Sep 27 2016

REPORT: Stop Signs, Mosquitoes, Zoning, Beach and Coaches Field Considered by Council

“Council discussion of zoning was difficult to understand” –

On the evening of September 19 at 7:30, after the Pledge of Allegiance and a brief introduction, the Council approved meeting minutes, approved a contract with Miracle Playsystems Inc. to replace the protective surfacing at Dracena Park, and approved a replacement license plate reader unit for the Police Department.

Next, the Council opened the floor for public comments and opinion. The hot topic of the night was stop signs; specifically the 16 newly added stop signs across town. Some were in favor and spoke for the “pros” of stop signs because they reinforce safety as a priority. However, there were others who were bittersweet on the new traffic signs. “Is 16 too many?” One community member asked, “I think a study is necessary.”

One community member enlightened the crowd on the effect stop signs have on the environment. Brake dust and emission is emitted with every break and go. Therefore, the more stop signs means the more brake-and-gos which ultimately mean more pollution. The man suggested a traffic engineer come and inspect.

I personally believe the stop signs are a great addition to the community. I live on Mountain Avenue and have found the new stop signs located at Hampton and Seaview avenues to be highly effective and impactful.

Next was a ceremony to honor departing planning staff member Matt Anderson for the work he has done with Piedmont on environmental studies to enhance environmental awareness and conservation. Anderson has encouraged Piedmont to install more solar panels, make street lights more efficient, and reduce greenhouse gases.

Then there was a personally unexpected presentation on mosquitoes by the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District. The audience was taught the biology of mosquitoes, mosquito management in Piedmont, and effect of disease carrying mosquitoes. Prior to this meeting, I had no previous knowledge on what helps regulate the number of mosquitoes in Piedmont.

The Council then went into discussing zoning provisions. In addition, they talked about an agreement with the local government commission for the Civic Spark Internship Program; costing a total of $5,000. It was at this point in the meeting where I wish I had done some homework. I can honestly say I do not know anything about “Zoning” or the “Civic Spark Internship Program” and the Council members were throwing around numbers and unfamiliar words making it very difficult to understand the issue and conclusion. The council also spoke about working with Coastland Engineers for property assessments of City Hall, the Veterans Hall, the Recreation Center, and the Community Hall.

I think the major properties in Piedmont such as the venues listed above should be a priority for the city because they are so popular and so widely used.

 Next on the agenda were announcements, old business and proposals for future agenda items. There were several speakers, however, the focus of this cluster seemed to revolve around the Shell Gas Station located in the center of town. With hopes of new development and maintaining Piedmont’s residential character, alternatives such as a cafe were discussed. Yet, the Council reminded the public that no plan has been proposed and right now this idea is simply nothing more than an idea.

Then the council transitioned into the topic of Beach and Coaches Field. Two men came and proposed a plan that costing $35,000 for Beach and $25,000 for Coaches Field. The goal is to improve the venue and use it for more events and functions. Jen Cavanaugh, a woman running for City Council, spoke out and said “I think this is a great opportunity to partner with the school.” Similarly, Council Member Teddy King said “I think it is time to move this project forward.”

Although I was pleased to see the city trying to improve local fields and playgrounds, I was amazed by the large sum of money that was being spent in less than 10 minutes!

Unfortunately there were times when the meeting was a bit hard to hear. If possible, I would love to see more effective microphones or speakers so that the public can clearly hear everything that is being said.

The meeting wrapped up with a cheerful “this is a big weekend for Piedmont.” Festivities such as the movie in the park, the Fall Fest 5k, and the Harvest festival will all take place in the center of town.

Afterwards, I had the privilege of speaking with Acting Mayor Jeff Wieler. I began by telling him my opinion on the new stop signs. He graciously thanked me for attending the meeting and for relaying my reaction to the stop signs. Then I asked him “What’s your favorite part about being Mayor?” He responded, “I get to set the agenda and have paper instead of iPads.” We then talked about how he got involved in politics, specifically the City Council. He said that before he ran for a seat on City Council, he was part of many committees and saw the council as a place to apply what he knew. He admitted “things are running pretty well here in Piedmont,” but one particular concern Acting Mayor Wieler would like to see addressed is the Piedmont swimming pool. He believes the pool is undersized for its use and that we need to have a pool that “better serves the people of Piedmont.”

   Overall, it was a great experience to get a closer look into Piedmont government. I encourage the public to sit in or participate; even if it is just one time! City Council is a great medium to see how government is run in Piedmont and speak for or against certain issues in the community.

Every 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, the Piedmont City Council congregates in the Chamber of City Hall.

Hanna Marcus, Piedmont High School Senior

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

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