Mar 17 2016

Sustainability and State of the City Address

Report on the City Council Meeting of March 7, 2016

    On March 7 2016, the Piedmont City Council came together for its usual bi-monthly meeting in the City Council Chambers. However, this meeting was more rare than most as the Mayor presented the State of the City Address, which only happens once a year. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the Public Forum, the Mayor spoke of the state in which Piedmont has been in and what changes have been made and what still need to be improved upon.

    The first item on the agenda, the Consent Calendar, was to approve the minutes of the Council meeting on February 16, 2016. All Council members voted unanimously to approve the minutes. Following this was the Public Forum, which is when any member of the audience can raise an issue not on the Agenda. However, Public Forum is allowed only 10 minutes and the time has to be split evenly between all those who wish to speak. There were 7 speakers, including myself and my partner.  Five speakers addressed climate change.


    There were two aspects talked about in the diversion of fossil fuels: morals and financial burden. Two Middle School boys spoke out about their concerns of the drought and pointed out that it was only getting worse, as well as the idea that there was no risk in counter action. An additional two Piedmont residents, both of whom had had children who attended Piedmont schools, spoke out about the unsustainability of relying on fossil fuels.  They explained that Piedmont is able to divest from fossil fuels, as 7 other Bay Area cities have already done. Finally, a woman who had grown up in Piedmont spoke out about how renewable energy was infact cheaper than fossil fuels and it would be a smart idea, financially, to divest.

    The main speaker for fossil fuel divestment, was Piedmont resident Julie Walsh. She was the woman who is spearheading the appeal and has created a petition, with 160 signatures, in order to support her cause. When asked about her presence at the City Council meeting, Walsh said, “I am here to try to talk City Council members into divesting from fossil fuels, which they voted down in May by a small margin and several factors have changed since then.” In addressing her concern about the divesting, Walsh said that, “If they don’t put it on the Agenda, then I will come back and appeal it again. In order for them to put it back on the Agenda, I will only have to persuade one City Council member.”

State of the City Address

    After the Public Forum, Mayor Margaret Fujioka, gave the second annual State of the City Address, which covered many events occurring in Piedmont. First, she spoke about the new renovations that were done to the entry of City Hall and thanked the residents of Piedmont for making it possible. She then went on to talk about how this was her final year as Mayor, which then led to her thanking everyone on the Council as well as all of the Department heads, like the Police and Fire Chief.

    Following this, Fujioka spoke about her four main goals as Mayor and how she has reached them. Her first goal, to improve public safety, has been done through the installation of license plate readers on the edge of town and also she mentioned that this year is the third consecutive year where crime rates have been down. Fujioka’s second goal is to maintain health, which has been done through the Fire Department assisting on many fires and through active shooter drills done on campus. Her third goal is to embrace technology, which has been done by working with a tech company called Client First, and starting a 5 year plan. Finally, her last goal is to improve infrastructure, which has taken place as $500,000 was granted to improve Hampton Field beginning this summer. Also, the Piedmont Pool is looking at renovated locker rooms, including new doors, lockers and heating systems.

    After talking about her goals, Mayor Fujioka spoke about all of the positive changes that have happened in Piedmont since the last State of the City Address. She spoke about Piedmont’s clean audit and high marks, guided fiscal prudence and accountability. As well as how the parcel tax, which is proposed to be raised 30%, brings in 1.6 million per year. She also spoke about how Piedmont has been working to become more eco friendly by installing LED lights into the lamp posts to save energy, worked with the Schools to reduce energy output, and began a road diet on Grand Avenue reducing the number of vehicle lanes. The bonds between the City and the School District have been well maintained, and the attempt to reduce traffic at the Middle School in the mornings has been successful. Lastly, Mayor Fujioka encouraged that with the new election approaching, community members continue to speak up and offer ideas to further towards the betterment of Piedmont.

By Hannah Castle, Piedmont High School senior

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

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