May 2 2022

OPINION: Extend Public Comment on Housing Element through November

 City Proposal for Housing Element Includes: Zoning Changes, Transitional Housing, ADU Heights to 24 feet, City Charter Amendments, Converting City Hall and Veterans Buildings to Low-Income Housing, Coaches Field, Blair Park, etc.

There’s more than just numbers (587 new housing units to be exact) to the Housing Element.  There are several programs and policies in the draft that have not gotten much attention in the city workshops or outreach program, some are noted below:

Require large home remodels include an ADU in the expansion. 

• Establish a transitional home for 6 homeless individuals in a residential neighborhood. Collaborate with a nonprofit affordable housing organization to convert a home or homes to transitional housing for six persons.  This would require changing current residential zone restrictions to allow transitional housing throughout the city. (page 74),

• Create additional local housing opportunities for persons employed within Piedmont in order to reduce commuting and associated greenhouse gas emissions. A particular emphasis should be placed on transportation and on housing for municipal and school district employees, since these are the largest employers in the City. (page 75).

• Allow ADUs to be built to a height of 24 feet if the ADU is deed restricted for 10 years. (page 55).

• Amend the City Charter to eliminate the requirement that the reclassification of zones and/or reduction or enlargement of size or area of zones be subject to a majority vote at a general or special election. (page 57).

• Rezone the Corporation Yard and areas around Coaches Field to accommodate 130 housing units.  Fifty high density units would be built in the Coaches Filed overflow parking lot and 50 units on the slope below the third base line of the field.  If this plan is infeasible, develop 200 high density units in Blair Park. (Appendix B-14)

• Convert Veterans and City Halls into low-income housing (Appendix B-15).

Public comment on the Housing Element started April 6, 2022, and will run for 3 months with Council adoption expected in June 2022. Once approved by Council, the Housing Element needs to be approved by state authorities.  By statute, the deadline for state approval was recently extended to May 2023.  

City Council should take advantage of the state time extension and extend public comment on the Housing Element through November 2022. There are a number of reasons for doing so. 

  •  The plan needs work and a June hearing should still be held to address deficiencies of the current draft so that revisions can be made. 
  • The plan currently does not achieve the equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout Piedmont.
  • The plan for Coaches Field is really half-baked. 
  • There are many new programs and policies called for in the Housing Element that need better vetting with the community. 
  • By extending public comment through November, Piedmont voters can express their opinion on the draft Housing Element by seating a majority of Council (3 seats will be on the ballot).  This timeline offers residents an excellent opportunity to have their voices heard and two of the Councilmembers will likely serve for 8 years, the lifespan of the 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element, ensuring some continuity. 
  • Postponing consideration of the Housing Element until after the November election would engage the entire community in setting Piedmont’s affordable housing future, a legacy everyone could be proud of.  

Public comments on the Housing Element will be sent to the Planning Commission if received by May 5.  Send comments to  The public can also comment on the Housing Element at the Special Planning Commission meeting, a virtual meeting on Zoom on May 12.  Read the draft Housing Element at:

Garrett Keating, Former member of the Piedmont City Council and Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Contact information:

510/420-3050 – Planning Staff

510/420-3040 – City Clerk – City Council
Ask for the email address where you can send comments.  Sending an email to the City Council is a good place to send a comment.  Written comments become part of the public record, phone calls do not. 
Go to the City of Piedmont web page for more information.

11 Responses to “OPINION: Extend Public Comment on Housing Element through November”

  1. Hello, I would like to contct the city to ask if they will extend the public comment period to November, but by clicking on your links, I’m not able to.
    How shall I proceed?
    Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Garrett.

    Changes as significant as these do need more time for public consideration.

    With COVID, etc it’s hard for working parents to adequately consider the changes in the midst of the school year.

    Your perspective makes perfect sense to me.

    ~Dai Meagher, Piedmont resident

  3. I learned from staff today that if Council approves the Housing Element in June, 2022 the state will take up to 3 months to review the plan and send back for final approval by City Council. So approval before November is possible and likely.

    But according to PCA, the City does not need to submit its Housing Element until May 2023. The City should take that extension and do more analysis and outreach on the Housing Element. At the very least, it could have a year’s worth of SB9 experience with which to inform the Housing Element, a potentially significant source of new housing not accounted for in the plan.

    I think comments about the Housing Element should go to That probably is best for now. Or directly to the Planning Department

  4. At tonight’s Park Commission meeting staff indicated the date for final approval of the Housing Element is May 2023. But with the recent extension granted by the state for submitting the Housing Element, that deadline could be pushed back, allowing more development of housing options through consideration of SB9 projects in Zones A and E. There is more undeveloped private rather than public land in Piedmont, yet the potential for this is not a component in the current plan.

  5. Excellent point Garrett Keating….if the housling element isn’t due for 1 more year, we would be better served to have more time to study the plan and send it in in November…or possibly January.

  6. Came across this in a HCD factsheet on SB9:

    Housing Element Law. To utilize projections based on SB 9 toward a jurisdiction’s regional housing need allocation, the housing element must: 1) include a site-specific inventory of sites where SB 9 projections are being applied, 2) include a nonvacant sites analysis demonstrating the likelihood of redevelopment and that the existing use will not constitute an impediment for additional residential use, 3) identify any governmental constraints to the use of SB 9 in the creation of units (including land use controls, fees, and other exactions, as well as locally adopted ordinances that impact the cost and supply of residential development), and 4) include programs and policies that establish zoning and development standards early in the planning period and implement incentives to encourage and facilitate development. The element should support this analysis with local information such as local developer or owner interest to utilize zoning and incentives established through SB 9. Learn more on HCD’s Housing Elements webpage.

    This makes it pretty clear that a city can use SB9 projections in a Housing Element as long as it does those 4 things in the analysis. The hardest is 2). Best way to test that likelihood is to wait a year and see how many SB9 applications the city receives and project from that. Or start a survey of property owners in Zones A and E to see if they would consider splitting their lots.

  7. I emailed a request to these people:

    requesting that the public review and comment period be extended.

    I see that the date on the 374 page housing element draft is “April 2022”.

    I’m hoping my neighbors on the Planning Commission and City Council realize that it’s prudent to allow more time for thoughtful public review.

    — Dai Meagher, Piedmont resident

  8. Garrett, will the May 9th Planning Commission Meeting be discussing this as well?

    I’m not seeing a May 12th “Special Planning Commission meeting” on the Planning Commission’s web page, KCOM, etc. Do you know the specific time for that meeting?

  9. I think the best link to comment for and attend the 5/12 meeting is at, not the city website. May 9 is the regular Planning Commission meeting (design review etc). Public comment is allowed as the first item on that agenda. But 5/12 is the key meeting to comment – Commissioners are allowed to address you at this meeting.

    The current timeline shows 5/12 for Planning Commission, June for Council approval of draft, three months (or less) for state review, then back to City staff to address comments from state review, more hearings at Planning Commission/Council with anticipated final state approval in May 2023.

    But in my experience the coming May/June 2022 is key – that draft becomes the primary plan with little subsequent revision. Recently the state extended the deadline for filing the plan to May 2023 -I base that on reporting here on PCA. If true, the city should use the extra time to add an SB9 analysis to the Housing Element (see my comment above). Typically the state likes 3 years of data before accepting a housing projection ( city doing that with ADU in this plan), but guidance from the state suggests it will accept SB9 projections now even though SB9 is only in effect since 2022. Piedmont has great SB9 potential in Zones A and E and should factor this into the current plan so as to be less impactful on other neighborhoods and distribute housing equitably throughout Piedmont.

  10. Hello,

    I just wanted to clarify that the timeline for preparation of Housing Element updates is set by state law. It is an iterative process that mandates local jurisdictions prepare draft Housing Elements, open them up for public comment and send them to the state’s Housing and Community Development department (HCD) for its review. Once HCD has reviewed, it sends back its comments and recommendations to local jurisdictions, so they can incorporate them into revised drafts, to make sure those drafts comply with all the requirements of state law. The final product, after all these different rounds of review, needs to be done in early to mid 2023. So while it seems like 2023 is a long time away, the timeline is actually tight. You can find a model timeline in the website for the Association of Bay Area Governments, here:

    In other words, it is not up to the City Council or the Planning Commission to extend the deadlines. In fact, delaying the process may lead to increased oversight of the process by the state, as recently happened to the city of Los Angeles. As a result of its failure to comply with Housing Element preparation on time, LA now finds itself into a state-law mandated expedited track to approve all required rezonings within one year. See:

    The timeline, then, must be respected. However, that doesn’t mean that the City is trying to push this forward without real opportunities for public comment. We, as residents of Piedmont, can comment now and when HCD provides its recommendations. We can also comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which the City should be releasing any time now, and at the time of final approval.

    Finally, I think we should remember that the draft Housing Element is NOT amending the Charter, rezoning the Corp Yard, or converting Veterans Hall or the City Council building to low income housing. It is just proposing draft policies and identifying potential sites where the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which represents the City’s fair share of housing growth, could be accommodated. It is a high level policy document. Even if these policies were adopted, subsequent rezonings would be needed, as the draft plan acknowledges. And even if those rezonings occurred, that doesn’t mean that automatically these sites would be developed. Much more process would be needed, with public input and any required environmental review, and actual projects would need to be proposed and approved. So, it is a long process, and there will be many opportunities for public participation as we go along.

    Thanks to PCA and to all of you, readers, for the opportunity to engage in this important conversation. I look forward to more.


    Andrea Ruiz-Esquide

  11. I reviewed and downloaded the Housing Element timeline that Andrea Ruiz-Esquide posted above.

    The footnotes are relevant:
    1) This schedule assumes a robust community engagement strategy with stakeholder and public meetings throughout.

    2) Additionally, this timeline assumes the Housing Elements will be submitted one month before the deadline.

    I also observe that the timeline is for a December 2022 submission to CA, not a May 2023 submission.

    I also observe that timeline allocates 9 months for “Rezoning and associated CEQA”…and that these were supposed to have started BEFORE the “30 day public comment period…”

    I also observe that the timeline allocates 60 days for “Hold adoption public hearings” and 120 days for “”Revise plan if needed”.

    I also observe that 120 days is allocated for “Review by California Housing and Community Development, which is 30 days more than what is allocated for Piedmont Citizens at this stage.

    Here’s what I deduce from the timeline:

    1) Too much “public review” time is allocated towards the end of the process, when it’s much more difficult to make prudent changes. Time should be shifted away from the end of the process used for public review and comment now.

    2) I see adequate time and slack in the timeline to allow at least four months of additional time for public review and comment.

    So let’s follow the instruction in the footnote of the timeline and have “a robust community engagement strategy with stakeholder and public meetings throughout.”

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