Mar 12 2015

Details of March 2, 2015 Mayor Presentation

Council Meeting Report by High School Student Jackson Roberts – 

        The Piedmont City Council meeting of March 2, 2015 was called to order with the Pledge of Allegiance at 7 p.m. sharp.  The Council, which meets on the first and third Mondays of each month, was beginning a meeting unlike any it had ever conducted, with Mayor Margaret Fujioka’s first-ever State of the City Address set to take place.

        First, there was time set aside for Public Forum.  This is a time during which members of the audience are allowed to approach the Council with any issues not marked on the agenda.  Only one speaker, Jackson Roberts, took the stand.  He addressed issues concerning public safety stemming from the speed of traffic at the intersection of Jerome and El Cerrito Avenue near the Witter Field parking lot.

        The Public Forum was then closed and the State of the City address began with Fujioka acknowledging Piedmont city employees, residents, and even former mayors for their contributions to the city’s overall health in 2014.  The challenge, Fujioka then said, was maintaining in 2015 the success the city incurred in the previous year.

        Fujioka then spoke about the objectives the Council had prioritized in 2014, namely public safety, technology, fiscal health and improving infrastructure, and the steps that had been taken in each of these areas.  Concerning public safety, Fujioka credited the city’s new license plate readers with aiding in the city’s crime management, and pointed out that crime had decreased 24% in 2014 from 2013, and that the solve rate had increased from 36% to 44%.  She also discussed the city’s new emphasis on disaster preparedness, including CodeRED, a new text and email system meant to notify residents of emergencies.  CodeRED also serves as an example of the new era of technological advancement the city is moving toward, with the objective of increasing efficiency in everything the city undertakes.

        Fujioka then spoke proudly of the city’s strong finances, attributing the successes, in part, to the Parcel Tax, for its $1.6 million per year that goes toward maintaining city services, and to the system sharing of pensions and employee benefits among residents.  With the city’s expenses in line with its revenues, Fujioka pointed out a number of goals the city was set to accomplish in 2015, such as improving the grass in public parks, upgrading city sewers and the completion of a new sidewalk connecting Mountain Avenue to Blair Avenue.

        Fujioka also addressed the steps the city had taken to improve its aging infrastructure, pointing to an anticipated $500,000 expenditure to improve Hampton Field, the participation in the impending East Bay Community Choice Aggregation to meet the area’s greenhouse gas goal’s, the new Pedestrian and Biking Master Plan, the adoption of an anti-smoking ordinance, and the implementation of LED lights throughout the city.

        Lastly, Fujioka made several additional acknowledgements, including the School District’s Holiday Book Drive, which raised 900 books in total, the leadership of women in key city government positions, including Council member Teddy King and Police Chief Rikki Goede, and several former mayors.  She called each of the former mayors, including Michael Bruck, Valerie Matzger, Skip Rhodes and John Chiang, to the front of the room to receive a small gift and take a photo.  With the State of the City Address marking the final item on the agenda, the meeting was adjourned.

Submitted by Jackson Roberts

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

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