Mar 15 2017

Opportunities to serve Piedmont in important volunteer positions!

Be a part of Piedmont’s decision processes!

Application Deadline:

Monday, March 20th – 5PM

The City Council of Piedmont is looking for volunteers to be appointed to Piedmont commissions and committees. Interested Piedmont residents may download the > Application for Appointive Vacancy.

Applications are due to City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, on or before the deadline of Monday, March 20, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

No. of Vacancies No. of Incumbents Eligible
for Reappointment
Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee 3 Vacancies 2 Incumbents
CIP Review Committee 2 Vacancies 2 Incumbents
Civil Service Commission 1 Vacancy 0 Incumbents
Park Commission 2 Vacancies 0 Incumbents
Parking Hearing Officer 2 Vacancies 2 Incumbents
Planning Commission 3 Vacancies 1 Incumbent
Public Safety Committee 2 Vacancies 2 Incumbents
Recreation Commission 3 Vacancies 2 Incumbents

Interviews with the City Council for these positions will be scheduled for Monday, March 27, 2017.   All applicants must be interviewed.  No appointments will be made without a Council interview.

   On the City website an explanation of duties can be found by clicking the items below:

 For more information, contact City Clerk John Tulloch at: 

jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 420-3041
Jul 9 2016

The following letter was sent to the Piedmont Planning Commission re: July 11 Agenda Item 9; City Code Chapter 17 Modifications proposals. 

Honorable Commission,

       The City Charter states “no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election (p. 22).” The staff report recommends allowing in Zone B “for-profit entities because the City may want to allow a community-serving business, such as a local newspaper or beverage stand, to operate out of a City building (p3 of 2016-07-11 Report)”. Currently for-profit entities are not allowed in Zone B in the public zone. As zoning is the critical mandate in controlling land use, I believe a City wide vote is needed to allow this fundamental change to allow for-profit in Zone B.

     I ask for clarification and I ask the Commission to obtain clarification from staff as to what is the threshold and definition of zone reclassification and why the addition of “for-profit” is not reclassification.

     Should a for-profit business be allowed, there are deserving segments of our community that have been identified in the General Plan. The 801 Magnolia building might be ideal for a teen or senior center.  Additionally, a café for the Piedmont Center for the Arts also has wide appeal.

     The term “community-serving business” must also embody that all segments of the community are given equal treatment. The reference in the staff report to “local newspaper” can only be the wholly Piedmont serving local newspaper, the Piedmont Post. While the Post does a proper job of reporting sports and social events, Piedmont Post publishing ethics do not include objective reporting on the passage of taxes, potential taxes and how tax dollars are used. The Piedmont Post has a sharply skewed editorial bias in support of City Hall actions. Those who oppose city taxes are shut out from virtually any space in the Post and/or opposition comments are grossly misreported. The many who opposed the partially taxpayer funded “no taxpayer cost” Blair Park Sports Complex were denied equal access in the Post.

     I suggest removing the recommendation for a “local newspaper” in Zone B. Another option in the interest of transparency is to substitute “Piedmont Post” for “local newspaper” and remove “community-serving business.”

Respectfully,

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 26 2016

Report listing priorities presented by the Capital Improvement Projects Review (CIP) Committee to the City Council at their Budget Workshop on May 21, 2016  for potential funding. –

2016-2017 Capital Improvement Projects Committee  – Bobbe Stehr, Chairman

The Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) committee reconvened in February 2016 to begin work on project recommendations to the City Council regarding community needs and desires for new capital projects for the 2016-2017 budget cycle. At our first meeting, City Manager Paul Benoit and Councilman Bob McBain discussed the current and future direction of the committee’s responsibilities and the committee’s outreach efforts to compile a list of new capital projects that would be considered by the Council as funding opportunities became available, whether through City funding sources or grants.

After considerable discussion by the committee members, we recognized that under the new direction of the City Council, our responsibility was to conduct an extensive outreach process, inviting participation by individuals, citizen groups, commissions and City staff. The process included an on- line proposal form on the City’s website. The Committee also developed a list of criteria to be used for evaluating all proposed projects and provide specific conclusions with recommendations for future planning.

Under this new direction, the committee reviewed all new proposals; projects submitted through the on-line proposal form as well as long standing projects that have remained on the list. We considered all public comments and staff evaluations. All of our meetings were noticed to the public and our on-site tour of the proposed project locations occurred on May 7, 2016.

Our criteria for evaluating and recommending potential projects included such factors as wide benefit to the community, public safety, broad public support, and protecting and enhancing community assets. The committee also considered whether projects had funding options from public and private partnerships, revenue generating potential, expanded recreational opportunities and/or tied into the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.

We have listed every proposed project in priority order. There were four proposals that we concluded were actually not CIP projects, which we referred to the proper departments and have included those in the addendum.

We would like to express our gratitude for the initial guidance provided by City Administrator, Paul Benoit and Councilman Bob McBain; vital assistance from Parks & Projects Manager, Nancy Kent; very thoughtful and perceptive understanding of Piedmont’s extensive recreation needs by Recreation Director, Sara Lillivand and insights provided by our City Council liaison, Jeff Wieler.

Project recommendations listed in order of priority with estimated costs:

1. Coaches Field Master Plan $50,000

The goal of the master plan would be to assess the possibility of expanding the playfield area to maximize the use where a larger field would meet more demand; define the technical needs associated with artificial turf; research “dark sky” directional lighting to extend use time; and address the serious parking shortage.

Believing that it is more efficient to work with an existing facility and because this field is heavily used by several sports, expansion to a regulation under 14-sized soccer field would allow concurrent practice by more than one team at a time.

This field does provide some revenue-generation and does have public interest for cooperative private funding. It would also allow for more “home team” use and spirit.

2. Beach Tot Lot/ADA Compliant Howard Ave Entrance and Restroom Facilities Master Plan $30,000

The goal of the master plan would be to review existing facilities, solicit community input and propose a new layout for improved recreational opportunities at the existing Tot Lot area and the unused space around the restroom facilities, and the space between the Oakland Ave Bridge and the Beach Playfield.

The current Tot Lot is used heavily by residents and the City recognizes the need to maintain tot lot facilities for the neighborhood. In its current location and configuration, the tot lot is unsafe with an unguarded retaining wall and outdated play equipment. An overall study of the most efficient use of the space now occupied by the Tot Lot and its situation with the tennis court, playfield and restrooms, plus access to and from each component would improve the flow and maximize the future use of the area.

The Recreation Director has requested that the Tot Lot not be looked at in isolation, but incorporated into an overall, long-range vision for the area, which may include relocation to the other side of the playfield. This would put the play area closer to the existing restrooms and eliminate the sand creep onto the tennis courts.

Additionally, with the completion of the new townhouses at 408 Linda Ave, it would be a great opportunity for the City to improve the use, aesthetics and functionality of the area between the Oakland Ave Bridge and Linda Beach Field.

In the current budget, Public Works is in the planning stage for the ADA access from Howard Ave and the City is currently reviewing all play structures in the City for safety compliance as well as a schedule for play equipment replacement. This is the time for a Master Plan for this area.

3. Piedmont Community Hall – Entry Court Renovation, $200,000 – $300,000

Parking and ADA access are the urgent needs for this facility and a top priority for the Recreation Department. The recommendation is to enhance the entry court for ceremonial and civic events with decorative paving and improved event lighting. The plan would redirect service vehicles to the edge of the turnaround and relocate the trash area, eliminating the need for heavy trucks to cross the entry court. 2

Currently the City Engineer is working on a survey of the parking possibilities and ADA access. If feasible, the committee recommends that the entry court be upgraded sooner rather than later.

4. Piedmont Community Hall – Rear Balcony and Amphitheater Architectural Master Plan $50,000

Because the Community Hall is in full use nearly daily, an architectural master plan would study and propose enhancements that would improve use, circulation and revenue generation.

Expanding the terraces and rear balcony of Community Hall over enlarged space beneath, would greatly improve the rental opportunities and community programs use with the inclusion of indoor/outdoor access.

Relocating the pre-school facilities to a more easily accessible location would free the lower level of the Hall and provide space for concurrent facility use, better storage and increased rental revenues.

The Amphitheater currently is over impacted and underutilized. An upgrade to permeable paving with current water catchment technology would be both environmentally smart and revitalize the overall area. Relocating the bleachers and access from both stories of the Hall to the amphitheater would connect this space to the interior spaces for better flow and function.

Community Hall is a perfect venue for public/private funding.

5. Oakland Avenue Bridge – Complete the String of Lights $40,000

This is a new proposal by William Blackwell who has done extensive research on both the engineering requirements to add two new light standards, suppliers for exact matches to the existing light standards and the infill string of lights. This definitely qualifies as a stand-alone project to revive what was once a stately entrance to the City of Piedmont.

This is a project that would attract private funding from several sources.

Both Mr. Blackwell and the CIP committee independently came to the same conclusion while on site at the bridge. The Oakland Avenue Bridge is in dire need of some safety improvements. Crossing Oakland Avenue at the crosswalks at both ends of the bridge on the way to or from the Beach playfield area is hazardous.

The CIP committee suggests that the safety issues be included in the future implementation of the Bike/Pedestrian Plan or as part of the Master Plan for the Beach Playfield project.

6. Highland Strip $200,000

Because of the recent wet winter, momentum has stalled for a drought tolerant and native garden to replace the lawn at the intersection of Sheridan Avenue and Highland Avenue. There were regional interests to fund parts of this project, however, much more education and outreach appears to be needed.

7. Dracena Park: Upper Park Master Plan, Ravine Lighting and Pathway improvements $30,000 – $75,000

Proposed by Garrett Keating, Daniel Stein and John Lambert, the three elements were considered individually.

A Master Plan for Upper Dracena Park, especially one that can be implemented incrementally, could be valuable, however, the CIP Committee would need further direction from the Park Commission and we suggested that the proposal be presented to the Park Commission.

Pathway lighting within City parks has been discussed over the years and current policy is not to have artificial lighting from dusk to dawn at most locations.

The request to repair the sidewalk along Dracena Avenue, add handrails and clearly marked crosswalk painting at the intersection of Park Way and Dracena Avenue have been referred to Public Works Maintenance Department.

8. Blair Park: Split Rail Fence, Additional Trees, Parking Lot $65,000 – $100,000

Two separate proposals were reviewed together: Marge Blackwell proposed a split-rail fence along Moraga Avenue for the length of the park and additional planting within the park; Melanie Robertson proposed new trees along Moraga Avenue and a small parking lot for park users.

A split rail fence could be a charming addition and more trees in a park would be wonderful. However, the site does not currently have any water supply that would be needed to irrigate new landscaping and the estimated cost of a new water meter is $65,000. In addition, the City is in the process of having the park’s boundaries surveyed and the CIP committee concluded that any project in Blair Park should be put on hold for the present and would likely need to be considered by the Park Commission at some future date.

ADDENDUM TO CIP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2016-2017:

Two proposals submitted by Paul Lettieri and Tom Gandesberg requested repaving for safety and bike access. These were referred to the Public Works Maintenance Department and are currently being implemented.

Tom Gandesberg also suggested better irrigation for the median in the 300 block of San Carlos Avenue. Again, this location is currently being upgraded to a more water efficient irrigation system as part of the City’s cyclical review of medians,

Bob Kunselman proposed a new License Plate Reader on Trestle Glen Road. Parks and Projects Manager, Nancy Kent contacted Police Chief Rikki Goede for guidance on this. Chief Goede contacted Mr. Gandesberg and provided the CIP committee with her determination.

I wrote a thank you letter to each person who proposed a project, stating the CIP committee’s appreciation for their suggestions and informing them of the status of each proposal.

Bobbe Stehr, Chair of CIP Committee

_______________________

Recordings  and minutes of the CIP meetings are not available, as no recordings or minutes were produced.

Residents interested in providing input to the Council on Budget priorities may send emails to John Tulloch, City Clerk:

jtulloch@piedmont.ci.ca.us

Next Council consideration of the 2016-17 Budget is June 6, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. City Hall.  The Council meeting will be recorded and broadcast.

____________

Members of the CIP Committee are:

Michael Henn

Susan Herrick

Bobbe Stehr, Chair

Jamie Totsubo

PBF (Piedmont Beautification Foundation)      Representative – Deborah Van Nest

Representative of Recreation Commission

Representative of Park Commission 

Council Liaison: Jeff Wieler (H) 428-1648
Staff Liaisons: Chester Nakahara (W) 420-3061 & Nancy Kent (W) 420-3064

May 24 2016

Piedmont’s taxpayers have paid over $2 Million in excessive costs for City projects due to poor management ($1.3 M from the Undergrounding fiasco, $400,000 from Blair Park’s so-called “gift,” $340,000 from purchasing police radios that are incompatible with Alameda County).

While the City has some new senior-level employees, the consequence of past incompetence requires greater disclosure and transparency to re-establish taxpayer confidence that Measure F’s increase in taxation is really necessary.  Measure F asks for a 30% tax increase without specifying what exactly would be done, while  underestimating property tax revenues in spite of a 25-year trend of increasing revenue.

Approval from two-thirds of the electorate should require two ballot measures, one to maintain service at the current tax rate, and another to increase service with specific projects at an increased tax rate.

If Piedmont voters reject Measure F now, the pair of measures could be placed on the November ballot without danger of current services being interrupted, because the existing tax doesn’t expire until June, 2017.

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.  PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.
May 7 2016

  Beach and Coaches Field, Blair and Dracena Park, Community Center, Lights on Oakland Avenue Bridge – Capital projects get in line for City funding. 

On Tuesday, May 10, the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Review Committee will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Conference Room to prioritize funding recommendations for new capital projects.  The Committees’ recommendations will be presented to the City Council at their Budget Work Session on Saturday, May 21, 2016*, in the Arts Center Building across from Piedmont High School.  * May 21 is the corrected date of the Council Budget Work Session. 

The meeting of the CIP Committee is open to the public. There will be no broadcast or recording of the meeting.  Interested individuals can follow the recommendation process and speak to the Committee on the projects at the May 10 meeting.

Proposed project details were not publicly disseminated as of this publication. The City has notified select individuals and organizations about the meeting.

The May 10 agenda includes:

1. Review of May 7, 2016 CIP Site Tour

2. Discussion of Final Project Descriptions

3. Discussion of Final Report and Recommendations for City Council

Individuals seeking information on the projects should contact:

Parks and Project Manager Nancy Kent at 420-3064 or  nkent@ci.piedmont.ca.us 

The Council will decide on the final priorities and possible funding.

May 4 2016

What should Piedmont Fund?

Tour open to the public Saturday,

May 7 at 8 a.m. starting at the Tea House.

On Saturday, May 7, the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Review Committee will meet at  8:00 a.m. at the Tea House in Piedmont Main Park to tour and view various proposed projects to potentially be funded through the Piedmont budget process.  The public is welcome to participate in the entire meeting, tour, and discussions.  Individuals attending are encouraged to provide their own transportation.  Lunch will be served at the Tea House following the tour. 

 A tour schedule, detailed list of projects, information, and agenda can be obtained through:

Parks and Project Manager Nancy Kent at 420-3064 or nkent@ci.piedmont.ca.us 

 There will be no recordings made of the tour. 

Feb 28 2016

On Monday, February 29th, the City of Piedmont will continue the removal of aging and beetle infested Monterey Pine trees from Blair Park that began on Friday.  An arborist identified the 22 trees selected for removal, as the third of three phases of tree removal in the park. Blair Park will be closed while this work is being conducted.

Questions regarding the project may be addressed to the Public Works Department at (510) 420-3050.

 

Aug 31 2015

The Piedmont Park Commission will meet on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue to consider setting a “neighborhood meeting” in October to discuss Dracena Park’s off-leash area, signage, and permission for off-leash dog usage of the upper grassy area.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Park Commission by neighbors concerned about unclear signage and the desirability of allowing dogs to run on the grassy area next to Dracena Avenue.

Bordered by tall redwood trees, Dracena Park’s canyon area between Dracena Avenue and Artuna Avenue has for decades been designated an off-leash area for licensed dogs under human command.

At the June Park Commission meeting a petition signed by 107 Piedmonters was presented noting inconsistent and confusing signage indicating on and off-leash areas.   Permission for off-leashed dogs to play at designated times on the upper grass area of Dracena Park was requested.

Dogs are sometimes seen catching frisbees or playing with other dogs on the upper grass area of Dracena Park; however, this is technically not an off-leash area.  If an animal control officer catches a dog on the grass, according to testimony, the fine is $300.

Commissioners requested more information on the issue, including a map of Dracena Park, potential issues, and availability of other off-leash dog areas in Piedmont.  One commissioner remarked that where dogs are allowed to run freely in a limited space, the result can be bare dirt.

Dog owners often schedule their trips to the various off-leash areas  to be with friends while exercising themselves and their dogs. Trips to the dog parks represent an important part of many Piedmonters physical and social activity.

Piedmont’s off-leash areas for dogs are limited to the dog park near Linda Beach Playgound, Main Park near the creek, Dracena Park canyon, and Blair Park on Moraga Avenue.

Blair Park on Moraga Avenue long designated as an off-leash area for dogs, receives limited use because of remoteness and lack of a fence to protect dogs from going into the heavily trafficked adjacent roadway.

The September 2 Park Commission meeting will be broadcast, on KCOM Comcast Channel 27 and live streamed through the City website. The meeting is open to the public for comment.

To view the June 2015 meeting when the Park Commission previously discussed the issue, go to the video record of the meeting here and start at the 40 minute point.

May 7 2015

Friends of Moraga Canyon will hold its third Blair Park work day on

Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Everyone over age 12 is welcome to come and help clean ivy off of oak trees and weed around the base of trees at the foot of the hillside.

Wear work gloves, and bring clippers and rakes if you have them. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Street parking is available on Moraga Ave. at the east (upper) end of Blair Park.

The appearance of the park has improved in recent months, largely due to the cleanup work by dedicated volunteers. The diseased and dying Monterey pines on Moraga Avenue are scheduled to be cut down by the city of Piedmont in May or by June 30.

For more information on the workday, email marjb@sbcglobal.net

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 2 2015

– Two Committees Discuss City Spending on

Tuesday, May 5

While the Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee (CIP) is meeting at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Conference Room, the Budget and Financial Planning Committee will meet from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Both meetings are on Tuesday, May 5.

Neither meeting will be broadcast or recorded. Citizens interested in the City’s finances are welcome to attend one of the meetings.