Jul 22 2017

THE ONLY BIDDER WANTS MUCH MORE MONEY AND THE CITY WANTS RATEPAYERS TO PAY FOR CITY AND SCHOOL WASTE.

Backyard service proposal leaps from $61.08 to $131.43 per month.

While Piedmonters have complained that the current rates for waste collection are too high, Republic Services, Piedmont’s current collector, was the only bidder offering to provide service to Piedmont under a new contract.

The City Council hired a special consultant, Garth Schultz of R3 Consulting, to advise on the expiring contract with Republic, but only Republic responded with a bid.

In the most extensive public outreach seen in years, backyard service was repeatedly pointed out to be a desired service by many Piedmonters.

Piedmont with its significant population of senior residents, lugging carts back and forth to the curb presents issues.  The proposed new contract will increase the costs for “backyard” service from the current $61.08 to $131.43 per month. Curbside rates will go from $55.11 per month to $88.65 per month.

Republic Services rejected the City’s RFP request for variable backyard rates.  Republic would only consider an additional flat fee for backyard pickup rejecting the notion of individual rates for each home based on distance, terrain, etc. for backyard service. 

Reduced rates for seniors or the “handicapped” needing backyard service is not part of the proposed contract unless they qualify under unspecified rules. (See p3 of the staff report linked below.)

Resident Rick Schiller “asked Council by email and the City what is the qualification for the handicapped discount and received no reply (see my Jul 14 letter which I posted in comments). ”

Schiller further states: “Early in the process, I gave the City a list of many regional cities that have this discount, including nine in Marin County. The City’s own consultant on this, Garth Schultz, was quizzed on this by Tim Rood and Garth commented that I was correct and such a discount is common.  The City told me such a discount is not legally allowed which is odd when it is “common” and has never been legally challenged elsewhere.”

All Piedmont property owners are required by law to pay for waste services with the contracted service provider.  Ratepayers through their service charges will be paying for the waste service for all Piedmont public schools, all City buildings, various authorized special events, all municipal waste in parks and the corporation yard, plus all sidewalk bins.

According to the City’s Request for Proposals, part of the ratepayers fees will be returned to the City for the following City benefits:

  • Reimbursement for the Procurement Process
  • Transition Payment
  • Franchise Fee
  • Annual Service Rate Adjustment payment
  • Performance Review Payment

Under the proposed new contract Republic will be required to expend $75,000 per year to educate Piedmonters on how to properly dispose of and limit their waste.

Bulk pick ups will be allowed to increase in volume and multi-family dwellings will be newly allowed bulk pick ups. There will be no charge for any recycling waste cans.

Most Council members seemed unimpressed by the increase in the rates being charged.  One justified the increase because Piedmonters were stated to be currently receiving a bargain for service.  Looking for ways to eliminate the use of the diesel fuel used to power waste trucks, one Council member expressed concern; however, the Council was told refueling stations in the area for other fuels were not available.

In  the fall of 2016, resident Rick Schiller commented to the Council:

“In early 2015, I did a rudimentary survey of weekly garbage service cost in surrounding cities. At that time the Alameda three full size bin weekly service was $36.07 monthly. Berkeley’s was $35.93. The Chronicle reported the 3 bin weekly Oakland service as $36.82 monthly. However, a friend living in the windy, hilly streets of Montclair put her service cost closer to $30 monthly. In contrast the current Piedmont charge is about 80% higher. In the past service providers have taken advantage of Piedmont’s lax contract procedures and the false belief that all residents had no financial concerns. I urge you to control the garbage service costs.”

To read other regional comparison rates provided by Schiller, click here.

The matter will be continued to a future meeting following the City’s “consultant’s” attempts to further negotiate with Republic Services on a new contract.

Read the staff report here.

Readers may send comments to the City Council, as follows:

Jeff Wieler, Mayor   jwieler@ci.piedmont.ca.u  (510) 428-1648

Robert McBain, Vice Mayor   rmcbain@ci.piedmont.ca.us  (510) 547-0597

Jennifer Cavenaugh  jcavenaugh@ci.piedmont.ca.u  (510) 428-1442

Teddy Gray King  tking@ci.piedmont.ca.us  (510) 450-0890

Tim Rood  trood@ci.piedmont.ca.us  (510) 239-7663

Or to:

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

To send via U.S. Mail, please use the following address:

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

*Article updated July 23.

Jul 17 2017

Recreation Commission Agenda Wednesday, July 19, 2017 7:30 p.m. City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

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

Regular Agenda

1. Welcome

2. Approval of Minutes – May 17, 2017 and June 21, 2017

3. Chair’s Report

4. Aquatics Coordinator Transition Plan

5. Update on PRD Adult Programming

6. Updates on Facility Master Planning Projects

  • Aquatics
  • Recreation Department/Veteran’s Hall
  • Linda Beach Playfield
  • Coaches Field

Announcements, old business

This meeting can be viewed on Cable Channel 27 or on the City of Piedmont website.

 

Jul 1 2017
In case you missed it, there was an interesting pair of front-page headlines in last week’s Piedmonter. City Council: “Budget OK’d; municipal sewer taxes rising in July.” Education: “District withholds teacher raises.” Let that sink in for a minute and then ask yourself – which would you choose, paying more for sewers or paying teachers what they are owed? To answer that, you need to know a little about Piedmont’s sewers and a little about the teacher retirement fund.
 .
Like Piedmont overall, our sewers are the best in the East Bay. That was not true 20 years ago but after EPA made all East Bay cities replace their old lines, Piedmont increased the Sewer Tax and every few years replaces sections around town – this summer’s work will take the city to 80% completion, 8 years ahead of schedule. The Sewer Tax increase amounts to about $25 per parcel and raises an additional $60,000 to bring annual sewer revenue to $2.4M. Piedmonters rejected a 50% increase in the Sewer Tax a few years ago, and it’s a good thing they did – the need was not there.
 .
The need is there for the School District. At a recent School Board meeting, the business official said that District teachers will not get their 2017-2018 salary increases in order to maintain educational programming. The reason – school districts must increase their annual contributions to the underfunded employee pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS). The state has mandated these annual increases from the districts going forward and they represent a real problem for maintaining the School District’s current programming – read Rick Rausenbush’s assessment at http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/01/31/piedmont-my-word-increased-pension-payments-threaten-states-schools/ to see how bad it could get for the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD.)
 .
So back to the question, sewers or schools? That seems like a no-brainer given the condition of our sewer system and the PUSD projected deficits but it’s not that simple. City revenues and School revenues are two different pots of money and they don’t share. That’s too bad because the mantra of any resident, new or old, is that they came to Piedmont for the schools and stayed for the community. With the robust housing market, the City’s revenues are at all time-highs, thanks to the home sale transfer tax and property reassessments. In addition, the City benefits from state revenue increases more than PUSD – the new gas tax will increase City funds for street paving (TBD) and permanent funding increases to state public safety funds will bring $100K to Piedmont. As a result, the City has added two positions and is giving out 2% raises. The picture is not so rosy for the School District – the school has cut positions and programming and, according to the Superintendent, more cuts may be needed. For more details, see city and school budgets at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2017-06-19/1718budget.pdf (City) and www.piedmont.k12.ca.us. (School.)
 .
Another way to understand this funding disconnect is to look at how the City and School District maintain required annual reserves. Each is required to maintain reserves as part of their budget – for the City, it is up to 25% of the General Fund, for the School District, minimum 3%. For the past several years, the City has met this cap by transferring over $1M in General Funds to special accounts – this year $800,000 to Facilities Maintenance, $400,000 to Equipment Replacement. For the School District it is just the opposite – the school budget had to be reduced by over $400,000 this year in order to meet their reserve requirements.
 .
The Piedmont City Clerk recently proposed removing the 25% cap written into the City Charter so even more reserves could be held by the City. Instead, Council directed staff to undertake a review of the City Charter and address the 25% cap and other ambiguous Charter provisions. Perhaps there can be new Charter provisions so the City and School District can “share the wealth” so to speak. Such language won’t be forth coming from City Hall so residents should weigh in when this City Charter review comes to Council.
 .
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 4 2017

The staff reports for the meeting are:

06/05/17 – Approval of a Modification to a Conditional Use Permit for Sarah Baldwin, DMD at 1375 Grand Avenue, Suite 101

06/05/17 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 732 N.S. Making a Technical Correction to Section 8.1 of the City Code to Clarify that the 2016 California Fire Code is in Effect

06/05/17 – Authorize the City Administrator to Sign a Letter of Support Authorizing Participation in the 2017 East Bay SunShares Program

06/05/17 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding the Proposed Budget and Fee Proposals for FY 17-18 and the Levy of the Municipal Services Tax and Sewer Tax

a. Presentation of Report from the Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

b. Report on the FY 17-18 Budget Proposal

06/05/17 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ordinance 733 N.S. Amending Chapter 17 of the City Code Related to the Grand Avenue Sub Area of Zone D

06/05/17 – Report from the Chief of Police Regarding Diversity Education and Outreach as well as Collaboration with PUSD and Other Stakeholders (Oral Report)

06/05/17 – Consideration of the Award of Contract for the Linda Avenue Crosswalk Improvement Project to Bay Construction in the Amount of $328,672.80 and approval of an Overall Construction Budget of $406,515

06/05/17 – Consideration of the Operational Analysis for the Aquatics Center Master Plan Conceptual Design

The agenda for the City Council – Monday, June 5, 2017   < meeting.

May 11 2017

The May 15 City Council meeting will include consideration of expending $10,000 for a pilot program placing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at strategic Piedmont locations to provide live video feeds.  The City Council deferred further consideration of cameras at Hampton Park based on privacy issues.

The staff report can be read here.

The ACLU has reservations about Public Video Surveillance except in high profile terrorist targets, concluding that its benefits – preventing at most a few street crimes, and probably none – are disproportionately small. It’s arguments against most installations are:

1. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN EFFECTIVE

2. CCTV IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO ABUSE

3. THE LACK OF LIMITS OR CONTROLS ON CAMERAS USE

4. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE WILL HAVE A CHILLING EFFECT ON PUBLIC LIFE

Read more details from the ACLU here

Read the May 15 City Council agenda here.

May 11 2017

The Piedmont City Council continues the practice of working on the City Budget without benefit of recordings or broadcast. The public is welcome to come to the meeting and speak to the various issues related to the budget: capital expenditures, revenues, taxation, employee benefits, new projects, roadways, sidewalks, trees, recreation, public safety, Schoolmates, planning, sewers, or any other issue related to City budgetary matters.  

Special City Council Budget Meeting

Saturday, May 13, 2017

9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

East Wing, 801 Magnolia Avenue (across from Piedmont High School)

Agenda:

1. Overview of the Proposed FY 17-18 Budget by the City Administrator

2. Presentation by the CIP Review Committee of Project Proposals for FY 17-18

3. Review of Departmental Budgets for FY 17-18

a. Police

b. Public Works

c. Recreation

d. Fire

e. Administration

f. Other Funds Budgets

City announcement:

The Piedmont City Council will consider the proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 at three separate meetings. A Saturday work session will be held in the East Wing of 801 Magnolia Avenue on May 13, 2017 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Public hearings regarding the proposed budget and the levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Sewer Tax will be held during regularly scheduled City Council meetings on June 5 and June 19, 2017.

The public is invited to attend these meetings and speak to the City Council about spending priorities for the city in the coming year.  Click to visit the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget page, where all sections of the budget are available for download.

For questions on contents of the budget, please contact Interim Finance Director Jim O’Leary via email at joleary@ci.piedmont.ca.us or by phone at 420-3045 with any questions.

If you wish to write to the Council regarding the budget, please send an e-mail to the City Council at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or send a letter via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, c/o City Clerk’s Office, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, 94611.

May 3 2017

The Capital Improvement Project Committee, plus interested individuals, will participate in a “potential” project tour on Saturday morning, May 6, 2017 to view and discuss projects currently under further consideration.  The Committee will make recommendations to the City Council for their action during the annual budget process.  The activities and tour are open to the public. 

Regular Agenda:  [All times are approximations.]

1. Tour of Sites to be Considered by the CIP Review Committee starts at 8:00 Piedmont Park Tea House in Piedmont Main Park.

8:15 – 8:45 –  Crocker Park Path Improvements (Corner of Crocker Ave & Hampton Rd.)

9:00 – 9:30  –  St. James Lanterns (Corner of La Salle Ave. and St. James Dr.)

9:45 – 10:15  – Wildwood, Winsor, Warfield, and Wallace Avenues Intersection Improvements

10:30 – 11:15  –  Linda Beach Tot Lot and Park Improvements (Linda Beach Playfield)

11:30 – 12:00 –  Coaches Field Turf and Lighting Improvements (898 Red Rock Road)

Times are approximate. Map and project descriptions will be available at all tour stops.

2. Working Lunch at Tea House in Piedmont Park  [Discussions and considerations of projects will occur.]  The public may attend.

READ THE  AGENDA AND SEE THE MAP WITH PROJECT LOCATIONS BY CLICKING  >>>>>>>>>    CIP Tour Meeting_May 6, 2017_Complete

For transportation details, contact the City at 42o-3040.

May 1 2017

Based on reader inquiries, PCA asked City Clerk John Tulloch to provide answers to questions regarding the installation of cameras at Hampton Park.  Below are the questions and answers followed by an excerpt from the minutes of the April 3, 2017 City Council meeting.

Please see the following responses to your questions about the proposal to install Public Safety Cameras at Hampton Park. Please note that at its meeting of April 3rd, the Council did not approve the installation of public safety cameras at Hampton Park. The Council did approve a policy governing use of public safety cameras for the City’s existing cameras in and around the Police Department. John Tulloch, City Clerk

Q:         When will the matter be considered further by the Council?

A:         There is no date set at this time for further consideration of Public Safety Cameras by the Council.

Q:         Who first proposed the installation of cameras at Hampton Park?

A:         The installation of cameras at Hampton Park has been a matter of discussion between the Police and Public Works departments for several months.

Q:         Who is in charge of the proposed camera plan?

A:         The Police and Public Works Departments are jointly managing the proposal.

Q:         Will there be any community outreach on the proposal other than at a Council meeting?

A:         If this matter is taken up again, additional outreach would be at the discretion of the Council.

Q;         How much will the cameras cost to install and maintain?

A:         Please see page Agenda Report Page 2 of the staff report on this matter on the city’s web site at: http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2017-04-03/public_safety_camera.pdf

Q:         How will the recordings be preserved?

A:         Please see Agenda Report Page 5 of the aforementioned Agenda Report.

Q:         Have there been incidents at the Park indicating security problems?

A:         The City and its residents invested a tremendous amount for the refurbishment of Hampton Park. The cameras were intended as a preventative measure, as well as evaluation of the technology available. Subsequent to Council consideration of the item on April 3rd, there was a vandalism incident at the park.

Q:         Are cameras proposed for any other parks or recreation facilities?

A:         Please see Please see Agenda Report Page 3 of the aforementioned Agenda Report.

Q:         Have there been security concerns at any other City facilities?

A:         The City continually evaluates security at each of its facilities.

Sincerely,  John O. Tulloch, City Clerk

City of Piedmont
120 Vista Avenue
Piedmont, California 94611
Phone: (510) 420-3040
Fax: (510) 653-8272

~~~~~~~~~~~

Below are the approved City Council Minutes of April 3, 2017  regarding Public Safety Cameras: 

Public Safety Camera System at Hampton Park

City Administrator Benoit explained technology serving as a tool to the Police Department and enhancing public safety. With the recent renovation of Hampton Park and relative affordability, staff was proposing leasing a camera system to monitor Hampton Park to evaluate the use and efficacy of Public Safety Cameras in Piedmont. If approved, staff would report back to the Council after a year of use.

Chief Jeremy Bowers discussed the ways in which public safety cameras enhanced public safety. Cameras at Hampton Park would provide the opportunity to protect the significant investment made at the park. He reviewed the implications of public safety cameras and proposed policy explaining that the use of cameras and balance of personal privacy rights. He stated the purpose was to evaluate, strategize, analyze data, and provide a recommendation to the Council after a year of use. He explained the components of the technology and policy regarding use by other than Police personnel.

Public Testimony was received from:

Susy Struble stated her belief that substantial justification had not been presented for the installation of Public Safety Cameras. She stated her desire for a long community discussion regarding the use of cameras which would include parents, children and high school students.

Rick Schiller expressed concern about installation in parks as a surveillance tool. He stated additional discussion was necessary, but that he was strongly opposed at this point.

Councilmembers McBain and Wieler indicated support for the cameras, on a trial basis, for the purpose of protecting the City’s investment at Hampton Park.

Councilmember Rood suggested adopting the policy to govern the existing cameras and to forego any approval of installation at Hampton Park until more community input was received. He suggested alternative installation of Public Safety cameras on the commercial stretch of Grand Avenue.

Councilmember Cavenaugh stated she was open to technology and focused on public safety but wanted to ensure that this was not a solution implemented prior to a strategy being approved. She stated her desire for a great deal of public input on this topic prior to approval.

Resolution No. 23-17

RESOLVED, that the City Council approves implementation of Public Safety Camera System at Hampton Park and a Public Safety Camera Policy.
Moved by McBain, Seconded by Wieler
Ayes: McBain, Wieler

Noes: Cavenaugh, Rood Absent: King MOTION FAILED

Resolution No. 24-17

RESOLVED, that the City Council approves of the proposed public safety camera policy.
Moved by Rood, Seconded by McBain
Ayes: McBain, Rood, Wieler

Noes: Cavenaugh Absent: King

Apr 27 2017

The Piedmont Planning Department and Planning Commission have been reviewing the recently revised regulation of City Code Chapter 17 to assure compliance with Government Code Section 65852.2 governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), also known as Second Units. The City Council will consider the matter on Monday, May 1, 2017, 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

The following PCA questions in bold black were submitted to the City Planning Department and the answers are in blue; questions and answers are reproduced as presented. 

Questions and Answers regarding Accessory Dwelling Units in Piedmont: 

Response to Questions from the Piedmont Civic Association regarding proposed revisions to the regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units for compliance with State laws. Received April 24, 2017.

  1. Will the City have to add more staffing to oversee affordable ADU compliance?    No additional staffing needs are anticipated.
  2. Some cities require affordable ADUs to remain affordable for 20 years rather than Piedmont’s term of 10 years. Why did Piedmont pick a 10 year term for affordability?   Ten years was determined to be appropriate and was sufficient for the State certification of the City’s Housing Element.
  3. Once an ADU no longer falls into the affordable category, will the forgiven parking or other requirements continue to be forgiven or will existing ADUs return for a new permit?   If, after ten years, the termination of the recorded deed restriction is not automatic (by its terms), the City shall record a document terminating the declaration of rent restrictions, upon the written request of the property owner. The accessory dwelling unit permit is not terminated in this process and the ADU will not be required to add additional parking otherwise required by the City’s ADU ordinance.
  4. Does the City have adequate public services for increased demands – street widths, parking needs, public safety, city staffing, schools, etc.?   The City will respond to any needs for increased public services when they arise.
  5. How will ADUs be taxed ?   As an accessory unit to the primary dwelling unit, ADUs may contribute to a parcel’s value and assessment thereby impacting property taxes. If occupied by a tenant, the property owner will need to pay the City rental tax.
  6. Will all Piedmont taxpayers be required to pay more for any increase in public services or will new ADUs trigger a new property tax assessment based on a reappraisal by the County?See responses to questions 4 and 5.
  7. How many new ADUs are projected in Piedmont in the next 5 to 10 years?   From 2005 through 2016, 43 accessory dwelling units were approved. Five of these were never constructed. Thus, the precedent is that 3.45 accessory dwelling units have been developed annually. An increase in the number of applications for accessory dwelling unit permits might be expected in response to the State laws, but the amount of that increase is unknown at this time.
  1. Should the Council and public have been informed State Law 65852.2 would be inconsistent with recently revised Chapter 17 by the Council and Planning Commission such as: parking space sizes, covered parking requirements, parking spaces required, allowing tandem parking, setback requirements, etc.?    Yes. Information on the recently adopted State laws modifying Government Code Section 65852.2 was provided to the City Council and separately the topic was brought up during the study sessions Council held in January on the comprehensive Chapter 17 updates.
  2. If a garage is removed to build an ADU, must the existing house meet the standard parking requirements?    The City can require that the “removed” parking spaces be replaced on-site, but the State laws require local jurisdictions to allow those spaces to be in any configuration (e.g., uncovered, tandem, any location). See Section 17.38.060.B.5.a in the proposed ADU regulations.
  3. Can an accessory structure be built on a property line and then converted to an ADU without a variance?    No, not for new construction. See Sections 17.20.040 and 17.28.040 of the City Code regarding setbacks to accessory structures. However, State laws requires local jurisdictions to allow for the conversion of existing accessory buildings, such as garages, into accessory dwelling units. See Section 17.38.060.B.5.b in the proposed ADU regulations.
  4. What techniques will the City use to identify traffic or safety issues when applications are presented to the City?    State laws prevent the City from requiring on-site parking for accessory dwelling units when the proposed ADU is within 1⁄2 mile of a transit stop or when a proposed ADU is within an existing building. The entire City of Piedmont is within 1⁄2 mile of a transit stop. As a result, vehicular and pedestrian safety are not included in the development standards for accessory dwelling units. See Section 17.38.060.B in the proposed ADU regulations. However, if exterior features are proposed to be modified or newly constructed, a design review permit is required. As set forth in Section 17.66.060 of the City Code, which provides the standards for a design review permit, the proposed design must not adversely affect pedestrian or vehicular safety. Safety concerns are also addressed as part of the review of a building permit application.
  5. With no required notice procedure, how is a neighbor to know if an ADU application has been filed or how to appeal a decision?    California Government Code Section 65852.2 requires that local jurisdictions consider an application for accessory dwelling unit permit ministerially without discretionary review or a hearing if it meets all the standards for approval. Notification of neighboring property owners would occur if the application for accessory dwelling unit permit did not meet all the standards for approval, and might occur if there was a concurrent application for design review permit, depending on the level of proposed design modifications.

13. How will the City know when a neighborhood is overly impacted with additional traffic issues from ADUs?   City staff and Council Members often hear from Piedmont residents on such topics.

14. What will the application and permit fees be for an ADU?  The current fee for an application for accessory dwelling unit permit is $750. Fees for applications for design review permit range from $170 to $1,630 depending on the cost of exterior modifications. Fees for an application for a building permit are approximately 2 percent of the total cost of construction.

15. What are Piedmont’s covered parking requirements for existing and proposed buildings?  Parking requirements are outlined in Division 17.30 of the City Code, which is available on the City’s website and at the Public Works counter in City Hall.

16. Since the School District only taxes parcels, does this mean ADUs will not be taxed for School Bond costs or other previously approved additional property taxes?  ADUs will not be subject to separate parcel or property taxes from those of the primary dwelling unit.

17. Did the City Council take a position on State Law 65852.2 when it was being considered by the legislators and governor?   Assuming that you mean AB 2299 and SB 1069, the two 2016 bills that amended Government Code Section 65852.2 (originally enacted in 1982), no.

The City Council will consider the matter of Accessory Dwelling Units on Monday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  Interested persons may observe the First Reading of changes to Piedmont’s recently approved Chapter 17 on the City’s website under videos or on Cable Channel 27. 

The City’s announcement and the actual language of the proposed ordinance can be read below:

Monday, May 1st – 7:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers

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.

Planning Commission Recommends Changes to City Code

On April 10, 2017 the Planning Commission voted to recommend proposed revisions to the regulations in the City Code related to Accessory Dwelling Units. Click to read the Planning Commission staff report and minutes of their discussion on this topic. The report prepared by staff for the Planning Commission outlines the proposed code revisions. On May 1, 2017, City Council will consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation to adopt the proposed code revisions. Click to read the Council staff report for this matter.

Residents are invited to engage in this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to read the staff report and attend the City Council meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on May 1, 2017 in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue. Written comments may be submitted to the Piedmont City Council at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or by US Mail to John Tulloch, City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA  94611.

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.

Comments to be read by other PCA readers may be submitted below.

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.