Red Cross, where Piedmont declared March Red Cross Month.

This was followed up by topic #6 on the agenda which was the Compliance Order Issued for 954 Rose Avenue which took up about half of the meeting. The issue with the home on Rose Avenue is that the front of the house has been deemed unsafe and a blight to the community of Piedmont. The three staff participants in the discussion where City Administrator Paul Benoit, City Attorney Chad Herrington, and the Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara.

The City of Piedmont had issued a compliance order on the house after the homeowner requested one but no improvements were made to his home. The City Council debated possible solutions on what could be done about the home.

Something easily noticed among the Council was how well they worked together to find the best possible solution. For example, they stated they could try to get a work warrant to fix the home, but decided that by the time they had gotten the warrant, months would have gone by.

Also, early on in the discussion, the Council had several neighbors speak about the house. Many of the neighbors stated that the house was an accident waiting to happen. One neighbor described a story of how on Halloween kids believed the house was actually a haunted house.

After hearing these messages the City Council took the neighbors’ consideration of immediate action and deliberated on a possible solution. The City Council agreed on a $100 per day fine until the homeowner obtained a permit with a construction schedule on it.

I agree with the City handling of the house on Rose Avenue because the issue has dragged out for so long that now the fines will grab the homeowner’s attention to hopefully take action.

Later, the City applauded the work of Public Works Department after one of the wettest winters in 60 years. The main jobs that the Public Work team focused on was providing sandbags for people as well as checking on Piedmont creeks to make sure they weren’t overflowing, which affects sewer lines. The main point of congratulating the department is that they do not receive a lot of recognition and to remind them to keep up the good work they are doing for the city.

After the meeting I was able to speak with Chester Nakahara, who is the Public Works Director, and oversees five divisions (streets, buildings, sewers, public works, parks.) For the most part, he thought that the meeting went well and the decisions the Council made, specifically for the Rose Avenue house, were steps in the right direction for the Piedmont community.

By Nicholas Pacult, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions are those of the author.
Apr 23 2017

Three options were described and discussed at the Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Piedmont School District.

    On April 1st, 2017, the Piedmont Unified School District Town Hall meeting took place at 9:00am in Piedmont High School’s Student Center.  The new Facilities Advisory meeting was convened to get feedback from Piedmont citizens on the three options for the new designs for Piedmont High School.  The meeting began with one of the facilitators, Gina Bartlett, telling the audience the purpose of the meeting and what was hoped to get out of it.  She said that they did not want agreement on the options, they wanted feedback.  The goal was to get the opinions of teachers, students, parents, and community members.  Bartlett also went over how the small groups should discuss each option in their small groups in order to get the most out of the discussions. Each group included five to six people, and there were 12 groups.  As it was a discussion-style meeting, speakers did not share their names.

    Superintendent Randy Booker spoke next.  He went through each option so people could have background on the project.  He stated that since Measure H1 passed, the District has $66 million for the new high school.  Booker went over the constraints for the proposed facilities.  They include: funding, lack of real estate and topography, and lack of interim housing.  These were the three things the board struggled with when creating the three options.  He said that it is important that the plan fits into the Piedmont community.  There needs to be a logical entrance.  This will provide a face to the school, and improve security.  Booker emphasized that though not every building will be new, the Board is planning to reserve a portion of the funds to improve the classrooms in the untouched buildings.  An animation was shown of the three options.  Each one involves building a three-story STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math classrooms) building and a new gymnasium or theater.  The video, along with more information and places to give feedback, can be found at www.measureh1.org.

    The rest of the meeting was spent critiquing and sharing ideas about each option in the small groups.  Each table wrote what they liked and disliked about each one on a piece of poster paper.  These ideas are then going to be discussed by the Piedmont Board of Education to create the final plan.

Option 1 involves putting the STEAM building behind the current gym, and putting in a new theater in the same place as the current one.  School Board offices would then be moved into a remodeled 20s building.  The benefits discussed about this plan included that it is the least expensive and creates the most classrooms.  A repeated criticism of this plan was that it would be difficult and inefficient to have a building that houses so many classrooms far away from the rest of the school.  Students would have trouble getting to it because of the small walkway that would lead to the entrance.

Option 2 would include a new theater in the place of the 10s building, and the STEAM classrooms where the current theater is.  People noted that this would create a face to the school.  Both these buildings would be along Magnolia Avenue, so it would be the first thing people would see.  The main entrance would be between the two buildings, and the main office would most likely be in the bottom floor of the STEAM building.  This would improve security, as office staff would have an easier time monitoring who is entering the campus.  A con mentioned was that both these buildings are very large, so they would be invasive to the feel of the current area:  architects would have a hard time making large modern buildings that fit into the surrounding area and campus.

Option 3 has the STEAM building in the place of the current gym and the new gym along Magnolia Avenue in the place of the 10s building.  People liked the idea of removing the unused amphitheater and having the three-story building make use of the hillside.  Because the entrance would be level with the quad, it would make another centralized building.  Having the gym on Magnolia makes it easier to find, and for more community members, able to utilize it.  Several groups thought that having a new gym is not as important as a new theater.  More people in Piedmont could make use of a new theater than a gym.  One parent reminded the group that when students are taking PE classes, they often go from the locker room to Witter Field.  Moving the gym further from the field makes it inconvenient for the teacher and students involved.  One student also brought up the idea that the identity of Piedmont High School is not sports.  By having the gym so prominent on the outside of the school, it disrupts what the students value most, which is academics.

After reviewing each option, I believe that #2 is the best for the school.  I think a new theater will be more beneficial to the school than a new gym.  Not all students play sports in the gym, but all students use the theater.  The new one would be wheelchair accessible and be up to date with earthquake and fire standards.  This option would also move Millennium High School into the current 20s building.  MHS students would be more integrated with PHS students.

There will be more chances to get involved and voice opinions.   Input from all meetings will be used by the School Board in preparing a final plan.

by Gemma Fucigna, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 23 2017

Who decides if a street tree should be planted?  Residents or the Commission?

    On April 5th, 2017, the Parks Commission came together for their monthly meeting for the main reasons of nominating a Vice Chairman, talk about the opening of Hampton Field, the Arbor Day Celebration on April 6th, and how the planting of new trees with public works.

    Following the relatively short nomination period, the focus was shifted to the opening of Hampton Field.  Hampton Field was recently renovated turning the field from a grass field to a turf field.  All concurred that the opening ceremony went extremely well and was a huge success.  They also think that it will be an opportunity ripe for donations as families whose kids have played at Hampton Park will want to donate to have their names on benches and such.

    After the success of changing Hampton Field into a turf field, the Park Commission then said they would turn their attention to Coaches Field, another grass field in Piedmont, and evaluate it for a possible grass to turf transition.  Betsy Goodman then asked about the life span of the turf field, as this was a concern voiced by members of the public.  The lifespan of a cork and sand turf field was about 10 years but could also be replenished, a huge reason why this type of turf field was chosen.

    One concern voiced by a commissioner was about the poor condition of trees at the basketball courts near the back of Hampton Park following a rough winter.   A member of the Public Works Department was present at the meeting and said that public works was planning on taking the trees out.

    The next topic on the agenda was the Arbor Day Celebration planned for the following day. Arbor Day is a national celebration of trees.  Though set up was coming along very well, there were concerns about the weather and if it would rain or not.  A citizen attending the meeting just said to make it clear where it would be held inside if there was rain and where outside, weather permitting.

      Then, the public works member, Dave Frankel, started the Park Commission’s report which consisted of how public works has been combating one of the wettest winters in years and how their reforesting projects are going.  Frankel said  85 cubic yards of debris has been cleared from the creeks in Piedmont.  Public works has also been reforesting the streets of Wyngaard, Inverleith, and Lexford, to name a few.  Public works were also looking at trying to plant new types of trees, like Chinese pistachio trees instead of the lateral outgrowth of Cherry trees.

     It was at this point I wondered why there aren’t any trees on my street. So I went up and asked about the process for choosing which streets to plant trees on.  Was it citizen requested or a Commission decision? Frankel responded by saying that the streets used to be chosen by the Commission, but the residents on many street didn’t take care of the trees so they changed the process to citizen requested.

    After the meeting, I stopped Commissioner James Horner. He came to the meeting to talk about the street tree plantings and the upcoming Arbor Day Celebration.  He learned that public works was changing the species of trees that they were planting to Krauter Vesuvius.  When I asked him about his reaction to this meeting, he stated matter-a-factly, “How short it was”.

by Nick Loduca, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 23 2017

Recreation Commission Meeting of March 15, 2017 – 

On Wednesday, March 15th, my classmate and I attended a Piedmont Recreation Commission meeting. The sessions are held monthly at 120 Vista Avenue in the Council Chambers and provide a platform for community members to discuss recreational matters with the commissioners which decide them. The agenda for the meeting included the record (or “regular minutes”) of the last meeting, and speaker cards are provided to everyone as they enter the room.

The first order of business is Public Forum, or a 10 minute period for citizens to bring up issues not explicitly mentioned in the agenda. A man took the time to address a problem he has with the Hampton Park tennis courts. He described his frustration at the busy nature of the courts. He said that when the courts are full, he asks people to leave and let him play tennis, they remain unmotivated to leave. The man suggested that a portion of the day, say 3-7 pm should be reserved for Piedmont “decal holders.” The Commission heard his idea but was doubtful of how exactly to enforce the plan. The man suggested a sign would do the job “at least in the beginning.”

After the Public Forum, the Commission went on to revisions of the last meeting’s minutes. The changes were minor, for example, a correction to the adjournment time.

After a short Chairman’s report, Recreation Director Sara Lilleland gave an update on the reopening and current status of Hampton Park. She explained that the remodeling has turned out tremendously and she is very proud of the park. She suggests that everyone go and see for themselves. Only some more benches and basketball nets are needed to finish the park. Unfortunately, four or five trees have fallen onto the basketball courts warranting minor repairs. The grand reopening was on March 25th.

The commissioners went on to talk about the CIP or Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee. Then, updates were given on “Facility Master Planning Projects” such as Aquatics and the Recreation Department. The consensus of the Commission is that these projects are going smoothly and should continue. A young swimmer asked about the possibility of a 50 meter pool in Piedmont but the Commission acknowledged the fact that there is simply not enough space.

After summarizing the projects, the commissioners gave their nominations for the Betty C. Howard Award for volunteer service associated with recreation. Nominees included former commissioner Kim Hebert and coach David Reed, known mostly as “Pops.”

Finally, the meeting closed with a ceremonial matter, Brian Cain’s receipt of a plaque commemorating his years volunteering on the Recreation Commission. March 15th was his last night. The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

by Walker Johnson, Piedmont High School Senior

 Editors Note: Opinions are those of the author.
Apr 18 2017

Citizen Request for more information on Piedmont Bus Lines Locations-

AC Transit Bus Lines #12 and #33 operate in Piedmont and Bus Line #29 stops near Piedmont.

Line  #12 has 4 stops in Piedmont northbound:

  • Grand Avenue at Fairview Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Grand Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Lake Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Rose Avenue

Line #12 has 3 stops in Piedmont southbound:    

  • Grand Avenue at Sunnyside Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Grand Avenue.
  • Linda Avenue at Lake Avenue

Line #12 terminates in West Berkeley on 4th Street (instead of downtown Berkeley) and on Harrison Street at the Jack London Square Amtrak Station in Oakland, with stops at three BART stations: Ashby in Berkeley, 12th Street and 19th Street in Oakland.

The Line #12 stops on Broadway in downtown Oakland changed: going toward Berkeley it now stops at 9th Street instead of 10th Street. Toward Jack London Square it stops at 13th Street and the south side of 12th Street instead of at the north side of 12th Street.  Through Friday, April 21, the Line #12 bus will not stop at 22nd Street on Broadway in downtown Oakland.

Line #12 operates every 20 minutes from about 6:20 am to 6:45 pm on weekdays, then every half hour until about 11:30 pm and every half hour on weekends.  

Map and schedules for bus Line #12 can be read here.

Line #29 replaced lines #26 and 31, serving Hollis Street in Emeryville, operating from Emeryville Public Market, West Oakland BART, 12th Street BART to Lakeshore Avenue at Wala Vista Avenue in Oakland, which is only a few blocks from Piedmont. On weekdays the last bus returns to Wala Vista Avenue at 9:47 pm and on weekends at 10:20 pm.  The first Line #29 bus leaves Wala Vista Avenue at 6 am and operates every 20 to 30 minutes daily.

Map and schedules for bus Line #29 can be read here.

Line #33 has 25 stops in Piedmont on its large horseshoe shaped route with stops at 12th Street and 19th Street BART stations in downtown Oakland.  There are stops on or at Crocker Avenue, Estates Drive, Hampton Road, Lexford Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Saint James Drive, Seaview Avenue, Sheridan Avenue, Sierra Avenue, and Inverleith Terrace only until evenings on weekdays with no service during a two hour lunch break.  The first Line #33 bus departs Highland Way at 5:51 am and the last at 10:29 pm operating every 15 minutes until 7 pm when it switches to half hour intervals. There are also two half hour intervals in the morning.  The last night time trip ends on at St James Dr on Park Blvd at 10:48 pm on weekdays and on Highland Way in Piedmont at 11:53 pm on weekdays and Saturdays. On Sundays and holidays the last night time trip ends on Highland Way an hour earlier and the last trip reaches Saint James a half hour earlier.

Map and schedules for bus Line #33 can be read here.

Information on fares and Clipper Cards can be read here.

1 Comment »
Apr 17 2017

Information in a declaration was provided by former Piedmont Mayor Alice Creason stating a (change of use) reclassification, such as for the Commercial Zone, without voter approval does not adhere to Piedmont’s City Charter. The declaration was sent to the City Council, Planning Commission, Planning Director, City Administrator, and City Attorney.  Creason noted she was on the City Council when the Charter was drafted and approved by Piedmont voters.  She states the intent and wording of the Charter require Piedmont voter approval prior to changing the use/reclassification of any Piedmont zone. 

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Zoning rules – setbacks, building heights, parking, apartment units, etc. –  for the Commercial Zone on Grand Avenue are in the development stage and two meetings are being held for public involvement.   The zoning rules for Piedmont’s Civic Center Commercial Zone have already been approved by the City Council.  

No recordings or broadcasts of the workshops are scheduled, however participants may make their own recordings of the proceedings. 

Read the prior PCA article on zoning changes  >here. 

The City’s recommended revised changes to the Commercial Zone on Grand Avenue can be read here.

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The Piedmont Planning Department notice is below.

The City of Piedmont will hold two community workshops to consider the Planning Commission’s recommended revisions to the regulations for the thirteen properties along Grand Avenue that are in the City’s commercial/mixed-use zone (Zone D). The regulations under consideration are those related to structure and landscape coverage, building height, setback requirements, and parking. In addition, city staff will introduce a recommended revision to the density of multi-family dwelling units allowed in Zone D.  The second workshop will be a follow-up to the first workshop. The schedule and location for the two community workshops are as follows:

First Community Workshop

Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 6:00 p.m.

Kehilla Community Synagogue, Fireside Room

1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94610

Follow-Up Community Workshop

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 6:00 p.m.

Kehilla Community Synagogue, Fireside Room

1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94610

One can find more information on the recommended revisions to the regulations for the City’s commercial/mixed-use zone (Zone D) by visiting the City’s webpage on the topic.

You are encouraged to provide your comments by attending the workshop and/or by submitting written comments by Monday, April 17, 2017. You can submit your comments to: kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or on paper to 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

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

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

Read the full PCA article on zoning changes and declaration  >here.

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Editors Note:  A quorum of the Planning Commission is not expected at either workshop, as the workshops are not Planning Commission meetings. Planning staff members will be present at both workshops.

For other PCA reader’s information, comments may be submitted below.

Apr 17 2017

A few Piedmonters tried the new nighttime bus service to Piedmont from BART in its first two weeks of service.  One rider described it as a “private limousine” when there were no other passengers. At the end of the second week, use picked up.  According to a Piedmont couple returning from an evening at the San Francisco Ballet at the end of the second week, there were eight passengers on the 10:30 p.m. bus from BART’s 12th Street Oakland City Center station. To the couple’s surprise, they were at home at the same time they normally arrive when driving from the Rockridge BART station parking lot.

The new Bus 33 nighttime service to Piedmont from BART and downtown Oakland restaurants and theaters will allow Piedmonters to enjoy cultural events and entertainment car-free and return home until midnight Monday through Saturday and until 11 p.m. on Sunday.

See Bus 33 map & schedules > here.

Has the Piedmont Climate Action Plan Task Force ridden the new Bus 33 yet?

Read about the new bus service to Piedmont > here.

1 Comment »
Apr 9 2017

Changes impact Second Units that are now called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law changes to Government Code Section 65852.2 (see below) in September 2016 materially limiting parking requirements for the development of Second Units and further enhancing ministerial approval of building permits, bypassing the community and its elected representatives. Piedmont’s ADU code has grown awkwardly with additions in 2003 and 2016 piled on top of the 1983 original language, resulting in numerous contradictions and conflicts.

When Piedmont’s Chapter 17 was recently (March 2017) approved by the City Council and Planning Commission, there was no indication in the volume of documents informing either the Council or Commission that the action they were taking would be impacted by the already in effect (January 2017) State law Government Code Section 65852.2

The new staff proposal is to revise the revised April 2017 Chapter 17 zoning laws which relaxed building requirements such as setbacks, lot size, parking requirements facilitating additional housing within existing houses and structures. 

Residents vary in their opinions regarding housing expansion in Piedmont through Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)/ Second Units.  Many like the changes as a way to stay in their homes as they age or add income through rentals plus allowing Piedmont to meet regional housing needs.  Others question the unassessed and unevaluated impact on public services, neighborhood quality, density, parking needs, community support, and traffic impacts. 

65852.2 includes permission for cities:

… a local agency may require an applicant for a permit issued pursuant to this subdivision to be an owner-occupant or that the property be used for rentals of terms longer than 30 days.

Piedmont’s proposed code states:

Parking. When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit, any required replacement parking spaces may be located in any configuration on the lot. (Gov’t. Code §65852.2 (a)(1)(D)(xi).)

[No setback is required for an existing garage.]

b. Setbacks. No setback is required for an existing garage that is converted to an accessory dwelling unit. If an accessory dwelling unit is constructed above an existing garage, the minimum setback is five feet from the side and rear lot line. (Gov’t. Code §65852.2 (a)(1)(D)

(7).)3. Owner occupancy. Except for an exempt accessory dwelling unit, the owner of an accessory dwelling unit must occupy either the primary unit or the accessory dwelling unit, if both units are used for habitation. The owner must record with the County Recorder a declaration of restrictions, in a form provided by the city.

 Staff is given authority by state law to make decisions on projects without public input or notification.

QUESTIONS:

  • Will the City have to add more staffing to oversee affordable unit compliance?
  • Some City’s require affordable units to remain affordable for 20 years rather than Piedmont’s term of 10 years. Why did Piedmont pick a 10 year term for affordability?.
  • Once a unit no longer falls into the affordable category will the forgiven parking requirement continue to be forgiven or will existing units have to return for a new permit level?
  • Does the City have adequate public services for increased demands – street widths, parking needs, public safety, and city staffing?
  • Will Piedmont taxpayers be required to pay more for the increase in public services or will the new units be taxed to cover expenses?
  • How many ADU units are projected in Piedmont?
  • How will the units be taxed ?
  • Why wasn’t the Council and public informed  of the upcoming changes based on State Law 65852.2 before approval of the redoing of Chapter 17  by the Council and Planning Commission that lessened parking requirements for existing properties, such as parking sizes, covered parking requirements, allowing tandem parking, etc.. ?
  • If a garage is removed, must the existing house meet their parking requirements?
  • Can an accessory structure be built on the property line and then converted to an ADU?
  • What measures will the City use to identify traffic or safety when applications are presented?
  • If there is no notice procedure, how is a neighbor to know if an application has been filed or how to appeal a decision?
  • How will the City know when a neighborhood is overly impacted with additional traffic issues from ADUs?
  • What will the application and permit fees be for an ADU?
  • What has happened to Piedmont’s covered parking requirements?
  • Will ADUs be reappraised for County property tax purposes?
  • Since the School District only taxes parcels, does this mean ADUs will not be taxed for School Bond measures and voter approved extra property taxes?
  • Did the City Council take a position on State Law 65852.2 when it was being considered by the legislators and governor?

_______________________________________________

City Planning Department announcement:

Planning Commission to Discuss Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

CONSIDERATION OF AN ORDINANCE REVISING THE REGULATIONS FORACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS IN CITY CODE CHAPTER 17

The Commission will hold a hearing to consider an ordinance to revise City Code Chapter 17 regarding the regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The proposed revisions are in response to the changes to Government Code Section 65852.2 resulting from the enactment of Assembly Bill 2299 and Senate Bill 1069. These changes limit a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as Second Units. The provisions affected by the changes to State law include, but are not limited to, off-street parking requirements, unit size limitations, and application approval timelines. The State laws permit cities to adopt ADU ordinances as long as the ordinance is consistent with the State laws and imposes certain local standards. The Commission may take action to make a recommendation of adoption to the City Council. The proposed amendments do not constitute a “project” within the meaning of CEQA, and therefore are exempt from CEQA, pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21065 and CEQA Guidelines, 14 Cal. Code of Regulations section 15378.

Mon., Apr. 10th – 5:00PM

[ADU’s will be considered at the beginning of the meeting]  held in the
City Council Chambers – City Hall

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

In September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law changes to Government Code Section 65852.2 resulting from the enactment of Assembly Bill 2299 and Senate Bill 1069. These changes limit a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as Second Units. The provisions affected by the changes to state law include, but are not limited to, off-street parking requirements, unit size limitations, and application approval timelines. The State laws permit cities to adopt ADU ordinances as long as the ordinance is consistent with the State laws and imposes certain local standards. Click to Government Code Section 65852.2.

City staff has prepared draft proposed revisions to the regulations in the City Code related to Accessory Dwelling Units. The revisions are included and outlined in a report to the Planning Commission that the Commission will consider during their regular meeting on April 10, 2017. The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to make a recommendation that will be considered by the City Council, which is the decision-making body. As required by the City Code, public notification will be provided for all Planning Commission and City Council meetings during which the code revisions are to be considered. Click to read the staff report on this topic.

Residents are invited to engage in this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to read the staff report and attend the Planning Commission’s meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 10, 2017 in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. Written comments and requests to receive email notification of activities related to revisions of City Code provisions related to Accessory Dwelling Units should be sent to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us. Comments on paper can also be submitted by hand or by mail to the Piedmont Planning Commission,120 Vista Avenue,Piedmont,CA 94611. 

Interested individuals may also send comments to > editors@piedmontcivic.org  allowing others to read comments on this site also see comment section below. The comments sent to PCA are not forwarded to the City for consideration. 

Read the full staff report, which includes the proposed ordinance at the end.  Click > here.

_________________________________________

The January 2017 State law controlling second units/ ADUs is below:

65852.2.   (a) (1) A local agency may, by ordinance, provide for the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family and multifamily residential zones. The ordinance shall do all of the following:

(A) Designate areas within the jurisdiction of the local agency where accessory dwelling units may be permitted. The designation of areas may be based on criteria, that may include, but are not limited to, the adequacy of water and sewer services and the impact of accessory dwelling units on traffic flow and public safety.

(B) (i) Impose standards on accessory dwelling units that include, but are not limited to, parking, height, setback, lot coverage, landscape, architectural review, maximum size of a unit, and standards that prevent adverse impacts on any real property that is listed in the California Register of Historic Places.

(ii) Notwithstanding clause (i), a local agency may reduce or eliminate parking requirements for any accessory dwelling unit located within its jurisdiction.

(C) Provide that accessory dwelling units do not exceed the allowable density for the lot upon which the accessory dwelling unit is located, and that accessory dwelling units are a residential use that is consistent with the existing general plan and zoning designation for the lot.

(D) Require the accessory dwelling units to comply with all of the following:

(i) The unit is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence and may be rented.

(ii) The lot is zoned for single-family or multifamily use and contains an existing, single-family dwelling.

(iii) The accessory dwelling unit is either attached to the existing dwelling or located within the living area of the existing dwelling or detached from the existing dwelling and located on the same lot as the existing dwelling.

(iv) The increased floor area of an attached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 50 percent of the existing living area, with a maximum increase in floor area of 1,200 square feet.

(v) The total area of floorspace for a detached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 1,200 square feet.

(vi) No passageway shall be required in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit.

(vii) No setback shall be required for an existing garage that is converted to a accessory dwelling unit, and a setback of no more than five feet from the side and rear lot lines shall be required for an accessory dwelling unit that is constructed above a garage.

(viii) Local building code requirements that apply to detached dwellings, as appropriate.

(ix) Approval by the local health officer where a private sewage disposal system is being used, if required.

(x) (I) Parking requirements for accessory dwelling units shall not exceed one parking space per unit or per bedroom. These spaces may be provided as tandem parking on an existing driveway.

(II) Off­street parking shall be permitted in setback areas in locations determined by the local agency or through tandem parking, unless specific findings are made that parking in setback areas or tandem parking is not feasible based upon specific site or regional topographical or fire and life safety conditions, or that it is not permitted anywhere else in the jurisdiction.

(III) This clause shall not apply to a unit that is described in subdivision (d).

(xi) When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit, and the local agency requires that those off­street parking spaces be replaced, the replacement spaces may be located in any configuration on the same lot as the accessory dwelling unit, including, but not limited to, as covered spaces, uncovered spaces, or tandem spaces, or by the use of mechanical automobile parking lifts. This clause shall not apply to a unit that is described in subdivision (d).

(2) The ordinance shall not be considered in the application of any local ordinance, policy, or program to limit residential growth.

(3) When a local agency receives its first application on or after July 1, 2003, for a permit pursuant to this subdivision, the application shall be considered ministerially without discretionary review or a hearing, notwithstanding Section 65901 or 65906 or any local ordinance regulating the issuance of variances or special use permits, within 120 days after receiving the application. A local agency may charge a fee to reimburse it for costs that it incurs as a result of amendments to this paragraph enacted during the 2001–02 Regular Session of the Legislature, including the costs of adopting or amending any ordinance that provides for the creation of an accessory dwelling unit.

(4) An existing ordinance governing the creation of an accessory dwelling unit by a local agency or an accessory dwelling ordinance adopted by a local agency subsequent to the effective date of the act adding this paragraph shall provide an approval process that includes only ministerial provisions for the approval of accessory dwelling units and shall not include any discretionary processes, provisions, or requirements for those units, except as otherwise provided in this subdivision. In the event that a local agency has an existing accessory dwelling unit ordinance that fails to meet the requirements of this subdivision, that ordinance shall be null and void upon the effective date of the act adding this paragraph and that agency shall thereafter apply the standards established in this subdivision for the approval of accessory dwelling units, unless and until the agency adopts an ordinance that complies with this section.

(5) No other local ordinance, policy, or regulation shall be the basis for the denial of a building permit or a use permit under this subdivision.

(6) This subdivision establishes the maximum standards that local agencies shall use to evaluate a proposed accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for residential use that contains an existing single-family dwelling. No additional standards, other than those provided in this subdivision, shall be utilized or imposed, except that a local agency may require an applicant for a permit issued pursuant to this subdivision to be an owner-occupant or that the property be used for rentals of terms longer than 30 days.

(7) A local agency may amend its zoning ordinance or general plan to incorporate the policies, procedures, or other provisions applicable to the creation of an accessory dwelling unit if these provisions are consistent with the limitations of this subdivision.

(8) An accessory dwelling unit that conforms to this subdivision shall be deemed to be an accessory use or an accessory building and shall not be considered to exceed the allowable density for the lot upon which it is located, and shall be deemed to be a residential use that is consistent with the existing general plan and zoning designations for the lot. The accessory dwelling unit shall not be considered in the application of any local ordinance, policy, or program to limit residential growth.

(b) When a local agency that has not adopted an ordinance governing accessory dwelling units in accordance with subdivision (a) receives its first application on or after July 1, 1983, for a permit to create an accessory dwelling unit pursuant to this subdivision, the local agency shall accept the application and approve or disapprove the application ministerially without discretionary review pursuant to subdivision (a) within 120 days after receiving the application.

(c) A local agency may establish minimum and maximum unit size requirements for both attached and detached accessory dwelling units. No minimum or maximum size for an accessory dwelling unit, or size based upon a percentage of the existing dwelling, shall be established by ordinance for either attached or detached dwellings that does not permit at least an efficiency unit to be constructed in compliance with local development standards. Accessory dwelling units shall not be required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not required for the primary residence.

(d) Notwithstanding any other law, a local agency, whether or not it has adopted an ordinance governing accessory dwelling units in accordance with subdivision (a), shall not impose parking standards for an accessory dwelling unit in any of the following instances:

(1) The accessory dwelling unit is located within one-half mile of public transit.

(2) The accessory dwelling unit is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.

(3) The accessory dwelling unit is part of the existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure.

(4) When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the accessory dwelling unit.

(5) When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.

(e) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, a local agency shall ministerially approve an application for a building permit to create within a single-family residential zone one accessory dwelling unit per single-family lot if the unit is contained within the existing space of a single-family residence or accessory structure, has independent exterior access from the existing residence, and the side and rear setbacks are sufficient for fire safety. Accessory dwelling units shall not be required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not required for the primary residence.

(f) (1) Fees charged for the construction of accessory dwelling units shall be determined in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 66000) and Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 66012).

(2) Accessory dwelling units shall not be considered new residential uses for the purposes of calculating local agency connection fees or capacity charges for utilities, including water and sewer service.

(A) For an accessory dwelling unit described in subdivision (e), a local agency shall not require the applicant to install a new or separate utility connection directly between the accessory dwelling unit and the utility or impose a related connection fee or capacity charge.

(B) For an accessory dwelling unit that is not described in subdivision (e), a local agency may require a new or separate utility connection directly between the accessory dwelling unit and the utility. Consistent with Section 66013, the connection may be subject to a connection fee or capacity charge that shall be proportionate to the burden of the proposed accessory dwelling unit, based upon either its size or the number of its plumbing fixtures, upon the water or sewer system. This fee or charge shall not exceed the reasonable cost of providing this service.

(g) This section does not limit the authority of local agencies to adopt less restrictive requirements for the creation of an accessory dwelling unit.

(h) Local agencies shall submit a copy of the ordinance adopted pursuant to subdivision (a) to the Department of Housing and Community Development within 60 days after adoption.

(i) As used in this section, the following terms mean:

(1) “Living area” means the interior habitable area of a dwelling unit including basements and attics but does not include a garage or any accessory structure.

(2) “Local agency” means a city, county, or city and county, whether general law or chartered.

(3) For purposes of this section, “neighborhood” has the same meaning as set forth in Section 65589.5.

(4) “Accessory dwelling unit” means an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling is situated. An accessory dwelling unit also includes the following:

(A) An efficiency unit, as defined in Section 17958.1 of Health and Safety Code.

(B) A manufactured home, as defined in Section 18007 of the Health and Safety Code.

(5) “Passageway” means a pathway that is unobstructed clear to the sky and extends from a street to one entrance of the accessory dwelling unit.

(j) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede or in any way alter or lessen the effect or application of the California Coastal Act (Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code), except that the local government shall not be required to hold public hearings for coastal development permit applications for accessory dwelling units.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 735, Sec. 1.5. Effective January 1, 2017.)

1 Comment »
Apr 9 2017

Seniors will be required to move their carts to the curb unless they pay an additional fee.  Waste services for City of Piedmont and Schools will continue  to be paid with resident fees. – 

At the March 3, 2017 Council meeting, the City Council agreed to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new waste collection provider.  The current waste collector, Republic Services of Richmond, had told the City they wanted an increase in the fees.  Hence, the City hired a consultant, contributed hours of staff work, held community meetings, and approved the RFP, which allows further negotiations with the City.

Seniors – 

Seniors will be required to pay an additional charge based on distance from cart locations to the curb and any change in elevations.  Individuals certified to be unable or disabled to transfer carts to the curb will not be additionally charged.

Piedmont’s RFP does not include a senior exemption in the RFP, because Piedmont’s attorney, Michelle Kenyon, advised that State laws do not allow the City to give preferential treatment to seniors requiring other ratepayers to cover their extra service.  As has been presented to the Council and City Attorney, numerous other cities do not require seniors age 62 and over to haul their carts to the curb. Presumably, when cities first started requiring carts to be placed at the curb, consideration was given to seniors who enjoyed backyard service at the same rate as all others, who enjoyed rates reduced by placement of carts at the curb.

The City and Schools are provided free service through the fees Piedmont residents pay.  

Concern was expressed that the Schools do not recycle all of their waste, harming Piedmont’s recycling goals.  Communication with the schools was mentioned in the discussions.

Recycling is threatened by a reduction in the number of carts provided at no additional charge.

Piedmont’s current contract allows unlimited recycling.  This is likely to change with a new contract based on an additional charge for additional carts.  It was suggested residents will place recyclables in their black can rather than pay for additional recycling carts.

Bulk pickups are reduced in volume, but will remain at 4 per year.

More money will accrue to the City through an additional franchise fee on the waste collection provider as well as annual Service Rate Adjustment payment  and Performance Review Payment.

The funds to cover the many new tasks assigned to the City through the contract are not clearly identified or known.  New tasks, include arbitrating rates, determining distances and elevations in regard to backyard rates, and certifying those who are disabled or unable to place carts at the curb. Oversight of the collector will be necessary.

Many Piedmonters have expressed pleasure with Piedmont’s current level of service.  Others have questioned the high fees currently charged.

Despite many iterations and considerations, the RFP appeared open ended and available for negotiations making it impossible to know at this point what the ultimate result will be.

Comments may be sent to the Council via either kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us. or jtullock@ci.piedmont.ca.us..

Readers may also send their comments to editors@piedmontcivic.org for publication or enter below.

1 Comment »
Apr 9 2017

Will the Post Office near Piedmont Avenue continue to function after 2018? The Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League (PANIL) reports that the rented site attracted the interest of a developer:

“A developer has come forward with a plan to build condos for “empty nesters” on the site of our heavily used U.S. Post Office at 195 – 41st Street. The proposal requires Design Review and permits for condos from the city’s Zoning Department. No formal application has been submitted as of January 31, 2017, but both of those permissions will involve public notification and public comments, possibly in the next month. The post office’s lease runs until some time in 2018.”

PANIL has organized a campaign to keep the local post office and encourages users to  Sign the petition online or   download the petition as a PDF

Piedmont Mayor, Jeff Wieler can be contacted at: jwieler@ci.piedmont.ca.us

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The Postal Service has been selling off post office locations across the country for several years. In April 2015 the Postal Service gave up its plan to sell the historic post office on Allston Way in Berkeley, California.Berkeley’s Opponents Prevented the Sale of its Main Post Office

A lawsuit had been filed by the City of Berkeley and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2014.  The complaints argued that the Postal Service had failed to comply with federal historic preservation and environmental protection laws (NHPA and NEPA) prior to entering into a contract for sale of the building. U.S. District Court judge William Alsup dismissed the lawsuits on the ground that they were moot after the Postal Service agreed to his requirement that it make a binding commitment to rescind its decision to relocate retail services and to confirm that the building is no longer for sale.