Jan 22 2017

Editorial ALERT: Changes Impacting All Piedmont Houses and Properties Obscured in Proposal Documents


Have you read the 535 page staff description of proposed changes to Piedmont’s zoning?  

Rather than simply affecting the commercial and “civic center” zones, this proposal has become a massive set of changes affecting essentially every Piedmont single family residence (SFR).

The changes appear to include:

  • reducing minimum square footage required Single Family Residence lot size by 25% 
  •  reducing frontage – reduced by 33% (90 feet to 60 feet)
  • reducing side setbacks by 50% (to as little as 2 feet (using language that falsely appears to expand the setback!)
A simple proposal for “Grand Avenue zoning fixes” appears to have expanded exponentially. If this proposal moves forward, it could potentially significantly increase the density of Piedmont’s residential areas.  It would allow substantially larger structures next to your home . . closer to your home, allow many larger lots to be subdivided, and allow much larger second homes on one lot.
Is there any description in the voluminous city documents of the total eventual impact on our city?  Will these proposals, in combination, lead to a tear down of many old Piedmont homes? Will residents only find out what’s really in this massive proposal after the Council passes it?
Unfortunately, no effective executive summary of the 535 pages is provided, nor any effective notice of specifics in this massive mission creep.
Changes having the potential to transform Piedmont should not be obfuscated within a 535 page document.  It now seems to cover everything from Airbnb rules . . to parking . . . to 4-story civic center buildings with zero (0) setbacks . . . to increasing density for virtually every Single Family Residence lot.   All important issues – and in some cases “hot-button” issues for Piedmont.

The multiple issues encompassed in this hydra-headed proposal should be dealt with separately, with appropriate opportunity for public input for each.

Staff was initially simply working on clean up language in the ordinance and a few zoning changes affecting the Grand Avenue commercial or civic area. Why have Single Family Residence changes been slipped in? Does the citywide impact on single family residences, commercial, and public property make a citywide vote necessary . . . . or at least desirable?

For those who have a few spare days to review it, the 535 page staff report is here:


The Council will be educated at a Council Study Session on Monday, January 23, 2017 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 120 Vista Avenue.   Live viewing will be from the City website and on Cable Channel 27. The meeting will be video recorded.

Comments can be sent to the Council as a whole at the following link:


Comments and contacts for individual Council members are as follows:

Jeff Wieler, Mayor


(510) 428-1648

Robert McBain, Vice Mayor


(510) 547-0597

Jennifer Cavenaugh


(510) 428-1442

Teddy Gray King


(510) 450-0890

Tim Rood



Comments for PCA publication can be submitted at the bottom of this article.

One Response to “Editorial ALERT: Changes Impacting All Piedmont Houses and Properties Obscured in Proposal Documents”

  1. As I understand it, a substantial number of Piedmont residences are actually situated on lots that violate current zoning regulations. If that is the case, then perhaps the zoning proposal is designed to remedy the problem by changing the rules to fit the on-ground reality.

    As urban areas grow, the pressure for increasing density in built-up areas increases. From an environmental viewpoint, our Bay Area is better for all of us if urban sprawl is contained. That requires all built-up cities to do their part to increase allowable density. A small, incremental increase isn’t going to change the nature of lovely Piedmont. Uncontrolled sprawl, however, does threaten California’s agricultural land and the natural wildlands that surround our beautiful bay.

    Let’s take a close look at the proposed zoning changes. Let’s ask the City Planner to prepare some easy-to-understand materials so we all don’t have to slog through the 535 page document. And let’s not take alarmist reactions until an avoidable problem becomes clear.

    Bruce Joffe

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