Mar 19 2017

Zoning: Increased Housing in Lower Piedmont, Reduced Parking Requirements, For Profit Uses in Public Buildings, Structures Up to Property Lines

An underlying goal of the building code changes (Chapter 17) is to increase housing density in lower Piedmont and provide more affordable housing.

On Monday, March 20, 2017, the Council plans to approve an ordinance that will mean more houses, more apartments, and reduced parking requirements in Piedmont. The City Council on March 6, approved the first reading of the massive rewriting and changes to Chapter 17 of the Piedmont City Code.  The second reading is planned at the March 20 Council meeting.

Council members are convinced that Piedmonters have been informed and engaged in the process.

In a cursory survey of Piedmonters, few had any substantive knowledge of the proposed changes with the exception of changes to Grand Avenue and short term rentals.

On March 6, the Council members decided to remove consideration of short term rentals and commercial property regulations on Grand Avenue pending further input from the public.

The Grand Avenue neighbors have been active and organized in attempting to make new regulations compatible with the neighborhood.

Civic Center Apartments

One citizen, Ted Kinch, referred to the 92% of Piedmonters who responded to the heavily relied upon 2007 Survey, who expressed their preference to keep the small town feeling of Piedmont.  Kinch emphasized the potential problems from adding apartments in the Civic Center – above the Wells Fargo Building and Mulberry’s.  He mentioned that watching children walk to school was refreshing and should not be threatened by increased traffic and parking.

Council approved the proposed building code changes for apartments to be permitted in the Civic Center.  There has been no organized opposition from any neighborhood group, school representative, or emergency service person in regard to traffic, safety, or congestion next to emergency services and schools in the Civic Center.


Only a few of the numerous code revisions received inquiry by the Council members.  The exception was Council member Jen Cavenaugh, liaison to the Planning Commission, who questioned reduced off-street parking requirements for residences and businesses, structures allowed to be built up to the property line, and for profit businesses in public buildings, amongst other issues.

Cavenaugh questioned the likelihood Estates Zone residents would want their neighbors building up to the property line, “Not wanting people to be on top of each other in that way.”

There has been no indication that Piedmont residents in lower Piedmont (Zone A) would accept their neighbors building a structure up to the property line. Planning Director Kevin Jackson claimed the intent was to encourage property owners to build garages and structures at the back of the lot to leave more open space.

Mayor Jeff Wieler was concerned about the reduction in Zone A (residential) lot size from 10,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet.  He stated,  “Our lords and masters in Sacramento… we’re suddenly changing our zoning to satisfy some bureaucrat up in Sacramento. I resent it.”

Council members Teddy King and Tim Rood quickly defended the reduction in parcel size in lower Piedmont as an effort by Piedmont to assist in supplying the area with more housing plus more affordable housing.

King stated, “This is actually a component of the entire revision process (Chapter 17) so that we meet the requirements and spirit of the housing needs in the Bay Area. … To the extent that some of the controversial elements in this proposal have caught the attention of Piedmonters, it is important to explain that many of these changes we didn’t dream up. They are tied to other efforts put in place by State and Federal authorities. We don’t conceive of our own housing and density in a vacuum.”


Although a lack of adequate off-street parking has been a major issue in numerous Planning Commission applications, King and Rood liked reducing the off street parking requirements to encourage a reduction in automobile usage and an increase in transit ridership. Bedroom additions will no longer necessarily trigger the need to provide off-street parking.

The Planning Commission has been responsible in the past for determining if traffic, parking and safety impact applications, yet traffic and parking studies are not required by the process potentially leaving the matter to subjective opinions.

Short term rentals deferred once more.

A short term rental (under 30 days) prohibition was held for further consideration maintaining the status quo of no City enforcement of ongoing short term rentals. According to Piedmont’s existing Home Occupation Ordinance, all home businesses, including airbnb, require homeowners to obtain a business license and Home Occupation Permit. Short term rentals currently do not qualify for a home occupation permit because the home business owner cannot use a residential property addresse in advertisements or for client access. Organized interest by promoters of short term rentals has been active. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to prohibit short term rentals.  Seeking further input, the Council has not acted on the pending short term rental issue during a three year period.

The Council meeting will be held on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber to act on the ordinance changes.  Viewing is available on Channel 27 and from the City website.

Staff report for Item #7 on the agenda.

Draft minutes of March 6, 2017 Council meeting when zoning issues were previously considered.

Agenda for March 20, 2017 Council meeting


Leave a Comment