May 22 2017

City Council Meeting: Monday May 15, 2017

by Lane Manalo-LeClair, Piedmont High School Senior – 

    This past Monday I attended a City Council meeting at the Piedmont City Hall. It was a quiet, chilly evening; I kept my jacket on as I took a seat in the back of the small room. The Piedmont City Council meets on the first and third Mondays of the month, in the City Council Chambers located at 120 Vista Avenue.

    At 7:30 p.m., the members of the Council filed into the Chambers, smiling and laughing with each other. The mayor, Jeff Wieler sat in the middle behind the curved wooden table, with a gavel resting by his right hand. Sitting left of him was Robert McBain, Vice Mayor, and Council member Tim Rood. On the right of Wieler was Teddy Gray King, and her fellow Councilwoman Jennifer Cavenaugh. After a brief joke by Jeff Wieler regarding the Chinese takeout they had just consumed, all rose, faced the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. As part of the first generation not to say the pledge of allegiance in school, I mouthed the words and tried to speak along, to no avail.

    The first item on the agenda was to pass a consent calendar. This calendar had previously been discussed in the last meeting, but needed a vote. Teddy G. King moved to approve the calendar, and the Council followed suit, voting unanimously to approve the calendar.

    This was my first taste of local government. I was introduced to the idea that one Council member must move on an issue, and another must second, before a vote can take place. All votes that night were unanimous, but I assume a simple majority is all that is required by the Council.

    Next was a public forum, in which citizens get the opportunity to speak up about issues regarding the city to the Council. At this point, Sarah Pearson, the School Board Vice President gave a speech about the recent anti-semitic and racist behavior occurring within the District. She said that the School Board is all for a respectful and welcoming environment, and that they have “commitment to a learning environment that is safe and secure.”  Mayor Wieler thanked her and expressed his support for the School Board and their efforts in this non-isolated issue.

   The next item on the agenda was called the “Presentation of Proclamation Regarding Elder Abuse Awareness Month”. In this presentation Mayor Wieler spoke amiably, thanking the DA’s office for their continued efforts to prevent elder abuse, and prosecute perpetrators of elder abuse. He also recognized June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Making his way around the table, Mayor Wieler personally handed over the certificate to the Deputy District Attorney in the Elder Protections Unit. She accepted the award and spoke to the Council and audience, affirming that “elder abuse and neglect still exists” despite efforts to eliminate it. She encouraged the Council to create more community awareness of the issue.

    It was pointed out to the Council and audience that Adult Protective Services, the District Attorney’s Office, and the police department are all places an individual can go in order to report elder abuse. Signs of abuse include dirty clothes, undernourishment, home in disarray, or a change in home appearance, as well as bedsores. At the end of her speech, the Deputy District Attorney encouraged the Council and the audience to wear a purple ribbon in order to spread awareness about elder abuse. To this, Mayor Wieler immediately pinned his own purple ribbon onto the lapel of his suit jacket. Following the attorney, Police Chief Bowers spoke seconding that the police are available to deal with elder abuse cases.

    Second, East Bay Mud District Director Marguerite Young Spoke about the water situation in the surrounding watershed and EBMUD work going on in the area. She reported that the East Bay watershed is 167% of normal; water should not be a problem this year. She mentioned that EBMUD is working to replace pipes in the Bay Area with the average pipe being seventy five years old. The rate at which they will replace them is forty miles per year, or as Councilwoman Cavenaugh pointed out, 400 years to replace all pipes.

    Lastly, Young spoke about a topic close to Piedmont, the Piedmont reservoir. There are plans underway to replace the currently inoperable reservoir with two water storage tanks, which would be completed by the end of 2018.

    Immediately following the presentation, was discussion about the Sewer Rehabilitation Project. This act proposed apportioning $3,467,994 dollars for the fifth installment of seven, to replace Piedmont’s sewage pipes. When completed 80% of the city’s sewage pipes would be replaced. The group D’Arcy & Harty Construction had the lowest bid, but the Council wanted to counter with a higher amount in order to complete the project. In addition, the Council would vote to set aside more money for the surveillance and inspection of the sites. After an associate from D’Arcy & Hardy Construction spoke briefly (in a notably strong Irish accent), the Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara spoke in greater detail about the financing, construction, and community involvement in the project. After deliberations and questions ended, Robert McBain motioned to approve the project, with Tim Rood seconding. The Council unanimously said aye to the project.

    Last, and perhaps the most heated topic, was the new cameras to be installed at the intersection of Grand and Oakland avenues.  For the last few years Piedmont has been home to automatic license plate readers, or ALPRs. This past spring, a new police video camera was used to monitor the new Hampton Park, but it proved to be an inadequate test of the technology. The Council was deliberating setting aside $10,000 from the Citizens Option for Police Services Fund to install a new surveillance camera at the aforementioned site. It would be a fixed camera that recorded over itself every 90 days. If there was a suspect picked up by the ALPRs or a pursuit of a vehicle, the police and the dispatcher could, in theory, access the camera to see where the suspect was going.

    The funding is to test this device’s usefulness to the police, and work out any quirks. Chief of police, Jeremy Bowers spoke in detail about the planned project, citing its potential use to police officers. He also acknowledged the concern for privacy and 4th Amendment rights, promising to look into blurring out faces of passers by in tape used by police.

    After Bowers spoke, there were many questions from the Council. Vice Mayor Robert McBain asked whether there was any evidence that these cameras deterred crime, in addition to their ability to help solve crime. Many members of the audience spoke on this issue. One citizen endorsed Chief Bowers and cited the recent attempt to abduct a child near Havens Elementary School as a potential scenario in which this technology would be useful. Linda Schaefer agreed, saying that Piedmont needed to “up the game.”

    Morty Glick told the Council that people do not feel safe at night in Piedmont, and talked about some families’ attempts to hire private security. He said, “Piedmont, it’s scary these days.”  Susy Struble took the podium for the whole time allotted to her, saying to the Council, “I am confused by the rush. There is no crisis. As Chief Bowers has pointed out publicly, crime is down in Piedmont, and yes, the research on the efficacy of public surveillance is inconclusive.”  Struble argued strongly for the need for a community conversation before any action taken by the Council. Despite Struble’s efforts and a slight hesitation by Councilwoman King, a half-hour later, the motion was passed unanimously.

    I interviewed Susy Struble about the meeting. When asked why she came to the meeting Struble responded by saying, “ [I came] to work to ensure the Piedmont community would have oversight and insight into public surveillance and to stop the pilot surveillance program until the community was given the opportunity to discuss and approve any surveillance policy or implementation.” After the decision by the Council, Struble said she learned that, “The the Piedmont City Council and Police Chief have no interest in genuinely engaging the community on public surveillance.” Promising to engage the public more, Councilwoman King conceded the vote, perhaps angering Susy Struble.

The swing of the gavel signaled the end to the meeting, and people began to file out of the room and mingle outside in the cool May evening. As I walked back to my car I reflected on my first experience in local government. I realized that local government is a cornerstone of democracy in the United States, dating back to the townships in colonial America. I was glad to spend one night as a part of this rich tradition.

Interview with Susy Struble

-Why did you go to the City Council meeting?

To work to ensure the Piedmont community would have oversight and insight into public surveillance and to stop the pilot surveillance program until the community was given the opportunity to discuss and approve any surveillance policy or implementation.

-What issues brought you there?

Public surveillance and the need for community oversight of public surveillance program.

-What did you learn from the meeting?

The Piedmont City Council and Police Chief have no interest in genuinely engaging the community on public surveillance

-What next step will you take to get your concern about the cameras addressed?

I already have community support and links to the EFF, ACLU, and the Oakland Privacy Group. I will continue to build community support, watch what related state laws are in development (e.g. SB 21), and start a public campaign

-Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m happy to send you my statement if that would help

Statement by Struble: 

I remain deeply concerned for many reasons, topmost of which is the absence of genuine public engagement. Piedmont citizens should have a say in how they and their families, their children, their daily activities, are watched, if at all.

The implementation of broader public surveillance – which the pilot project represents and indicates is the plan – is significantly different from the somewhat more limited implementation of license plate readers. As I recall, many residents raised deep reservations about that program, but it was made palatable to the community by the City’s assurances that no personally identifying photos were being taken. That is not the case here, and the fact that these proposals and the policy were put forth without public engagement is really a betrayal of trust.

Public surveillance cameras cannot be considered in a vacuum – because they don’t operate in a vacuum. There are multiple, complex contexts in which this policy and related proposals must be considered. There will be more surveillance tools available and more opportunity for data to be combined, shared, stolen, and misused – and to be used for evidence-based public policy reasons. But we need to have this community conversation — and have it often, because this is a constantly changing area. This is also why we need a surveillance policy that is independent of the technology platform. There are myriad surveillance technologies available, as Chief Bowers indicated, more than just surveillance cameras, and the community deserves a say in how they are used.

I don’t believe Chief Bowers has presented a case for why public surveillance is the solution that’s better than alternatives available to us.

I am confused by the rush. There is no crisis. As Chief Bowers has pointed out publicly, crime is down in Piedmont, and yes, the research on the efficacy of public surveillance is inconclusive.

 Some examples: A recent review from a Commissioner of Alberta, Canada found the consensus amongst empirical studies to be that video surveillance has little effect on violent crime, and only a small positive effect on property crime. This positive effect on property crime, moreover, was substantially less than the effect of improved lighting.Also unclear is the effect of the extent to which criminal activity was simply displaced to non-surveilled areas. Finally, given the cost of deploying, maintaining, and operating such systems, no data exists to demonstrate that video surveillance is a more effective use of public resources than traditional law enforcement. Even the Oakland police department has stated “there is no conclusive way to establish that the presence of video surveillance cameras resulted in the prevention or reduction of crime.”

The City should embark upon an adequately long process of community education and engagement *before* any implementation of a public surveillance program, pilot or not – and note a “pilot” is still a working surveillance system. I say adequate time because the community needs ample time, particularly working parents with multiple obligations. Public surveillance poses complex legal, technical, and social issues that require a good amount of education and even more robust discussion. There are areas where state and federal law are silent, inconclusive, vague, and/or pose areas of possible conflict. For example: is the community prepared to hand over any and all data to the federal government? Under all circumstances? That’s a pretty interesting question at any time, but perhaps especially now.

I very respectfully encourage the City Council to educate itself on these issues. They aren’t as simple, as hopefully some of Jen’s [Cavenaugh] questions around public records requests brought to light. Oakland’s City Council did a great amount of self-education before it took any action and worked very closely with the community – so did Berkeley, so did BART, so did Providence RI, and the list goes on. I respectfully suggest that Piedmont follow suit.

 Public surveillance might be something the Piedmont community supports, perhaps across the board, or perhaps only in some cases under certain criteria — or perhaps not at all — but we deserve a say in whatever happens.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
May 22 2017

 Heated School Board Meeting Airs Personnel Dispute and Hate Incidents –

    The Piedmont School Board met at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10th, in the City Council Chambers. Though the agenda of the meeting was to go over logistical policy for Piedmont schools, such as reviewing tax allocations from the H1 Bond Measure or evaluating math classes for the Common Core curriculum, the first hour of the meeting was dedicated to heated commentary from the community about the Athletic Director, Victor Acuna, and the current hate incident controversy at the high school.

    Concerned community members argued both on Acuna’s behalf and against him. Some of the controversy surrounding the new Athletic Director is attributed to the non-renewal of the former coach of the Piedmont High School Boy’s Basketball team of over two decades, Coach Lavdiotis.

    Since Lavdiotis’ contract was not renewed, some community and regional individuals sparked disagreement with Victor Acuna’s dismissal of an upstanding community member and beloved coach.  One speaker in particular, Alicia Kalamas, Piedmont resident, brought up Acuna’s personal life, pointing to custody litigation and his previous position at a high school in Arizona. However, other community members supported Victor Acuna, saying that his decision was justified, and that Coach Lavdiotis may not be the best coach for the Piedmont High School Boy’s Basketball team any longer.

    Board trustee Andrea Swenson expressed her frustrations with the Acuna controversy, stating that she is tired of the character assassination of the Athletic Director, which she feels is perpetuated by The Piedmont Post; she received a standing ovation for her comments in support of Acuna.

    Other non-agendized items that community members spoke about were the hate controversies at the high school. Earlier that week, members of the Piedmont High School community and the Piedmont community at large learned of anti-semitic, racist, and homophobic incidents at the school through a student-held assembly.

    Multiple community members spoke about the hate incidents. Police Chief Bowers spoke about his role in addressing the hate incidents. He stated that since none of the eight victims have come to the Police Department about the hate incidents, they cannot be classified as hate crimes. Still, he asserted, the community must come together and protect the victims during this time, and that he sympathizes with the victims of the incident. Other community members also discussed the anti-semitic incidents in front of the Board, conveying their concerns as parents and asking for accountability and answers.

    When I addressed the Board about the hate incidents, I also mentioned the issue of accountability and transparency. I spoke about my experience as a student watching the high school’s assembly and the lack of details or clarity that the assembly provided. I walked the Board through what specifically was going through my mind as I attended the assembly, and how I had to ask around afterwards for details on the incidents, confused and unaware. Concluding my speech, I requested the School Board to explain what exactly was happening with the anti-semitic incidents so that the students knew about what horrible things were going on within our student body. As a student, I was and still am confused about the discriminatory incidents at the high school due to a lack of a clear explanation from the administration. I believe that the administration should have a transparent conversation with the members of the community in order to resolve things, as opposed to keeping the incident under wraps.

    After comments from the audience, the Board continued with the agenda, which involved recognizing Hilary Cooper for Volunteer of the Year, which included working to pass Measure A parcel tax and reviewing two possible math courses for Piedmont High School, Integrated Math 3 and Honors Math Analysis.

     I spoke to Michael Brady, Director of Alternative/Adult Education, who expressed his support for the math courses. Mr. Brady, who was there to give a presentation to the Board on the H1 bond program, told me that it was a relief to hear about the courses.

    “It was very nice to see closure on the math instruction,” Mr. Brady told me, “because it is the culmination of literally years of work.”

    Mr. Brady also expressed his support of the community members and their concerns.

    “People can speak about non-agendized items because it’s a part of the democratic process. People can speak to the items not on the agenda and have the ability and freedom to do that.”

    The School Board meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Though they have an agenda, any member of the community can become involved in deliberations by expressing their concerns to the Board at the beginning of every meeting and when agendized items are considered.

by Victoria Hou, Piedmont High School Senior –

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

Discrimination and hateful actions impact park.  

Summer Camp programs have a high rate of registrants. 

by Alex Paton, Piedmont High School Senior – 

I attended a Recreation Commission meeting on the 17th of May 2017. During this monthly meeting, issues regarding parks and recreation throughout Piedmont are discussed by commission members and residents of Piedmont. Fundamentally, these meetings provide an opportunity for the community to discuss and brainstorm potential improvements within the Piedmont parks and recreation system.

During the meeting on May 17th, four main issues were discussed. The first of these issues was the anti-semitism, racism and general hate that has been drawn to attention throughout the community, and how this has manifested throughout the parks. The city and community are working together as a whole to move forward from these incidents and display a positive message for the younger members of Piedmont. Specifically, graffiti at Hampton park is being removed and cleaned up, and older members of the community are being encouraged to speak out and set a positive example of coexistence.

Next, the upcoming summer programs in Piedmont were discussed. There was great optimism throughout the commission as there are now 175 camps offered over 10 weeks this summer and so far, camp registration is up 22% from this time last year. Camps offered range from arts and crafts to cooking to athletics. In addition to more opportunities for campers this summer, there is also more opportunity for counselors and CITs. Greg Wick, Piedmont High Senior,  gave positive reinforcement for the new opportunities for counseling this summer and expressed his disappointment for the lack of working opportunity he experienced in the past. Overall, the Recreation Commission was overjoyed and thankful for the early success.

The recent improvements at Hampton Park were then discussed. The sixth and final basketball hoop was put up since the last meeting and just about every aspect of the park is complete. Trees which fell on and near the basketball courts have also been cleaned up and appropriate repairs have been made. I believe that the basketball courts are nice, however there is a potential hazard when the ball goes off the court and rolls down a hill. I expressed this observation and concern during the meeting, to be met with a nice reply from Carrie Graham Lee. She said they were going to put in a low net to stop this issue from occurring. I am in favor of this much needed improvement. Although not official yet, Elizabeth Smegal Andersen stated that Hampton Park is complete and open for recreation!

Lastly, updates on facility master planning projects and the Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee [CIP] were given. Aquatics are being studied for cost, meetings with the architect for the Veterans Hall have nearly concluded, Beach playfield is being evaluated for updates and Coaches Field is being reassessed for use analytics. The CIP Review Committee is also continuing to review public safety issues, such as the poor lighting at the intersection of St. James and LaSalle.

Once the meeting had concluded, I interviewed a citizen who attended the meeting. This resident of Piedmont, named Garrett Schwartz, was drawn to the meeting because of previous decisions made by the commission that he did not necessarily agree with. He did not have any current issues to be addressed, instead just wanting to “see the inner workings of the Commission and understand their decision making process”. I have to say, if everyone was so involved with the local government as Mr. Schwartz, our society would see great improvement.

 ~~~~~~ A second report on the May 17 Commission meeting  ~~~~

By Olivia Tefft, Piedmont High School Senior –

    At 7:30 p.m. on May 17, 2017, six commissioners met for a Piedmont Recreation Commission meeting. The commissioners were:  Kobi Eshun, Carrie Graham Lee, Betsy Smegal Andersen, Chairwoman, Jeffrey Dorman, and Steve Roland.  Also, present was Recreation Director Sara Lillevand.

   The purpose of this meeting was to go over recreation issues in Piedmont, ranging from summer camps to the maintenance of public parks and fields. This meeting also touched upon public safety in the schools and on the streets of Piedmont.

   One of the main points of this conference was to inform the audience of the summer activities offered through the Piedmont Recreation Department. Sara Lillevand informed the commission and the audience of new programs, like Summerfest ‘17, an affordable summer camp program facilitated by Schoolmates, and Camp Hampton, which will utilize the newly renovated Hampton Field. Lillevand also pointed out that summer camp revenues have increased 22% this year, and over 3,000 participants are registered (76% Piedmont residents).

    Two audience members, Piedmont Seniors Chris Conn and Greg Wick, spoke to Lillevand about the issue of overstaffed PRD summer camps. She acknowledged the difficulty of parsing out the perfect amount of CITS [Counselor in Training Staff] for each summer camp, but also mentioned that this problem should be mitigated this year with the high summer camp enrollment.

    The Hampton Park Improvement Project was also discussed. Lillevand informed the audience that all of the basketball posts have been put up as of today, and that the tennis backboard was put up last week. Hunter Stern, an audience member and senior at Piedmont High School, asked about hate speech graffiti that this field might be subject to, considering the outbreak of hate speech at PMS and PHS. Lillevand told him that no hate speech graffiti had occurred yet, but a conversation definitely needs to take place for the maintenance of this park.

   I agree with Hunter – I definitely think this pristine field could suffer from hateful graffiti, and I think protective measures should be put in place to prevent something harmful like this.

   Some other smaller issues that were brought up were Linda Beach Play Field and Coaches Field Master Planning, as well as uneven pathways at Crocker Park due to old trees that push up the pavement.

    The “4 Corners” intersection was also addressed because safety issues for pedestrians and drivers have arisen due to this intersection. Krysia Olszewska, an audience member, spoke about this intersection, recounting how it is difficult to see cars on the right side of the road, and therefore improvements should be made.

    At the end of this meeting, I interviewed Commissioner Steve Roland. He has been involved with the Recreation Department since 1996, and was also a sports coach for his 3 children when they participated in rec sports. He wanted to stay involved in the community after they all graduated, and the Recreation Commission was the perfect extension to continue his civic involvement. The main issue he focused on is upgrading park facilities like Coaches Field and Beach Field. He understands the difficulties of these renovation as addressed in these meetings because of difficulty getting funding for these projects. He mentioned that Hampton Park was a combination of private donations, East Bay Regional Park Bonds, and City funds.  Coaches Field and Beach Field would require similar funding. The main step he is taking in addressing this issue is continuing to participate in these meetings and trying to raise awareness and funds for these projects.

The Recreation Commission meets once a month to discuss recreation issues.

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
May 11 2017

The May 15 City Council meeting will include consideration of expending $10,000 for a pilot program placing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at strategic Piedmont locations to provide live video feeds.  The City Council deferred further consideration of cameras at Hampton Park based on privacy issues.

The staff report can be read here.

The ACLU has reservations about Public Video Surveillance except in high profile terrorist targets, concluding that its benefits – preventing at most a few street crimes, and probably none – are disproportionately small. It’s arguments against most installations are:

1. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN EFFECTIVE

2. CCTV IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO ABUSE

3. THE LACK OF LIMITS OR CONTROLS ON CAMERAS USE

4. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE WILL HAVE A CHILLING EFFECT ON PUBLIC LIFE

Read more details from the ACLU here

Read the May 15 City Council agenda here.

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 3 2017

The Capital Improvement Project Committee, plus interested individuals, will participate in a “potential” project tour on Saturday morning, May 6, 2017 to view and discuss projects currently under further consideration.  The Committee will make recommendations to the City Council for their action during the annual budget process.  The activities and tour are open to the public. 

Regular Agenda:  [All times are approximations.]

1. Tour of Sites to be Considered by the CIP Review Committee starts at 8:00 Piedmont Park Tea House in Piedmont Main Park.

8:15 – 8:45 –  Crocker Park Path Improvements (Corner of Crocker Ave & Hampton Rd.)

9:00 – 9:30  –  St. James Lanterns (Corner of La Salle Ave. and St. James Dr.)

9:45 – 10:15  – Wildwood, Winsor, Warfield, and Wallace Avenues Intersection Improvements

10:30 – 11:15  –  Linda Beach Tot Lot and Park Improvements (Linda Beach Playfield)

11:30 – 12:00 –  Coaches Field Turf and Lighting Improvements (898 Red Rock Road)

Times are approximate. Map and project descriptions will be available at all tour stops.

2. Working Lunch at Tea House in Piedmont Park  [Discussions and considerations of projects will occur.]  The public may attend.

READ THE  AGENDA AND SEE THE MAP WITH PROJECT LOCATIONS BY CLICKING  >>>>>>>>>    CIP Tour Meeting_May 6, 2017_Complete

For transportation details, contact the City at 42o-3040.

May 1 2017

Based on reader inquiries, PCA asked City Clerk John Tulloch to provide answers to questions regarding the installation of cameras at Hampton Park.  Below are the questions and answers followed by an excerpt from the minutes of the April 3, 2017 City Council meeting.

Please see the following responses to your questions about the proposal to install Public Safety Cameras at Hampton Park. Please note that at its meeting of April 3rd, the Council did not approve the installation of public safety cameras at Hampton Park. The Council did approve a policy governing use of public safety cameras for the City’s existing cameras in and around the Police Department. John Tulloch, City Clerk

Q:         When will the matter be considered further by the Council?

A:         There is no date set at this time for further consideration of Public Safety Cameras by the Council.

Q:         Who first proposed the installation of cameras at Hampton Park?

A:         The installation of cameras at Hampton Park has been a matter of discussion between the Police and Public Works departments for several months.

Q:         Who is in charge of the proposed camera plan?

A:         The Police and Public Works Departments are jointly managing the proposal.

Q:         Will there be any community outreach on the proposal other than at a Council meeting?

A:         If this matter is taken up again, additional outreach would be at the discretion of the Council.

Q;         How much will the cameras cost to install and maintain?

A:         Please see page Agenda Report Page 2 of the staff report on this matter on the city’s web site at: http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2017-04-03/public_safety_camera.pdf

Q:         How will the recordings be preserved?

A:         Please see Agenda Report Page 5 of the aforementioned Agenda Report.

Q:         Have there been incidents at the Park indicating security problems?

A:         The City and its residents invested a tremendous amount for the refurbishment of Hampton Park. The cameras were intended as a preventative measure, as well as evaluation of the technology available. Subsequent to Council consideration of the item on April 3rd, there was a vandalism incident at the park.

Q:         Are cameras proposed for any other parks or recreation facilities?

A:         Please see Please see Agenda Report Page 3 of the aforementioned Agenda Report.

Q:         Have there been security concerns at any other City facilities?

A:         The City continually evaluates security at each of its facilities.

Sincerely,  John O. Tulloch, City Clerk

City of Piedmont
120 Vista Avenue
Piedmont, California 94611
Phone: (510) 420-3040
Fax: (510) 653-8272

~~~~~~~~~~~

Below are the approved City Council Minutes of April 3, 2017  regarding Public Safety Cameras: 

Public Safety Camera System at Hampton Park

City Administrator Benoit explained technology serving as a tool to the Police Department and enhancing public safety. With the recent renovation of Hampton Park and relative affordability, staff was proposing leasing a camera system to monitor Hampton Park to evaluate the use and efficacy of Public Safety Cameras in Piedmont. If approved, staff would report back to the Council after a year of use.

Chief Jeremy Bowers discussed the ways in which public safety cameras enhanced public safety. Cameras at Hampton Park would provide the opportunity to protect the significant investment made at the park. He reviewed the implications of public safety cameras and proposed policy explaining that the use of cameras and balance of personal privacy rights. He stated the purpose was to evaluate, strategize, analyze data, and provide a recommendation to the Council after a year of use. He explained the components of the technology and policy regarding use by other than Police personnel.

Public Testimony was received from:

Susy Struble stated her belief that substantial justification had not been presented for the installation of Public Safety Cameras. She stated her desire for a long community discussion regarding the use of cameras which would include parents, children and high school students.

Rick Schiller expressed concern about installation in parks as a surveillance tool. He stated additional discussion was necessary, but that he was strongly opposed at this point.

Councilmembers McBain and Wieler indicated support for the cameras, on a trial basis, for the purpose of protecting the City’s investment at Hampton Park.

Councilmember Rood suggested adopting the policy to govern the existing cameras and to forego any approval of installation at Hampton Park until more community input was received. He suggested alternative installation of Public Safety cameras on the commercial stretch of Grand Avenue.

Councilmember Cavenaugh stated she was open to technology and focused on public safety but wanted to ensure that this was not a solution implemented prior to a strategy being approved. She stated her desire for a great deal of public input on this topic prior to approval.

Resolution No. 23-17

RESOLVED, that the City Council approves implementation of Public Safety Camera System at Hampton Park and a Public Safety Camera Policy.
Moved by McBain, Seconded by Wieler
Ayes: McBain, Wieler

Noes: Cavenaugh, Rood Absent: King MOTION FAILED

Resolution No. 24-17

RESOLVED, that the City Council approves of the proposed public safety camera policy.
Moved by Rood, Seconded by McBain
Ayes: McBain, Rood, Wieler

Noes: Cavenaugh Absent: King

Apr 9 2017

City Restores Vehicular Access to Cavendish Lane Within 24 Hours of an Agreement with Oakland to Allow Temporary Repair of Rain Damaged Roadway – 

April 4, 2017  Press Release from the City of Piedmont

On Saturday, April 1st, the City of Piedmont implemented a temporary repair on Cavendish Lane, a street owned and maintained by the City of Oakland. This repair allows four Piedmont residents to drive to their homes, which they haven’t been able to do since mid February. The City of Piedmont accomplished this task within 24 hours of Oakland signing an agreement to allow Piedmont to implement the repair.

In February, it was discovered that an approximately forty foot stretch of Cavendish Lane had been undermined approximately thirty inches. Upon finding this structural deficiency, the City of Oakland immediately closed this portion of Cavendish Lane to all vehicular traffic. This closure forced the inhabitants of the four Piedmont homes to park their vehicles on Park Boulevard and walk 1/3 of a mile over hilly terrain to access their homes.

As soon as the closure was implemented, the City of Piedmont began working with Oakland to come up with a temporary solution that would allow these residents to access their homes again. Piedmont, at its own expense, developed a temporary solution using steel plates, which would allow passenger cars to travel over the closed section of the road without posing a safety risk or causing further damage to the roadbed.

In early March, Piedmont’s Public Works Department and City Engineer presented this plan to the City of Oakland and requested the ability to implement it on the roadway owned by Oakland. The two cities began negotiating with regard to the project, and these negotiations stretched on for several weeks.

Representatives of the two cities met on Thursday, March 30th, to hammer out final details of the project. The following day, Friday, March 31st, at 5:00 p.m., the City of Oakland signed the agreement allowing the City of Piedmont to implement the repair. The following morning, crews contracted to the City of Piedmont were working on the repair. By 5:00 p.m., 24 hours after receiving word from Oakland that the work could take place, it was completed and the residents were able to again drive to their homes.

“We would like to thank our counterparts at the City of Oakland for allowing Piedmont, at our own cost, to implement this temporary fix and allow our residents to again access their homes,” said City Administrator Paul Benoit. “The past six weeks have been trying for the affected residents of Cavendish Lane and we are pleased that our efforts afforded them long-awaited access to their homes. I’d also like to thank City Attorney Michelle Marchetta Kenyon and Assistant City Attorney Chad Herrington for their diligent work on this matter.”

“Over the past weeks, the City Engineer and City Attorney have spent many hours working to find a solution to this issue that would satisfy the City of Oakland,” said Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara. “I’d like to thank City Engineer John Wanger as well as Miller Pacific Engineering for designing a temporary repair that could be implemented quickly and would allow these residents to access their homes again. I’d also like to thank Pacific General Engineering for implementing the temporary fix so quickly.”

The City of Piedmont will inspect the temporary fix daily to ensure that no further damage to the roadway will occur. The Cities of Oakland and Piedmont will now begin negotiations on a permanent fix to the undermining of the roadway.

For additional information contact City Clerk John Tulloch at:

420-3040

 

Apr 2 2017

Reduced services compared with current waste contract include:

  • End to unlimited recycling in bins.  
  • City employees determine who gets charged for disabled backyard service,  generating privacy rights issues.
  • City employees determine distance and elevation for backyard pickup when challenged by residents.
  • City to receive additional funds from the waste collector while assuming new staff work.

After learning about the proposed contract, some residents expressed concerns are:

  • More work added for City employees with operational costs not evaluated on the long term- retirements, medical, and other employment financial obligations.
  • An invasion of residents’ privacy as City employees determine who has a disability or who is unable to place and retrieve their bins at the curb.
  • The technical task assigned to City staff of evaluating distances and elevations between the bin location in backyard and curb, creating a new cost for the City.
  • Residents decry the idea of massive amounts of bulk waste potentially being placed on the street at a specific time/date, offering an invitation to those from all over the area to come to Piedmont as scavengers.
  • Reduced services will discourage routine cleanup and proper disposal of refuse.
  • Contract changes appear to benefit the City staff rather than the residents.
  • Residents were happy with the current contract work provided by Republic Services.

At the City Council meeting on Monday, April 3rd, the Council will be asked to consider approval of the waste collection/garbage services RFP, which, if approved, will be released on Monday, April 10th. The terms of the waste collection services RFP have been changed from the original the community was asked to comment on.  (See the original draft RFP here and the new staff prepared report and revised RFP here.)

Does the RFP  put too great a burden on City staff by involving them in individual resident’s waste collection and bin location?

The final draft RFP to be considered by the Council on April 3 requires the City staff to get heavily involved in the provision of individually tailored collection services to each resident of Piedmont.  The staff would determine the disability status of any disabled resident.  In order to peg the backyard pickup fee to specific conditions, the staff would have to measure the distance from the curb to residents’ waste barrels in their backyards. Further, staff would calculate the change in elevation involved since the fee for backyard pickup would no longer be flat but would reflect individual distance/height to the curb for those choosing backyard pickup.

The current practice under the existing service contract is to charge an additional flat fee for backyard pickup instead of curbside pickup of waste.  A flat additional fee for backyard pickup does not reflect the variety in yard sizes so some pointed out the discrepancy in waste removal effort and time involved from residence to residence. Others note that a flat fee is simpler and cheaper for everyone since tailoring the backyard surcharge to each residence involves extensive and expensive administration.

The contract as drafted will increase the requirements for hiring and paying City staff to be involved in many aspects of the contract including considering applications for disabilities, measuring distances from curbs and elevations, and other on-going aspects of the contract.  No information on the additional cost to the City and taxpayers is noted in the report.

The City will receive payments in five different categories from the waste collection services provider:

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

Some of the service modifications from current services:

  • City employees, rather than the contractor, will determine a Piedmont resident’s disabled eligibility for backyard pickup at curbside rate.
  • In the case of disputes between the service provider and Piedmont customer about the distance/elevation charge for backyard pickup, the City will determine the distance/elevation to backyard trash location.
  • Fewer bins provided unless customers pay an additional monthly fee.
  • Green waste beyond the capacity of the green bin will be collected in compostable bags (containing no greater than 50 pound weight) rather than additional bin according to the RFP:

    “Provisioning  of green waste overage bags (compostable bags) by contractor to be distributed by mail or at Piedmont City Hall and to be provided and collected from residents at no additional cost to residents.”

There are other changes, too numerous and complex to describe here, however, for the industrious reader the staff report is here.

The Council meeting is open to the public.  The agenda is here. 

Those wishing to state their views to the Council without attending the Monday, April 3 meeting, can send an email to the City Council via City Clerk John Tulloch by clicking >  jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us .

The meeting at City Hall begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and via the City website under videos.

Mar 30 2017

City Council 2017 Appointments to Commissions and Committees –

Following the Council’s selection of appointees at their March 27 Council meeting, City Clerk John Tulloch graciously withheld the names of the appointees until all applicants and appointees were notified of their status on March 30.

The selection process is a public, open process.  Although few attend, the public can attend the interviews and observe the voting process.

A number of the appointees cycled back to commissions or committees where they have previously served.

The notations beside the appointees’ names below are from available information.  The City did not provide background information on the 29 applicants.  A quick review of the qualifications of the appointees indicates a well educated and involved selection of individuals from Piedmont’s electorate. Additional information on appointees is always welcomed on this site and can be added below in the comment section.

At a special meeting on March 27, 2017, the City Council interviewed applicants and made appointments to fill vacancies on commissions and committees. Drawing on the talents of twenty nine applicants for eighteen vacancies, the Piedmont City Council made the following appointments:”

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee

Cathie Geddeis – Former President of the League of Women Voters

Deborah Leland  

Shel Schrieberg – Current member of the Committee

CIP Review Committee

Jeffrey St. Claire – Prior member of the Committee, Investments

Bobbe Stehr – Former Planning Commissioner and President of the Piedmont Beautification Foundation

Civil Service Commission

Scott Lawson – Attorney

Park Commission

Eileen Ruby – Former candidate for the Piedmont Board of Education

Robin Wu

Parking Hearing Officer

Tamra Hege – Former Member of the Piedmont Board of Education and Planning Commission, Former President of the League of Women Voters

Susan Kawaichi – Former Member of the Piedmont Board of Education and Former President of the League of Women Voters.

Planning Commission

Aradhana Jajodia – Current Alternate on the Planning Commission, Architect

Jonathan Levine – Former Member of the City Council, Prior member of the Planning Commission  and other commissions, Attorney

Tom Ramsey – Current member of the Planning Commission, Architect

Clark Thiel (Alternate) – Former member of the Planning Commission, Attorney

Public Safety Committee

Chris Houlder

Gina Scialabba

Lori Elefant (Chair) – Current member of the Public Safety Committee

Recreation Commission

Elizabeth Smegal Andersen – Current member and Chair of the Recreation Commission, Attorney

Kobi Eshun – Member of Piedmonters Appreciating Diversity Committee

Carrie Graham Lee – Current member of the Recreation Commission

For more information on the appointees, contact John Tulloch, City Clerk at 420-3040.