Oct 7 2020

OPINION: Former Mayors’ Letter in Support of Measures UU and TT

        It is long past time for Piedmont to rebuild our one and only community pool.

Current residents of Piedmont have benefitted from the generosity of prior residents who built, paid for, and in many cases donated our buildings, parks, playfields and of course, the pool.  Their generosity toward future generations has allowed us, as taxpayers, to focus our collective resources on our excellent public schools.

It is now our turn to step up to rebuild our failing infrastructure. The two measures on the ballot in November are about repairing and replacing what is broken. Measure UU will allow Piedmont to issue, for the first time ever, municipal bonds to rebuild the failing 56-year-old Piedmont Pool.  Municipal bonds are like a 30-year fixed-rate community mortgage, repaid through property tax assessments.  Measure TT will align the real property transfer tax – only paid when a home is bought or sold – to match those of Berkeley and Oakland, and use the funds to repair and maintain our city facilities and failing roads and sidewalks.

To us, six former Piedmont Mayors, the focus on long-term planning is a sign of pragmatic and strategic thinking.  The current City Council unanimously placed Measures UU and TT on the ballot because our failing infrastructure can’t wait.  Spending more to repair a crumbling pool facility makes no fiscal sense. Borrowing money at low interest rates to rebuild a necessary civic asset is the prudent decision.

Soon the City Council will be forced to make the decision that no one wants to make: to permanently close the Piedmont Pool. If Measure UU does not pass, Piedmont will then fail to provide a basic public amenity that every other city in Alameda County provides to its residents. Whether you swim or not, the lack of a municipal pool would be a profound loss for our community and our schools.

Please join us in supporting the future of Piedmont and voting yes on Measures UU and TT.

Dean Barbieri

Michael Bruck

John Chiang

Abe Friedman

Susan Hill

Valerie Matzger

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

3 Responses to “OPINION: Former Mayors’ Letter in Support of Measures UU and TT”

  1. Those former mayors must remember the “comparable cities” list. Albany, Hillsborough, Belvedere, etc. – cities of comparable size and demographics used to baseline Piedmont’s spending and salary levels. Oakland and Berkeley were never on the list – why should Piedmont “align” with these cities? After the transfer tax, what’s next -salaries?

    And the city has not held back on taxes while we taxpayers “focused” on the schools. To the contrary, the city has availed itself of many local and county tax increases – sewer tax, Measure BB, athletics facilities maintenance fund, planning fees. Recall that the municipal services parcel tax was just raised to bring in $500,000 at the last election. Short memory?

    No, it’s the school district that has been hand to mouth these past many years. Just compare annual surpluses – the city Gen Fund surplus always at 15% and above, while the district can barely scrape together 3%. And the ex-mayors want to raise more taxes?

    TT isn’t needed because regular growth in transfer tax receipts is bringing in the funds needed for facility maintenance. The 2012 Municipal Tax Review Committee (MTRC) recommended $750,000 be spent on facilities annually. Projections show transfer tax surplus will be $800,000 this year (See link). The current Facilities Maintenance Fund has $5M in it – the issue isn’t lack of funds, but lack of initiative.

    Transfer tax revenue should be shared between the city and the School District. Reject TT and direct the City Council to develop ways for the District to receive its share of the transfer tax.


  2. I do agree with Garrett regarding Measure TT. As pointed out by the EB Times’ recent editorial, Piedmont will have the highest average real estate transfer tax in California if TT passes. However, I do not agree re the pool. The current one is simply worn out. Bandaid repairs become less and less cost-effective which will eventually lead to Piedmont having no pool.

  3. Daily walks during shelter in place regularly remind me of how fortunate I am to live in Piedmont where citizens choose to contribute to our common wealth. But even in the glow of that experience, I find myself wondering whether the city has a plan for how it will finance upkeep of the recreational assets to which we have committed. I also wonder if that plan, should it exist, meshes with whatever plans the school district has for keeping up its considerable facilities. There may well be such plans and coordination, but if so, they’ve been poorly disseminated.

    We have sufficient time to revisit the pool problem after the city educates us on how it intends to operate and maintain the facilities we now have. We are already the most highly taxed community in California, which is not a bad circumstance assuming we feel our resources are being allocated wisely. At this point, I, and I suspect others, would like a pause in escalating our taxes until we all revisit how wisely the proceeds are being spent.

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