Sep 27 2016

REPORT: Stop Signs, Energy Efficiency, Shell Gas Station Redevelopment, Funding for Veterans Hall, Recreation Center, Community Hall Renovations

Stop signs spawned civil unrest, plus free mosquito inspection –

The sixteen additional stop signs placed this past summer around Piedmont have spawned civil unrest throughout the city. While many are advocating for the increased safety that they bring, others are questioning the reasoning behind these additions. This subject matter dominated the Public Forum that marked the opening of the Piedmont City Council’s bi-monthly meeting on Monday, September 21st at Piedmont’s City Hall located at 120 Vista Avenue.

Enraged citizens took the stand, sharing their personal stances on the matter. Piedmonters Jon Elvekrog and Reid Settlemier spoke out against the installation of these additional stop signs, insisting that more data analysis be performed to evaluate whether they are actually necessary.

While both Elvekrog and Settlemier are in favor of increasing safety, they are also concerned about the added expense of this project and are suspicious as to whether they are the best option for the entire community. They also hoped to develop a policy in which these additions could be discussed in a way so that the entire community is involved in the process. While these two men spoke against this current project, another woman who took the stand was incredibly thankful for their installment. She found the email sent by Elvekrog to be upsetting, because it told people to come to City Hall and protest even though these additions have benefitted her life immensely, stating that she is “sick of anti-government” feelings in the community.

Personally, I believe the addition of these stop signs is crucial to the safety of Piedmont. As a teenager, I am usually in a rush and tempted to speed, especially down Hampton Road. My route to school in the morning may be slightly longer with the two new stop signs on my way, but it is far safer. The men at the meeting argued that more data analysis needs to be performed to evaluate the necessity of these stop signs; however, in my opinion, I do not think this needs to be done because even if data concludes that there have not been many accidents at a certain intersection in the past, it cannot be decided that none will occur in the future.

Following the public forum, the Council meeting commended the work of University of Wisconsin alum Matthew Anderson in his efforts to make energy more sustainable at a municipal level. Acting Mayor Jeff Wieler announced that September 19th will forever now be known as “Matthew Anderson Day.” Following Wieler’s announcements, members of the community responded to Anderson’s work as well. Garrett Keating gifted him a $2 trinket while another woman commended him for his “strong presence” in Piedmont CONNECT, an environmental organization. Anderson’s contributions in working with greenhouse gas, inventory, and making residents be more energy efficient proved beneficial to the entire community.

Following the proclamation was a presentation from the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District. This presentation included information about the life cycle of mosquitoes as well as the company’s efforts to prevent a Zika or West Nile virus from spreading in the Bay Area. In Piedmont, the presenter specifically said that areas in need of testing are swimming pools, cemeteries, gutters, creeks and catch basins. Citizens of Piedmont can contact the public agency for a free mosquito inspection.

Among the other issues discussed were the planning and zoning provisions of the municipal code. A resident living at 1250 Grand Avenue shared his feelings towards the changes to Zone D in the last two years. He stated that he was “optimistic that good can come out of it.” Other members of the community shared that they are content with the analysis that has gone into this planning. Vice Mayor Robert McBain expressed his joy in hearing that the public is interested in having there be something other than the Shell gas station on the small parcel of land located on Grand Avenue near ACE Hardware. Council member Teddy King expressed the Council’s efforts to make this “an open and transparent process,” while instructing the public to “be patient and wait for an outcome.”

Community member Rick Schiller expressed his disdain for the planning and zoning revisions which would change the City Property Zone B to to allow a community-serving business – like a newspaper or beverage stand – to have its headquarters in a government building. His concerns rested in his criticism of the Piedmont Post for its biased views on civic issues. Addressing the “serious conflict of interest issues,” Schiller shared his concern for public property being used by the Post, since it is not a non-political business.

The sixth item on the agenda addressed a potential agreement with the Local Government Commission for $5,000 regarding the Civic Spark Internship Program. This amount was awarded to the program in hopes of achieving climate action goals.

 The next item regarded the appropriations for CIP Projects including work at Beach Elementary School and Coach’s Field. In the words of Council Member Teddy King, this was an issue “bandied around for over a decade.” Jen Cavenaugh, candidate for City Council in the election November 8, shared her opinions on multiple matters throughout the meeting. For the proposal of CIP projects, she came to the meeting to share her belief in the necessity of “moving forward” with its plans because it would “overlap the city and the school district [in order to] maximize space.” Cavenaugh also shared that she sees new opportunities for programming in these buildings should they be remodeled. Thirty-five thousand dollars was granted to the Linda project and $25,000 was granted to the Coach’s Field project. At a future meeting, a clear approach to both projects is supposed to be presented.

The Council then discussed money for the renovation of Veterans Hall, the Recreation Center, and the Community Hall. The proposed changes for these buildings allow for their reconfiguration to allow better access. Specifically the Veterans’ Hall, which is very expansive with no divisions can only be used by one party at a time and would benefit from a renovation. Additionally, for the Recreation Center, due to its old feel, it is unable to meet modern day recreation needs, and is also inaccessible to the public. Fifty-five thousand, one hundred and twenty five dollars was given to the Coastland Engineers for Property Condition Assessments of these buildings to make them more functional to the public.

At 9:30 p.m., the two-hour meeting drew to a close. In good spirits, the Council was adjourned and members dwindled out of the doors of City Hall into the warm summer night.

Rebecca Glick, Piedmont High School Senior

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

One Response to “REPORT: Stop Signs, Energy Efficiency, Shell Gas Station Redevelopment, Funding for Veterans Hall, Recreation Center, Community Hall Renovations”

  1. While I do not drive regularly throughout all Piedmont I find many of the stops signs are excellent locations. Misters Elvekrog and Settlemier, neither of whom I know, seem to be more interested in finances than safety. Perhaps they are unaware that “data analysis” is a costly thing too.

Leave a Comment