Mar 3 2021

Housing: Conversion of EBMUD Reservoir Site on Blair Avenue

Mayor Teddy King stated under Announcements at the end of the March 1, 2021 Council meeting,  her interest and pursuit of the possibility of converting to housing the defunct EBMUD reservoir at the top of Scenic and Blair Avenues.

Having met with the Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (PREC), who expressed an interest in developing the site for housing, King had requested the Piedmont staff to contact EBMUD to determine if it was a possibility to convert the property to housing.  According to King, EBMUD showed a lack of enthusiasm for converting the site to affordable housing.

King suggested to the City Council that it would likely require the involvement of Piedmont’s elected representatives in the California Assembly and Senate, Buffy Wicks, Assembly and Nancy Skinner, Senate, if the site was to be converted to housing.  King stated her intention of continuing to pursue the conversion of the EBMUD site to housing.

Decades ago, it was determined by EBMUD that the reservoir was not properly constructed to withstand a catastrophic earthquake.  Consequently, the reservoir was fenced off and abandoned as a reservoir.  Mature redwood trees dot the property.  Public access to the area is not allowed.

No discussion or action on the matter was undertaken during the meeting.

6 Responses to “Housing: Conversion of EBMUD Reservoir Site on Blair Avenue”

  1. That’s a novel idea but I think Piedmont would first have to look at its own properties, namely Blair Park and the civic center tennis courts, and its restrictive zoning before considering the reservoir, which does provide a service to multiple cities. And a difficult case to make when the city is tripling its water use for the pool.

  2. There was some City discussion of possible sale and reuse of this site about 10-12 years ago. If EBMUD chooses to declare the site to be surplus, under the Surplus Lands Act, the district would have to offer the site to affordable housing developers ahead of other users. It would also have to offer the site to public agencies like park districts and schools before putting it up for sale for private development. There may be access down to Moraga. The access via Blair and Scenic is circuitous at best. About half of the site is in Oakland and subject to their jurisdiction as well.The decision to sell at all would be up to EBMUD.

  3. Please consider keeping the area as a park setting. The beautiful redwood trees and walking paths are an essential part of that section of Scenic. More traffic from additional building and eventual homes would not be good for the single lane streets there.

  4. We do not have enough open space in Piedmont and the defunct reservoir site would be perfect for more open space. The walk way around that site is heavily used now and we really need to think about the crowding that is going on in Piedmont.

  5. We’re probably getting the cart before the horse in this discussion. Only after a public agency has declared a site to be surplus to their needs can it be sold off for housing, parks or anything else. EBMUD hasn’t done so. There’s no reason to get ahead of ourselves here, or consider city-owned properties that are not surplus at all.

  6. Good point Mike. Last I heard EBMUD was going to start on the Piedmont reservoir after it finished rehabbing the Oakland reservoir down the street. So this question may not be relevant.

    When I was on Council, RHNA required Piedmont to show the potential for an additional 60 units and the development of ADUs had the city on target. The new RHNA target is 587 and I don’t know if that it is potential units or a mandate by a certain date. Zoning changes to the Estate Zone and Multi-use Zone can show that housing potential and private owners could gradually make the conversions. City-owned properties like Blair Park and tennis courts enable the city to proactively develop more housing. That’s a discussion for the city to engage in with the residents.

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