Jan 25 2017

Opinion: Residents Opposing Omnibus Approach to Piedmont Zoning

Correspondence between residents and Mayor Wieler.

Thank you for your prompt response Mayor Wieler. There is nothing in law or code to suggest existing homes would be “non-conforming” if Piedmont zoning remains as is- that should not be an impetus and it’s certainly not a rationale.

We are in full agreement with the spirit and most of the substance of the editorial on the January 22, 2017 Piedmont Civic Association website.
1) What is the purpose of this omnibus approach to zoning in our city?  What’s the benefit to us, to our neighbors? Piedmont Planning Director Kevin  Jackson has repeatedly cited historically high variance approval rates as an indication that our zoning rules are outdated. Is it possible those high approval rates are a function of reasonable plans and compromises engendered by the variance approval process itself?
2) Smaller lot sizes (which as you know are already accounted for in the current code), reduced set backs and potentially larger structure footprints will encourage the construction of larger homes and more density which will- over time- change and, in our opinion erode the character of broad sections of our community
3) Absence of material change to Zone E lot sizes and set backs – hmmmmmm.
We hope you and the city council will consider Piedmont Civic Association’s recommendation  for more transparency, clarity and outreach in these matters.  The power to effect changes of this magnitude should not reside with staff and a few select committees. We urge our city government to take the necessary steps to seek formal approval from our citizens before these changes are adopted.
 Philip & Jean Stein
On Jan 23, 2017, at 9:00 AM, Jeffrey Wieler <jswieler@gmail.com> wrote:

Thanks for your email.  I urge you to come to tonight’s meeting to express your concerns and ask questions.  Concerning the lot size issue, I believe one impetus for the change is the fact that most Piedmont homes sit on lots under 10,000 sq. feet in size, and it makes no sense to deem  them non-conforming.  As a practical matter, I doubt anybody would find it economical to tear down a large home on a large lot to sub-divide.

However, we are having multiple meetings on the rewrite precisely to answer questions like yours.
Jeff Wieler

On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:26 AM, Philip Stein <treehousephil@gmail.com> wrote:

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

Hi, Neighbors,

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% (8,000 sf  to 6,000 sf)
  •  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:



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