Jun 24 2017

Get Ready for Fun!

Breakfast  8 – 10:30 a.m.

Parade 11 a.m.  ——

Join your friends and neighbors for a hearty breakfast before the parade begins!

The traditional Piedmont Pancake Breakfast will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Veterans’ Hall at the corner of Highland and Vista Avenues.  The cost is $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for youths.

__________________________________________

The City of Piedmont will celebrate its annual Independence Day Parade on Tuesday, July 4, starting at 11 a.m. at the corner of Highland Avenue and Park Way.

The community is invited to participate at no cost with neighborhood floats and entries from various community organizations.  The Piedmont parade is unique for the appearance of several bagpipe bands in keeping with the city’s Scottish traditions, and with a rich array of dozens of antique and classic cars.

This year’s Grand Marshals leading the parade are Piedmont Center for the Arts Founders, Nancy and Tom Lehrkind.

The parade route is less than eight blocks long, ending at Piedmont’s Main Park – Highland and Magnolia Avenues.

Following the parade, a festive community picnic is held in the park with food booths and big band music.


BLOCK PARTIES

If your neighborhood is planning on holding an Independence Day block party, click to download the > 4th of July Street Closure Request Form, which is due to the City Clerk’s Office no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28th.

Apr 23 2017

Despite concern expressed about losing the “small town feel” of Piedmont, the extensive, recommended changes to Piedmont’s zoning regulations were readily approved by the City Council. Two peripheral items were deferred for future Council consideration: short-term rentals and Grand Avenue Commercial Zone D.

    The Piedmont City Council met on March 6, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont California.  The meeting began with a motion by Council Member Teddy King, and support by the rest of the Council, to approve the first four items on the consent calendar. Having been discussed by the Council, the fifth consideration was a resolution affirming the action of the Alameda County Mayors’ Conference in passing a resolution condemning violence and hate speech, expressing solidarity with those who have been targeted, and supporting immigrants and refugees. Council members King and  Jennifer Cavenaugh both supported the resolution, agreeing that although it is purely symbolic, it has meaning and is important for opening up discussion about these topics.  Following the consent calendar was the Public Forum.

    The first item on the regular agenda was the introduction and first reading of the revisions to the City Code, including Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use.  Kevin Jackson, the Planning Director, discussed how the revisions aimed to streamline the code and make formatting improvements, along with meeting goals for short-term rentals, parking regulations, and for-profit business regulations, among others.  He also acknowledged that the zoning code is a living document, so these revisions seek only to improve on what already exists and are not necessarily a perfect solution.  Next, Eric Behrens Chairman of the Planning Commission spoke to the revisions, saying that they will be easier to follow and will benefit the Piedmont community.

    Council Member Robert McBain brought up the widespread public dissatisfaction on two issues: banning short-term rentals and Zone D, the Grand Avenue sub-area.   Due to the discord surrounding these issues, McBain proposed deferring these so there is more time to review them.  City Administrator Paul Benoit explained that this could be done by changing the wording in the revision to match the current wording, so status quo would be maintained just in those sections.  Therefore, the rest of the revisions could be approved quickly, but the Council would have more time to hear the community’s views on short-term rentals and Zone D.  Mayor Wieler and Council Members Cavenaugh, King, Rood, and Vice Mayor McBain expressed support for this compromise.

    When this topic was opened up for the public input, the Council received overwhelming support of deferring those two issues.  Many residents had prepared to speak about their concerns regarding short-term rentals and Zone D.  One woman requested that all residents in the Grand Avenue area be notified by mail of upcoming meetings so they will have the opportunity to share their opinions.  Another community member expressed concern regarding the zoning revisions, saying he grew up in a similar town that has changed greatly and lost its “small-town feel” after changes were made in the City Code.

    Although I do understand the City’s desire to prevent short-term rentals, I do not think that they should be banned completely.  As Rick Schiller asserted in a letter to the City Council, Piedmont is not a tourist destination, so short-term renters are usually people associated with residents of Piedmont.  I fully support regulations to ensure that nobody is abusing the privilege of renting out their property and protect Piedmont residents, but a blanket ban is too extreme.

    City Council meetings are held twice monthly, on the first and third Mondays.  The City Council works as the legislative body of Piedmont, working to create laws and policies to benefit and protect the citizens.

by Shannon Baack, Piedmont High School Senior

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

Groups work to inform District of issues and concerns –

    On Tuesday night, April 18th, I attended the New High School Facilities Meeting in the Student Center. The topic was on the three possible new ways the high school is going to be remodeled in the near future. Every two weeks these meetings occurred; this meeting being the last of the three, but more will come later this month.

    Three options were displayed and described in a short video and then questions were welcomed. I stood and asked why in Option 3 the “PHS Offices” and “Millennium H.S.” were simply being swapped since it didn’t seem logical to me at the time. I got a response from the coordinator of the meeting, that the plan would allow the front offices of the high school to monitor closely who comes in and out of the campus. Today any stranger could walk onto our campus during school hours and no one might notice. After she addressed my question, it made much more sense to me.

    The issues of the overall remodeling of the campus were brought up and seemed extremely realistic, unfortunately. The first issue is a lack of real estate; in other words, there is not much other space than the campus we have to build in. The second issue is the campus being in a hard location with hills and streets to build on and the third issue is that while the school is being remodeled, there seems to be a lack of interim space for classrooms, offices, bathrooms, etc.

    Next on the agenda was group discussions. My group went around the table and each person, including myself, gave their likes and dislikes for each of the three plans. In my opinion, Option 2 is the best plan since it gives students a new STEAM building and also relocates and remodels the theater. Although the most important aspect of it was that unlike options 1 and 3, Option 2 does not intrude on the view students have from the quad, something that everyone at the school can appreciate. Option 1 had a large, 3 story STEAM building and seemed to promote traffic jams during all of the passing periods since a majority of the school’s students would be in one building. Option 3 didn’t appeal to me because it did not show any remodel or renovations to the theater, something that in my opinion should be a priority.

    After the groups discussed their thoughts, a final round of “Aha moments” and further questions began. I spoke out and responded to someone’s comment that even though the STEAM building in Option 3 takes away the view, students can still enjoy it from inside the building. My response was that, similar to Option 1, Option 3 would generate lots of traffic flow of students and teachers especially during lunch and also that realistically, unless its raining, most students at the high school and Millennium enjoy having lunch outside.

    After the meeting ended, I interviewed a former School Board member, Sue Smegal. She said that since she has four grandchildren in the Piedmont schools, it’s her responsibility to make sure the meetings offer good insight and eventually the right school overall. “We can’t lose the feel of the campus. When I walk on it [the campus] I feel happy, we can’t lose that,” she said. As for the future, she plans to go to the upcoming meetings and will always try her best to give her opinions and have her voice heard.

by Sam Watters, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions are those of the author.

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

Town Hall meeting produces new ideas for developing the high school.

    On April 1, there was a Piedmont School District Community Town Hall meeting to discuss the new high school facilities in the Piedmont High School Student Center. The purpose of this meeting was to get feedback on the three proposed options for the new high school facilities under Bond Measure H1. (Further discussions were held on April 6 and April 18.) 

     As the community was seated around tables, the meeting began with Superintendent Randy Booker and two facilitators Gina Bartlett and Julia Golomb introducing the school plans, including the budget and funding. A video was shown (one can find it on measureh1.org) and the key facts about each option were given with handouts showing each design outline, cost, classrooms, etc.

     Next, each table group split up and discussed each option. Beginning with option one, each person went around and said what they liked about it. Then each person spoke again, saying their concerns about the option being discussed. A scribe wrote down a “pros and cons” list on a large poster as the discussion continued and ideas were shared. This was repeated for each option.

     Once the groups completed discussing each option, they agreed on main objectives for the new high school facilities and what we wanted Piedmont High School’s “identity” to be. Next, a speaker from each group said their main insights as a group and what their main priorities for the school were.

     For option one, the main ideas that people were excited about was the new theater, but the group did not like having the new STEAM building so far away from the other classrooms.

     Option two has a new theater as well as a new STEAM building and an entrance and center point in the school.

     In option three, most people seemed to like the placement of the STEAM building, however, the Gym being in the middle of the school brought concerns about giving off the wrong idea of the school, isolating MHS more, and also having PE students running around the school to get down to the field.

    I thought that the theater was a main priority for the school and also a clear entrance and center point were the main objectives for the new facilities making me rule out the third option because it didn’t update the theater. Of course, there are many more positives and negatives about each option and other tradeoffs.

     Then, each group split off again and discussed new ideas and wrote them down on a poster. Some of these new ideas consisted of making the STEAM building two stories instead of three and moving the offices to the forties building. Other ideas were filling in the amphitheater and creating a place to eat or garden, using the space better. Simple ideas like just adding picnic tables or making the quad the center point of the school were also shared. Finally, each group expressed their new ideas and the meeting was wrapped up.

A variety of people showed up including Brad Hebert, who is on Randy Booker’s committee. Brad thought the meeting went very well, and “validated the committee’s hard work.” He is excited for the next steps the committee will take as they revise designs and work with architects to make their vision come to light. This meeting was exciting for PHS’s future and extremely informative. Community members walked away with new ideas and opinions.

By Addie Christensen, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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.

Mar 22 2017

    On February 11th, the Planning Commision met in Piedmont’s City Council Chambers at five o’clock. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss variances and design review of building applications within Piedmont.The session began with an approval of minutes from the prior meeting, followed by a public forum.

   I, Brock Settlemier, spoke out on an individual issue that was not on the Planning Commission’s agenda.  There is an absolute lack of motorcycle parking in the City of Piedmont.  An initiative taken by the city was the “Complete Streets Plan”, to balance the transportation system of Piedmont, making it compatible for all cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and senior citizens.  However, they left out the minority group of motorcyclists in Piedmont.  As a licensed motorcycle driver, owner, and student of Piedmont High School, I strongly voiced my concerns and advocated for the creation of motorcycle parking for the school.  The possible benefits would be a more balanced transportation system, a new way to commute to school for students/faculty, safer roads for motorcyclists, a reduction in greenhouse gasses, and a new modernization for the City of Piedmont.

    The major issue discussed at the meeting was item four of the agenda, 110 Fairview Avenue Variance and Design Review.  The owners, Mike Smith and Anne Beth, wanted to add a second story of 1,278 sq/ft to their home.  They live in a small, one story, Dutch Colonial home.  With their disabled son, grandchildren’s toys, and a lack of a decent socializing space, the applicants wanted to build up by adding the second story.  This proposed second floor would contain a bedroom, bathroom, and closet.  Their most convincing argument was that their addition would be more compatible with the neighborhood, where most of the houses are two stories and 2000 sq/ft or more.  This addition would make 110 Fairview more similar to the other homes in the area.  The architect was commended by Aradhana Jajodia for maintaining the style of the home, building up and saving space in the backyard.

    Mike and Anne were met with heavy resistance from nearby residents about their second story addition.  The owner of 129 Nova Drive, opposite the house, stated that the addition would be an issue of privacy.  He stated that, “A net 17 windows looking onto my back garden and into the house.”  This was one of the major issues of the design plan and was a repeated concern throughout the other neighbors’ statements.  Luckily, the owner was open to future conversation to find an alternative.

    The contractor of the house took the podium next.  He worked on 110 Fairview Ave ten years before, and was in support of the proposed plan.  His argument was clear.  The house would not expand on its small, original footprint.  The plan was underdesigned, and would not meet the maximum square footage that the city allowed.  The second story addition would not be too monumental.

    Down the street, Terry London voiced his concerns against the project.  He stated that the building would block their only view of the Piedmont Hills, completely obstructing the master bedroom’s view and seventy percent of their guest room.  In a later interview with him, he stated that the rules and regulations guiding development in Piedmont, “Don’t always take into account the specifics of particular situation, like height, topography, and the surrounding homes.”  He will remain involved in the future of the project.

   The meeting was a textbook example of how our government works efficiently in the United States.  Opening up the agenda to the public gave all the neighbors the opportunity to voice their opinions to the officials, who thoroughly considered and questioned each individual on their opinions.  Voices from both sides of this argument were effectively dealt with in the Commission’s final decision.

    The Planning Commision made a final deliberation on the issue in front of the audience, but closed to further opinions.  Planning Commissioner Tony Theophilos spoke out first from the Commission by addressing the issue of privacy.  He believed that there should be a reduction of windows, and finding a balance could be feasibly found.

   Next, Commissioner Aradhana Jajodia said the architect did a quality job on the design, except the back of the house was unpleasant looking from the neighbors point of view.

    Commission Chair Eric Behrens believed 108 Fairview Ave was the only house with a significant view of the Piedmont Hills.  He said “it seemed a little too big to me.”  Behrens suggested the applicants build down rather than up, such as a basement.

    Finally, Commissioner Jajodia made a motion to reject the design. It did not comply with the design review view guideline and the design presented a scale and mass violation.  Her perception was that the building should not overpower or dominate any of the surrounding homes.  The item was delayed to another meeting to allow a new plan by the architect.

   The Planning Commission meets once a month for a net four hours at minimum.

By Brock Settlemier, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions are those of the author.
Jan 22 2017

 

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

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

The changes appear to include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

Comments and contacts for individual Council members are as follows:

Jeff Wieler, Mayor

jwieler@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 428-1648

Robert McBain, Vice Mayor

rmcbain@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 547-0597

Jennifer Cavenaugh

jcavenaugh@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 428-1442

Teddy Gray King

tking@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(510) 450-0890

Tim Rood

trood@ci.piedmont.ca.us

239-7663

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

Jan 14 2017

Transportation for youth recreation programs to end June 1, 2017.  Piedmont Recreation Department will continue to provide Summer transportation services.

~~~~~~~~~~~Letter from Recreation Director Lillevand

By now, many Piedmont residents have heard about my decision to eliminate the school-year transportation services currently provided by Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD).

As a working mom in a household with two full-time working parents, I truly appreciated heartfelt public comments in front of City Council on December 19. I understand the very real hardships associated with child care and the struggle to provide meaningful and enriching opportunities while at work. I understand the convenience, appeal and peace of mind that PRD transportation brings to working parents. I understand the feelings of frustration and anger that City sponsored classes will be more difficult to access without PRD transportation. I understand the shock of a mid school-year announcement and I acknowledge and take full responsibility for poor timing and communication of this decision.

I also understand my responsibility as the Director of Recreation to deliver a vast array of safe and cost effective programs to the Piedmont community. After two years of observation and analysis, I have come to the conclusion that while PRD transportation provides a unique and much appreciated service, PRD is not positioned to offer this service in a safe and efficient manner and therefore it is not in the best interest of the City to continue.

The primary reason for this decision is risk related. We are fully responsible for the safety of children in our care. It is one thing to be caring for them in our facilities and camps. It is another thing altogether to be transporting them throughout Piedmont and surrounding areas. Despite highly committed and attentive staff, the risk of injuring or losing track of a child is significant. Indeed, this past summer we inadvertently left a child at Lake Merritt. Fortunately, that story had a happy ending but these are the things that keep me awake at night.

Secondarily, there are substantial issues with logistics and the staffing effort required to deliver this service. Finally, but not insignificant is the financial deficit that the program incurs. The last two issues could be addressed with added staffing, better technology, and increased fees. The primary issue of risk and liability however is one that cannot be well addressed without a wholesale departmental focus on transportation.

While I understand that parents feel that their children’s opportunities will be limited or lost by the elimination of school-year transportation services, parents do have options.

  •  PRD’s Schoolmates program runs on school days from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm at each of the three elementary school sites with daily enrichment activities integrated in to its play-based program including arts, crafts, cooking, outdoor play and more. In elementary school, my children spent more weekday time with Schoolmates staff than they did with me. I have endless gratitude for the Schoolmates program and the remarkable staff who really knew my children and enriched their lives on a daily basis.
  •  After School Enrichment (ASE) classes sponsored by the school parent organizations are available at each elementary school site. As a side note, PRD’s transportation services began before the existence of parent club after school enrichment offerings when PRD’s programs were the only option for after school enrichment activities.PRD after school enrichment programs as now configured require vehicular transportation. Together with PRD staff, I am and will continue to explore options to retain access to our after school enrichment programs for all families. These efforts include: investigation of transportation alternatives; securing program locations at or very near Wildwood, Beach and Havens; and integrating additional enrichment activities in to Schoolmates.Our goal is to expand, enhance and improve recreation programs in Piedmont for all residents. We are not looking to restrict access or eliminate opportunities. I understand it feels like something valuable is being taken away. I assure you that PRD does and will always strive to serve working families. I believe and ask you to trust that elimination of this resource drain will actually open up possibilities for better services and programs to be delivered.Understanding the impact of this change, we have decided to extend after-school transportation services for five months through the end of the school year to June 1, 2017. PRD will continue to provide Summer transportation services.Thank you for your understanding as we at PRD strive to evolve in ways that maximize efficiency of our limited resources to best serve the wonderful Piedmont Community.Sincerely,

    Sara Lillevand Director of Recreation –         358 Hillside Avenue, Piedmont, California 94611 (510) 420-3070

    December 30, 2016

 

Dec 20 2016

   On November 14, 2016, I attended the Planning Commission meeting.  The Commission meets on the second Monday of every month at 5:00 p.m. to make decisions regarding proposed modifications or construction to homes and buildings in Piedmont. Some of the major issues that were brought up at the meeting were modifications that people wanted to make to their homes requiring the Planning Commission’s approval. The first project brought up was at 26 Littlewood Drive, where they wanted to add a second unit, enlarge a deck, and make modifications to windows and doors at the back and left side of the house. This was approved by the Planning Commission.

The second modification that was brought to the meeting for approval was at 108 Moraga Avenue.* The project was the most controversial one that was brought up because these homeowners wanted to build a second story onto their home, however it would obstruct the views of the neighboring home. The owners that wanted to build the second story did as much as they could to compromise with their neighbors by making several changes to their design as to not block their neighbors views. The project was approved because the homeowners did so much to try to compromise and in reality the only windows where views would be obstructed were two windows in a hallway and one in a bathroom. The homeowners, the architect, and neighbor all spoke on this topic. The homeowners explained the project and their reasoning for it. The architect was able to provide more specific details about the project and answer questions about the design. After the owners spoke and all of the questions were answered, the neighbor spoke and explained her concerns about the project. After this was done, the Planning Commission discussed what they thought of the project, keeping both sides of the argument in mind and came to the decision to approve the project.

    During the dinner break between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m., I interviewed Paki Muthig. Muthig attended the meeting seeking approval from the Planning Commission for the addition of a basement to his home at 306 Magnolia Avenue. He is both the owner of the home as well as the architect. Muthig said that if the project is approved, he will move forward with the project but if it is not he will “address the reason and come back.” After presenting his proposal to the Planning Commission they discussed his project and reviewed his designs and approved his project.

Josh Wood, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. * The 108 Moraga Avenue Planning Commission decision was appealed by a neighbor at the Dec. 19, 2016 City Council meeting.  The appeal was denied by the Council thus allowing the renovation to the house as approved by the Planning Commission.  The Council staff report can be read here. 
Dec 18 2016

On the City Council agenda for December 19, 2016 is an appeal to a Planning Commission decision for expanding the house at 108 Moraga Avenue, owned by S. D. B. Talwatte and L. J. Chandler.  Story Poles with red flags have been visible for weeks on the property located opposite from the Mountain View Cemetery wall.

Appellants Charles Constanti & Erica Benson, owners of the house at 115 Ronada Avenue located behind 108 Moraga Avenue, state in their appeal:

“GROUNDS FOR APPEAL – SECTION 17.2S.2 FILING : A significant error occurred in the application of the provisions of City of Piedmont Municipal Code Chapter 17 (“Chapter 17″). Specifically, we believe that the approval of the design for an upper level addition and upper level deck at 108 Moraga Avenue involved a significant error because the decision was made, in part: • Based on misleading statements by the architect for 108 Moraga Avenue. • Without adequate discussion of the violations of Chapter 17, due to the significant adverse effect on neighboring properties’ existing views and privacy (both of which were points of complaints we made to the Planning Commission in letters dated July 2, 2016 and November 9, 2016). • Without appropriate consideration of the reasonable opportunity to reduce the height of the addition with lower level excavation because of misleading statements by the architect of 108 Moraga Avenue. 1 EXHIBIT H Agenda Report Page 55 • Without thorough consideration of the fact that increasing the size of the 1,004-square-foot house at 108 Moraga Avenue by 1,375 and thereby producing a 2,379-square-foot house is excessively large and crowded compared with the existing pattern of neighborhood development given the close proximity to 115 Ronada Avenue because of misleading statements by the architect of 108 Moraga Avenue.”

Constanti and Benson have been joined in their opposition to the Planning Commission approval by  neighbors Mark & Melissa Wilk and Kong.

“Although invited in written comments submitted by the appellants on November 9, 2016 to view the proposed project from the rear yard and inside their house at 115 Ronada Avenue, the Commissioners did not take the opportunity to view the proposed project from the rear yard and house at 115 Ronada Avenue.”

Paul Benoit, City Administrator

City Administrator Benoit is recommending that the Council deny the appeal.

Click below to view photos and read full documentation on the appeal.

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

The hearing can be viewed on Channel 27 or via the City website under videos.

Nov 19 2016

DRESS BEST FOR LESS

Piedmont Schools Resale Shop Needs a New Location! Ideas are needed! 

Did you know that Dress Best for Less (DBFL), Piedmont’s own non-profit resale shop, is one of the largest donors to the Piedmont Education Foundation (PEF) every year?


Dress Best For Less –  3861 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

For decades Piedmont schools have benefited from numerous volunteers and voluminous donations of clothes and resalable items for the thrift store on Piedmont Avenue adjacent to Commis Restaurant.  The fund raising effort regularly donates to the Piedmont Education Foundation (PEF), estimating contributions of over a million dollars to benefit the schools.

Recently, the owner of the shop’s property informed Dress Best For Less (DBFL) they would not be renewing the long held lease as Commis Restaurant would be taking over the space to increase the size of its popular upscale restaurant.  Most of the clients of the thrift store originate from the Kaiser Hospital facilities making it an ideal location for DBFL.

  Since 1982, DBFL, a 501c3 charitable organization, has donated over $1 million to PEF.  The resale operation sells and recycles donated goods from local residents. DBFL supports Piedmont schools while helping Piedmonters reduce, reuse and recycle.

 Gayle Sells, Chair of DBFL Board stated, “We are currently looking for a place to rent on Piedmont Ave as half our customers are from Kaiser. However, we are open to other ideas.”

The Carriage House Marking Room is proposed to be eliminated for a new Aquatic Center development.

Carriage House Marking Room at Magnolia and Bonita Avenues – 799 Magnolia Ave., Piedmont, CA – 510-653-0221

Compounding challenges for DBFL, the proposed Aquatic Center includes destruction of the Carriage House, valued as a quaint landmark of Piedmont’s past. The Carriage House has long served as the DBFL sorting and marking room and a very convenient drop off center for donations.  On any day of the week Piedmonters can be seen bringing bags and boxes of toys, outgrown clothes and housewares to the Carriage House.

The elimination of the Carriage House as a marking room is not immediate. However, if a bond is approved by voters for the Aquatic Center, a new marking room will need to be purchased, rented or built in a central Piedmont location for the convenience of volunteer workers and donors, who donate or work at the Carriage House before picking up kids or after swimming next door. 

Are there any other City owned properties that could serve as well as the Carriage House for donations and recycling in the community? Perhaps the east wing of 801 Magnolia Avenue or the City garages on Magnolia Avenue?

According to Gayle Sells, Chair of DBFL Board, “We hope that the city and school community can find us another space if the pool gets the go ahead.  Our board supports the idea of a new community pool.”

Recycling locally is an important contribution to fulfilling our required reduction of greenhouse gases and reaching the objectives of Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan. 

If you have ideas or can help relocate DBFL, let DBFL know at  shopdbfl@gmail.com

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On the last Saturday of the month, there is a $10 bag sale from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Carriage House Marking Room – Bag Day is a popular adventure allowing avid thrift shoppers to stuff a standard brown grocery bag full of items for $10.

DONATIONS: 

“DBFL strives to resell only the highest quality donations. Everything on the floor is either in new condition or gently used.  If anything is placed on the floor that is found to have holes, stains or looks too worn, it is removed.”

DONATING at the MARKING ROOM Carriage House

Marking Room at Magnolia and Bonita Avenues – 799 Magnolia Ave., Piedmont, CA – 510-653-0221

• All donations are preferred during business hours at the Marking Room, however a new drop box outside of the Carriage House is available at all hours.
• All sporting goods and furniture should be donated here.
• Please DO NOT leave donations outside. They will be stolen.
• We do not take computers or other electronics.
• No skis, cribs or soiled goods.

DONATING at the DRESS BEST FOR LESS store:
3861 Piedmont, Oakland, CA – 510-658-8525

• Small donations are accepted Monday through Saturday 11am-6pm.
• Do not leave items outside

While DBFL greatly appreciates the generosity of all of your donations, please be aware that large furniture, inoperable electronics, car seats, edible products and cosmetics will most likely be discarded automatically.

Donations can be dropped off and the then the donor can print their own Donation Form by clicking below:  

Cleaning closets? Recycle and reuse with Dress Best for Less! DBFL is always in need of gently used and good condition clothing, books, sporting goods and other small household items that will produce revenues for the schools. (Please no computers, non-working electrical items, or soiled, stained, moldy items!). Donate items at the marking room at 709 Magnolia Avenue, across from Piedmont High School.

Shop at the Store for Great Bargains. DBFL is the best upscale resale store in the East Bay! We sell only the most current styles and labels as well as household items in a friendly, organized atmosphere.  Come to the Store located at 3861 Piedmont Avenue.

DBFL Store:
3861 Piedmont Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94611
Phone – 510-658-8525
Email: shopdbfl@gmail.com
Tuesday -Saturday – 11am to 6pm

Marking Room:
799 Magnolia Avenue,
Piedmont, CA 94611
Phone – 510-653-0221
Monday – 10:00am – noon
Tuesday – 9am – 1:30pm
Wednesday – 9am – 4pm
Saturday – 10am – noon

DBFL is an important resource for Piedmonters and Piedmont Schools. 

Read more about Dress Best for Less here. <