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 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)


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 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 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.


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

May 1 2017

Students should determine the direction for the rebuilding of the High School.

by Cade Becker, Piedmont High School Senior –

The Piedmont Unified School District continues to receive feedback on their various plans to rebuild the Piedmont High School (PHS) campus using part of the $66 million funds provided by Bond Measure H1. On April 18th, I attended one of the New School Facilities Advisory meetings to see where the direction of the school was headed.

Architects and engineers hired for this rebuilding process came together and produced 3 potential plans with estimated total costs. Option 1 was to tear down and rebuild the theater, and to add in a new math, science and art 3 story building in the parking lot next to the gym. Option 2 was to tear down the theater and build the new 3 story building there, and afterwards tearing down the 10s building and adding the new theater there. Option 3 took on the idea of moving the gym. It throws the idea out to tear down the gym and build the new 3 story building in its place and move the gym to where the 10s building is now.

The overall majority of the meeting participants enjoyed Option 2 the best, however there was no set agreement on any option. Option 1 and 3 would compromise the view that the student body of PHS holds so dear, but Option 2 would create a 3 story building at the face of our campus looming over the rest. Most of the questions came from parents or other community members present.

After the controversial voter denial of Measure H, a plan to rebuild the theater, my assumption that the theater would be a sore subject was correct. There seemed to be many supporters for taking down the theater, but there were still others who did not deem it necessary.

As a member of the Piedmont High School Acting class, having performed in the PHS musical all four years in my high school career, participated in many other short plays and two Acapella reviews, I understand better than most that the theater is high priority. I am a strong advocate for the creation of the new theater. It is worn down, dangerous, not wheelchair accessible and more. Buildings can only be renovated so much before they need to be taken down completely, I believe the theater has reached this point. Option 2 is the best of the three because it solves the most issues within the school and creates a face that Piedmont High School lacks.

In an interview with Donna Meir, a parent who has children in the Piedmont schools, I was able to grasp an alternative view on the subject. Intending to continue her involvement with the process, she said, “This is a great process. These options sparked a dynamic conversation between community members, and I appreciate the discussion. It was a great thing to see the community so involved.” Fortunate to be a part of the conversation, I gave my opinions to her as well as others at my table.

 I believe that the direction of the High School should largely come from the student body. The students attending the High School should be more involved in the conversation than parents, or other community members because they are directly affected. The students present at this meeting gave the best opinions and ideas for the rebuilding of the school. This process needs to be more in their hands rather than the community itself.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 27 2017

Opinions and involvement –

April 18th School District Town Hall Meeting –

I attended the Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Piedmont Unified School District on April 18th, which focused specifically on the three plans for new high school facilities. The School Board regularly meets every month, however this special meeting was the third of its kind to give the community a chance to see where the money from measure H1 is going to improve school facilities at the high school, and to give the Board, Committee, and staff their input on which renovation plan is superior.

The major issue discussed in this meeting was the need to pick from three alternative plans which utilized a portion of the money raised by bond measure H1 to renovate the high school. All three of these plans included a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) building. In each plan, the STEAM building was placed in a different area of campus: one on the unused blacktop behind the gym, one where the theater currently is, and one where the gym is currently.

The first plan featured the STEAM building along with a new theater and renovated “20’s building” classrooms with new offices. The second included a new theater and a remodeled theater, where the “10’s building” is currently. The third plan featured no new theater, but a new gym and a relocation of Millennium High School to the “20’s building.”

Several points both for and against each plan were brought up by the people attending the meeting at my table, and to the larger group. For the first plan, the best point about it was that it was by far the cheapest of the three plans. However, this plan has some very convincing downsides brought up by the students of Piedmont High School, such as the intense amount of foot traffic it would create from the STEAM building to the main area of campus.

The second plan does not have this problem, because it focuses the main classrooms where they are located now, around the breezeway. This plan also does not eliminate the view of the city from the quad. Another important point brought up by current Piedmont High students was the fact that this plan included Millennium High School the most out of the three plans. Millennium is currently isolated due to the setup of the buildings, but the new STEAM building would shift the focus of the campus onto the quad in plan number two. For these reasons, plan number two is the plan that I believe would be best for Piedmont High School.

The third plan was the least favorite among the people in attendance at the meeting for one simple fact: it does not renovate the theater. The theater is the single largest problem with the high school, and ignoring it to renovate the gym seems illogical to the people in the community. Gina Bartlett, the meeting facilitator, even said that this point was what turned most people away from plan number three.

 After the meeting, I interviewed Kathryn Levenson, one of the current librarians at Piedmont High School. Mrs. Levenson attended this meeting because she is “interested in having a beautiful, environmentally conscious school for students.”  She believes this will help the students reach their full potential at Piedmont High School, and leave a legacy the students at the school now can be proud of. The issue which brought Mrs. Leveson to the meeting was the fact that she wants to “preserve the look” of the library at Piedmont High, while also making sure that the technology stays up to date. Mrs. Levenson enjoyed the meeting, because she found that Piedmont High students had the same concerns as she did, especially when it came to making sure MHS will be more centralized in the new plans for the school. After this meeting Mrs. Levenson plans on coming to the next round of meetings and Board discussions to make her opinions heard by the Board. Along with this, she wants to start conversations about the remodel with students at PHS so they too can have their ideas heard.

by Molly Szczech, Piedmont High School Senior


Measure H1 Meeting

    In the third and final Community Town Hall Meeting on Measure H1, residents, students, and others offered ideas and gained insight on the upcoming project. Held in the PHS Student Center, people were seated at multiple tables and were welcomed by Superintendent Randy Booker.

In his presentation, Booker briefly described the thought process of the School Board during the creation of each option. For instance, he recognized that the placement of the STEAM building in the first option would cause an issue of foot traffic. He also mentioned that the emphasis of the third option was on the placement of the gym; it’s difficult to find and has mobility issues. Additionally, Option Three is more mindful of safety by placing PHS offices at the entrance to monitor who comes in and out. Then he briefly opened it up for a few questions so I asked if they planned on making the new buildings more sustainable to which he assured they were.

After Booker presented an overview of the three options available for renovations, pros and cons were brainstormed in small groups. With people gathered around posters and scribbling down ideas in colorful sharpies, the setting felt more inviting and collaborative than a typical government meeting. In each group, people discussed what they agreed and disagreed with for the three options. For instance, everyone felt strongly about the beautiful view being partially blocked by the STEAM building in Option #1.

Meanwhile, people approved of the new main entrance that would be introduced in Option #3. One person mentioned that they felt the Millennium High School being in the “10s building” for Option #3 would isolate them. However, I completely disagree because any building on campus is closer than where the Millennium is located currently.

After about 25 minutes, everyone reconvened to go over key insights from the discussion. One frequently brought up subject was the STEAM building. Several people questioned if the building needed to be three stories since it would compromise the view. Someone in particular brought up if it would be possible to widen the base of the building to compensate for removing a story.

Finally on a fresh poster, the small groups huddled together to jot down new ideas for any of the options. In my group, people mentioned preserving large trees along the buildings, adding rooftop access to the new buildings, and that the amphitheater should be removed because it’s a waste of space. Throughout the meeting, putting an emphasis on the arts was of interest to those attending. Having space for an art gallery and putting large art pieces around campus were mentioned.

The facilitator, Gina Bartlett, led most of the meeting and was hired by the District to design the workshop. She appreciated everyone’s different perspectives and was surprised to learn that “people are very interested in creative spaces which is more of a recent thing.” Bartlett encouraged those with more concerns to submit comments online and continue to have their voice heard at future meetings. Overall, the meeting was successful in addressing concerns and involving everyone in the process of improving the proposed plans.

by Gina Samec, Piedmont High School Senior


Community Participation in High School Planning

Making sure her three children have the most advancements possible was the reason Zoa Town attended the school board meeting on April 18, 2017.  The meeting was held to discuss the future plans to remodel Piedmont High School.

Superintendent Randy Booker lead the meeting, starting by presenting three of the board’s most viable remodeling plans and explaining some of the potential problems and benefits of each.  Then the community members, school faculty, concerned parents, and students, provided a large range of perspective as they discussed the pros and cons of each option. The three options played with a new gym, a new theater, relocation of PHS offices and all included the addition of a STEAM building.

 Option one proposes the addition of the  three story STEAM building on the flat blacktop behind the gym, a remodeled “twenties building” and a complete remodel of the theater.  This proposes an issue of traffic flow to and from the STEAM building because it will contain most of the classrooms – three hundred to four hundred .  This would require lots of site work and would still be problematic for any disabled students to make their way to and from the building. In addition, this option is the least energy efficient.  However, option one is the cheapest, doing the bare minimum of what could be done.  Overall, this is a strong and viable option.

 Option two was my personal favorite out of the three.  It created the new STEAM building in the current location of the theater, moving the theater to the “thirties building”, and remodels the “twenties building.”  The STEAM building does not block any of the view from the quad and creates a better entrance way for the school.  One additional benefit of this option, as I spoke about in the large group discussion, is that it shifts the center of campus so that Millennium High School and Piedmont High School have a more integrated community.  This option has the most community benefits for the Piedmont Unified School District.

 Option three was a balance of pros and cons.  The STEAM building would be placed in the location of the gym and would have easy access directly from the quad.  This is the most energy efficient building, yet is also the most expensive.  No new theater would be added, however a new gym would take the place of the current thirties building.  Just like option two, the main entrance would be shifted and revamped, however now MHS would no longer be integrated, but instead be moved to the remodeled twenties building.  This would isolate MHS students even further than current conditions and, in my opinion, is not a viable solution.  Logistically, this option makes sense, however it is not the best for our community and the students of both MHS and PHS.

 Being able to speak both in small table groups and in front of the larger group gave me more insight into the process the School Board goes through to make advancements.  It made me realize the importance of student involvement, especially for changes like the remodel plans of a school.  It is key to have the perspective of the students who actually attend the current school and know what works best and what needs improvement.  It is clear to me that option two is the best way to upgrade our campus and change our community for the better.  However, even after attending the New School Facilities Advisory Meeting, there is much more to be considered, as Town told me, there is “still a lot of questions to be asked and answered”.

by Olivia Bott, Piedmont High School Senior


School Board New Facilities Advisory Meeting

    At the meeting I attended, Superintendent Randall Booker and some School Board Members discussed the pros and cons of the possible remodels that will be taking place at Piedmont High School in the coming years. The goal of the meeting was to help gain a better understanding of people’s and student’s opinion on what the new school should look like and to get some original ideas about carrying out the remodel. This was the third meeting so far, and I would assume many more to come as final decisions go down.

The major issues that came up in the discussions were about the location of the new S.T.E.A.M. building and whether to remodel the gym or theater, as funding did not allow for both.

First, in smaller groups we discussed and took notes on plan number 1. The view from the quad and the movement of campus center were the main things discussed. Mr. Booker noted that the walkways from where the new S.T.E.A.M. building would be placed would be not suitable for the new foot traffic.

Another important debate was about whether or not to renovate the gym and the theater.  I asked whether or not both of them could be fixed, but neither completely redone, since money was limited. But, apparently if anything is done to the theater, the whole thing has to be redone to get it up to code.

After this, we moved onto the second plan, which is my personal favorite of the three, as it creates a new S.T.E.A.M. building in the center of campus, establishing a new entry way into the school and making it seem more like a high school. This plan also renovates the theater and maintains the great view from the quad. I think that this plan, like many students at the meeting, also does a good job of incorporating Millennium High School into the larger campus. Since the only problem with this plan is that the gym is not fixed, I find it satisfies the needs of most people in the community, as the gym is still functional.

The third plan, similar to the first, blocks the view from the quad and moves the gym up to the street. While many parents expressed favor for having the gym closer to the street, and near the pool and Recreation Department, I find that this plan disturbs the atmosphere of Piedmont High, isolating Millennium High and sticking the gym in the middle, where it does not really fit.  I think overall most of the students definitely preferred the second plan over the rest, despite it being more expensive.

To get a more in depth opinion from someone other than a student, I interviewed Shirley Lee, who is the mother of a High School sophomore and an eighth grader. She stated that she attended the meeting to learn more about the key issues in the presentation in order to further understand the goals of Piedmont High School and to see what the future of the High School might be.

Lee expressed her appreciation for the many opinions of students and parents alike and that she really enjoyed hearing the pros and cons of all of the plans. It was great that both parents and students, even if they were obliged to be present by school assignments, attended as their opinions differed on many topics. Lee also showed gratitude especially for student attendance, since “they are the ones who know what going to school here is like, while the parents are only here for back-to-school night.”

I personally agree that current students’ opinions are very important, although I may be biased, expressing the difficulties students go through at the school and providing possible solutions. This was a very essential meeting for the future of Piedmont High School as opinions and concerns were really taken into account to better the future of Piedmont High School.

by Trevor Huffaker, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
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

Three options were described and discussed at the Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Piedmont School District.

    On April 1st, 2017, the Piedmont Unified School District Town Hall meeting took place at 9:00am in Piedmont High School’s Student Center.  The new Facilities Advisory meeting was convened to get feedback from Piedmont citizens on the three options for the new designs for Piedmont High School.  The meeting began with one of the facilitators, Gina Bartlett, telling the audience the purpose of the meeting and what was hoped to get out of it.  She said that they did not want agreement on the options, they wanted feedback.  The goal was to get the opinions of teachers, students, parents, and community members.  Bartlett also went over how the small groups should discuss each option in their small groups in order to get the most out of the discussions. Each group included five to six people, and there were 12 groups.  As it was a discussion-style meeting, speakers did not share their names.

    Superintendent Randy Booker spoke next.  He went through each option so people could have background on the project.  He stated that since Measure H1 passed, the District has $66 million for the new high school.  Booker went over the constraints for the proposed facilities.  They include: funding, lack of real estate and topography, and lack of interim housing.  These were the three things the board struggled with when creating the three options.  He said that it is important that the plan fits into the Piedmont community.  There needs to be a logical entrance.  This will provide a face to the school, and improve security.  Booker emphasized that though not every building will be new, the Board is planning to reserve a portion of the funds to improve the classrooms in the untouched buildings.  An animation was shown of the three options.  Each one involves building a three-story STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math classrooms) building and a new gymnasium or theater.  The video, along with more information and places to give feedback, can be found at

    The rest of the meeting was spent critiquing and sharing ideas about each option in the small groups.  Each table wrote what they liked and disliked about each one on a piece of poster paper.  These ideas are then going to be discussed by the Piedmont Board of Education to create the final plan.

Option 1 involves putting the STEAM building behind the current gym, and putting in a new theater in the same place as the current one.  School Board offices would then be moved into a remodeled 20s building.  The benefits discussed about this plan included that it is the least expensive and creates the most classrooms.  A repeated criticism of this plan was that it would be difficult and inefficient to have a building that houses so many classrooms far away from the rest of the school.  Students would have trouble getting to it because of the small walkway that would lead to the entrance.

Option 2 would include a new theater in the place of the 10s building, and the STEAM classrooms where the current theater is.  People noted that this would create a face to the school.  Both these buildings would be along Magnolia Avenue, so it would be the first thing people would see.  The main entrance would be between the two buildings, and the main office would most likely be in the bottom floor of the STEAM building.  This would improve security, as office staff would have an easier time monitoring who is entering the campus.  A con mentioned was that both these buildings are very large, so they would be invasive to the feel of the current area:  architects would have a hard time making large modern buildings that fit into the surrounding area and campus.

Option 3 has the STEAM building in the place of the current gym and the new gym along Magnolia Avenue in the place of the 10s building.  People liked the idea of removing the unused amphitheater and having the three-story building make use of the hillside.  Because the entrance would be level with the quad, it would make another centralized building.  Having the gym on Magnolia makes it easier to find, and for more community members, able to utilize it.  Several groups thought that having a new gym is not as important as a new theater.  More people in Piedmont could make use of a new theater than a gym.  One parent reminded the group that when students are taking PE classes, they often go from the locker room to Witter Field.  Moving the gym further from the field makes it inconvenient for the teacher and students involved.  One student also brought up the idea that the identity of Piedmont High School is not sports.  By having the gym so prominent on the outside of the school, it disrupts what the students value most, which is academics.

After reviewing each option, I believe that #2 is the best for the school.  I think a new theater will be more beneficial to the school than a new gym.  Not all students play sports in the gym, but all students use the theater.  The new one would be wheelchair accessible and be up to date with earthquake and fire standards.  This option would also move Millennium High School into the current 20s building.  MHS students would be more integrated with PHS students.

There will be more chances to get involved and voice opinions.   Input from all meetings will be used by the School Board in preparing a final plan.

by Gemma Fucigna, Piedmont High School Senior

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

Groups work to inform District of issues and concerns –

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Sam Watters, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions are those of the author.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Addie Christensen, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 9 2017

Changes impact Second Units that are now called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law changes to Government Code Section 65852.2 (see below) in September 2016 materially limiting parking requirements for the development of Second Units and further enhancing ministerial approval of building permits, bypassing the community and its elected representatives. Piedmont’s ADU code has grown awkwardly with additions in 2003 and 2016 piled on top of the 1983 original language, resulting in numerous contradictions and conflicts.

When Piedmont’s Chapter 17 was recently (March 2017) approved by the City Council and Planning Commission, there was no indication in the volume of documents informing either the Council or Commission that the action they were taking would be impacted by the already in effect (January 2017) State law Government Code Section 65852.2

The new staff proposal is to revise the revised April 2017 Chapter 17 zoning laws which relaxed building requirements such as setbacks, lot size, parking requirements facilitating additional housing within existing houses and structures. 

Residents vary in their opinions regarding housing expansion in Piedmont through Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)/ Second Units.  Many like the changes as a way to stay in their homes as they age or add income through rentals plus allowing Piedmont to meet regional housing needs.  Others question the unassessed and unevaluated impact on public services, neighborhood quality, density, parking needs, community support, and traffic impacts. 

65852.2 includes permission for cities:

… a local agency may require an applicant for a permit issued pursuant to this subdivision to be an owner-occupant or that the property be used for rentals of terms longer than 30 days.

Piedmont’s proposed code states:

Parking. When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit, any required replacement parking spaces may be located in any configuration on the lot. (Gov’t. Code §65852.2 (a)(1)(D)(xi).)

[No setback is required for an existing garage.]

b. Setbacks. No setback is required for an existing garage that is converted to an accessory dwelling unit. If an accessory dwelling unit is constructed above an existing garage, the minimum setback is five feet from the side and rear lot line. (Gov’t. Code §65852.2 (a)(1)(D)

(7).)3. Owner occupancy. Except for an exempt accessory dwelling unit, the owner of an accessory dwelling unit must occupy either the primary unit or the accessory dwelling unit, if both units are used for habitation. The owner must record with the County Recorder a declaration of restrictions, in a form provided by the city.

 Staff is given authority by state law to make decisions on projects without public input or notification.


  • Will the City have to add more staffing to oversee affordable unit compliance?
  • Some City’s require affordable units to remain affordable for 20 years rather than Piedmont’s term of 10 years. Why did Piedmont pick a 10 year term for affordability?.
  • Once a unit no longer falls into the affordable category will the forgiven parking requirement continue to be forgiven or will existing units have to return for a new permit level?
  • Does the City have adequate public services for increased demands – street widths, parking needs, public safety, and city staffing?
  • Will Piedmont taxpayers be required to pay more for the increase in public services or will the new units be taxed to cover expenses?
  • How many ADU units are projected in Piedmont?
  • How will the units be taxed ?
  • Why wasn’t the Council and public informed  of the upcoming changes based on State Law 65852.2 before approval of the redoing of Chapter 17  by the Council and Planning Commission that lessened parking requirements for existing properties, such as parking sizes, covered parking requirements, allowing tandem parking, etc.. ?
  • If a garage is removed, must the existing house meet their parking requirements?
  • Can an accessory structure be built on the property line and then converted to an ADU?
  • What measures will the City use to identify traffic or safety when applications are presented?
  • If there is no notice procedure, how is a neighbor to know if an application has been filed or how to appeal a decision?
  • How will the City know when a neighborhood is overly impacted with additional traffic issues from ADUs?
  • What will the application and permit fees be for an ADU?
  • What has happened to Piedmont’s covered parking requirements?
  • Will ADUs be reappraised for County property tax purposes?
  • Since the School District only taxes parcels, does this mean ADUs will not be taxed for School Bond measures and voter approved extra property taxes?
  • Did the City Council take a position on State Law 65852.2 when it was being considered by the legislators and governor?


City Planning Department announcement:

Planning Commission to Discuss Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)


The Commission will hold a hearing to consider an ordinance to revise City Code Chapter 17 regarding the regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The proposed revisions are in response to the 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. The Commission may take action to make a recommendation of adoption to the City Council. The proposed amendments do not constitute a “project” within the meaning of CEQA, and therefore are exempt from CEQA, pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21065 and CEQA Guidelines, 14 Cal. Code of Regulations section 15378.

Mon., Apr. 10th – 5:00PM

[ADU’s will be considered at the beginning of the meeting]  held in the
City Council Chambers – City Hall

The meeting will be broadcast on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos.

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.

City staff has prepared draft proposed revisions to the regulations in the City Code related to Accessory Dwelling Units. The revisions are included and outlined in a report to the Planning Commission that the Commission will consider during their regular meeting on April 10, 2017. The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to make a recommendation that will be considered by the City Council, which is the decision-making body. As required by the City Code, public notification will be provided for all Planning Commission and City Council meetings during which the code revisions are to be considered. Click to read the staff report on this topic.

Residents are invited to engage in this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to read the staff report and attend the Planning Commission’s meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 10, 2017 in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. Written comments and 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 Comments on paper can also be submitted by hand or by mail to the Piedmont Planning Commission,120 Vista Avenue,Piedmont,CA 94611. 

Interested individuals may also send comments to >  allowing others to read comments on this site also see comment section below. The comments sent to PCA are not forwarded to the City for consideration. 

Read the full staff report, which includes the proposed ordinance at the end.  Click > here.


The January 2017 State law controlling second units/ ADUs is below:

65852.2.   (a) (1) A local agency may, by ordinance, provide for the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family and multifamily residential zones. The ordinance shall do all of the following:

(A) Designate areas within the jurisdiction of the local agency where accessory dwelling units may be permitted. The designation of areas may be based on criteria, that may include, but are not limited to, the adequacy of water and sewer services and the impact of accessory dwelling units on traffic flow and public safety.

(B) (i) Impose standards on accessory dwelling units that include, but are not limited to, parking, height, setback, lot coverage, landscape, architectural review, maximum size of a unit, and standards that prevent adverse impacts on any real property that is listed in the California Register of Historic Places.

(ii) Notwithstanding clause (i), a local agency may reduce or eliminate parking requirements for any accessory dwelling unit located within its jurisdiction.

(C) Provide that accessory dwelling units do not exceed the allowable density for the lot upon which the accessory dwelling unit is located, and that accessory dwelling units are a residential use that is consistent with the existing general plan and zoning designation for the lot.

(D) Require the accessory dwelling units to comply with all of the following:

(i) The unit is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence and may be rented.

(ii) The lot is zoned for single-family or multifamily use and contains an existing, single-family dwelling.

(iii) The accessory dwelling unit is either attached to the existing dwelling or located within the living area of the existing dwelling or detached from the existing dwelling and located on the same lot as the existing dwelling.

(iv) The increased floor area of an attached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 50 percent of the existing living area, with a maximum increase in floor area of 1,200 square feet.

(v) The total area of floorspace for a detached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 1,200 square feet.

(vi) No passageway shall be required in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit.

(vii) No setback shall be required for an existing garage that is converted to a accessory dwelling unit, and a setback of no more than five feet from the side and rear lot lines shall be required for an accessory dwelling unit that is constructed above a garage.

(viii) Local building code requirements that apply to detached dwellings, as appropriate.

(ix) Approval by the local health officer where a private sewage disposal system is being used, if required.

(x) (I) Parking requirements for accessory dwelling units shall not exceed one parking space per unit or per bedroom. These spaces may be provided as tandem parking on an existing driveway.

(II) Off­street parking shall be permitted in setback areas in locations determined by the local agency or through tandem parking, unless specific findings are made that parking in setback areas or tandem parking is not feasible based upon specific site or regional topographical or fire and life safety conditions, or that it is not permitted anywhere else in the jurisdiction.

(III) This clause shall not apply to a unit that is described in subdivision (d).

(xi) When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit, and the local agency requires that those off­street parking spaces be replaced, the replacement spaces may be located in any configuration on the same lot as the accessory dwelling unit, including, but not limited to, as covered spaces, uncovered spaces, or tandem spaces, or by the use of mechanical automobile parking lifts. This clause shall not apply to a unit that is described in subdivision (d).

(2) The ordinance shall not be considered in the application of any local ordinance, policy, or program to limit residential growth.

(3) When a local agency receives its first application on or after July 1, 2003, for a permit pursuant to this subdivision, the application shall be considered ministerially without discretionary review or a hearing, notwithstanding Section 65901 or 65906 or any local ordinance regulating the issuance of variances or special use permits, within 120 days after receiving the application. A local agency may charge a fee to reimburse it for costs that it incurs as a result of amendments to this paragraph enacted during the 2001–02 Regular Session of the Legislature, including the costs of adopting or amending any ordinance that provides for the creation of an accessory dwelling unit.

(4) An existing ordinance governing the creation of an accessory dwelling unit by a local agency or an accessory dwelling ordinance adopted by a local agency subsequent to the effective date of the act adding this paragraph shall provide an approval process that includes only ministerial provisions for the approval of accessory dwelling units and shall not include any discretionary processes, provisions, or requirements for those units, except as otherwise provided in this subdivision. In the event that a local agency has an existing accessory dwelling unit ordinance that fails to meet the requirements of this subdivision, that ordinance shall be null and void upon the effective date of the act adding this paragraph and that agency shall thereafter apply the standards established in this subdivision for the approval of accessory dwelling units, unless and until the agency adopts an ordinance that complies with this section.

(5) No other local ordinance, policy, or regulation shall be the basis for the denial of a building permit or a use permit under this subdivision.

(6) This subdivision establishes the maximum standards that local agencies shall use to evaluate a proposed accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for residential use that contains an existing single-family dwelling. No additional standards, other than those provided in this subdivision, shall be utilized or imposed, except that a local agency may require an applicant for a permit issued pursuant to this subdivision to be an owner-occupant or that the property be used for rentals of terms longer than 30 days.

(7) A local agency may amend its zoning ordinance or general plan to incorporate the policies, procedures, or other provisions applicable to the creation of an accessory dwelling unit if these provisions are consistent with the limitations of this subdivision.

(8) An accessory dwelling unit that conforms to this subdivision shall be deemed to be an accessory use or an accessory building and shall not be considered to exceed the allowable density for the lot upon which it is located, and shall be deemed to be a residential use that is consistent with the existing general plan and zoning designations for the lot. The accessory dwelling unit shall not be considered in the application of any local ordinance, policy, or program to limit residential growth.

(b) When a local agency that has not adopted an ordinance governing accessory dwelling units in accordance with subdivision (a) receives its first application on or after July 1, 1983, for a permit to create an accessory dwelling unit pursuant to this subdivision, the local agency shall accept the application and approve or disapprove the application ministerially without discretionary review pursuant to subdivision (a) within 120 days after receiving the application.

(c) A local agency may establish minimum and maximum unit size requirements for both attached and detached accessory dwelling units. No minimum or maximum size for an accessory dwelling unit, or size based upon a percentage of the existing dwelling, shall be established by ordinance for either attached or detached dwellings that does not permit at least an efficiency unit to be constructed in compliance with local development standards. Accessory dwelling units shall not be required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not required for the primary residence.

(d) Notwithstanding any other law, a local agency, whether or not it has adopted an ordinance governing accessory dwelling units in accordance with subdivision (a), shall not impose parking standards for an accessory dwelling unit in any of the following instances:

(1) The accessory dwelling unit is located within one-half mile of public transit.

(2) The accessory dwelling unit is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.

(3) The accessory dwelling unit is part of the existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure.

(4) When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the accessory dwelling unit.

(5) When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.

(e) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, a local agency shall ministerially approve an application for a building permit to create within a single-family residential zone one accessory dwelling unit per single-family lot if the unit is contained within the existing space of a single-family residence or accessory structure, has independent exterior access from the existing residence, and the side and rear setbacks are sufficient for fire safety. Accessory dwelling units shall not be required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not required for the primary residence.

(f) (1) Fees charged for the construction of accessory dwelling units shall be determined in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 66000) and Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 66012).

(2) Accessory dwelling units shall not be considered new residential uses for the purposes of calculating local agency connection fees or capacity charges for utilities, including water and sewer service.

(A) For an accessory dwelling unit described in subdivision (e), a local agency shall not require the applicant to install a new or separate utility connection directly between the accessory dwelling unit and the utility or impose a related connection fee or capacity charge.

(B) For an accessory dwelling unit that is not described in subdivision (e), a local agency may require a new or separate utility connection directly between the accessory dwelling unit and the utility. Consistent with Section 66013, the connection may be subject to a connection fee or capacity charge that shall be proportionate to the burden of the proposed accessory dwelling unit, based upon either its size or the number of its plumbing fixtures, upon the water or sewer system. This fee or charge shall not exceed the reasonable cost of providing this service.

(g) This section does not limit the authority of local agencies to adopt less restrictive requirements for the creation of an accessory dwelling unit.

(h) Local agencies shall submit a copy of the ordinance adopted pursuant to subdivision (a) to the Department of Housing and Community Development within 60 days after adoption.

(i) As used in this section, the following terms mean:

(1) “Living area” means the interior habitable area of a dwelling unit including basements and attics but does not include a garage or any accessory structure.

(2) “Local agency” means a city, county, or city and county, whether general law or chartered.

(3) For purposes of this section, “neighborhood” has the same meaning as set forth in Section 65589.5.

(4) “Accessory dwelling unit” means an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling is situated. An accessory dwelling unit also includes the following:

(A) An efficiency unit, as defined in Section 17958.1 of Health and Safety Code.

(B) A manufactured home, as defined in Section 18007 of the Health and Safety Code.

(5) “Passageway” means a pathway that is unobstructed clear to the sky and extends from a street to one entrance of the accessory dwelling unit.

(j) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede or in any way alter or lessen the effect or application of the California Coastal Act (Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code), except that the local government shall not be required to hold public hearings for coastal development permit applications for accessory dwelling units.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 735, Sec. 1.5. Effective January 1, 2017.)