Jun 29 2014

OPINION: Havens and Measure H Campaign

The following letter was sent to the Piedmont Unified School District Superintendent by a Piedmont resident involved in the Measure H discussion:

I reviewed the results of the analysis done by the structural engineer on Havens posted on page 19 of the web document at http://pusdbond.org/documents/Havens_Final_Report.pdf. I note the report of the engineer on the danger of collapse for two classrooms: “The most seriously deficient structural elements are the rod bracing located on both sides of the corridor of each classroom wing. These are greatly over stressed and would very likely fail in a major earthquake, leaving the classroom wings vulnerable to collapse.”

The calculations themselves are not included in the report, but the word of a professional structural engineer is good enough for me. In the end it is a matter of judgment made by people with experience as clearly stated in the professional literature. As an example, refer to the Purdue University article: ‘ASCE-31 and ASCE-41: What Good Are They?’ at http://tinyurl.com/nhtanmm – “The Universal building code uses an R factor as a demand reduction coefficient (divisor, ranging from 2.2 to 8.5) and the new ASCE-31 uses an m factor (ranging from 1.2 to 12) as as capacity increase coefficient (multiplier). These factors are rather arbitrary and the civil engineer selects them based on guidelines and experience.”

In the heat of the Measure H campaign, I somewhat overreacted in my response to your “opinion” published in the Piedmont Civic (http://www.piedmontcivic.org/2014/05/29/opinion-havens-faced-a-catastrophe/), and I can understand your reaction to the E Boyer satire, given your responsibility toward parents as a superintendent. So I offer you my apologies. But I do think that E Boyer has a point: Why sell a project on fear? Why use a alumnus withLou Gehrig’sdisease as the poster student for a campaign?

My disappointment with the Piedmont Parents leadership is their use of mainly negative arguments to justify projects rather than first focusing on the incremental educational value that a given project brings to our students. In the future, given the age of the High School, any building can be found not to be up to code and therefore be the basis for some group’s narrow agenda. The community should be sold on “hope” rather than “fear”, on clearly stated and measurable incremental educational value rather than playing with parents emotions.

Bernard Pech, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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