Mar 17 2016

Report: Climate Change and Crosswalk Safety Dominated Council Public Forum on March 7

160 Piedmont residents signed support of ratifying the policy for climate change –

March 7th City Council Meeting Report –

    At 7:00 pm on March 7th, 2016, Mayor of Piedmont, Margaret Fujioka, called the City Council meeting to order. Twice a month, on the first and third Mondays of the month, the Council comes together in a meeting to address current issues of Piedmont and the possible resolutions to those problems at City Hall Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue.

    This meeting was not the regular first and third Monday of the month type of meeting, the main purpose of the meeting was for Mayor Fujioka to give her second State of the City Address since her election. The meeting started the way they always do, with a call to order, pledge of allegiance, and approval of the council meeting minutes for February 16th, 2016.

    Ten minutes were then granted to the public to speak about issues they see in Piedmont. These ten minutes were divided equally among all of those who wanted speak in the audience. Eight people filled out speaking cards, so each person got a minute and fifteen seconds. The majority of those speaking in front of the City Council were speaking to the subject of climate change and solutions to the problem that the city of Piedmont can help with. The majority of those who spoke out about climate change, including Julie Walsh who collected 160 names of Piedmont residents in support of ratifying the current policy for climate change, gave information and reasoning on why CalPERS should move away from fossil fuels for environmental as well as financial reasons. I agree with what was stated in the meeting about climate change being a pressing issue the City of Piedmont needs to address. The benefits to green fuels are better than those of fossil fuels. Chris Seybold spoke out about the issues of Oakland Ave and the unsafety of its crosswalks, proposing to calm traffic at the crosswalks. I spoke along with Hannah Castle about student parking. So many people drive to school and with that, parking is already very limited. There are a variety of people who drive to school where they can walk instead. We proposed that students who live within a 20 minute walk not be issued a permit, and therefore students who live farther than that be granted a student permit. The only issue I encountered in this idea was where the permitted parking would be placed as most of the areas students park are within residential areas.

    After the ten minutes of Public Forum ended, the Council moved on to Mayor Fujioka’s second State of the City Address. The address started with an acknowledgment to the renovated City Hall entry way by thanking Piedmont Beautification Foundation as well as the employees of the city for their cooperation. Mayor Fujioka then brought up the four issues she brought up in her first address; improving public safety, maintaining fiscal health, embracing technology, and addressing aging infrastructure. Public safety has been a big priority for Piedmont, and with the help of Police Chief Rikki Goede and Fire Chief Bud McLaren, Piedmont is safer than it was just a year ago with crime rates down and an increase of disaster preparedness.

Throughout the last few years, Piedmont has remained fiscally healthy with cost-saving measures which also will help generate revenue for the city and to continue embracing technology, a five-year Information Technology Strategic Plan was adopted in October 2015 and the next step for the plan is to employ IT staff for support. To address the aging infrastructure, Mayor Fujioka brought up the parcel tax and commended its support of Piedmont residents and discussed the increase of the tax on the June ballot. Mayor Fujioka ended the address with stating the strong connection the City has with PUSD. She promised to continue to keep the four initiatives listed above as her priorities moving forward in her term.

    I spoke with Paisley Strellis after the meeting about her role in the audience. She said that she attends every City Council meeting and then writes the summary of the meetings for The Piedmont Post in order to keep all of Piedmont up to date on the happenings of each meeting.

By Megan Deutsche, Piedmont High School senior

 Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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