Sep 19 2017

City of Piedmont Climate Action Plan Task Force

City of Piedmont
Climate Action Plan Task Force
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

6:30 p.m.
Emergency Operations Center
403 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA 

The meeting is open to the public, however the meeting will not be broadcast.


Order Roll Call

Call 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 Task Force.

Regular Agenda
1. Presentation from Tom Kelly on East Bay Community Energy (30 minutes)
2. Report on Meeting Between the City and Piedmont Unified School District (30 minutes)
3. Consideration of the Establishment of an Outreach Sub-Committee (10 minutes)
4. Planning of Outreach and Public Workshop (30 minutes)
5. Update on Staffing Changes (10 minutes)
Materials related to an item on this agenda submitted to the Committee are available for public viewing and distribution.

Committee member names, staff and prior actions can be read > HERE.

Sep 15 2017

Five antennas on utility poles, three antennas on street light poles, and one antenna on a new street light were proposed near Piedmont High School and Piedmont Park.  More information >HERE.

The public hearing on applications for Wireless Communication Facilities Permits and Variances submitted by Crown Castle NG West LLC and Beacon Development previously scheduled for September 5, 2017, has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 2, 2017.  A new public notice will be given at least fourteen days in advance of the hearing. Applications and project plans received on September 8, 2017 have been posted to the Planning Department webpage.

This postponement is due to the applicants’ indication that they would submit revised applications and plans to the City prior to the original hearing date. Though these documents have not been submitted to date, there is not adequate time to analyze these plans or provide notice to the public prior to the originally scheduled hearing date.


Crown Castle and Beacon Development filed an application in November 2016 for nine Verizon distributed antenna system wireless communication facilities, located generally around Piedmont Park and Piedmont High School. Crown Castle is a company that builds wireless communications facilities and then leases them to wireless service providers, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.

The project consists of five installations on the tops of existing utility poles, three installations on the tops of existing street light poles, and one installation on a new street light. The applicants have proposed that ground equipment related to the pole top antennas be located in underground vaults in the sidewalk. The proposal will require review by both the Park Commission and Planning Commission, as well as final approval from the City Council. Click to read more information about the application and the review process.

The Piedmont Park Commission and Planning Commission considered this application in June, and  a wireless Facilities Update facilities study session was held in August.

Sep 15 2017

See the Sweeping Schedule for your street > HERE.

On Monday, September 11th, the City of Piedmont began scheduled street sweeping for 2017-2018. Sweeping will now be conducted on the day after green waste, recycling, and trash are picked up for your home. It will be a three week cycle alternating between the odd and even numbered sides of the street, followed by a week of no sweeping.

One of the key elements of having an effective street sweeping program is for the residents to be aware of the schedule in advance so that they can relocate their cars and/or move the green waste, recycling, and trash cans to create free and clear access up to the curb. Since Piedmont relies on residents to move their vehicles, knowledge of the sweeping dates is essential. To help promote resident cooperation and knowledge, the Council approved linking the street sweeping schedule to the regular green waste, recycling, and trash pickup days. This should be a simple and systematic method to ensure that residents know when to move their vehicles.

The street sweeping schedule consists of three parts, all in a single document: 1. List of Pickup dates organized by street. (Pages 1-8) 2. Calendar showing which zones will be picked up on each day (Pages 9-10) 3. Street Sweeping Map, showing the zones and the days of the week for green waste, recycling, and trash pickup as well as street sweeping. (Page 11). The schedule is attached to this post and available on the City’s web site at:

For questions regarding the updated street sweeping schedule, please contact Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara at (510) 420-3050 or via email at

Sep 9 2017

The recent tragedies of Harvey, Irma, and wildfires remind Piedmonters – it is time to prepare for an emergency!  Piedmont’s close proximity to earthquake faults and potential raging wildfires are ongoing reasons to prepare. 

Click for preparation checklist HERE.

A booklet, GET READY, PIEDMONT! was prepared for all Piedmonters.  The booklet is online HERE.

Piedmont is fortunate to have its own Public Safety Committee appointed by the Piedmont City Council.  The Council charge to the Committee can be read HERE.

Roster of the Public Safety Committee

Council Liaison: Jen Cavenaugh (H) 428-1442

Chief of Police Jeremy Bowers (W) 420-3010
Fire Chief Bud McLaren (W) 420-3030

Andrea Swenson, School Board Appointee

Lori Elefant

Ryan Gilbert

Garrett Keating

Chris Houlder

Gina Scialabba

Lynne Wright


Additional information below:

Get Ready, Piedmont – Disaster Preparedness Brochure & Checklist

The Piedmont Public Safety Committee has prepared the Get Ready, Piedmont disaster preparedness guide. This document provides comprehensive information on preparation for and response to, earthquakes, fires, landslides, and other emergencies. The guide is 50 pages in length with checklists and illustrations on things like turning off utilities, food and water storage, first aid materials, seismic measures etc. This document is available by clicking here as well as on the Public Safety Committee and Fire Department pages of the site. Printed copies are available at the Fire Department.

Also available is the four page checklist which provides a ready reference on steps to take in the event of an earthquake or wildfire as well as general guidance on disaster preparedness and crime prevention. Printed copies are available at the Fire Department.

Sep 8 2017

Some residents have been surprised and disappointed to read the new garbage pickup rates proposed by Republic Services:  Curbside rates will go from $55.11 per month to $88.65 per month and “backyard” service from the current $61.08 to $131.43 per month.

Out of curiosity a Piedmont resident uncovered old waste collection bills from earlier decades. For curbside service in 1990, single family homes were billed $32.10 per three months, not per month!

All Piedmont property owners are required by law to pay for waste collection by the service provider chosen by the City. This also applies to residents who no longer generate any waste (whether green or solid) or recycling, due to their adoption of limited consumption, growing family food, composting their limited food scraps in an effort to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

Sep 3 2017

Action needed now to protect health and property values. 

Fellow Piedmonters – I’m writing today because few Piedmonters know about a terrible situation which could affect a number of children as well as home values.

Two weeks ago I was shocked to learn that a cell company called “Crown Castle” has filed an application to put nine cell sites, each with multiple transmitters right in front of homes and schools in Piedmont.

There are plans ahead to expand this number to 68 sites within Piedmont, in the residential areas.

I’m a retired Aerospace Engineer at UC Berkeley Physics and have published over 30 science papers on Electric and Magnetic Fields. I’ve done the research on the equipment they list and it is clear they are going to bathe the schools and the upper floors of these residences with substantial microwave levels, levels not allowed in any other country.

Since most Piedmonters are here because of the schools, I thought all parents would be shocked at all of this. All homeowners should realize that they face a 20% decrease in their home value if such a cell were nearby.

So, PLEASE send an email saying Piedmont Council should vote NO on the application! Address to and

AND IN SACRAMENTO WE HAVE A PROBLEM! The California Assembly is going to vote [The bill is SB 649.] this week to allow cell carriers to do all of the above WITHOUT our city’s consent. Call/email Assembly Member Tony Thurmond (Alameda Cty) at (916) 319-2015

Best Regards – Peter Harvey and Prudence Ashley

Aug 29 2017

Applications for Wireless Communication Facilities Permits and Variances

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the public hearing on applications for Wireless Communication Facilities Permits and Variances submitted by Crown Castle NG West LLC and Beacon Development previously scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on September 5, 2017, has been postponed to a future City Council meeting. When a new hearing date is set, public notice will be given at least fourteen days in advance of the hearing.

This postponement is due to the applicants’ indication that they would submit revised applications and plans to the City prior to the original hearing date. Though these documents have not been submitted to date, there is not adequate time to analyze these plans or provide notice to the public prior to the originally scheduled hearing date.

If you have questions about the application, please contact Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald-Powell by email at Any correspondence sent to the City may be considered a public record.

John O. Tulloch City Clerk

Posted: August 29, 2017

Aug 19 2017

There will be a Special Meeting of the City Council to hold a “Work Session on Wireless Technology and Regulatory Framework”  in the Council Chambers on Monday, August 21 starting at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will include Telecom Law Firm on the regulations and technology of wireless facilities.

Crown Castle, the wireless company with an application considered by the City Council and the Planning Commission, will make a presentation at the Piedmont Community Center in Piedmont Main Park of their revised designs on August 29, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. The public can attend the presentation.

Broadcast of the Work Session may be broadcast.  The Crown Castle presentation is not expected to be broadcast.  For further information on broadcasting, contact the Piedmont City Clerk at 420-3040.

There is no available staff report on the wireless issues.

Individuals with questions on wireless installations should contact Planning Director, Kevin Jackson at 420-3050.

The following information was found in the draft minutes of the August 14, 2017 Planning Commission meeting.

“Wireless Communication Prior to adjournment, Planning Director Jackson announced that a wireless Facilities Update facilities study session is scheduled for August 21 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. [This is an incorrect time schedule. The work session begins at 5:00 p.m.] in the Council Chambers. He stated that the meeting would include a presentation from Telecom Law Firm on the regulations and technology of wireless facilities, and that it is not specific to the Crown Castle applications. Planning Director Jackson also announced that Crown Castle would be presenting their revised designs on August 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center in Piedmont Park.”

Aug 15 2017

Several Small Bay Area Cities Have Simpler Contracts for Services

     Albany, California negotiated until it reached an agreement less than a month before new garbage removal services began. Even then, one Councilmember objected, wanting further efforts to reduce costs to citizens. The Albany City Council approved a ten year solid waste & recycling agreement in October 2011 with the following provisions:

Seniors 62 years of age and older receive a 20% discount on service.

Disabled residents with an ongoing physical disability that prevents them from being able to wheel a cart curbside may qualify for an exemption to curbside service (carts will be serviced from location as designated by resident – typically side or backyard)

Beginning November 1, 2011 the standard residential household monthly rate was $36.37.  With a cap of 5% increase annually, the standard residential household rate increased from $36.37 to $38.04 effective November 1, 2012.

As of May 1, 2017 backyard residential pickup was an additional $15.21. Low waste generators receive monthly trash service (10 gallon) and recycle service (64 gallon) and weekly organics service (64 gallon) at the monthly rate of $15.25.  See the complete residential household monthly rates listed here.

     Belvedere, CA differentiates between the city’s “flat” and “hill” areas. The complete rates listed here.
    Mill Valley, CA differentiates between the city’s “flat” and “hill” areas.  The cost to SSI residents are $8.46 in the “flat” and $10.32 in the  “hill” areas.  The complete rates are listed here

    Corte Madera, CA differentiates between the city’s “flat” and “hill” areas and offers a list of “Lifeline” rates to seniors, disabled and low income residents. The complete rates are listed here

Aug 13 2017

No tax deduction allowed for ratepayers paying for city waste services.

Placing the cost of City Waste Services on private home garbage ratepayer billing rather than using the Piedmont General Fund Budget eliminates the tax deductibility of a legitimate municipal service, which should be covered by the Municipal Services Tax. 

How much municipal cost for waste services will be shifted from the city budget to individual residents’ in their required monthly waste removal charges? The recently received Republic Services bid provides no breakout of the cost of providing the city service that is billed to ratepayers.

Questions have also been raised about the ratepayer fees for City services without a benefit to the individual ratepayer, which may be considered an unauthorized required tax.  

Simultaneously, the City Council is moving ahead on considering a change to the City Charter to allow the city to accumulate more than the Charter prescribed maximum reserve of 25% of the annual budget. The city has been experiencing unprecedented increases in excess revenues which have been placed into various city reserve funds. Rather than using existing money for ongoing municipal services, such as city waste removal or the greatly needed pavement of substandard or damaged sidewalks, the city continues to ask for more funding from Piedmonters.

The voter enacted Piedmont City Charter states:

“The Council shall establish a fund known as the General Fund Reserve in an amount not to exceed twenty-five (25%) of the budget for the purpose of maintaining municipal services during periods of reduced revenues to the City, as well as meeting unforeseen contingencies and emergencies of the City.”

Council Moves Forward to Contract with Sole Source Bidder – 

On July 17th, the Piedmont City Council accepted the proposal submitted by Republic Services for waste collection services beginning on July 1, 2018, notably imposing huge rate increases particularly for backyard services and no rate break for seniors or the disabled.

Numerous residents have expressed dismay and shock at the cost of procuring only one bidder and the expensive end result.  It is not unusual for sole source procurement to result in unacceptably high costs. No breakout of the cost to go 30 feet into a backyard versus 100 feet or up many steep steps was offered.

Piedmont resident Alan Kong recommended “a re-procurement … with a non-responsive” penalty or  “a more stringent annual renewal cap.”

Despite the long lead time, a new less complex RFP for Piedmont property owners will not be sent out in an attempt to acquire waste removal charges in line with other communities. Detailed contract negotiations will proceed on the basis of the lone bid by Republic Services.

Concerns over the huge increase in rates for garbage collection have produced suggestions from a range of individuals.

“From what I have read in Mr. Benoit’s report may be indicative of inappropriate discussions by the proposers. In some industries such as sanitation/waste disposal, where there is limited to no competition, the eligible participants will divide territories/cities. Periodically these territories/cities will be redistributed in an RFP re-bid process. It seems odd that 2 proposers declined to bid altogether while of the remaining 2 proposers (Waste Management and Republic), there was a formal “no bid” citing safety. 

“Perhaps a re-procurement should be enacted with a qualifier that a non-responsive proposal will penalize/disqualify that party from future contract award considerations. Or implement a more stringent annual renewal cap (no greater than a legitimate index + X%, annually…and tie the contractor into a 5-10 year term contract with a stringent termination clause).

“However this is resolved, the seemingly damaged party will be the residents of the City of Piedmont. There are easy answers to this situation.” Alan Kong


“What the City has left out in its online explanation of the process and in response to Mike Rancer’s thoughtful comment, is that Waste Management, which services many Oakland streets right next to Piedmont, wanted to use a different type of cart that matched to a lift on the trucks which would reduce their concern about worker injury. Piedmont did not want to investigate this thinking backyard service would not be possible. The Jan. 17 2017 staff report included my letter and research material; that material has Oakland provider Waste Management’s rate sheet which clearly shows Waste Management providing both curbside and backyard service.”  Rick Schiller


“Are the City’s requirements asking for something that is far too expensive? Maybe relaxing some of the requirements would result in lower prices, and more competitors for the contract.”  Bruce Joffe


“Maybe the problem is that Piedmont is too small to generate competitive bids or economies of scale. Given that Piedmont is completely surrounded by Oakland, and many of our streets cross the boundary into Oakland, has the city considered talking to Oakland about joining their contract and consolidating services to improve efficiency and lower our cost? It would be the height of negligence if our City Council simply rolled over and accepted this non-competitive bid. ”  Michael Rancer


“Those are enormous rate increases – did Republic provide a quantifiable basis? They admitted they blew the last bid – you have to wonder how good this estimate is. And their flat rate for backyard makes no sense – all Piedmont backyards are not created equal. Staff’s formula may have been too complex for Republic, so make it simple – scale backyard service to lot size.

“Bad month for ratepayers – sewer, garbage and water rates all go up.”  Garrett Keating


“Rick Schiller is to be commended for the extensive research and persuasive recommendations that he made.

“I hope that the shocked ratepayers will remember this when City Council election time comes around again. As a reminder: “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?”

“Politics tends to be forgotten. Writing those quarterly checks is the “gift” that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. ” Jim McCrea


“July 14, 2017
Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch, City Clerk

July 17 Agenda: New Republic Services refuse contract.

Dear Mayor Wieler and Council,
It is what it is: one bid from Republic Services. Regrettably the preliminary cost estimates are for substantial increases of 60% for curbside service and 120% for backyard service. Considering the considerable increases, it is most unfortunate there will be no accommodation for seniors over 70. Staff indicated such an accommodation leaves the City vulnerable to legal challenge yet, perplexingly, this specific accommodation is common elsewhere and has not been legally challenged.

The Staff Report states “backyard service would be available to disabled residents at curbsides rates.” What is the mechanism for disabled qualification?
Mr. Benoit indicated, when we spoke at the Linda Triangle opening, that the new contract would include unlimited curbside green waste. This is most appropriate in lush, expansive Piedmont with its many large lots. Unlimited curbside recycling also seems appropriate and is in harmony with Piedmont’s embrace of ecological concerns.”   
Rick Schiller


“I find it odd and inconsistent that Piedmont finds a senior exemption of backyard service at curbside rates contrary to State law as many Municipalities have this exemption. In Marin County Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Homestead, Marin County, Mill Valley, Strawberry and Tiburon provide exemptions for backyard service at curbside rates for (1) any age 70 Senior on signature alone that requests the service and (2) any disabled person with a doctor’s letter. The City of Berkeley has the same two exemptions and lowers the qualifying age to 62 and does not require a doctor’s letter for the handicapped exemption (form and code attached). City of Albany has both a disability exemption and an age 62 low-income discount exemption (see attached p 7). Santa Clarita has an age 60 low-income discount exemption (see attached p 7). No doubt there are many more California cities with an age based senior exemption of backyard service at curbside rates.”  Rick Schiller


“I think that there should be a provision that someone at age 75 (or pick a comparable age) or older should automatically be entitled to backyard collection at curbside rates. Will some noses get out of joint if they are thought to be “too old” to haul the cans to and from the curb and they don’t feel that way? If so, let THEM opt out of the reduced rates. “ Jim McCrea


“I have not followed the Piedmont waste issue closely, but I did have a caution that may be useful. The City of Oakland spent a great deal on staff, consultants and public time to craft a detailed and specific RFP that outlined a great number of demands and requirements. Unfortunately, their efforts were rewarded with only one responsive bid from their current provider, Waste Management. This caused no end of trouble for the city ending up with recirculation of the EGO, eventual litigation and very increased rates. The 2016 Grand Jury report covers this problem pretty well. Piedmont should not repeat Oakland’s path on this. Also, collusion between garbage companies is not unknown. ”  Michael Henn


“Good news- the proposed contract has significant reductions in service levels in that unlimited recycling/composting and individual curbside pick-ups are eliminated from the contract which should lower rates. These services were likely the reason rates were increased so much in the last contract so their elimination now should lead to lower rates. Likewise, the scalable backyard service formula should result in a more accurate (and higher) rate for this service, again leading to a rate reduction for curbside service, the majority of Piedmont’s service.

“Bad news – for recycling, this contract is a serious step backwards. Specifically, the contract calls for a 60% diversion rate, a rate the city had already achieved before the advent of the cart system 10 years ago. And it ignores the 75% diversion rate that council set by resolution – the stretch goal for this contract is 70% by 2028. Many other east bay cities are achieving 75 % and our city has routinely been above 70%. Staff assumes that with the reduction in unlimited recycling, green waste will go to the landfill instead and result in an underestimate of our true diversion rate – this happened in the past. But it won’t now – Alameda County has banned the dumping of green waste in land fills and green waste is now properly sorted and credited. The contract should at least adjust the diversion targets to 65, 70, and 75% at a minimum to maintain the current level of recycling in town. To do the right thing, the contract should set the target at 75% as directed by Resolution 38-08.

“General Plan Goals and Policies: the staff report lists the numerous goals and policies this contract addresses (wish that had been done with chapter 17 revisions) but many are really not related to this service contract. To make true headway with our Climate Action Plan, this contract should require the use of biodiesel vehicles – this is likely the largest source of truck traffic GHG emission generated by the city and the city could achieve major reduction by mandating this in the contract.”  Garrett Keating


“May I suggest that a requirement be included that the carts be placed back on the curbs after emptying. When the carts are left in the street, as they usually are, they occupy parking spaces where parking is very limited to begin with. I asked the company to include this in its instructions to its drivers, but compliance lasted approximately one week. This is a minor irritation but an irritation nonetheless.”  Susan McCreary

Read prior PCA article HERE.

Read City web page on waste services HERE.