Sep 21 2020

OPINION: Vote No on UU Pool Bonds

The “facts” presented by the pro UU swim people aren’t all facts.

Like so many other things in Piedmont, we continually say it’s for the kids or it’s for our property tax values. This time the facts just don’t support that notion.

The numbers I am quoting were received from the City Administrator or the Arguments for UU.

1. The bond issue is for $19,500,000, but there are no bids. That is based upon estimates from 2010-12 inflated to today. It could cost significantly more and there is no source for additional funds.

2. UU estimates the cost per home of the bond issue at $0.75 per day ($274/year). That’s based upon an assessment of under $1 million. According to Redfin, the average price of a Piedmont home last month was $2,420,000! The tax on $2 million is around $540 per year or twice what is advertised by UU.

3. The City budget already subsidizes the pool for around $250,000 per year or $65 per home.

4. Approximately 35% of the pass users are non-Piedmont residents. Non-resident passes cost $100 more (only 11%) than resident passes but they won’t pay anything towards the bond issue.

5. Of the 65% of Piedmont users there are approximately 491 household passes for the pool. That is roughly 13% of the homes in Piedmont. The pass holders are very frequent users so it appears that very few residents actually use the pool but the ones that do, use it frequently. Should everyone pay for the benefit to a very small portion of the population who are avid swimmers?

6. Water aerobics accounted for only 45 passes (families or individuals) and water polo accounted for 51 passes (families or individuals) and we don’t know how many of those are non-Piedmont residents but certainly some are non-residents. Let’s assume that swim team and swim club accounts for another 10% of usage and that it is all Piedmont residents. That makes a total of 23% usage by Piedmont families.

If the pool was used by ½ of the residents, it would make sense for it to be publicly financed, but why should 100% of the families pay for a pool that is used by less than ¼ of the residents and is used by a significant % of non-residents?


Joe Hurwich, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

6 Responses to “OPINION: Vote No on UU Pool Bonds”

  1. It use to be that the family or recreation passes (491 in Joe’s analysis) were only good for 6 months so that should be considered as well. The oversized “stretch” design of the pool is to accommodate the teams and lap swimmers, the smallest percentage of users. Were the pool just scaled for water polo and lap swimming hours limited, the cost of the pool would be much less. To Joe’s point about nonresident users, the operational analysis claims that the larger pool will pay for itself through more membership and demographic changes but Is that increase coming from non residents?

  2. Joe’s point No. 2 disregards the reality of Prop 13. Current inflated values of Piedmont’s values are not relevant to how Prop 13 values are calculated. New construction or actual individual house sales determine assessed values.
    I support UU more for the kids and school teams. What we now have is inadequate, and frankly, the old pool has exceeded its useful life.

  3. I’m concerned that $19.5 million would be allocated and taxed for a project that is not yet fully designed nor cost-estimated by a competitive bid process.

    I agree with Joe, “why should 100% of the families pay for a pool that is used by less than ¼ of the residents?”

  4. Most families in Piedmont cycle through the pool, using it when the kids are small. That said, this pool is designed for aquatics – a flat bottom “stretch” design 42 meters long. The length was chosen so lap swimmers and teams could be in the pool at the same time. The flat bottom pushes swim lessons into the “fun” pool. And the “fun” pool pushes out Dress Best for Less. If the city simply limited lap swimming hours of the pool so that a 30 meter pool could meet the needs of the aquatics groups then a more affordable and sustainable pool could be designed. The city is contemplating another ballot initiative for March 2021 to pay for new police and fire buildings so a different pool design could be put before the voters at that time.

  5. I’d appreciate someone addressing the potential effect of authorizing bonds for the pool, when the Budget Advisory Committee and other sources have said that Piedmont has a backlog of approximately $52 Million in urgent capital projects (including seismic retrofitting of the police and fire buildings). Why are we taking a piecemeal approach to our capital projects? Why is the pool jumping to the top of our priorities, ahead of essential seismic work for our emergency facilities? Will authorizing the pool bonds reduce the City’s ability to borrow for the urgent capital projects? Might the passage of Measure UU make it less likely that bonds would be approved for the urgent capital projects? It’s easy to be enthusiastic about a new pool, but I’d like to see a discussion in the context of all of our priorities.

  6. I am undecided about how to vote on this issue. Can somebody address how the project fits within the City effort to reduce our carbon footprint? By how much will the amount of energy needed to heat and clean the pool increase? Will solar panels help?

Leave a Comment