May 19 2011

Hazard Mitigation Plan Draws Detailed Comment

A letter to the Fire Department requests additions to Piedmont’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan prior to approval and submission to FEMA

May 19, 2011

Captain David Swann
Piedmont Fire Department

Re: Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (“Plan”)

Dear Captain Swann,

I request my comments be made part of your presentation of the Plan to City Council and incorporated in the plan as appropriate.

I. Moraga Avenue is one of two arterial roadways connecting Piedmont and Oakland.  Moraga Avenue in Moraga Canyon is heavily traveled. In times of emergency and non-emergency use the arterial function of Moraga Avenue should be maintained.  This relates specifically the Plan at a-16, b-2, part INFR-C Wildfire and other aspect of the plan where people need to move quickly between Piedmont and Oakland, or where people need to pass through Piedmont. I am reminded of the catastrophic 1991 Hills Fire where literally thousands of residents were forced to quickly flee their homes.

The 85th percentile speed of Moraga Avenue is currently 35 mph. Piedmont is proposing replacing Blair Park with a Sports Complex alongside arterial Moraga Avenue. The very limited sight-lines will require slowing traffic down considerably to improve the safety aspect for the increased vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic that will be drawn to the large Sports Complex. Many of the new participants will be young children.

The designer of the sports complex, ELS Associates, has stated that it will be necessary to narrow the roadway to a maximum of 30’ feet as part of their tentative traffic plan. This is narrower than your Hazard Plan recommendations.  Moraga Avenue is already narrow and further constriction will work against any hazard mitigation. One sharp curve of Moraga Avenue on the far west end of the Canyon, just west of the Pala Avenue intersection, is about 26’ across. The street is already well below your Hazard recommendations.

The designer of the sports complex, ELS Associates, has recommended mini-roundabouts at the Red Rock and Maxwelton intersections.  Specific to Federal Highway Administrations Recommendations (“FHAR”) is “Mini-Roundabouts Technical Summary FHWA-SA-10-007” US Department of Transportation, February, 2010.  The Maxwelton intersection’s use of a mini-roundabouts is contrary to virtually every design recommendation in the FHAR recommendations.

Eliminating Moraga Avenue as an arterial is contrary to your otherwise inclusive Plan. There should be an addition in the plan noting that the Piedmont Fire Department does not recommend reducing the arterial function and traffic flow of Moraga Avenue. There should be a specific statement that no further narrowing of Moraga Avenue should be allowed and the use of a mini-roundabout at Maxwelton is strongly advised against.

II. As to part INFR-D Flooding in the Plan, many specific parts such as d-1, d-2, d-7, d-8 and others address issues directly related to Hydrology. The Plan must address the attached Nov. 13, 2008 letter from Mountain View Cemetery (MVC).  MVC has concern for the “integrity in existing earth-dam’s integrity and capacity (ibid)” upon their property and asks for further studies by the City of Piedmont.  Such studies can only be adequately addressed by a Civil Engineer’s report.  In converting Coaches to artificial turf and Blair Park to a sports complex, Piedmont may be creating a catastrophic hydrology hazard should the MVC earthen dams fail as a result of inadequate hydrology work by the City of Piedmont.  Piedmont has not responded substantively to MVC’s study request; no  civil engineering work has been done.

There should be an addition to the Plan that Piedmont immediately undertake further studies of the MVC earthen-dams as requested by MVC.

Sincerely yours,

Rick Schiller

Piedmont, CA

cc: Chester Nakahara, Piedmont Public Works

John Tulloch, Piedmont City Clerk

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

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