May 17 2017
Many Piedmonters have noticed a tall pole (example of proposed installations) at the entrance to Piedmont Park and Witter Field next to Wildwood Elementary School.  Some concern has been expressed regarding the installation of cell towers at some of the ten locations listed below.

The following is the City’s announcement dated May 16, 2017 informing Piedmont residents of an application to install wireless communication poles.

City to Consider Application for Small Wireless Facilities

The City of Piedmont is considering an application from Crown Castle NG West LLC for nine proposed Verizon small cell wireless communication facilities, located generally around Piedmont Park and Piedmont High School, for a new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) installation. Crown Castle NG West LLC is a company that builds wireless communication facilities and then leases them to wireless service providers, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.

The Park Commission is scheduled to consider the applicant’s request to remove street trees at some of the sites at its regular meeting of June 7, 2017 [5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers] and make a recommendation to the City Council.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the design and location of each proposed small cell site at its regular meeting of June 12, 2017 [5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers] and make a recommendation to the City Council.

The City Council will consider the matter at a date to be determined, based upon the action of the two Commissions.

Each of these meetings [Park Commission and Planning Commission] will be televised live on KCOM-TV [Cable Channel 27], the City’s government TV station and will be available through streaming video on the City’s web site www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/video

The project consists of five proposed installations on the tops of existing utility poles, three proposed installations on existing street lights, and one proposed installation on a new street light. The applicants have proposed that ground equipment related to the pole top antennas would be located in vaults beneath the sidewalk. A map of the proposed installations is shown below and on the City website. The proposed small cell wireless communication facilities would be located near the following addresses:

  1. 340 & 370 Highland Ave.
  2. 505 Blair Ave.
  3. 799 Magnolia Ave.
  4. 358 Hillside Ave.
  5. 303 Hillside Ave.
  6. 428 El Cerrito Ave.
  7. 355 Jerome Ave.
  8. 1159 Winsor Ave.
  9. 314 Wildwood Ave.

The City will post updated information regarding this application on its web site and use other electronic means to keep the public at large informed of the status of this application. The City will also notify residents near the proposed sites, as required by City Code.

Placement of wireless communication facilities is governed by state and federal law, including rules requiring cities to allow certain wireless communication facilities in the public right-of- way. Cities cannot place conditions on, deny, or approve a proposed wireless facility based upon the health effects if the applicant demonstrates that the project meets federal safety requirements. Under the Federal Telecommunications Act (1996), the federal government decides the safe levels of exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.

In early May 2017, Crown Castle constructed a mock-up to represent the height and form of a proposed new street light and wireless antenna near the Wildwood Avenue entrance to Piedmont Park. In addition, signs have been posted at each of the proposed sites to help build awareness of the proposal.

Residents are invited to send comments regarding the proposal, addressed to the Park Commission and to the Planning Commission, to Piedmont City Hall care of:

Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald-Powell at pmacdonald@piedmont.ca.gov

All comments received will become part of the public record and will be provided to the Commissions and City Council. For more information, including application materials, please visit the City of Piedmont’s web site at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/

To view the maps and information provided by the applicant, click below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/publicworks/docs/crowncastle/coveragemap.pdf

May 17 2017

Planning Commission confronts applications for additional bedrooms without off-street parking and high fences next to sidewalks. 

by Leah Kochendoerfer, Piedmont High School Senior –

 On Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 5:00pm, the Planning Commission met in order to consider approval of projects proposed for property in Piedmont. Between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., the members of the Planning Commission discussed four specific cases: 419 Moraga Avenue, 156 Wildwood Avenue, 139 Lexford Road, and 361 Moraga Avenue. Four projects were conditionally approved; however, each had their own set of adjustments necessary to ensure approval.  

The resident of 419 Moraga Avenue submitted an application seeking the approval of modifications to her windows, as well as the approval of a room conversion into a bedroom without providing the necessary parking ratio. The application had previously been denied under the Small House Policy, in which bedroom count cannot exceed a certain number without simultaneously increasing parking. However, the resident argued that similar construction had taken place in neighboring homes in which bedroom to parking ratios had been consistent with her plans, and thus her construction should be approved. When asked why she could not create more parking in order to make the increase in room count legal, she suggested that her driveway was too steep for a car to park, and a garage could not be added without demolishing the entire house, thus indicating the Variance criteria of unusual physical circumstances. Susan Ode and Eric K. Behrens, members of the Planning Commission, both rejected the resident’s argument by stating that no house should be compared to another, as each is in a unique circumstance. Another commissioner introduced the consideration of traffic on Moraga, noting that creating another unit would only increase car flow down the already busy street. Ultimately reflecting the Planning Commission’s decision, Tom Ramsey noted the importance of being consistent and supported the variance under the condition that the driveway could be modified in order to supply an additional parking spot.

 The subsequent resident submitted an application for the construction of a new six foot wooden fence with two gates on their Wildwood Avenue property. The resident expressed the need of a new fence after having experienced several incidents of stolen property, and also commented on the benefits of adding more room to the property, the convenience of having access to the home through a side yard, and the general aesthetic of a new fence.

Responses from the Planning Commission included Commissioner Eric Behrens who stated that the fence was out of character and not, in fact, aesthetic.  Commissioner Susan Ode noted that the horizontal planks would not match the vertical ones. Additionally, Commissioner Jonathan Levine suggested that neighboring houses along Wildwood Avenue do not have these fences and a fence this tall would look imposing from the street. Similarly, Commissioner Aradhana Jajodia stated that the fence calls attention to itself and takes away the otherwise open feeling. Commissioner Tom Ramsey worried about the precedent this situation would set in allowing people to set up six foot tall fences when desired. Thus, the Planning Commission came to the conclusion that the fence would be approved only if it followed the four foot maximum outlined in the Design Guidelines.

I personally believe that the four foot maximum fence height is a valid code, as the City of Piedmont should be a relatively open space that makes neighbors feel welcome. A tall fence would definitely separate the house from the otherwise community feel, and make surrounding residents less comfortable when walking alongside it.

Next, the Planning Commission discussed the application for a new house and fence design submitted by Paul Simonetti wanted to install a gate and fence along his property.  Simonetti stated his concern about recent break-ins. He was also looking to plant a new maple tree. Commissioner Behrens was  concerned with the sight-lines when exiting the driveway, to which Simonetti ensured that the fence would slowly decrease in height when backing out of the driveway, allowing for an unobstructed view of the street and potential cars.

Commissioner Ramsey brought up the code involving a foot-wide section between the fence and the sidewalk, which the Commission and Simonetti agreed could be used for landscaping plants. Lastly, while Commissioner Levine agreed that the arbor would distinguish the house entrance, it needed to be a more modest size. Therefore, the project was approved under the conditions that the tree would not be planted and that a foot wide landscaped section would be installed between the sidewalk and fence.

The residents of 361 Moraga Avenue, sought approval for the construction of additional office space in order to increase living space for their family of four. After having two storage rooms built, the owners stopped the project in December in order to ensure the project was up to code. The owners gathered signatures from neighbors approving the variance and now only needed permission from the Planning Commission.

Commissioner Levine addressed his concern that the office space could be transformed into a bedroom when sold in the future and advertised as a five-bedroom house with two bedrooms sharing one bathroom. This would go against the Small House Policy, as the property only holds one parking spot currently. When Levine asked the residents about the possibility of increasing the garage size, an owner stated that the garage was surrounded by concrete and any modifications would thus be infeasible.

On the other hand, Commissioner Behrens assured that access to the bathroom was not direct and thus the house could not be advertised as five-bedroom. Additionally, Commissioner Aradhana Jajodia stated that if someone truly wanted to do illegal construction with the intent of increasing the bedroom count in a house, they would not have come to the Planning Commission to seek approval in the first place. The application consideration concluded with the Planning Commission approving the plan with the condition that the framing of the door be removed, confirming that the space is purely office space, not a bedroom.

 Amy Shen, attended the Planning Commission meeting seeking approval for a home remodel as well as a variance on her lot size. Because the City of Piedmont only allows residents to have structures on 40% of one’s lot, plans to exceed this limit require the approval of a variance by the Planning Commission. When asked what she learned through the process of these meetings, she responded that she “learned that design is subjective and that because of the limitations of speaking time, you have to be direct in presenting what you want to say as well as in the documentation you present prior to the meeting.” Because the Planning Commission did not authorize the proposed remodel, she will now have to begin the process again with a new design, addressing the changes advised by the Planning Commission members.

The Planning Commission meets once per month on the second Monday of the month at 5:00 p.m., to discuss the alteration and construction plans of Piedmont homes.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

May 11 2017

The Piedmont City Council continues the practice of working on the City Budget without benefit of recordings or broadcast. The public is welcome to come to the meeting and speak to the various issues related to the budget: capital expenditures, revenues, taxation, employee benefits, new projects, roadways, sidewalks, trees, recreation, public safety, Schoolmates, planning, sewers, or any other issue related to City budgetary matters.  

Special City Council Budget Meeting

Saturday, May 13, 2017

9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

East Wing, 801 Magnolia Avenue (across from Piedmont High School)

Agenda:

1. Overview of the Proposed FY 17-18 Budget by the City Administrator

2. Presentation by the CIP Review Committee of Project Proposals for FY 17-18

3. Review of Departmental Budgets for FY 17-18

a. Police

b. Public Works

c. Recreation

d. Fire

e. Administration

f. Other Funds Budgets

City announcement:

The Piedmont City Council will consider the proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 at three separate meetings. A Saturday work session will be held in the East Wing of 801 Magnolia Avenue on May 13, 2017 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Public hearings regarding the proposed budget and the levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Sewer Tax will be held during regularly scheduled City Council meetings on June 5 and June 19, 2017.

The public is invited to attend these meetings and speak to the City Council about spending priorities for the city in the coming year.  Click to visit the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget page, where all sections of the budget are available for download.

For questions on contents of the budget, please contact Interim Finance Director Jim O’Leary via email at joleary@ci.piedmont.ca.us or by phone at 420-3045 with any questions.

If you wish to write to the Council regarding the budget, please send an e-mail to the City Council at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or send a letter via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, c/o City Clerk’s Office, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, 94611.

May 1 2017

Public participation on Piedmont’s Commercial/Mixed Use Zone D regulations on Grand Avenue has generated potential changes.  The Civic Center Commercial/Mixed Use Zone D will remain designated for increased development as previously approved by the City Council.

Approximately twenty participants attended the prior Grand Avenue Commercial/Mixed Use Zone D workshop (April 19, 2017).  The draft changed regulations will be discussed further on:

Wednesday, May 3rd – 6:00 p.m. at the Kehilla Community Synagogue, Fireside Room, 1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont. Enter on Fairview Avenue through the gate.

The changes appear to be more restrictive for development and more compatible with existing residential neighborhoods.  Those interested in the final proposal will find the May 3rd meeting important. 

Civic Center Commercial/Mixed Use Zone –

Unlike the Grand Avenue Commercial Zone, the Civic Center Commercial/Mixed Use Zone at Highland and Vista Avenues, has already been approved for more development based on 2017 action by the City Council. The properties near or next to the schools (Havens, PHS, PMS, MHS) and residences in the center of Piedmont drew little participation regarding potential impacts including the Piedmont School District, the greater community, or neighboring residents.

A Potential Legal Issue Remains –

A potential legal issue continues based on the City Council changing all of Piedmont’s Commercial Zones to Commercial/Mixed Use without voter approval as noted in Piedmont’s > City Charter. (*See note below at end of this article.)

~~~~~~~

Following the first workshop on the Grand Avenue Commercial /Mixed Use Zone D, changes have been proposed by the Planning staff. Click below to view the proposed changes for Grand Avenue:

 >  Draft Amendments Grand Avenue Subarea 5-3-2017

Editors Note:  The date of the next workshop is noted incorrectly on the Planning Department draft changes documents.  The workshop is May 3 NOT May 1. 

~~~~~~~~~

Letter from Planning Director:

The City of Piedmont will hold the second of two community workshops to consider the Planning Commission’s recommended revisions to the regulations for the thirteen properties along Grand Avenue that are in the City’s commercial/mixed-use zone (Zone D). The regulations under consideration are those related to structure and landscape coverage, building height, setback requirements, and parking. In addition, city staff is recommending a revision to the density of multi-family dwelling units allowed in Zone D mixed-use developments: from the current 12 dwelling units per acre (1 unit per 3,630 SF of lot area) to a proposed 20 dwelling units per acre (1 unit per 2,178 SF of lot area), which would be in conformance with the > Piedmont General Plan. [See note at end of this article]*

Approximately 20 Piedmonters attended the first community workshop on April 19th and participated in a lively discussion. With the comments provided by the participants, City staff has drafted amendments to the Commission’s recommended revisions that address resident’s concerns. The second workshop will be a follow-up to the first workshop and will provide an opportunity for members of the public to review and discuss the proposed amendments. The schedule and location of the second community workshop is as follows:

Follow-Up Community Workshop

You can find more information on the Planning Commission’s recommended revisions to the regulations for the City’s commercial/mixed-use zone (Zone D) by visiting the City’s webpage on the topic.

You are encouraged to provide your comments by attending the workshop and/or by submitting written comments by noon, Wednesday May 3, 2017. You can submit your comments to me,kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or on paper to 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

Background

On March 20, 2017 the Piedmont City Council unanimously adopted a comprehensive update to land use regulations in the City Code. The revised Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use, will be in effect April 19, 2017. However, in taking action to adopt the comprehensive update, the City Council determined that more time was needed to consider the Planning Commission’s recommended revisions to regulations for the Grand Avenue subarea of Zone D, the commercial/mixed use zone. Thus, the regulations for the Grand Avenue Zone D subarea related to structure and landscape coverage, building height, setback requirements, and parking were not updated to allow for additional public engagement and consideration. In addition, city staff will introduce a recommended revision to the density of multi-family dwelling units allowed in Zone D. The two community workshops have been scheduled to provide public engagement and comment before Council takes up the matter again.

Relevant Documents

Please follow the link below to find the regulations in Chapter 17 effective April 19, 2017. Regulations related to structure and landscape coverage, building height, and setback requirements in zone D are found in code section 17.26.050 on pages 18-19. Zone D parking regulations are found in code section 17.30.030, pages 23-24.

>   Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use (Not Codified)

The revisions to Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use recommended by the Planning Commission and being introduced by city staff are shown in tracked changes format in the following document.

>   Recommend Revisions to Divisions 17.26 and 17.30 of Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use

Public Participation

Members of the public are encouraged to participate throughout this process by submitting comments and attending the meetings. Written comments may be submitted to Kevin Jackson, Director of Planning, kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611. All meetings have been publicly noticed. In addition, staff maintains a list of community members who wish to receive notices and copies of reports directly via email. Anybody who wishes to be added to the list related to revisions to City Code Chapter 17 may contact Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or (510) 420-3039.

*Piedmont’s General Plan was approved by the City Council.  Piedmonters did not vote on the General Plan.   Where inconsistencies between the General Plan and the > City Charter present, the City Charter controls. 

< For more PCA coverage on zoning issues, use the PCA search engine on the left side of this page and insert the word  “zoning.”

Apr 27 2017

The Piedmont Planning Department and Planning Commission have been reviewing the recently revised regulation of City Code Chapter 17 to assure compliance with Government Code Section 65852.2 governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), also known as Second Units. The City Council will consider the matter on Monday, May 1, 2017, 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

The following PCA questions in bold black were submitted to the City Planning Department and the answers are in blue; questions and answers are reproduced as presented. 

Questions and Answers regarding Accessory Dwelling Units in Piedmont: 

Response to Questions from the Piedmont Civic Association regarding proposed revisions to the regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units for compliance with State laws. Received April 24, 2017.

  1. Will the City have to add more staffing to oversee affordable ADU compliance?    No additional staffing needs are anticipated.
  2. Some cities require affordable ADUs to remain affordable for 20 years rather than Piedmont’s term of 10 years. Why did Piedmont pick a 10 year term for affordability?   Ten years was determined to be appropriate and was sufficient for the State certification of the City’s Housing Element.
  3. Once an ADU no longer falls into the affordable category, will the forgiven parking or other requirements continue to be forgiven or will existing ADUs return for a new permit?   If, after ten years, the termination of the recorded deed restriction is not automatic (by its terms), the City shall record a document terminating the declaration of rent restrictions, upon the written request of the property owner. The accessory dwelling unit permit is not terminated in this process and the ADU will not be required to add additional parking otherwise required by the City’s ADU ordinance.
  4. Does the City have adequate public services for increased demands – street widths, parking needs, public safety, city staffing, schools, etc.?   The City will respond to any needs for increased public services when they arise.
  5. How will ADUs be taxed ?   As an accessory unit to the primary dwelling unit, ADUs may contribute to a parcel’s value and assessment thereby impacting property taxes. If occupied by a tenant, the property owner will need to pay the City rental tax.
  6. Will all Piedmont taxpayers be required to pay more for any increase in public services or will new ADUs trigger a new property tax assessment based on a reappraisal by the County?See responses to questions 4 and 5.
  7. How many new ADUs are projected in Piedmont in the next 5 to 10 years?   From 2005 through 2016, 43 accessory dwelling units were approved. Five of these were never constructed. Thus, the precedent is that 3.45 accessory dwelling units have been developed annually. An increase in the number of applications for accessory dwelling unit permits might be expected in response to the State laws, but the amount of that increase is unknown at this time.
  1. Should the Council and public have been informed State Law 65852.2 would be inconsistent with recently revised Chapter 17 by the Council and Planning Commission such as: parking space sizes, covered parking requirements, parking spaces required, allowing tandem parking, setback requirements, etc.?    Yes. Information on the recently adopted State laws modifying Government Code Section 65852.2 was provided to the City Council and separately the topic was brought up during the study sessions Council held in January on the comprehensive Chapter 17 updates.
  2. If a garage is removed to build an ADU, must the existing house meet the standard parking requirements?    The City can require that the “removed” parking spaces be replaced on-site, but the State laws require local jurisdictions to allow those spaces to be in any configuration (e.g., uncovered, tandem, any location). See Section 17.38.060.B.5.a in the proposed ADU regulations.
  3. Can an accessory structure be built on a property line and then converted to an ADU without a variance?    No, not for new construction. See Sections 17.20.040 and 17.28.040 of the City Code regarding setbacks to accessory structures. However, State laws requires local jurisdictions to allow for the conversion of existing accessory buildings, such as garages, into accessory dwelling units. See Section 17.38.060.B.5.b in the proposed ADU regulations.
  4. What techniques will the City use to identify traffic or safety issues when applications are presented to the City?    State laws prevent the City from requiring on-site parking for accessory dwelling units when the proposed ADU is within 1⁄2 mile of a transit stop or when a proposed ADU is within an existing building. The entire City of Piedmont is within 1⁄2 mile of a transit stop. As a result, vehicular and pedestrian safety are not included in the development standards for accessory dwelling units. See Section 17.38.060.B in the proposed ADU regulations. However, if exterior features are proposed to be modified or newly constructed, a design review permit is required. As set forth in Section 17.66.060 of the City Code, which provides the standards for a design review permit, the proposed design must not adversely affect pedestrian or vehicular safety. Safety concerns are also addressed as part of the review of a building permit application.
  5. With no required notice procedure, how is a neighbor to know if an ADU application has been filed or how to appeal a decision?    California Government Code Section 65852.2 requires that local jurisdictions consider an application for accessory dwelling unit permit ministerially without discretionary review or a hearing if it meets all the standards for approval. Notification of neighboring property owners would occur if the application for accessory dwelling unit permit did not meet all the standards for approval, and might occur if there was a concurrent application for design review permit, depending on the level of proposed design modifications.

13. How will the City know when a neighborhood is overly impacted with additional traffic issues from ADUs?   City staff and Council Members often hear from Piedmont residents on such topics.

14. What will the application and permit fees be for an ADU?  The current fee for an application for accessory dwelling unit permit is $750. Fees for applications for design review permit range from $170 to $1,630 depending on the cost of exterior modifications. Fees for an application for a building permit are approximately 2 percent of the total cost of construction.

15. What are Piedmont’s covered parking requirements for existing and proposed buildings?  Parking requirements are outlined in Division 17.30 of the City Code, which is available on the City’s website and at the Public Works counter in City Hall.

16. Since the School District only taxes parcels, does this mean ADUs will not be taxed for School Bond costs or other previously approved additional property taxes?  ADUs will not be subject to separate parcel or property taxes from those of the primary dwelling unit.

17. Did the City Council take a position on State Law 65852.2 when it was being considered by the legislators and governor?   Assuming that you mean AB 2299 and SB 1069, the two 2016 bills that amended Government Code Section 65852.2 (originally enacted in 1982), no.

The City Council will consider the matter of Accessory Dwelling Units on Monday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  Interested persons may observe the First Reading of changes to Piedmont’s recently approved Chapter 17 on the City’s website under videos or on Cable Channel 27. 

The City’s announcement and the actual language of the proposed ordinance can be read below:

Monday, May 1st – 7:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers

In September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law changes to Government Code Section 65852.2 resulting from the enactment of Assembly Bill 2299 and Senate Bill 1069. These changes limit a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as Second Units. The provisions affected by the changes to state law include, but are not limited to, off-street parking requirements, unit size limitations, and application approval timelines. The State laws permit cities to adopt ADU ordinances as long as the ordinance is consistent with the State laws and imposes certain local standards. Click to Government Code Section 65852.2.

Planning Commission Recommends Changes to City Code

On April 10, 2017 the Planning Commission voted to recommend proposed revisions to the regulations in the City Code related to Accessory Dwelling Units. Click to read the Planning Commission staff report and minutes of their discussion on this topic. The report prepared by staff for the Planning Commission outlines the proposed code revisions. On May 1, 2017, City Council will consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation to adopt the proposed code revisions. Click to read the Council staff report for this matter.

Residents are invited to engage in this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to read the staff report and attend the City Council meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on May 1, 2017 in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue. Written comments may be submitted to the Piedmont City Council at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or by US Mail to John Tulloch, City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA  94611.

Requests to receive email notification of activities related to revisions of City Code provisions related to Accessory Dwelling Units should be sent to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us. Comments on paper can also be submitted by hand or by mail to the Piedmont Planning Commission, 120 Vista Avenue,Piedmont,CA 94611.

Comments to be read by other PCA readers may be submitted below.

Apr 23 2017

Blight, Commercial zone, winter impacts, paving, and solar panel installations.

On the twentieth of March, 2017,  the City Council discussed at their meeting  the rundown house of 954 Rose Avenue,  the dates to discuss Zone D in the City Code,  the City’s response to the winter storms,  the paving project, implementing solar panels, and actions regarding the damage to Cavendish Lane roadway.

The rundown house was an important and key point at the meeting as it was claimed there was a lessening of neighborhood value by hazardous, safety concerns. It had been over a decade and the property had not changed indicating to the City there was a need  for the City to take action. The property owner had started to make progress and had asked for an extension from the 27 of October to the 6 of January, but no further progress  was made.

Currently, the homeowner’s hut is falling in the neighbor’s driveway. Also, there is a big hole about four to five feet from the sidewalk; the staircase and chimney are broken; and there is a hazardous tree. In this meeting, many neighbors spoke upon these matters. One neighbor who is putting her house on the market expressed that she had to play guard for the house on Halloween as children think it is a haunted house. She also has to help the delivery guy to deliver packets to the owner and stated that people ask her: “Is it a crack house that you live beside?”

The difficulty in this case was that there was no previous similar case making the situation new territory. The Council realized the nearby property owner needs help as his renters are leaving and no progress is happening.  The City needs to pay their staff and there is no magical money coming from the issue. Therefore, a daily hundred dollar penalty will occur from the twentieth of March for three months. If there is no progress occurring such as repairing the stairs and chimney or having a construction schedule, then the City will take this to court on July first.

It is my opinion that this will bring Piedmont greater safety and a less blighted place, especially on Rose Avenue which has been a hurting street.

For Zone D, it has been a lengthy and complex process for residences, but the City has come forward with dates. The short term rentals are going to be scheduled to come back to the City council in April. The Grand Avenue area needs different approaches.  Work Session meeting to take further public input will be held to solicit concerns and issues.

In the City of Piedmont, we have been lucky to have Public Work’s Dave Frankel here 24/7. He is making sure Piedmont stays safe from falling trees, trash filling up the City, or creek overflows. In the winter months, it is hard to get anyone out to help, but Frankel and his staff have always been on the case. The winter months have therefore not been too devastating.  The streets have been regularly and repeatedly had the street sweeper. There have been 800-900 yards of trash picked up on scheduled street sweeping and 500 yard of unscheduled sweeping. The Council thanked Frankel and  his team for the hard work to keep the City clean.

The City’s pavement is being planned by contract City Engineer, John Wanger, who rates the pavement a 63. Since there is a budget for pavement, work is done on pavements which are badly degrading and preventive maintenance on pavements subject to degrading. Magnolia Avenue is waiting for renovation sewer work and Harvard Drive has been delayed. There is a lot more work needed on the pavements because of an increase of water cracks caused by the wet winter. There has been many improvements to come with better pavements, stop signs, pumps, and cycling lines.

The City of Piedmont may soon be clean and renewable energy per Jonathan Whelan who discussed the solar panel assessment. He discussed the location of the solar installation, the interconnection program, and the financials.

Clean renewable energy is something I personally support a lot and I spoke for solar lamps being put in the parks and other locations so that pedestrians can walk safely from athletic practices and other places.

This meeting went over a great amount of points to make our city better. This is why many of our citizens and organizations come to these meetings to get their voices heard and understand their city better.

Public Works Director Chester Nakahara came and was involved in the meeting. He was at the meeting on a number of issues including the paving program.  He talked about the work done to keep the roads clear and the City safe during the storms.

With all these wonderful people making sure our city is at its best and the citizens involved, we continue achieving goals to have a vibrant city.

by Lea Rygg, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

____________

On March 20, 2017 City Council had it’s biweekly meeting in Piedmont’s City Hall. The City Council covered issues pertaining to the City of Piedmont like infrastructure, blight, solar panels, and the job of public works. The meeting began with an honoring of the City’s relationship with the American Red Cross, where Piedmont declared March Red Cross Month.

This was followed up by topic #6 on the agenda which was the Compliance Order Issued for 954 Rose Avenue which took up about half of the meeting. The issue with the home on Rose Avenue is that the front of the house has been deemed unsafe and a blight to the community of Piedmont. The three staff participants in the discussion where City Administrator Paul Benoit, City Attorney Chad Herrington, and the Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara.

The City of Piedmont had issued a compliance order on the house after the homeowner requested one but no improvements were made to his home. The City Council debated possible solutions on what could be done about the home.

Something easily noticed among the Council was how well they worked together to find the best possible solution. For example, they stated they could try to get a work warrant to fix the home, but decided that by the time they had gotten the warrant, months would have gone by.

Also, early on in the discussion, the Council had several neighbors speak about the house. Many of the neighbors stated that the house was an accident waiting to happen. One neighbor described a story of how on Halloween kids believed the house was actually a haunted house.

After hearing these messages the City Council took the neighbors’ consideration of immediate action and deliberated on a possible solution. The City Council agreed on a $100 per day fine until the homeowner obtained a permit with a construction schedule on it.

I agree with the City handling of the house on Rose Avenue because the issue has dragged out for so long that now the fines will grab the homeowner’s attention to hopefully take action.

Later, the City applauded the work of Public Works Department after one of the wettest winters in 60 years. The main jobs that the Public Work team focused on was providing sandbags for people as well as checking on Piedmont creeks to make sure they weren’t overflowing, which affects sewer lines. The main point of congratulating the department is that they do not receive a lot of recognition and to remind them to keep up the good work they are doing for the city.

After the meeting I was able to speak with Chester Nakahara, who is the Public Works Director, and oversees five divisions (streets, buildings, sewers, public works, parks.) For the most part, he thought that the meeting went well and the decisions the Council made, specifically for the Rose Avenue house, were steps in the right direction for the Piedmont community.

By Nicholas Pacult, Piedmont High School Senior

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

Who decides if a street tree should be planted?  Residents or the Commission?

    On April 5th, 2017, the Parks Commission came together for their monthly meeting for the main reasons of nominating a Vice Chairman, talk about the opening of Hampton Field, the Arbor Day Celebration on April 6th, and how the planting of new trees with public works.

    Following the relatively short nomination period, the focus was shifted to the opening of Hampton Field.  Hampton Field was recently renovated turning the field from a grass field to a turf field.  All concurred that the opening ceremony went extremely well and was a huge success.  They also think that it will be an opportunity ripe for donations as families whose kids have played at Hampton Park will want to donate to have their names on benches and such.

    After the success of changing Hampton Field into a turf field, the Park Commission then said they would turn their attention to Coaches Field, another grass field in Piedmont, and evaluate it for a possible grass to turf transition.  Betsy Goodman then asked about the life span of the turf field, as this was a concern voiced by members of the public.  The lifespan of a cork and sand turf field was about 10 years but could also be replenished, a huge reason why this type of turf field was chosen.

    One concern voiced by a commissioner was about the poor condition of trees at the basketball courts near the back of Hampton Park following a rough winter.   A member of the Public Works Department was present at the meeting and said that public works was planning on taking the trees out.

    The next topic on the agenda was the Arbor Day Celebration planned for the following day. Arbor Day is a national celebration of trees.  Though set up was coming along very well, there were concerns about the weather and if it would rain or not.  A citizen attending the meeting just said to make it clear where it would be held inside if there was rain and where outside, weather permitting.

      Then, the public works member, Dave Frankel, started the Park Commission’s report which consisted of how public works has been combating one of the wettest winters in years and how their reforesting projects are going.  Frankel said  85 cubic yards of debris has been cleared from the creeks in Piedmont.  Public works has also been reforesting the streets of Wyngaard, Inverleith, and Lexford, to name a few.  Public works were also looking at trying to plant new types of trees, like Chinese pistachio trees instead of the lateral outgrowth of Cherry trees.

     It was at this point I wondered why there aren’t any trees on my street. So I went up and asked about the process for choosing which streets to plant trees on.  Was it citizen requested or a Commission decision? Frankel responded by saying that the streets used to be chosen by the Commission, but the residents on many street didn’t take care of the trees so they changed the process to citizen requested.

    After the meeting, I stopped Commissioner James Horner. He came to the meeting to talk about the street tree plantings and the upcoming Arbor Day Celebration.  He learned that public works was changing the species of trees that they were planting to Krauter Vesuvius.  When I asked him about his reaction to this meeting, he stated matter-a-factly, “How short it was”.

by Nick Loduca, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 18 2017

Citizen Request for more information on Piedmont Bus Lines Locations-

AC Transit Bus Lines #12 and #33 operate in Piedmont and Bus Line #29 stops near Piedmont.

Line  #12 has 4 stops in Piedmont northbound:

  • Grand Avenue at Fairview Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Grand Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Lake Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Rose Avenue

Line #12 has 3 stops in Piedmont southbound:    

  • Grand Avenue at Sunnyside Avenue
  • Linda Avenue at Grand Avenue.
  • Linda Avenue at Lake Avenue

Line #12 terminates in West Berkeley on 4th Street (instead of downtown Berkeley) and on Harrison Street at the Jack London Square Amtrak Station in Oakland, with stops at three BART stations: Ashby in Berkeley, 12th Street and 19th Street in Oakland.

The Line #12 stops on Broadway in downtown Oakland changed: going toward Berkeley it now stops at 9th Street instead of 10th Street. Toward Jack London Square it stops at 13th Street and the south side of 12th Street instead of at the north side of 12th Street.  Through Friday, April 21, the Line #12 bus will not stop at 22nd Street on Broadway in downtown Oakland.

Line #12 operates every 20 minutes from about 6:20 am to 6:45 pm on weekdays, then every half hour until about 11:30 pm and every half hour on weekends.  

Map and schedules for bus Line #12 can be read here.

Line #29 replaced lines #26 and 31, serving Hollis Street in Emeryville, operating from Emeryville Public Market, West Oakland BART, 12th Street BART to Lakeshore Avenue at Wala Vista Avenue in Oakland, which is only a few blocks from Piedmont. On weekdays the last bus returns to Wala Vista Avenue at 9:47 pm and on weekends at 10:20 pm.  The first Line #29 bus leaves Wala Vista Avenue at 6 am and operates every 20 to 30 minutes daily.

Map and schedules for bus Line #29 can be read here.

Line #33 has 25 stops in Piedmont on its large horseshoe shaped route with stops at 12th Street and 19th Street BART stations in downtown Oakland.  There are stops on or at Crocker Avenue, Estates Drive, Hampton Road, Lexford Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Saint James Drive, Seaview Avenue, Sheridan Avenue, Sierra Avenue, and Inverleith Terrace only until evenings on weekdays with no service during a two hour lunch break.  The first Line #33 bus departs Highland Way at 5:51 am and the last at 10:29 pm operating every 15 minutes until 7 pm when it switches to half hour intervals. There are also two half hour intervals in the morning.  The last night time trip ends on at St James Dr on Park Blvd at 10:48 pm on weekdays and on Highland Way in Piedmont at 11:53 pm on weekdays and Saturdays. On Sundays and holidays the last night time trip ends on Highland Way an hour earlier and the last trip reaches Saint James a half hour earlier.

Map and schedules for bus Line #33 can be read here.

Information on fares and Clipper Cards can be read here.

Apr 17 2017

Information in a declaration was provided by former Piedmont Mayor Alice Creason stating a (change of use) reclassification, such as for the Commercial Zone, without voter approval does not adhere to Piedmont’s City Charter. The declaration was sent to the City Council, Planning Commission, Planning Director, City Administrator, and City Attorney.  Creason noted she was on the City Council when the Charter was drafted and approved by Piedmont voters.  She states the intent and wording of the Charter require Piedmont voter approval prior to changing the use/reclassification of any Piedmont zone. 

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Zoning rules – setbacks, building heights, parking, apartment units, etc. –  for the Commercial Zone on Grand Avenue are in the development stage and two meetings are being held for public involvement.   The zoning rules for Piedmont’s Civic Center Commercial Zone have already been approved by the City Council.  

No recordings or broadcasts of the workshops are scheduled, however participants may make their own recordings of the proceedings. 

Read the prior PCA article on zoning changes  >here. 

The City’s recommended revised changes to the Commercial Zone on Grand Avenue can be read here.

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The Piedmont Planning Department notice is below.

The City of Piedmont will hold two community workshops to consider the Planning Commission’s recommended revisions to the regulations for the thirteen properties along Grand Avenue that are in the City’s commercial/mixed-use zone (Zone D). The regulations under consideration are those related to structure and landscape coverage, building height, setback requirements, and parking. In addition, city staff will introduce a recommended revision to the density of multi-family dwelling units allowed in Zone D.  The second workshop will be a follow-up to the first workshop. The schedule and location for the two community workshops are as follows:

First Community Workshop

Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 6:00 p.m.

Kehilla Community Synagogue, Fireside Room

1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94610

Follow-Up Community Workshop

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 6:00 p.m.

Kehilla Community Synagogue, Fireside Room

1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94610

One can find more information on the recommended revisions to the regulations for the City’s commercial/mixed-use zone (Zone D) by visiting the City’s webpage on the topic.

You are encouraged to provide your comments by attending the workshop and/or by submitting written comments by Monday, April 17, 2017. You can submit your comments to: kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us or on paper to 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Kevin Jackson, AICP, Planning Director, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Tel: (510) 420-3039     Fax: (510) 658-3167

Read the full PCA article on zoning changes and declaration  >here.

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Editors Note:  A quorum of the Planning Commission is not expected at either workshop, as the workshops are not Planning Commission meetings. Planning staff members will be present at both workshops.

For other PCA reader’s information, comments may be submitted below.

Apr 17 2017

A few Piedmonters tried the new nighttime bus service to Piedmont from BART in its first two weeks of service.  One rider described it as a “private limousine” when there were no other passengers. At the end of the second week, use picked up.  According to a Piedmont couple returning from an evening at the San Francisco Ballet at the end of the second week, there were eight passengers on the 10:30 p.m. bus from BART’s 12th Street Oakland City Center station. To the couple’s surprise, they were at home at the same time they normally arrive when driving from the Rockridge BART station parking lot.

The new Bus 33 nighttime service to Piedmont from BART and downtown Oakland restaurants and theaters will allow Piedmonters to enjoy cultural events and entertainment car-free and return home until midnight Monday through Saturday and until 11 p.m. on Sunday.

See Bus 33 map & schedules > here.

Has the Piedmont Climate Action Plan Task Force ridden the new Bus 33 yet?

Read about the new bus service to Piedmont > here.