Oct 20 2016

Council: Grand Avenue Traffic Problems Probed by Jen Cavenaugh, Fund Balances and Budget

Report of October 3rd City Council Meeting –

Piedmont City Council is the legislative body of Piedmont, and meets weekly to address issues and concerns in the community. On October third, several people spoke up on items not on the agenda, both on issues involving safety. Later, the Council discussed funding and budgets.

    Jen Cavenaugh raised the issue of increased traffic congestion on Grand Avenue. The congestion began after the Grand Avenue Road Diet, which gave more lanes to bikers in order to maximize safety. The congestion is so bad it spreads into residential areas not meant for traffic, which contradictingly reduces safety for children at play. One of the council members stated that traffic engineers found out that the congestion was actually caused by traffic light timing. Cavenaugh stated she will investigate further.

   Dimitri Magganas suggested that the City Council should enforce inspection of water supplies for fire sprinklers in commercial buildings. The Council agreed that the issue should be looked into.

    After discussing funding and income, the Council agreed that it is appropriate to have a surplus of budget money. This is to avoid mindlessly throwing extra money at unnecessary projects, and also to have a supply of backup money.

After the Council adjourned, I interviewed Jen Cavenaugh. The controversial subject of traffic congestion is what brought her to the City Council. She wanted the Council to look into her issue further, but since they declined, decided to pursue the congestion on her own. Even if the problem is just the light timing, I think it is still great that the public has a way to pitch in. Unlike federal and even state governments, local government seems to be very peaceful in their main interest: fixing problems in the community.

Zainab Sayeed, Piedmont High School Senior

Second Report of October 3rd City Council Meeting – 

On October 3rd 2016, I attended the City Council meeting at City Hall, The City Council is a group of elected Piedmont residents who join together on the first and third Monday of every month to make important decisions that affect the Piedmont community.

During this meeting many major issues were addressed, but it started with an open microphone to any Piedmont resident who wished to speak out about any problems they have witnessed.  Dimitri Magganas was the first person to come to the microphone and speak. He started by sharing the reason he had come. He had noticed that the valve that controlled the water for an entire neighborhood was accessible by the street and that the valve had been shut off therefore turning off the water for the entire neighborhood. He expressed his concerns about how this was a possibility in the future and suggested that there be someone who regularly checks the valve.

The second speaker who came to the microphone was Jen Cavenaugh. Jen Cavenaugh  is running for City Council and came to express her concern about the repercussions of the Grand Avenue restriping. This redo changed the two lane street into a one lane street thus increasing the safety of cyclists. Because of this change, traffic has been piling up into Piedmont residential areas and Jen Cavenaugh  has heard many complaints and concerns from local Piedmont residents. The Council responded saying that a traffic report was underway and that the lights were being tested to see if a change could decrease traffic.

After the initial open microphone, the City Council moved on to the official schedule for the meeting, This started with the Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race. This Permit was a request to close the City streets on Thanksgiving morning to allow for the fundraiser known as the Turkey Trot. After a very brief discussion about the permit it was approved by the Council.

The next issue that was discussed during the meeting was the Conditional Use Permit for Belardi/Ostroy for a marketing office at 1345 Grand Avenue #101 & #102.  When asked about the general response to the permit it was said that their were no obvious red flags. It was also noted that a worker requested to do some renovations inside the building. In the end, the motion to pass the permit was approved.

The next topic discussed in the meeting was the consideration of a fund balance policy pursuant to Governmental Accounting Standards board statement. The policy was briefly outlined detailing what changes would be made and the motion to pass the policy was approved.

The last subject that was talked about during the meeting was the consideration of the FY 2015-16 year End Transfers of Net income in the General Fund. Funds were transferred to the Facilities Maintenance Fund, Equipment Replacement Fund, and other post employment benefits. Allocations were proposed and justified, the Equipment Replacement Fund was mentioned, and it was said that having three funds could help progress. This discussion was based around how much of the budget should be allocated to each subject and after particular amounts were suggested the motion to pass this was approved.

The issue that I most connected with was the one involving the Grand Avenue redo. I completely understand the thought process behind the redo as it happened to increase the safety of cyclists, but in my opinion this major change has had major negative effects on the community as a whole. Residential areas are being clogged with traffic, streets are not as safe for playing children and the commute time for Piedmont residents going through that area has increased.

At the end of the meeting I choose to interview Jen Cavenaugh because I was genuinely interested in what she had to offer in the meeting and wanted to learn more. Jen Cavenaugh is currently running for City Council. She came to the meeting because many people were expressing concern about the traffic caused by the Grand Avenue redo. Due to the change from two lanes to one, traffic is backing up into Piedmont residential areas. She came because she wanted to share these concerns for public safety. She has seen regular traffic and this has had large effects on Piedmont communities. She has witnessed increased numbers of illegal U-turns, as well as traffic blocked all they way up to residential areas thus making them less safe for playing children. She said she was not 100% sure about what the Council had decided on, she was uncertain that the traffic lights are the problem. She claimed that she is going to “wait and see how it works out, and follow up is concerns still arise”

Ashley Erkelens, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors. 

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