Jul 30 2022

Piedmont City Council: 587 New Housing Units Monday, August 1, 2022, 6 pm

Rezoning without prior voter approval, perpetually eliminating scarce park land, leaving unaddressed safety issues, building garages to 24 feet high on the property line, tearing-down historic civic buildings, arbitrarily making site choices for the Piedmont Housing Element……

Will Piedmonters participate?

During traditional vacation time on August 1, 2022, the Piedmont City Council will once more attempt   to find where the required 587 new housing units will be built in Piedmont.

Council member Jennifer Long, after listening to speaker after speaker at the June 20, 2022, Council meeting declare their lack of information on the Housing Element (HE), she without Council objection  asked that all Piedmonters be informed about the Housing Element (HE) proposal in a flyer to explain the proposal and allow for community engagement. As a result of Long’s request, every Piedmont household was sent a postcard announcing the date of HE Council consideration minus a summary or impacts.   Readers are referred on the postcard to a complex Piedmont website “Piedmont is Home”, which  has been widely criticised for having no executive summary or ready access to impact information.

Approximately one million city dollars have been spent attempting to influence Piedmonters of the advisability of zoning changes using online puzzles, banners and remote meetings. Commenters have noted this ill advised attempt by the City to convince Piedmonters of unacceptable choices promoted by consultants, a select committee, city attorney, city staff, and commission has produced modess HE changes to proposals based on public input and concerns and have been met by refusing the City Charter requirement of voter approval to make zoning use changes.

“Piedmont is Home,” the name of the city’s influence campaign insensing  some neighboring communities feeling the slogan is elite, exclusionary, and insensitive at a time when Piedmont has attempted to be more inclusive in governmental actions.

The HE is close to 400 pages long and has within its pages rezoning without prior voter approval, perpetually eliminating scarce park property, leaving unaddressed safety issues, building garages to 24 feet high on the property line, tearing-down historic civic buildings, arbitrarily making site choices, and more.

Residents have circulated a petition readily garnering approximately 800 signatures:  


City notice:

Staff report for August 1 City Council meeting including many comments made to the city below:


Agenda and participation information:


3 Responses to “Piedmont City Council: 587 New Housing Units Monday, August 1, 2022, 6 pm”

  1. The current Housing Element controversy is but one example of a slow evolutionary change in California government. California was long described as a “home rule” state, meaning the state had little or no role in cities’ decision making. Article 11, Section 5 of the state constitution gives charter cities control of municipal affairs. The state only had authority in matters of statewide significance.

    Local cities historically took control of nuisance laws and police powers which together covered land use control and zoning. While Housing Element requirements went back to the 1970s, they generally lacked teeth until recent updates in the law. Something called the Housing Accountability Act, which was strengthened in 2008, took away a city’s authority to deny a conforming housing project if that project had the requisite number of affordable units. Since about 2015, because of rising housing costs, the state legislature has grown extremely assertive with new laws limiting cities’ authority in regard to housing. This assertiveness occurs in spite of the constitutional home rule provision. The legislative usurpation of traditionally local affairs is politically justified by the assertion that housing prices have become a matter of statewide concern, and no longer a municipal affair.
    I recognize that home rule has contributed greatly to the housing shortage. But one size fits all solutions from Sacramento, like RHNA assignments by unelected bureaucrats, are arbitrary and exaggerated. The 587 unit assignment for Piedmont shows no understanding of the fact that this city is built out.

    There has been some pushback. A statewide group named Our Neighborhood Voices is working for a 2024 state initiative to undo recent housing laws. I personally haven’t donated to their efforts, but it is clear that some of the more draconian state efforts that cities are being forced to accept lack buy in from much of the public. A public vote should establish whether we are going in the direction the public desires.

  2. I applaud the City of Piedmont for attempting to lead the municipality towards greater openness and inclusion in the forthcoming Housing Element.

    Piedmont IS home, for those who live there and for those who wish to live there but currently cannot due to the scarcity of housing units. Piedmont’s nearly universal development with single family homes has direct roots in explicitly racist, exclusionary zoning of the past. It must be remedied.

    A great book on this topic is “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by legal scholar Richard Rothstein. Check it out:


  3. Much thanks to Mike Henn, a planning professional, for fleshing out the historical nature of what we are now facing.

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