Jun 20 2021

IMPORTANT DECISION ON ADDITIONAL HOUSING BY PIEDMONT CITY COUNCIL JUNE 21.  

AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

The Piedmont City Council has for many months strongly and philosophically supported the ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments), allocation of 587 new housing units for Piedmont between 2023 -​2031.  The allocation is referred to as RHNA  (Regional Housing Needs Assessment). 

Moving ahead of the schedule, in May the Piedmont City Council approved $691,230 for Consulting Services with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc.,to plan for acceptance of the 587 new housing units.   As Councilmember Cavanaugh opined, Piedmont should be preemptive and not wait until 2023 to start efforts to accommodate these new units.

While numerous cities have appealed their particular allocation of new housing units, the Piedmont City Council has been steadfast in planning for and accepting  587  new housing units.  By 2023 when the 587 new housing units are required to be in place, the current City Council members will no longer be in office.

To achieve this significant increase in housing units could require rezoning properties, adding more multiple housing areas, building housing in City parks and properties, dividing existing parcels into smaller parcels, condemnation of private property, reconfiguration of streets, adding new services, etc.

City Staff and Council unite against appealing required 587 additional housing units allocation.

July 9, 2021, the deadline the RHNA Appeal deadline, is fast approaching. 

The May 25, 2021 release of the suggested 2023 -​2031 RHNA allocations initiated the period in which a local jurisdiction or Housing and Community Development (HCD) can submit an appeal to ABAG requesting a change to any Bay Area jurisdiction’s allocation.  Piedmont  has no plans to appeal.  The City Council and staff intend to accept the 587 new housing units in Piedmont between 2023  and ​2031.

Key dates in the RHNA Appeal process are:

 May 25, 2021: official release of draft RHNA allocations.

 July 9, 2021: deadline for a jurisdiction or HCD to submit an appeal of a jurisdiction’s draft allocation.

 August 30, 2021: deadline for comments on appeals submitted.

 September and/or October 2021: ABAG conducts public hearings to consider appeals and comments received.

 October or November 2021: ABAG ratifies written final determination on each appeal and issues final RHNA allocations that adjust allocations as a result of any successful appeals.

 November or December 2021: ABAG Executive Board conducts public hearing to adopt Final RHNA Plan.

The ABAG website provides more information about the appeals process. The ABAG 2023-2031 RHNA Appeals Procedures includes details about the statutory requirements for the appeals process and how ABAG will conduct the public hearing to consider appeals. In the event an appeal is approved and a jurisdiction’s RHNA is lowered, the net difference in units are allocated proportionally to other jurisdictions across the region. Thus, a jurisdiction may see its RHNA increase as a result of other appeals (if they are successful).

STAFF RECOMMENDATION IS TO ACCEPT PIEDMONT’S 587 ADDITIONAL HOUSING UNITS or RHNA.

As noted in the Executive Summary, City staff recommends that no appeal of the RHNA should be filed and that the City accept the RHNA assigned to Piedmont. Although City staff raised concerns during the development of the RHNA methodology, these concerns do not form the legal basis to appeal Piedmont’s RHNA. As explained in this report, an appeal would only be considered on the three possible grounds per Government Code Section 65584.05. In staff’s assessment, the case for an appeal is unlikely to be meritorious, including because ABAG possesses fairly significant discretion in deciding appeals under the law. Staff’s assessment that an appeal would unlikely prevail are also based on the following considerations:

 the approved RHNA methodology is not related to a jurisdiction’s capacity to accommodate growth under its current zoning limits or City Charter;

 the approved RHNA methodology does not adjust a jurisdiction’s allocation based on natural hazards such as fire, flood, or landslides; Agenda Report Page 4 of 33

 the record for appeals filed in other regions, such as the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), shows that an appeal is likely to fail.

In the SCAG region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties, 49 jurisdictions appealed their much larger RHNA assignments. Of the 47 appeals that continued to hearing, only two were partially approved. In the SANDAG region (San Diego) Council of Governments, there were four appeals filed out of the 18 cities in the region. One appeal was partially granted and the other three appeals were denied; and

 the RHNAs for other jurisdictions throughout California, including the San Francisco Bay Area (in the ABAG region), are all significantly higher than in years past, and ABAG member jurisdictions are unlikely to be swayed by any arguments made by a jurisdiction’s officials to lower its RHNA and reallocate the units to other jurisdictions.

Piedmont’s Contract City Attorney, Michelle Kenyon, “concurs with staff’s assessment regarding the City’s likelihood of success in pursuing an appeal, given all of the aforementioned legal and practical factors and reasons outlined herein.”

Read the full staff report below:

Update on 2023-2031 Regional Housing Needs Allocation for the City of Piedmont and Possible Direction to Staff

Jun 20 2021

Given the City Council’s support for adding 587 new housing units in Piedmont, the Council formed a committee to make recommendations on  new housing units in Piedmont. 

On June 15, 2021, after reviewing the draft Guiding Principles and considering the public comments received, the Housing Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the following Guiding Principles for adoption by the City Council:

1. Support equitable distribution of affordable units across the City. A diversity of housing choices, including new affordable multi-family housing, new mixed-income multifamily housing, new residential mixed-use development, converted units, ADUs, and Junior ADUs, should be considered throughout the City’s neighborhoods, corridors, and zoning districts.

2. Promote and enhance community design and neighborhoods. Infill development should be compatible with the neighborhood context. Development and design standards should ensure that new construction enhances the area in terms of building scale, placement, and design; and is sensitive to impacts on the neighborhood, including impacts related to sunlight access, privacy, and roadway access. Each building must exhibit high-quality design and play a role in creating a better whole.

3. Remove barriers to development and access to housing through clear and objective standards. Development standards and procedures should guide development that is equitable and feasible and that lead applicants through procedures that are transparent and predictable.

4. Facilitate the development of new housing units through strategic partnerships between the City and the broader community. Partnerships to facilitate development include striving to reach community consensus for desired designs; and achieving community support for new incentives, standards, and tools to meet housing goals.

5. Social equity. Work with the Community to proactively facilitate greater social equity by considering City incentives and programs that will enable new homes and apartments for a range of income levels, creating opportunities for all persons regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, or financial ability.

The goal of the guiding principles is to guide the development of ADU programs and development of objective design standards for multi-family apartment buildings, as directed by the current 2015 Housing Element, recognizing that state regulations and social conditions today are different than those in effect in 2015. The Guiding Principles are not intended to be a broad mission statement guiding the far-reaching policy discussions that must occur as part of the next Housing Element Update.

READ THE STAFF REPORT for Council action on June 21, 2021.

2021-06-21 2015-2023 Housing Element Guiding Principles

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Jun 20 2021

“In reviewing the City’s long term projections and considering the current economic situation, the Committee reminds the Council of several things:

• The financial projections seek to maintain, over the long term, an 18% General Fund balance (which, the Committee thinks is prudent). Achieving this target, however, requires that the City eliminate or reduce transfers to the Facilities Maintenance Fund, which addresses ongoing and deferred maintenance of city facilities, and eliminate supplemental funding for street and sidewalk repairs beyond the current budget year. Current projections indicate the Facilities Maintenance Fund will be depleted by FY 27-28. Even without incorporating the yet to be determined costs of major capital projects referenced above, the Facilities Maintenance Fund is inadequately capitalized for the duration of the 10- year projections. This underfunding is not sustainable; it will severely affect repair and replacement expenditures within this decade.

• The Committee supports the conservative approach used to establish the budget for transfer tax revenues given their historic volatility. The Committee also supports the modest increase in projected transfer tax revenue, from the $2.8 million consistently used in the recent past, to $3.2 million annually beginning in FY23. This increased budget amount could still be attained with a recessionary pace of sales and/ or drop in sales prices given substantial gains in Piedmont home values over the past decade. The Committee recommends that to the extent actual transfer tax revenue exceeds the conservative estimate, such funds be used to fund the Facilities Maintenance Fund, consistent with prior years.

• The projected pension expenses have increased based on an updated actuarial study completed earlier this year, which assume CalPERS 2 Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee investment returns decline to 6.0% over the next 20 years. However, future pension costs could still rise should CalPERS investment performance be below target due to a sustained downturn in financial markets.

• The prior funding of the Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) Fund, supplemented by the proposed capital transfer from the current budget surplus, will provide the City much needed flexibility in managing future pension cost increases, as the City’s obligations are expected to increase substantially over the course of this decade. However, this flexibility may be adversely affected by stock market fluctuations to the extent there is significant decline in values during the withdrawal years.

• As in prior years, the projections continue to show that the long term financial health of the City is dependent on property-related taxes, especially the continuation of the Municipal Services Parcel Tax. The projections assume that the MSPT continues with a standard CPI adjustment each year, and the Committee supports this approach.

• The City continues to benefit from a robust economic recovery and rising Bay Area housing prices. Given the uncertainty as to how long such favorable economic conditions will persist, it is important to continue with conservative property tax and transfer tax assumptions.”

READ the entire Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Report 2021-2022

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee members:

Deborah Leland, Chair

Andrew Flynn,

Cathie Geddeis,

Robert McBain,

Paul Raskin,

Frank Ryan

Vanessa Washington

Jun 20 2021

$31,173,188 Budget, Municipal Services Special Tax for tax year beginning July 1, 2021, Special Municipal Sewer Tax and More on Monday, JUNE 21, 2021 Council agenda

On Monday, June 21 the City Council will vote on adopting the 2021-22 Budget, the Municipal Services Special Tax, the Special Municipal Sewer Tax, the Operating and Other Funds Budgets, as well as the Schedule of Fees and Charges, and Appropriations (Gann) Limit.

Personnel costs are budgeted at $1,193,071 (6%) higher than 2020 -2021, while the total budget increases 10%.

Closure of the Community Pool in 2020 was helpful to City finances,  since it has operated at a loss after the City took over its administration.  The Budget presumes the pool will be closed the entire 2021-22 fiscal year.

Special Municipal Sewer Tax estimated revenue of $2,802,000 for the 2021-22 tax year:

Single Family Residence Property Size:

0 to 4,999 sq. ft. $625

5,000 to 9,999 sq. ft. $712

10,000 to 14,999 sq. ft. $821

15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. $957

Over 20,000 sq. ft. $1,127

Commercial Properties:

0 to 10,000 sq. ft. $1,127

Over 10,000 sq. ft. $1,554 

Multi-Family Residence:

per unit $521

Parcels Divided by Tax Code Area Line $625

The City Council previously approved loans totaling $800,000 to the Sewer Fund from the Equipment Replacement Fund and the Facilities Maintenance Fund.

The Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee suspended its activity due to COVID-19 but is expected to convene during FY 21-22

Read Staff Report here

June 21  – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Jun 20 2021

On Monday, June 21, Piedmont City Council will receive a report from staff on the 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Climate Action Plan 2.0 implementation status.

The City completes a greenhouse gas inventory annually and presents the results to the community. The inventory is a useful tool to measure the City’s progress towards its emission reduction goals. The 2018 Climate Action Plan 2.0 set emission goals for a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, both based on a baseline year of 2005.

The inventory helps City staff and community members keep track of progress and determine ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The inventory details both community emissions from households and businesses, as well as emissions stemming from city government activities and facilities.

The inventory Piedmont uses keeps track of emissions inside City boundaries, but does not include consumption and emissions outside of the City. For example, the inventory includes emissions coming from electricity that is used inside the City, but does not include emissions coming from flights that Piedmont residents take outside of the city.

While Piedmont is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita in the Bay Area, there are ways to reduce emissions.

The inventory and Climate Action Plan 2.0 provide further information on actionable measures to help reduce Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emission footprint.

On Monday, the City Council will also consider an agreement with East Bay Community Energy for the installation of two dual port electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on Bonita Avenue and parking restrictions for the four spaces served by the EV chargers.

The installation of direct current fast EV chargers to serve Piedmont residents, business owners, employees, students, and visitors will help the City meet the goals of the Piedmont Climate Action Plan 2.0.

INVENTORY: To learn more about the inventory, please read through the staff report published here (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=14120439), and attend the City Council meeting on Monday, June 21, 2021 at 6:00 pm.

CHARGING STATIONS: To learn more about the proposed EV charging stations, please read through the staff report published here: (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17786422)

VIEW THE MEETING: The meeting will be recorded and uploaded to the City website here (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=14122987) if you cannot attend the meeting live.

Staff report 621 Green House Emissions with map

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS – SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Jun 20 2021

The Council is refreshing the prohibition of parking in red zones.  Maps are provided of the locations throughout the city.

READ the full staff report with maps showing locations.

No Parking Red Zones and Maps

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS  – SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

 

Jun 15 2021

The warmer it gets, the more we use air conditioning. The more we use air conditioning, the warmer it gets.  In 1990, there were only about 400 million air conditioning units in the world, mostly in the US, today there are over a billion.  Since 2000 every record for peak electricity use in New York City has occurred during a heatwave, as millions of people turn on their air conditioning units.

Some Piedmonters are concerned about their energy-wasting air conditioners, which pump heat outdoors, blasting their neighbors with hot air. As the City shrinks side setbacks, cross-ventilation becomes less available and less effective.  To avoid this costly contributor to their  environmental footprint, they wonder about experimenting with greener alternatives when temperatures rise this summer.

PG&E Advice on Cooling Your House in  Hot Weather :

Keep shades, drapes, and curtains drawn

Ventilate your attic.

Your attic can reach temperatures exceeding 140 degrees.

Plant shade trees.

Shading your house with trees can make a surprising difference. Deciduous trees planted on the east, south or west side of a house, the sunniest sides, can reduce your cooling load in hot summer months by up to 30%.

Planting shrubs next to your home can also help. Vines or trellises placed directly on a west wall can lower the wall’s surface temperature by as much as 40°, making it easier to keep your home cool inside. Ground covers and lawns can also help keep your home naturally cool. A lawn is 10-15° cooler than bare ground.

Install shade devices.

Shade screens and tints on windows and glass doors, as well as window and wall awnings, are very effective forms of passive cooling. Shading windows and walls on the sunny sides of your home can cut your cooling needs considerably.

Ventilate when it’s cool outside.

Opening windows when it’s cooler outside than inside can often cool your home down into the 60’s with simple ventilation. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.

Consider a whole-house fan.

Because some nights are cool, but have no breeze, you may benefit from using a whole-house fan to force cool air through your home.

If you use air conditioning:

Set it at 78°. You can cut your system’s operating costs by 20% or more simply by setting your thermostat higher. If everyone did this, the U.S. could save the equivalent of 190,000 barrels of oil per day.         Read all PG&E Advice

Air Conditioners Are not Green, Compromising Piedmont’s Stated Climate Action Goals

Window air conditioning units and through-wall sleeve air conditioning units typically leak large amounts of energy. Central air or ductless mini-split systems are significantly more efficient. In addition, their  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emit pollutants that put holes in the ozone. AC systems require enormous amounts of energy to operate.

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan and Goals do not require elimination of AC when an existing home is sold or even prohibit AC in new construction.  The townhomes developed on Linda Avenue were designed with cross ventilation for natural summer cooling.  However, the City insisted they be equipped for air conditioning instead.  Some older Piedmont homes have lost their access to natural cross-ventilation, as infill building has reduced air flow.

Shaded Public and Private Open Space Offers Natural Cooling

Piedmont loses open space every year as construction project gobble side setbacks and diminish backyards.  Preserving Piedmont’s remaining vacant land as private open space or public parkland not only would bolster quality of life, protect environmental assets and but offer citizens an alternative to energy draining air conditioning.  

Advice on Treatment Overheated Individuals

The combination of  overheating and dehydration reduces the body’s ability to cool itself.  Wired magazine recommends the Wilderness first responder treatment, “sip cool water, and nibble a salty snack.”

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Jun 15 2021

An intense heat wave can require rotating power outages when increasing use of air conditioning causes electricity demand spikes.

Power traded on Friday for Monday jumped to $151 per megawatt hour (MWh) at Palo Verde in Arizona and $95 in SP-15 in Southern California. . . the highest since the February freeze.

California is the U.S. region most at risk of power shortages this summer because the state increasingly relies on intermittent energy sources like wind and solar,        Reuters reports.

If rotating outages are needed, PG&E will post information at this page to show the order in which PG&E will likely proceed, if ordered by CAISO to turn off power. Estimated restoration times are 2-3 hours after the outage actually starts. The situation remains dynamic and shutoff times may change.

Jun 10 2021

As Piedmont attempts to find housing locations to meet its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA ) of 587 new housing units within 1. 7 square miles in our built-out city, other Bay Area cities are being questionably assessed fewer housing units.

Atherton, certainly a fine city and one that adds significantly to the Bay Area, has over 4 square miles with a very low housing density of 7,168 high income people.  Yet, it is being assessed to provide only 298 new housing units, while Piedmont is being assessed to provide 587 new units.

For this cycle, the town [Atherton] is required to plan for the development of 298 new housing units. Some 74 would need to be very low-income housing, 43 low-income, 51 moderate-income and 130 for above moderate-income, according to the report.

Atherton is in the midst of Silicon Valley where housing demands have rapidly multiplied,  especially for hotel maids, restaurant dishwashers, gardeners, office cleaners, and other low income workers.  Why is their assessment less than Piedmont’s? This is merely one example of the questionable methodology being used when assessing and allocating housing units to various cities and communities.

Many cities, as Piedmont, have barriers to safe and appropriate increases to population including: open space, roadway widths and designs, infrastructure, limited public transit, fire safety issues, pandemic impacts, etc.  Yet, these factors appear not to have been considered when the Association of Bay Area Governments assigned allocations.

Cloverdale, CA’s population before the pandemic in 2019 was 8,754,  three-quarters the population of Piedmont.  It’s proposed RHNA for 2023 -2031 is only 278,  less than half the allocation to Piedmont despite Cloverdale’s available open space  (more than 3 sq miles compared with 1.7 sq miles).

The New York Times May 30, 2021 reported that 36,000 people moved out of San Francisco in the final quarter of 2020.  Many moved several hours away from the Bay Area, especially east to the Sacramento area or the Sierras or north to wine country or beyond. 

The LA Times wrote that Fresno is the hottest real estate market in the US, and rents are skyrocketing .   A new 255 unit rental development opened in 2020 and all units were taken within months, despite it’s high rents “one-bedrooms go for as much as $2,600 a month — a price rivaling those in Los Angeles beach communities.”  Since 2017, average rents in Fresno have increased nearly 39%, the fastest in California.   Read the Los Angeles Times article here

Fresno’s population is reported as 525,010 as of 2019.  In 2020 Fresno had 11 units of affordable multi-family rental housing constructed, falling 503 units short of its RHNA allocation.  An enormous shortfall in the current assigned housing production to be completed by next year.   Read Report here.

Piedmont resident Michael Henn points out that Oakland created an Area Specific Plan that “protects” Rockridge from high densities, despite its excellent walkability to  the BART station and major bus lines. 

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Jun 10 2021

PIEDMONT P D LAUNCHES TRANSPARENCY PORTAL WITH LICENSE PLATE READER DATA

Piedmont Police Department  ALPR Transparency Portal is First-of-Its-Kind in the Nation

 – Acceptable uses, usage statistics, number of cameras the agency owns, other law enforcement agencies they share data with, specific statistics on the number of vehicles captured, Hotlist alerts, and searches performed over the past 30 days.

PRESS RELEASE –

In our ongoing effort to strengthen our relationship with our community and increase transparency, the Piedmont Police Department is pleased to unveil the public ALPR Transparency Portal, a partnership with Flock Safety.  The Transparency Portal is intended to encourage open communication between police and the public around Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology.

Chief of Police Jeremy Bowers stated, “This first-of-its-kind program demonstrates the Piedmont Police Department’s commitment to openness, accountability, and integrity.  ALPR technology has been a critical tool in our public safety efforts. It’s important that our community has the ability to understand how we are using this technology in the furtherance of public safety.”

The Transparency Portal serves to provide the public a view into the Piedmont Police Department’s ALPR usage specific to its use of Flock Safety cameras, data retention, and policies. It provides a landmark approach to transparency and accountability by providing the public with anonymized audit logs of police usage of the technology. It also displays usage statistics, including the number of cameras the agency owns, other law enforcement agencies they share data with, and specific statistics on the number of vehicles captured, Hotlist alerts, and searches performed over the past 30 days.  The Piedmont Police Department is working to transition its ALPR system entirely to Flock Safety which will eventually provide the public with more insight into the Piedmont Police Department’s ALPR usage.

While ALPR technology has proven to be an effective tool in preventing and solving crime in Piedmont, the Piedmont Police Department also recognizes the importance of being transparent and effectively demonstrating its use of this technology.

Flock Safety has provided license plate reader technology to the Piedmont Police Department since 2020.

Flock Safety does not employ facial recognition, adheres to strict security standards and encryption standards, and does not share or sell customer data to third parties.

The Piedmont PD Transparency Portal can be accessed through: https://transparency.flocksafety.com/piedmont-ca-pd

Piedmont Police Department

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