Jul 23 2017

Climate Action Plan Task Force

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

6:30 p.m.

Emergency Operations Center

403 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA

Call to Order Roll 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. Review of Previous Task Force Discussions (10 minutes)

2. Discussion of Proposed Solid Waste Sector Measures for the 2030 Climate Action Plan (30 minutes)

3. Discussion of Proposed Consumption Measures for the 2030 Climate Action Plan (30 minutes)

4. Discussion of Outreach and Community Engagement Strategies (30 minutes)

5. Consideration of Future Agenda Items (10 minutes)

Adjourn

Materials related to an item on this agenda submitted to the City Council are available for public inspection in the City Clerk’s office.

Jul 22 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the staff report here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or to:

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

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

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

*Article updated July 23.

Jul 10 2017

Rate increases of 19% over two year period:

East Bay MUD Board

Public Hearing

Tuesday, July 11

1:15 p.m.

375 11th Street

Oakland

The East Bay Municipal Utility District will consider raising rates 19% over the next two year period.   The Board will first meet on July 11 in a closed session at 11:00 a.m.  The regular business meeting will begin at 1:15 p.m. in the EBMUD Board Room at 375 11th Street in downtown Oakland.  Item 14 on the agenda is the Public Hearing on the proposed rate increases and drought surcharges.  See agenda here.

Water efficiency requirements begin on page 333 of the staff reports, followed by the schedule of rates.

Read the agenda here.

Read the staff reports here.

Jun 29 2017

Public Hearing before East Bay Municipal Utility District

on July 11, 2017

19% rate hike has not been shown to be needed.

The following letter is from:

Alameda County Civil Grand Jury Association

Local Chapter of California Grand Jurors’ Association

June 27, 2017

Board of Directors, East Bay Municipal Utility District Alexander R. Coate, General Manager
375 11th Street
Oakland, CA 94607-4240

Dear Mr. Coate and EBMUD Board Members:

The Alameda County Civil Grand Jury Association (Association) is a 501(c)(3) organization that consists of former members of the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury (Grand Jury). Although not affiliated with the formal Grand Jury, our organization’s purpose includes determining whether the agencies subject to Grand Jury investigations have complied with previous Grand Jury recommendations. The Association is a chapter of the California Grand Jurors’ Association.

In 2013-2014, the Grand Jury investigated the East Bay Municipal Utility District. After reviewing EBMUD’s rates and rate-setting practices, the Grand Jury found that EBMUD did not disclose sufficient information in its June 2013 Notice to enable consumers to understand the need for a rate increase. Consequently, the Grand Jury’s investigation found a greater need for transparency in EBMUD’s public notifications regarding rate increases. With this in mind, the Grand Jury’s first recommendation in its 2013-2014 Report stated in part:

EBMUD should provide the public with a complete and objective analysis in connection with future rate increases, including all factors that drive the recommended increases.1

Specifically, the Grand Jury was concerned with EBMUD’s failure to inform the public of all factors underlying the proposed rate hike. Equally important, the Grand Jury was particularly concerned that neither the unfunded pension liability nor the rate hikes of the past ten years were disclosed in the 2013 Notice. Based on these findings, the Grand Jury made a second recommendation in its 2014 Report:

EBMUD must provide live streaming of board meetings, televise on public access channels, and have online access of past meetings available on the EBMUD website.2

In September 2014, EBMUD responded to the Grand Jury’s recommendations. EBMUD reported that it would implement the second recommendation in its next budget cycle.

  1. 1  See 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report, Recommendation 14-26 at p. 105.
  2. 2  See 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report, Recommendation 14-27 at p. 105.

To achieve enhanced transparency, EBMUD promised the Grand Jury that it would:

(1) “Explore alternative ways to present rate information that may aid customers as they seek to understand … projected rates;” and

(2) “Investigate adding audio or video of Board meetings.”3

We note that EBMUD’s website still lacks any links to live streaming or video archives of meetings of the Board of Directors. We believe that public access to such videos would enable EBMUD consumers to better understand why rate increases are needed. Certainly, costs for the projected rate increases include compensation and pension liabilities. However, no mention of labor costs or pension liabilities were found in the 2013 notice. The Grand Jury recommended that EBMUD “provide the public with a complete and objective analysis in connection with future rate increases, including all factors that drive the recommended increases.”

Now in 2017, EBMUD has notified the public about a meeting to be held July 11, 2017, regarding an impending rate hike. As in 2013, the 2017 Notice of Public Hearing is silent regarding the role that unfunded pension liabilities and employee compensation play in contributing to rate increases. We believe that the District’s omission of pension liability in the 2017 Notice constitutes a failure to follow the 2014 Grand Jury’s recommendation. “All the factors that drive the recommended rate increase” should include the reimbursement of unfunded liability if, in fact, a portion of customer receipts will be used to pay down the pension debt. EBMUD previously indicated that pension cost “was not a major driver of the rate increases.”4 However, with an unfunded pension liability of $462 million,5 EBMUD appears compelled to increase rates every year. We have observed that the Alameda County Water District has indicated retiree benefits as one reason for rate hikes in its notices to ratepayers.6 For the purposes of transparency, we urge EBMUD to inform the public in future notices that pension liability and labor costs are factors behind its rate hikes.

The Grand Jury’s first recommendation also stated:

The analysis should contain the financial impact of the proposed rate increase on a broader range of water or sewer consumers (for example, the 25th percentile point, the 50th percentile point and the 75th percentile point) as opposed to just a district-wide average. The analysis should also include a history of prior rate increases. (See 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report, Recommendation 14-26, at p. 105.)

The 2017 Notice cites a great deal of district information, but omits details regarding historical rate increases as recommended by the 2014 Grand Jury. We believe the public would not know that similar rate hikes averaging four times the rate of inflation have been approved by EBMUD, and that with the proposed rate increase, the cost of a unit of water (100 cubic feet, or CCF) will

3 Response to 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report dated September 2014, pages 3 and 9.
4 Response to 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report dated September 2014, page 6.
5 EBMUD Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for FY2016, Page 80.
6 ACWD Notice lists four reasons for justifying a rate increase. The fourth reason refers to retiree benefits. Mailed in 2017, the ACWD Notice states “financial analyses make it clear that the proposed rates increases are needed to . . . fund retiree benefits obligations.” (Page 2 of Notice of Increase in Water Rates, located at http://www.acwd.org/DocumentCenter/View/1530 .)

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have increased from $1.42 to $3.45 from 2003 to 2017. If the 2017 rate increase is approved, customers’ water bills since 2003 will have increased by 143%. Without such history, most consumers will not recall the last time their rate changed or appreciate that a protest of such hikes may be appropriate.

EBMUD’s 2014 response to the Grand Jury’s recommendations essentially said that it is sufficient to have historical rate information available online in its Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports and budgets. However, we have found that these documents are not readily available or comprehensible to the general public. Regrettably, we do not find EBMUD’s position consistent with the transparency that the public deserves. Indeed, it would be time- consuming for most ratepayers to locate and digest rate information in such lengthy documents.

We believe it is commendable that EBMUD provides ample details regarding water flow charges and water service charges to its customers, and that it provides examples of the impact of rate increases to the consumer’s bill. Unfortunately, the example in District’s 2017 Notice cites the impact to a single family’s bill that used 8 units and 6 units. This example is limited and unclear for residential consumers. The 2017 Notice lacks specific examples of rate changes aligned to the consumer’s water usage percentile levels. The 2014 Grand Jury report specifically recommended that EBMUD should provide the public with an analysis that contains “the financial impact of the proposed rate increase on a broader range of water or sewer consumers … [at] the 25th percentile point, the 50th percentile point and the 75th percentile point . . . .” Information regarding low-level users versus high-level users is absent from the 2017 Notice. We believe consumers will more readily appreciate the proposed rates by receiving information about how the increase impacts residents at their usage levels.

We have noted that in 2015, during a prior rate increase consideration, the Bay Area News Group summarized EBMUD rate increases. (Please refer to the following table.) We believe consumers need to know how their usage levels will impact their water bill once the proposed rates are implemented. A table like the one published below, could easily be included in future notices issued by EBMUD.

EBMUD water rate increases7

Usage

Level and percentile

Gallons Used

per per day month

Monthly Bill 2014-15 2015-16

Change Amount %

Low 25

98 2,992

$29.07 $34.06

$4.99 17%

Median 50

172 5,236

$37.80 $45.10

$7.30 19%

High 75

295 8,976

$55.80 $70.35

$14.55 26%

Higher 95

738 22,440

$132.08 $183.79

$51.71 39%

Highest 99

1,476 44,880

$264.68 $383.59

$118.91 45%

Average

246 7,480

$48.60 $60.00

$11.40 23%

7 Bay Area News Group, “Steep water rate increases eyed for EBMUD customers,” East Bay Times, published March 24, 2015. (Amounts in Monthly bill column reflects the base rate increase and a drought surcharge.)

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We conclude that despite the 2014 Grand Jury report and recommendations, and despite EBMUD’s response to those recommendations promising a commitment to transparency, the 2017 Notice is not an improvement in transparency over the 2013 Notice. For EBMUD to comply with the recommendations of the 2014 Grand Jury Report, the District should provide improved public notices that include (1) historical rate charges; (2) a cost impact analysis that refers to water usage percentiles; and (3) all factors responsible for driving up the utility rates, including quantifying the role of pension liability on the proposed rate hike. In the 2017 Notice, none of the three items is set forth. We therefore request that EBMUD explain how it plans to implement the 2014 Grand Jury recommendations in all future notices pertaining to rate increases.

Consistent with the Association’s purpose, we shall continue to monitor the completeness of future EBMUD notices. To assist us with our monitoring please provide the Association with the following: (1) documents demonstrating your efforts to add video links of EBMUD board meetings to your website; (2) documents provided to the public that detail reasons behind the 2017 rate hikes; (3) copies of presentations given to the public in the last two years relating to rate hikes planned for 2017 and 2018; and (4) a history of rate increases for the past six years, as was done in the 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (p. 136), with the addition of the resulting price per unit in a new column.

Please send your response to the undersigned at 6288 Girvin Drive, Oakland CA 94611. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter and look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Janet Clark

Janet Clark
Alameda County Civil Grand Jury Association President

cc: Ray Souza, 2016-2017 Grand Jury Foreman

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Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors. 

Correspondence regarding the 19%rate increase can be sent to:

Board of Directors, East Bay Municipal Utility District Alexander R. Coate, General Manager
375 11th Street
Oakland, CA 94607-4240

Jun 27 2017

On Thursday, June 22, the BART Board approved a paper ticket surcharge of $0.50 to encourage Clipper card use. Youth and Senior Clipper cards are free. Adult Clipper card costs $3 unless it is purchased online with Autoload payments from a credit card.

 

Jun 27 2017

On July 1, AC Transit will increase the cost of fares and passes, ending its six year fare freeze.

Fares paid with Clipper cards will increase for local rides from $2 to $2.15 for adults and from $1 to $1.05 for youth, seniors and the disabled.  Youth (5 – 18) 31 day passes as well as senior and disabled calendar month passes will increase from $20 to $26.50. Local day passes will continue to be $2.50 for youth, seniors and the disabled. The Adult Local 31-Day Pass will increase from $75 to $81.

See the complete list of new fares and passes here.

 

Jun 24 2017

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan Task Force (CAPTF) will meet at 6:30 pm on June 27, 2017 in the Piedmont Police Department Emergency Operations Center (403 Highland Avenue.) The CAPTF is a temporary advisory task force to assist staff in the development of a 2030 Climate Action Plan. The meeting will not be broadcast or recorded.

Agenda:

  1.  Review of Previous Task Force Discussions (5 minutes)
  2.  Review of Draft Climate Action Plan Outline (15 minutes).
  3.  Discussion of Proposed Transportation Sector Measures for the 2030 Climate Action Plan (60minutes).
  4.  Discussion of Outreach and Community Engagement Strategies (20 minutes).
  5.  Consideration of Future Agenda Items (10 minutes).

All Task Force materials are posted here: http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/committees/captf.shtml

Jun 19 2017
Listening is important.

In his column “Silence is Golden,” Mayor Jeff  Wieler took heart in that no speakers showed up to address the Grand Avenue zoning changes adopted by Council at a recent Council meeting.  I think he may be confusing neighborhood absence at the meeting with acceptance. 

Anyone familiar with the process knows how unresponsive the Mayor and some Council members were to neighborhood and community concerns about the initial zoning proposal.  Starting from a “community workshop” that amounted to a presentation by the developer that was followed by tailor-made zoning code, the neighborhood had to push hard to get City Hall to listen to their concerns and consider the General Plan.

With the help of some Council members, the city hired a planner and held workshops with the neighborhood leading to the final zoning code passed Monday night.  After attending many Planning Commission meetings and workshops, many neighbors probably didn’t see the point in appearing before a Council that had not listen to them in the first place.

And speaking of listening, I hope the Mayor will listen to his Planning Commission and reject the the Crown Castle cell tower proposal. 

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 4 2017

City Council  revisions of City Code Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use on Council agenda.

Brown Act Compliance Question:

Compliance with the Brown Act is in question for proper noticing of zoning change considerations at the Monday, June 5, 2017 meeting.  The official agenda indicates changes are only to Zone D, yet changes to land use regulations in other zones are proposed.  Only Zone D is mentioned in the agenda listing.

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

Only those who previously requested personal announcements received a different wording of the announcement of the agenda item stating: “Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 733 N.S., Adopting Revisions to City Code Chapter 17, including: updates to the regulations for zone D related to: …….” (See the rest of the wording below to compare the two versions.)*

Zoning Controversy – 

There is a controversial and perhaps unlawful statement within the proposed ordinance stating the change to land use in Zone D complies with the City Charter. However, contrary, official information on the intent and language of the City Charter has been presented to the City Council, indicating a Piedmont vote is required for changing Zone D (Commercial) to Mixed Use.  Reclassification wording within the Charter has been shown to mean a change of use within a zone; thus changing Commercial to Mixed Use, indicates the need for voter approval.  The City has offered the language below in an apparent attempt to avoid voter approval per City Charter language.

The newly proposed language states:

 CITY CHARTER and REVIEW BY CITY ATTORNEY: The proposed modifications to the City Code are in conformance with the City Charter, including section 9.02. No zones have been reduced or enlarged, and no zones have been reclassified. The proposed modifications to the City Code, the ordinance and the CEQA determination have been reviewed and approved by the City Attorney.

Staff report <

*City letter sent to those requesting information:  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*An item on the agenda for the City Council’s regular meeting scheduled for Monday, June 5, 2017 is the Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 733 N.S., Adopting Revisions to City Code Chapter 17, including: updates to the regulations for zone D related to:

  • residential density,
  • lot coverage,
  • structure height,
  • setbacks and
  • parking; and
  • various technical corrections to a recent comprehensive update to the chapter.
  •  proposed amendments to the regulations for Zone D are the same as those presented at the community workshop held on May 3, 2017.

You can find more information on the proposed revisions to the regulations for properties in Zone D – and the technical corrections* – by visiting the City’s webpage on the topic. It is there that you can also find links to the staff report for the June 5, 2017 City Council meeting and the slideshow presentation for the May 3, 2017 community workshop on Zone D Grand Avenue.

Provide your comments by attending the meeting and addressing the City Council, and/or by submitting written comments via email to the City Council or on paper to 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

by Kevin Jackson, AICP, Planning Director, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611     Tel: (510) 420-3039 Fax: (510) 658-3167

Jun 4 2017

The staff reports for the meeting are:

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

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

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

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

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

b. Report on the FY 17-18 Budget Proposal

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

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

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

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

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