Resident Urges City Council to Consider A Police Patrol in High Crime Areas -
The following is an open letter to the Piedmont City Council.
Dear City Council,
I. Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are not a preventative law enforcement tool. Chief Goede referred to ALPRs in a KRON-TV interview: “Its not a crime prevention tool, its more of an investigative tool on the back end.” Additionally, Chief Goede was candid at the Piedmont Safety Committee meeting that there have been no studies showing a correlation between the implementation of ALPRs and a reduction in crime.
Preventative enforcement tools stop crime before it occurs. I doubt criminal offenders track which cities have a high conviction rate. Criminals likely do not know they are in Piedmont; they are more aware of the apparently higher value “pickings.”
So implementing ALPRs, while a “feel-good” response to the abhorrent home invasions that occurred recently in town, is at best only a peripheral deterrent tool that may aid in a higher conviction rate at a significant financial cost.
II. Emphasis and resources should be allocated to what prevents crime before it occurs. More police patrolling and current officers patrolling more vigorously are preventative measures. Council is to be commended for authorizing forward Police hiring and generally there is a perception that the Piedmont Police Department is patrolling more vigorously. Instead of using the funds for the ALPR, put another patrol officer on where crime is most concentrated.
Baja Piedmont has taken the lead in organizing neighborhood watch groups; hopefully the rest of Piedmont will follow in organizing neighborhood watches. Neighborhood Watch Groups can be uniquely effective given the relatively homogeneous nature of Piedmont’s populace; neighbors know neighbors.
III. Other troubling issues with the ALPR process.
A single company was contacted who then became the ad hoc consultant creating the specifications and then bid on their plan. This is not a robust Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The company chosen does not have a guaranteed camera percentage read rate. Because the Digital Age has reduced privacy expectations, we must be ever more vigilant in protecting our Constitutional Rights. The City intends Policy to be that protection; many instances of failed Policy in Piedmont (the Piedmont Hills Underground Utility District (PHUUD) debacle, the Crest Road gifting of the sewer fund, withheld reports on Blair Park and signed reimbursement agreements with Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) not being enforced) suggest that Policy may again fail residents with misuse of ALPR information.
IV. Spend taxpayer money on what is directly preventative, more Police patrols and active involvement with neighborhood watch groups.
Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.
Theater Arts, Adult Facility, Classes, Piedmont History, Speakers, Gathering Place = Ideas for community use of the building -
The following comments were posted on the Piedmont Center for the Arts website and made available to the Piedmont Civic Association:
To The City Council of Piedmont: My name is Michael French, I’m a Piedmont resident and freelance theatre director as well as the Artistic Director of the Piedmont Players, the resident thetare company of the Piedmont Center for the Arts. After a mere eighteen months in existence it is clear that the Piedmont Center for the Arts has become a much treasured jewel to the community of Piedmont. Its gallery space is booked almost a year in advance, it’s music performances are often standing room only, and its book readings are beginning to attract high profile authors.
The Piedmont Players is certainly in its infancy, but it’s obvious from the two sold out performances of its inaugural production that it too has captured the attention of Piedmont. However, I doubt that anyone outside of Nancy Lehkind and the cast has any idea how stressful it was to mount the production because of the lack of rehearsal space. The stage for performances can take up to an hour to assemble (with obviously another hour to break it down), and that’s only if there are three people available to assist in carrying each piece from the basement to the main floor and back again. Needless to say it’s an exhausting job, time consuming, and entirely avoidable.
The East Wing of PCA is the perfect size to house an assembled stage and in doing so create a rehearsal room not just for actors, but for all performers. The PCA is a multipurpose facility and in constant use and the stage is assembled and broken down sometimes twice a day so that it doesn’t disrupt PCA’s commitment to the artists or the community that use it. A rehearsal room on the premises for artists to practice and hone their craft is one of the last obstacles to PCA being a true performing arts center. Allowing PCA to make use of the East Wing would solve this problem in a blink. I can think of no better gift the city could give PCA and its vision for artistic excellence than the East Wing, and a gift to PCA is in turn a gift to the community.
The Piedmont Players
Dear Mr. Mayor and Members of the City Council,
The Piedmont Center for the Arts has become a resounding success in the few years of its existence. Through its doors pass many, many Piedmont residents, attracted to a venue that features chamber music groups, singers, and a wide variety of visual art; performance of a newly formed theater group, the Piedmont Players.
When I learned of the possibility of development of another space in an unused room, I realized immediately how valuable that space could be for blocking plays, for workshops in theater, film, photography, other visual arts, perhaps for a film festival showcasing Piedmont film makers. All these uses are in keeping with the purpose of the center: promoting the arts in Piedmont, reaching beyond our schools.
A play needs dedicated space for it to come alive. With a full array of events featured in the main performance hall and gallery, it’s difficult to find that space. Converting the unused room to a space suitable for play practice, workshops, film, archival storage for the Historical Society, will open the way to a revival of one art that’s been missing lately in this town: community theater.
I urge you to support transforming that undeveloped room into a multi-use space for the arts. Thank you for considering my request.
I am writing as a Piedmont resident (Hillside Avenue), concerning the discussion about what to do with the East Wing of the PCA building. First, I am so thrilled that the Piedmont Center for the Arts has come into being, and has brought such interesting and diverse activities to the formerly empty, unused space. I have personally enjoyed art exhibits, music presentations, plays, business networking sessions, and more. The Center has added a vibrancy to the town center (and the town, as well), that is wonderful.
I think it would be terrific if the additional space could be used primarily, for a community orchestra. Clearly there are a number of musicians, of all sorts, who reside in Piedmont and who often perform for various events in town. It would be lovely to have a space for a community orchestra, that could be peopled by adults and serious students in town. It would also be a complimentary use of the building and could also, possibly, provide additional space for the events that are currently happening at the Center.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit my thoughts on this. Best of luck.
Alain Pinel Realtors
Some type of adult facility is appropriate for the East Wing. The Piedmont Adult population is severely under-served in Piedmont with no facilities provided by the City. Given the existing multiple child-care and extensive recreational facilities, I question staff putting forward a plan for yet another child-care venue. A gathering place for adults and especially seniors is needed and 801 Magnolia is likely the only venue where this can occur and fortunately would be well suited for such use. Limited coffee/tea and pastry availability would be a welcome addition, and at market pricing rather than the show prices as is the case near by. Having a facility for guitarists, musicians and other low volume instruments would be a fantastic addition to the community.
PCA has grown in a relatively short time to be a vibrant and needed addition to Piedmont. The varied programs benefit all and another child-care facility would be at odds and detract from the art and culture based programs that are ongoing and growing.
Just a brainstorm list of possible events/activities for PCA and/or the East Wing.
The Piedmont Center for the Arts has proven to be a great success. I recommend that the the east wing of 801 Magnolia be used for a purpose that is consistent with the Center, namely art. In particular, it would be a benefit to Piedmont if the east wing is used to further art education; such as holding classes or workshops geared toward adults in learning about how to do art or appreciate art.
So let’s create a place where adults can come to gather to interact with each other, further the arts in Piedmont and build a stronger community.
Dear City Council Members,
I would like to put forward a couple of ideas concerning use of the East Wing of the Piedmont Center for the Arts.
I am in two singing groups, and there are many other groups like mine in the area which need practice spaces. It would be nice to be able to rent a place for rehearsals–ideally with a piano and enough room for 10-15 people.
Also, if we perform at the facility, it would be great to have a place to store equipment overnight in a safe place so that, for example, costumes, props or sound equipment won’t have to be carted in and out several times during the rehearsal/performance cycle.
Private music lessons could also be conducted if the rooms in the East Wing were sound-proofed.
And, having a functional “Greenroom” for performers while they wait to take the stage would be wonderful!
So, as you can see, I think we should strive to preserve this entire building for arts-related activities! And I would hope, that if this “dream” could come true, it would make the already fabulous PCA even better!
(And I would hope the prices for rental could be kept reasonable! Musicians
often are not particularly wealthy individuals.).
Thanks for your consideration,
sounds like the White House, but it’s our own Center for the Arts. We’ve got a new space, and lots of possibilities for it.
-Adult art classes– They’re available through the Adult (night) school – should we compete with the school across the street?
-An open house from 10-2 twice per week for adults to gather, share, have coffee, play cards, mah jong, converse, etc. An Adult Clubhouse of sorts– Might be fun. Will there be lunch? That’s lunch hour..
-A place to hold photography classes and workshops — Adult school again.. Hmm ..
-An intimate film theatre for daytime and evening shows (to showcase the many documentary films by Piedmonters, perhaps to entire Indie filmmakers to show their works)– This is a really cool idea. maybe we could even get Michael Fox to do a class on documentary film. He’s an Olli instructor – he’ll have a class this spring on Wednesday mornings.
-A place for a class on Screen Writing — sounds very specialized – why not other kinds of writing, too? Whatever isn’t already covered at the Adult school..
-A place for blocking theatrical productions when we cannot have the trust stage up for rehearsals due to the heavily booked Main Hall. — Sounds good to me!
If I come up with anything that hasn’t already been thought of, I’ll let you know. But don’t hold your breath. I guess classes involving singing and/or musical instruments, besides probably being covered at the Adult school, might be a problem for the neighbors..
The Institute for Development of Education in the Arts (IDEA) is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation founded to connect senior adults and young people through the arts.
IDEA would like to collaborate with PCA. Our proposal for use of the East Wing space is to present Life of the Artist – a weekly class for senior adults about arts professions, with lectures and demonstrations by professional artists, musicians, composers, dancers, actors, filmmakers, writers.
IDEA’s mission is to facilitate multi-generational artistic development, and to exchange and promote inter-generational community building through the arts; to encourage arts learning for people of all ages and backgrounds, especially underserved populations of seniors, youth, disabled, and economically challenged; to provide arts curricula and resources for educators, and promote integrated arts learning in schools; to serve as an arts resource for senior facilities, and enable seniors to experience the arts through performances, exhibits, workshops, and hands-on activities; introduce the arts to children using performances, exhibits, and workshops; and to build future audiences and encourage participation in the arts.
As a space with many opportunities for development (in a town with few
opportunities for space), I would like to see one of the bays in the East
Wing of the Center set aside for the storage of the city’s Block Books and
Sanborn maps. These large books are a valuable resource for the city and
homeowners, providing information that is not available anywhere else.
Moving them to off-site storage with a 24-hour retrieval would make them
essentially unavailable. Seventeen linear feet of shelf space would
accommodate these valuable books, two sides of a bay, two shelves high. The
walls are already in place, and a door with a lock would keep them safe.
I sincerely hope that you will consider this small storage space as part of
your plans for the Piedmont Center for the Arts.
Gail G. Lombardi
Piedmont Historical Society
Just a little feedback from the community re: programming in case of interest. I have a first grader in Piedmont who LOVES studio art. I am only finding really neat places to take summer art classes in locations that are a bit of a schlep esp for working parents. I would encourage the art center to consider offering some programs in the summer (not this summer obviously– too late but for 2014 perhaps?) in the vein of this place (different themes, all day):
From what I’m hearing in the community, there would be tremendous interest in something more local of this variety (the rec center is a fantastic resource for many things but is not quite this for the arts….)
Just a thought…..
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.
Resident Urges City Council to Reconsider Risk Management Policies -
The following is an open letter to the Piedmont City Council.
Re: Risk Management Policies
To the Piedmont City Council:
I urge you to reconsider some of your members’ stated opposition to reviewing the risk management oversights which were made in connection with the City’s consideration of the Moraga Canyon project, as understanding how and why they occurred will help guide your review and consideration of the recently proposed risk management policies.
As a preface, these issues are independent of the political wisdom for or against the Moraga Canyon project. They deal solely with the project risks presented, some of which were similar to the risks which surfaced in the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding project. I will confine my comments to three principal aspects of the project: 1) The contracting arrangement was not legal because Blair Park LLC was not properly licensed; 2) design responsibility and liability was omitted from the agreements; and 3) the bond requested was not required to be posted by the proper party and so would have not protected against the appropriate risks.
First, while creating a new entity – Blair Park LLC – to be the contracting party was apparently done in an attempt to insulate the City from potential construction cost overruns, because Blair Park LLC was agreeing to cause to have the complex constructed, it was required to be a licensed contractor, but was not. It was immaterial that all the actual construction work was to be performed by Webcor, a licensed contractor. Vallejo Development Company v. Beck Development (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 929, 941 (“The fact that [the developer] subcontracted with licensed contractors to provide the actual labor, equipment and materials to construct the infrastructure improvements is irrelevant. [Business & Professions Code] Section 7026 plainly states that both the person who provides construction services himself and one who does so ‘through others’ qualifies as a ‘contractor’. The California courts also long held that those who enter into construction contracts must be licensed, even when they themselves do not do the actual work under the contract.”) Because Blair Park LLC was the contracting party with the City, it was obligated under California Business & Professions Code Section 7028 to be licensed.
Indeed, under Business & Professions Code Section 7028.7, the City itself could have been issued a citation and fine by the State Contractors License Board Registrar for entering into a contract with an unlicensed contractor. A contract with an unlicensed contractor is considered to be illegal and unenforceable. I brought this issue up with the City staff and the project proponents prior to the Council meeting at which the project was approved.
Second, notwithstanding the fact that Blair Park LLC had design/build responsibilities, because the City’s proposed agreement with Blair Park LLC, and Blair Park LLC’s conditions of contract with Webcor were apparently modeled on the Webcor-Havens School contract model (under which the school district owner provided the design, unlike here where Blair Park LLC was obligated to provide the design), the agreements and conditions for approval and site Lease completely omitted any reference to design liability and professional liability insurance. Public owners are used to providing the design, and being responsible for it, so it is perhaps easy to understand how this important risk factor would get completely overlooked when the City was contemplating the use of a different contract delivery model (i.e., design/build), but it also highlights why a risk management assessment of not just the detailed procedures but also more importantly, the big picture items, is so important.
Lastly, although the contract required Webcor to obtain a performance bond (and there was to be a further requirement to provide unspecified neighboring property damage security regarding potential future damage to houses), the exact risk which was at the center of Piedmont Hills Undergrounding – unforeseen subsurface conditions requiring extra work – was a Blair Park LLC risk, not a contractor risk, and would therefore not be covered under Webcor’s performance bond. Blair Park LLC was responsible for providing the design of the significant retaining walls, which design was necessarily dependent on unknown subsurface conditions.
Webcor was to be responsible for constructing what was depicted in the design and shown on the plans. If the subsurface conditions actually encountered were different than what was shown on the plans, and the design had to be modified and required extra work, those extra work claims – that cost over $2.5 million on the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding project – would not have been covered by Webcor’s performance bond (nor any damage security bond). Blair Park LLC was the only party to have design responsibility, and it was not required to post any performance bond. By analogy, requiring the undergrounding contractor on Piedmont Hills to post a performance bond did not mitigate its $2.5 million in extra work claims. The City had to pay for the extra work to complete the undergrounding because it could not leave the streets with open trenches. So too on Moraga Canyon, if the contractor encountered unknown subsurface conditions requiring extra work in the middle of constructing the retaining walls and re-routing sewers, somebody would be required to pay for the extra work because the work would have had to have been completed for safety reasons. Blair Park LLC was not required to provide any security demonstrating any ability to pay beyond the agreed upon contract construction costs. As occurred on Piedmont Hills, the City, as owner, would have been responsible to cover the extra costs to allow the construction to be completed. However, the City has demonstrated that it cannot even recover from the project proponents its out of pocket consultant costs under the Indemnification Agreement. There was no agreement to cover this real risk. Thus, while the Moraga Canyon project called for a bond, it was the wrong party being required to post the bond, and so the City remained at risk if the project required extra work to deal with unforeseen subsurface conditions. This was a repeat of the same exact risk as on Piedmont Hills.
These risk issues could have and should have been caught and addressed in a risk management analysis. The presently proposed Risk Management Procedures did not, and would not have caught these material oversights. As the old cliché provides, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. If these types of risks were not addressed on the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding project, or on the proposed agreements for the Moraga Canyon project, on what basis does the Council think the present City project team, procedures and proposed risk management policies will catch them in the future? A change in paradigm is needed if one wants a different result. Learning from past mistakes is more productive than simply trying to ignore them, and focusing on minutiae to the exclusion of understanding the big picture is bad policy.
cc: Piedmont Civic Association
Editors Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.
Citizen letter to the City Council, as it continues to consider adopting a Risk Management Policy -
Dear Piedmont City Council,
re: April 1, 2013 Risk Management Policy Agenda Item
City Policy of enforcing agreements: This aspect is not included in this policy report. As of June 2012, PRFO [Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization] owed the City $220,000 with $31,400 in additional legal costs directly incurred as a result of their project through November 2012. What is the City Policy in regards to enforcing arbitration clauses in signed agreements? > Click to read more…
A is for Appreciative – Thank You, Piedmont!
Measure A was approved by 77% of voters in the March 5th Special Election
Dear Piedmont Community,
With the passage of Measure A we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for once again demonstrating your strong commitment to Keep Our Schools Strong. You have just ensured 8 years of stable, locally controlled funding for our school district.
Seeing and talking with friends and neighbors on the campaign trail has been tremendously rewarding for everyone involved with the effort, and we feel honored to have received the community’s trust and support. > Click to read more…
Dear Piedmont Community,
Over the last few months, an extraordinary effort has been made to engage our community in a public discourse concerning the funding of a quality education for our district.
Measure A was passed as a result of those conversations. > Click to read more…
Opponents Support Progressive Tax and Senior Exemption to produce the same budget for the schools-
Piedmont’s Measure A election is unique in that both proponents and opponents want the same full funding for our schools. Opponents believe that the most expensive California school tax requires both a progressive structure and compassion for needy seniors. > Click to read more…
Resident Asserts: The Piedmont School Budget could have survived a low income senior optional exemption -
How School Districts are funded in California is both arcane and extremely complex. Comparing districts is helpful and #1 academically ranked San Marino is probably the best comparable we have with its 13,161 population, similar affluence and limited but larger commercial tax base than Piedmont. Despite Proponent’s Feb. 7 LWV false comparisons necessitating an unusual School District correcting memorandum, Proponents continue to use this comparison in recent comments here at PCA. > Click to read more…
This website has recently posted opinion pieces from well-intended Piedmont residents who support our schools but are opposing Measure A. As a longstanding parent volunteer in school- and District-level programs, I appreciate their efforts to ensure that voters make thoughtful and fair decisions, but I believe they have several important things wrong. > Click to read more…
Opponent of Measure A responds to proponent -
The Borikas decision has been vacated by the Court of Appeal. The lower court decision stands, which does allow a size-based parcel tax. Mr. Elliott misstates the claim that Borikas needs to be settled before an equitable school parcel tax can be passed in Piedmont. It does not. Currently, existing law allows tax based on parcel size. Furthermore, Borikas did not challenge the per-square-foot tax, it challenged the differing tax rates levied on different types of property (residential, commercial, etc.). Piedmont could pass a tax that is fair and equitable, based on parcel size, without violating the law. And we could do so in June, 2013 and still meet the deadlines outlined in Jon Elliott’s opinion article. > Click to read more…