May 1 2016

Community Choice Energy, Hampton Park, Bike Lanes on Grand Avenue, Richmond Sanitary Services, and Public Pool Facilities: REPORT: Council April 18

Monday, April 18 City Council meeting –

At 7:30 p.m. in the evening of Monday, April 18, 2016, I attended a Piedmont City Council meeting. The City Council meets on the first and third Monday of every month, to allocate city funds, and improve and maintain the infrastructure of the city.

There were several issues discussed in this meeting by various members of the Council as well as the community, but the most pressing issues were the option for Piedmont to switch over to Community Choice Energy, the repair and renovation of Hampton Park, the addition of bike lanes to parts of Grand Avenue, the renewal of Piedmont’s contract with Richmond Sanitary Services, and looking into improving Piedmont’s public pool facilities.

To start the meeting, Bruce Jensen from the Alameda County Planning Department, and Tom Kelly gave a presentation on the benefits of Piedmont switching over to Community Choice Energy (CCE) from PG&E. CCE offers the community a choice for clean energy at a competitive rate to that which PG&E offers. The benefit of switching to CCE, is that Piedmont can come closer to its goals of being environmentally friendly, while still providing energy at a reasonable price. CCE is an opt-out program, meaning that everyone is automatically signed up for it, unless they expressly indicate in writing that they would not like to participate in the program. One worry about CCE is that if too many people opt-out, it will not be economically viable, and would end up costing the consumers more. Based on the discussion, I think that Piedmont should switch over to CCE. At the very least, it gives people options and prevents PG&E from having a total monopoly. In the best case, if most people stay in the program, CCE provides cleaner energy for a lower price than what Piedmont currently offers.

The next matter addressed at the City Council meeting was the repair and renovation of Hampton Park. Currently, Hampton Park is shut down every winter due to flooding and water damage from poor drainage. The city has to repair it annually, just for it to be damaged again the following winter, leading to a cycle costing the city $25,000 a year. In 2008, funds were raised to make long term changes to the park, preventing the annual flood damage, but the improvements were delayed due to the recession and more pressing priorities.

It has been so long since the City Council has originally raised the funds for the Hampton Park restoration, that they are now at risk of losing that money, so this has become a major focus of the Council. The Council unanimously agreed to fund the restoration of the park, and went on to discuss the logistics of where activities would be held while Hampton Park is undergoing renovations.

The Council came to the agreement that Beach Field would be able to temporarily take the displaced activities from Hampton Park, and the Council unanimously approved opening Beach Field on Sundays to allow for more activities. City Clerk John Tulloch said that, “he’s glad the park is getting improvement” as he’s seen many people use it and take advantage of the great space.

After that, the repainting of Grand Avenue to add bike lanes was discussed. Oakland is currently trying to add bike lanes to Grand Avenue, and Piedmont would like to “piggy back” on their work and continue the bike lanes on the part of Grand which is in Piedmont. Oakland has generously offered to fund some of the painting of bike lanes on the part of Grand in Piedmont. The council unanimously agreed to fund the rest of the addition of bike lanes to Grand Ave in Piedmont, and Council member Tim Rood commented on how it was ideal timing as it would be repainted before the annual Bay Area Bike to Work Day on May 12th.

The Council then discussed the renewal of Piedmont’s contract with Richmond Sanitary Services (RSS). The Council members all agreed that RSS does a fantastic job of collecting Piedmont’s waste, and unanimously agreed to negotiate a renewal of their contract.

The final issue the Council addressed was the improvement of Piedmont’s public pool facilities. Council members King, and Rood were nominated to look into ways to improve the public pool facilities. Both Council members accepted the task, and a motion was unanimously passed to look into ways of improving the pool facility.

Reported by Stuart Ashford, Piedmont High School Senior

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

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