Oct 3 2016

Election: Council Candidate Sunny Bostrom-Fleming

Statement provided by City Council Candidate N. “Sunny”Bostrom-Fleming:

Piedmont is the 3rd richest town in America.  (Google 10 richest towns in America – Wall Street 24/7 USA Today, May 23, 2015).  We have enough wealth to be a small nation, and there are actually nine countries with populations less than ours.  There are probably 50 Piedmont citizens who have the telephone numbers of the U.S. President on speed dial.  As a rich, connected, educated entity we can do amazing things as long as they are ethical and legal.  Few cities in the world can.  We have no excuses for short sightedness or selfishness. Our schools and civic center for the arts, and religious organizations, and scouting programs, are inspiring.  The evidence of our labors is the character of our children.  Last year, over two hundred people of different faiths , age 15 – 18, traveled to Mexico and built 17 houses for needy families.  Last Sunday, a group of 5th graders raised $850.00 by selling lemonade to help end world slavery.

I am an idea person, and my ideas have already led to the enhanced safety of Piedmont.  I have lived in Piedmont most of my life, except while away traveling or at boarding school.  I am the only candidate that attended Piedmont Schools, and I a grateful graduate of Piedmont High School.  My own house was ransacked by a burglar, who stole among other thing, a velum of the gutenberg bible.  I thought about what could have been done to have prevented that.  The crime had increased approximately 40%, and I decided to run for city council to try to have cameras and license plate readers installed.  Although I fell short of the number of votes required to win, my ideas were promptly adopted and implemented by our excellent police force, under the direction of our superb chief of police and crime went down by 30%.  I hope that you will vote for me, so that I can continue to improve the safety of our city.  For example, our sidewalks are extremely hazardous.  All citizens have the right to the expectation of horizontal sidewalks.  Many of our walkways are severely buckled, largely because of the tree roots, some of which are ten inches thick.  These conditions are particularly evident on Seaview Avenue and Highland Avenue.  We all love trees. They add greatly to the beauty of our city, in addition to polishing the air.  But we can no longer risk the health and safety of our citizens.  It is also possible, that by not attending to this problem, the city can have legal repercussions.

The time has come for us to join the 900 other American cities and several nations, including England, that have banned Pitbulls (Google Pitbull attacks), and you will clearly see why.  Last week a Montclair woman was hospitalized after an attack, while gardening on her own property.  A Seaview Avenue woman that was walking a small dog, was terrorized by two large pit bulls, and rescued at the last moment.  These dogs have been shown on Youtube, climbing an eleven foot cyclone fence.  They are escape artist.  30% of the people that they kill and attack are their own owners.  Every two weeks, another person is mauled to death, and thousands others are disfigured with wounds.  A woman’s entire left arm was chewed off at the shoulder last week, and her right arm at the elbow.  A two year old girl was killed on September 24th.  There are two ways to handle this.  Before someone in our Piedmont family is tortured in this way or to grievously handle it afterwards.  The pit bulls have a short life expectancy of 7 to 8 years.  Existing dogs are neutered, microchipped, and tattooed with their name, and DNA swabbed, and must be insured by the owners, and must wear muzzles while outside of their homes.

Crime preventing measures can be divided into two main types.  Things that an individual household can do.  1.  Smart phone enabled recording cameras that will allow homeowners to view their home, with additional cameras facing the street, to assist the police in tracing perpetrators.  2.  Alarm systems connected directly to the police department, instead of to 3rd party commercial monitoring systems.  3.  Police departments themselves – we need to enable our police department to be able to retain license plate reading data, to assist with future cold case investigations.

Last month, a young woman was smashed in the head and face by a brick that was thrown through the wind screen of her police patrol vehicle.  Her injuries are grave.  Last month a 60 year old police officer was shot to death through the front wind screen of his patrol car.  Police cars have no more protection than that of a civilian car.  Recent occurrences would suggest to prudent and sympathetic hearts and minds that the time has come to change this.  I Googled used armored cars.  I was interested in finding out how much mint condition civilian styled armored cars would cost.  They are protected by light weight alloys, which add very little weight to the vehicles, and offer tremendous protection.  They cost between $20,000.00 and $50,000.00 each.  Piedmont has five police cars.  If ours cost $30,000.00, and sold them for $15,000, we would only have to pay a small amount for them to be protected.  The men and women of the Piedmont Police Department are willing to take a bullet for us during the day and while we sleep.  There was a day when body armor was thought of as an extreme degree of protection.  Everyone now sees the value of body armor.  Within 20 years, police cars will have bullet proof glass and armor as the norm.  It’s better to lead and err on the side of caution, as our department has been the leader on adopting city cameras and license plate readers.  We are dealing with city matters which involve $30 Million here, $100 Million there, converting 100% of our police vehicles is something that could possibly be done for $75,000.00, and save the life of one of our valued professionals.

I think that it would be a gracious and seemly act to change the name of the portion of Oakland Ave. that is within Piedmont to Ambassador Stevens Drive, to honor the son of a Piedmont family who represented America, and who lived and died to represent the best of American value, and “truly achieved the honorable.”  As a graduate of Piedmont High School, whose life fulfilled the motto “Achieved the Honorable.”  This would require the replacement of 24 street signs.  It would be wonderful if this could be done .  This would just require the installation or replacement of 24 street names signs.  It would be nice if this could be done, so that both of his parents could see this token of esteem that we have for their son.

One of the greatest things about attending Piedmont High School was experiencing the art on the walls of the high school. The walls were filled with framed reproductions of art from fine museums throughout the world.  There were hundreds of pictures and paintings.  I don’t know what happened to them.  When I was 14, I wrote a small book describing the location of each work of art, the history of the painting, and the history of the artist.  I had the privilege of attending very expensive schools, and I would never say that anything was as superb as the atmosphere of the art filled Piedmont High School.  I would be very anxious to do anything that I could as a member of the city council to promote the arts in the Piedmont School system, starting with grade school.

If you help to place me on the city council, I promise that I will devote all of my energies to funnel your ideas to building an even better Piedmont.

N. “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming, Candidate for Piedmont City Council

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the candidate.  The Piedmont Civic Association does not support or oppose candidates for public office. 

 

Jun 15 2021

Cool Without AC or Reduce Energy Consumption of AC

The warmer it gets, the more we use air conditioning. The more we use air conditioning, the warmer it gets.  In 1990, there were only about 400 million air conditioning units in the world, mostly in the US, today there are over a billion.  Since 2000 every record for peak electricity use in New York City has occurred during a heatwave, as millions of people turn on their air conditioning units.

Some Piedmonters are concerned about their energy-wasting air conditioners, which pump heat outdoors, blasting their neighbors with hot air. As the City shrinks side setbacks, cross-ventilation becomes less available and less effective.  To avoid this costly contributor to their  environmental footprint, they wonder about experimenting with greener alternatives when temperatures rise this summer.

PG&E Advice on Cooling Your House in  Hot Weather :

Keep shades, drapes, and curtains drawn

Ventilate your attic.

Your attic can reach temperatures exceeding 140 degrees.

Plant shade trees.

Shading your house with trees can make a surprising difference. Deciduous trees planted on the east, south or west side of a house, the sunniest sides, can reduce your cooling load in hot summer months by up to 30%.

Planting shrubs next to your home can also help. Vines or trellises placed directly on a west wall can lower the wall’s surface temperature by as much as 40°, making it easier to keep your home cool inside. Ground covers and lawns can also help keep your home naturally cool. A lawn is 10-15° cooler than bare ground.

Install shade devices.

Shade screens and tints on windows and glass doors, as well as window and wall awnings, are very effective forms of passive cooling. Shading windows and walls on the sunny sides of your home can cut your cooling needs considerably.

Ventilate when it’s cool outside.

Opening windows when it’s cooler outside than inside can often cool your home down into the 60’s with simple ventilation. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.

Consider a whole-house fan.

Because some nights are cool, but have no breeze, you may benefit from using a whole-house fan to force cool air through your home.

If you use air conditioning:

Set it at 78°. You can cut your system’s operating costs by 20% or more simply by setting your thermostat higher. If everyone did this, the U.S. could save the equivalent of 190,000 barrels of oil per day.         Read all PG&E Advice

Air Conditioners Are not Green, Compromising Piedmont’s Stated Climate Action Goals

Window air conditioning units and through-wall sleeve air conditioning units typically leak large amounts of energy. Central air or ductless mini-split systems are significantly more efficient. In addition, their  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emit pollutants that put holes in the ozone. AC systems require enormous amounts of energy to operate.

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan and Goals do not require elimination of AC when an existing home is sold or even prohibit AC in new construction.  The townhomes developed on Linda Avenue were designed with cross ventilation for natural summer cooling.  However, the City insisted they be equipped for air conditioning instead.  Some older Piedmont homes have lost their access to natural cross-ventilation, as infill building has reduced air flow.

Shaded Public and Private Open Space Offers Natural Cooling

Piedmont loses open space every year as construction project gobble side setbacks and diminish backyards.  Preserving Piedmont’s remaining vacant land as private open space or public parkland not only would bolster quality of life, protect environmental assets and but offer citizens an alternative to energy draining air conditioning.  

Advice on Treatment Overheated Individuals

The combination of  overheating and dehydration reduces the body’s ability to cool itself.  Wired magazine recommends the Wilderness first responder treatment, “sip cool water, and nibble a salty snack.”

May 25 2021

Eva Phalen: New Recreation Supervisor

The Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD) is pleased to announce the selection of Eva Phalen as Piedmont’s newest recreation supervisor.

Ms. Phalen was selected through a rigorous interview process from a group of thirty-eight applicants. Ms. Phalen will join the department on June 7th.

Ms. Phalen is currently employed as the Recreation Manager at the City of Albany, an organization at which she has held several other positions, including Recreation Supervisor, since being hired in 2014.

Prior to her work in Albany, she served with the City of Orinda and Sunny Hills Services, now known as Side By Side.

In her position as Recreation Supervisor with PRD, Ms. Phalen will spend the majority of her time managing the City’s general recreation programs, including classes, facilities, special events, adult/senior programs, and inclusive programs. She will also help supervise PRD’s preschool programs.

“I am so thrilled to join the Piedmont Recreation Department team and work directly with the Piedmont community, said Ms. Phalen. “Living just a stone’s throw away in the Oakland Hills, my family and I utilize Piedmont’s gorgeous parks on a weekly basis. My kids have participated in various PRD camps and classes over the years. We’ve participated in the annual Turkey Trot and I actually grew up taking swim lessons in the Piedmont Community Pool. I’m continually impressed by Piedmont’s robust offerings and I am excited to bring my experience, creativity and passion for building community and family-focused programs to the city.”

“I am looking forward to working with Eva and thrilled to have her join the Piedmont Recreation Department,” said Recreation Director Chelle Putzer.” She brings a wealth of recreation experience to our PRD team and will be able to hit the ground running on her first day in Piedmont!”

Sep 16 2020

Piedmont City Council Candidates Answer Questions

Voters will select two from four Piedmont City Council candidates.

City Council candidates were asked to respond to the following questions in 60 words or less by September 15. 

1. Which issue listed below is your highest priority and why? Services,  Recreation,   Transparency,   Planning, Equality, Infrastructure,  Administration, Environment,  Safety,  Funding,   Community Involvement

2. What are the most successful areas of Piedmont governance? 

3. What would you endeavor to improve if elected to the City Council?

Responses are listed in the order received.  Responses were not edited.

Connie Herrick –  City Council Candidate

(1.) Safety is always the highest priority for our citizens. Every City decision always factors in the safety of our person, homes, streets and schools. Our City is chartered to ensure our emergency preparedness and provide critical support services. Safety has to come first for the other listed priorities to function. We decide the ranking of other priorities through our vote.

(2.) It is impressive what we accomplish with a volunteer City Council and a small City staff. We are proactive, strategic in our vision and able to execute on complex issues. Our citizens receive a good return on their tax dollars and enjoy a high quality of life due to excellent City services. And we interface well with our neighboring cities. 

(3.) I would like to see more visually based ways of communicating to support public outreach about our City issues. An easy-to-understand chart with pros and cons or short 2 minute videos are more effective than reading through voluminous reports and meeting minutes. Offering our citizens interesting, visually based, executive level summaries will get them more engaged and better informed.     Connie Herrick

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Conna McCarthy – City Council Candidate

(1.) Public Safety services, including evaluation of existing infrastructure and emergency preparedness, are a primary concern. We rely on first responders to arrive quickly when we need them. Our emergency communications technology must meet new state and federal standards. In the event of an emergency, we need safe operating facilities. When a major seismic event occurs, we want to be ready.

(2.) Piedmont residents value Piedmont’s strong fiscal management. We must continue to exercise fiscal responsibility to maintain high quality services. We must continue long term financial planning that ensures current services are being paid for in the current year, and that funds for known future obligations, including retirement commitments and facilities maintenance are set aside on a current basis.

(3.) We are a built-out city. Space will always be a premium. City-school collaborations are necessary. For a community with limited recreational facilities, parks and open spaces we are at our best when we collaborate to bring services and programs to our residents. I favor city-school partnerships where feasible and when the partnership improves the quality of life for Piedmont residents.    Conna McCarthy 

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Jennifer Cavenaugh – City Council Candidate

(1.) As a City Council Member for the last four years, I have made it my priority to balance fiscal responsibility with a commitment to improving Piedmont’s aging infrastructure and enhancing public services.  We are a small city with limited resources and staff, and it is essential that we budget conservatively and address past unfunded liabilities, including our streets and sidewalks, parks, and recreation facilities. Essential long-term investments will ensure a beautiful, sustainable city for our kids and grandkids.

(2.) The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee has been a tremendous asset. I found my colleagues on the committee to be smart, hard-working, dedicated financial professionals who offer comprehensive, detailed analysis and recommendations. The work of this committee has provided independent budget oversight, transparency and in-depth understanding of city finances; by implementing recommendations of this committee the city consistently strengthens its financial position.

(3.) As a Council Member, I intend to leverage my deep community connections to engage and promote diverse perspectives, develop mutually beneficial solutions, and increase equity and inclusiveness. I am actively involved with many community organizations to hear their perspectives and support their efforts including Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign, PUSD School Board, Piedmont Connect, League of Women Voters, Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, Piedmont Community Service Crew, Appreciating Diversity Film Series, and many others.      Jennifer Cavenaugh

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Aug 7 2020

Candidates for Piedmont City Council and School Board

NOVEMBER 3, 2020 ELECTION

City Council Candidates – Elect 2

N. “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming *

Jennifer Cavenaugh

Connie Herrick

Conna McCarthy

*Updated 8/10/2020

…………..

School Board Candidates – Elect 3

Veronica Anderson Thigpen

Hilary Cooper

Jason Kelley

Cory Smegal

Hari Titan

Click below for further details on candidates:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=16885057

Jul 26 2020

Piedmont Ballot: Pool Bond Measure, Increased Real Property Transfer Tax, 2 Seats on the City Council and 3 Seats on the Board of Education

Interested in running for the School Board or the City Council?

It’s Time to File!

On November 3, 2020 Piedmont voters will support or reject the $19 million Municipal Pool Bond Measure, increase the Real Property Transfer Tax when selling their homes,  and choose the future City Council and School Board.

Piedmont voters who are interested in seeking election or reelection to public office on the City Council or School Board must file their candidacy documents by August 7.  City Clerk John Tulloch must be contacted to learn specifically what documents must be completed.  Contact # 510/420-3040

 Nomination Filing Period ends August 7, 2020

___________

Real Property Transfer Tax Increase and Pool Bond Measure for New Aquatics Center

Piedmonters wanting to file an argument for or against the Real Property Transfer Tax Increase or the Municipal Aquatics Center bond measure must meet the deadlines by contacting the City Clerk. 

Contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040 for updated information, dates, and specific qualifications to file an argument for or against the ballot measures.

Deadline for Direct Arguments on Measures – August 14, 2020 ?

 Deadline for Rebuttal Arguments on Measures – August 21, 2020 ?

Two seats on the City Council  will be elected on November 3.   Mayor Robert McBain having served two 4 year terms is not eligible to seek re-election.   Council member Jen Cavenaugh has taken out papers for another 4 year term.  Conna McCarthy has filed her City Council candidacy papers. Connie Herrick and  N.”Sunny” Rhodes Bostrom-Fleming have taken out candidate papers.

Three positions on the School Board will be chosen. Two School Board members, Andrea Swenson and Sarah Pearson, will  have served two 4 year terms and are not eligible to seek re-election. A third School Board member, Cory Smegal, is eligible to be re-elected to another 4 year term.  Those who have taken out papers as of this date for the School Board are: Veronica Anderson, Hilary Cooper, Jason Kelley, Hari Titan, Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak, and N. “Sunny” Rhodes Bostrom-Fleming.

Sunny Bostrom-Fleming, who has taken out papers for both the School Board and the City Council, will only be allowed to file papers for one of the positions.

For the most updated information on candidates, click below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=16885057

_________

Staff report: Approval of a Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

SECTION 7. There shall be no filing fee for candidates for office in the General Municipal Election.

SECTION 8. The candidates’ statements shall be limited to a maximum of 200 words.

SECTION 10. The nominations for the General Municipal Election are open and close no later than 5:00 pm on August 7, 2020, unless extended pursuant to Elections Code Section 10225.

For all election related questions, contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Oct 19 2019

Paving Costs, Appeal of Planning Commission’s Denial of Accessory Unit, City Council Monday, October 21

The Piedmont City Council will meet on Monday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. The meeting will be broadcast live on the City website and Cable Channel 27.  Recordings of the meetings are available on the City website.

Ceremonial Items

Presentation of Proclamation Regarding Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Presentation of Proclamation Regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Regular Agenda

  1. Approval of Council Meeting Minutes for 09/03/19 and 09/16/19
  2. PUBLIC HEARING Regarding an Appeal of the Planning Commission’s Decision to Deny an Application for a Design Review Permit for an Accessory Structure at 89 Maxwelton Road (Read staff report)   Staff recommends that the Council overrule the Planning Commission’s denial of a design review permit for a new accessory unit.
  3. Consideration of a Resolution Authorizing the City Administrator to Sign an Agreement with East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for Cost Sharing Associated with Pavement Restoration on Sunnyside, Olive, and Oakland Avenues   (Read staff report.)  The City’s maximum share includes the base amount of $152,251, as well as a contingency amount of an additional 10% to cover any potential unanticipated overruns, bringing the total maximum amount to $167,476.  The paving is in connection with the pipeline replacement project.  EBMUD is scheduled to begin this project on 10/21/19 at 7am on Sunnyside, Oakland and Olive Ave.
Apr 22 2019

OPINION: A Per Square Foot of Building Tax For Our Schools

School Board Discussion Wednesday, April 24 of Building Square Footage Tax Basis

Recently I published a letter advocating a progressive per square foot of building tax, that no owner pay more than $4,999, unimproved lots would be taxed at $1099, a SSI/SSIW exemption be included, a 2% annual cost adjustment and an optional income based senior exemption with at most a 2% revenue reduction. Locally the per square foot of building tax is used to support Alameda, Berkeley Emeryville, and West Contra Costa County Schools.

Mr. Raushenbush published a letter opposing my square foot building tax proposal; I first presented this to our School Board Jan. 9. The per square foot of building tax is a more equitable progressive tax than the previous five tier parcel with commercial differentiations levy that Piedmont used for 27 years. Mr Raushenbush also states that a per square foot of building tax is not legally viable despite it being in common use in other School Districts.

This Wednesday April 24, 2019 at 7 p.m. Piedmont School District meeting will include the results of a survey concerning a per square foot of building tax and the existing flat rate parcel tax. The final ballot result at p.15 of the report shows definite/probable yes at 73% for the per square foot and 62% for the flat rate. 67% is needed to pass.

Rick Raushenbush was Chair of the School Board at the Dec. 11, 2012 emergency meeting when the existing 27 year partially progressive tax was replaced with current Measure A flat rate tax. Chairman Raushenbush stated the 27 year tax “had a variety of progressivity to it.” (Dec. 12, 2012 video at 14:40) http://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=851

The result of going from the previous tax with “progressivity” in 2012 to a flat rate tax resulted in the following. Of the 3,921 School tax parcels in Piedmont, 76% of Piedmont homes are on parcels under 10,000 square feet (“sf”). The 2012 flat rate “emergency” tax raised their previous $1,989 and $2,260 taxes to $2,406, a 6% to 21% increase. Taxes on undeveloped parcels, another 2%+ of taxpayers, went from $1,009 to $2,406, a 238% increase. Today the $2,406 tax is $2,656. At the same time a small percentage of taxpayers received significant reductions. Owners of large parcels, commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings saw reductions of 7% to 80%. Some large commercial buildings previously taxed at $5,052 went to $2,406, a 52% decrease. Lots of 20,000 sf went from $3,378 to $2,406, a 29% decrease. A multi-unit building went from $11,907 to $2,406, an 80% decrease.

The 2012 Board expressed regret at creating the above inequities. When I presented my square foot progressive tax idea to the School Board earlier this year, the regret was again sincerely expressed. The School Board wants to adequately fund our schools and in the most equitable manner possible. The history of other School Districts and their use of a per square foot of building tax:

I. ALAMEDA’s June 2008 tax Measure H imposed different tax rates on residential and commercial property. Alameda was sued by Borikas (as the case is commonly identified) and Alameda prevailed in Superior Court. Borikas plaintiffs appealed and the Appeals court reversed in favor of Borikas Dec. 2012.

March 2011 Alameda passed Measure A which abandoned the previous Measure H tax and imposed 32 cents “per building square foot.” Measure A also has an annual $7,999 cap and unimproved lots at $299. The same Boricas plaintiffs sued (Nelco, Inc. v. Alameda Unified School District, Alameda County Superior Court, #RG 08-405984 Measure A) to invalidate Measure A. Sep. 2011 Judge Frank Roesch, Alameda County Superior Court . . . rejected all the Plaintiff’s claims and dismissed the petition in the case (Alameda Patch Sep. 13. 2011). The per square foot tax of Measure A remained in place.

Nov 2016 Alameda passed Measure B1 which duplicated and continued the “per square foot of building” tax of Measure A. Alameda was then sued on the same issues by the same Nelco plaintiffs that had opposed Measure A in 2011. In Feb 2018 Alameda prevailed in Superior Court. See May 4, 2018: http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/news/view?d=x&id=1525422895157

Since 2011 Alameda School District has used and continues to use the per square foot building tax. Alameda has been sued twice specifically on it’s per square foot tax. Both times Alameda Schools prevailed in court and uses the per square foot of building tax since 2011.

II. EMERYVILLE schools (“Emery”) passed a per square foot of building tax in July 2007. When considering a renewal of its previous 15 cent per square foot building tax, Emery relied on the legal opinion of two attorneys from Fagan, Friedman, Fulfrost, LLP and the opinion of a third legal expert on school tax challenges from Lozano, Smith. A fourth attorney that specializes in litigating educations issues, John Affeldt, was on the Emery board at the time. Measure K passed Nov. 2014 and imposes “fifteen cents of building area per square foot” for 20 years. In summary since 2007 the per square foot of building tax has been and is used in Emeryville unchallenged. Piedmont uses the same legal firm of Fagan, Friedman, Fulfrost, and LLP

III. BERKELEY passed School tax Measure H Nov 2010 which imposed a per square foot of building tax at 6.31 cents and 9.46 cents respectively on residential and commercial buildings. Nov 2016 Berkeley passed Measure E1 which imposed 37 cents per square foot of tax on “all taxable buildings.” Likely Measure E1 eliminated the residential commercial differentiation because of Borikas. Berkeley Schools use the per square foot building tax and has not been challenged.

IV. WEST CONTRA COSTA COUNTY started using per square foot of building tax in 2004; the tax imposed 7.2 cents per square foot of building and $7.20 on unimproved property. An identical tax was renewed 2008 with Measure D and again Nov 2012 with Measure G. 1/4/2013 plaintiffs Bypass 93 Properties & American Standard properties represented by David Brilliant, the Borikas attorney, sued to invalidate Measure G ( Contra Costa 1/4/2013 MSC13-00024). The same plaintiffs also sued the San Leandro School District. The result of the litigation against West Contra Cost is that in 2016 West Contra Costa passed Measure T which retained the 7.2 cents per building square foot and eliminated the unimproved property differentiation. Unchallenged Measure T renewed to 2024 and West Contra Costa continues to use a per square foot building tax. (Legislation AB2954 passed Sep 2018 now allows a different unimproved property rate. The plain language is readily understandable as I am not an attorney.)

Dannis, Woliver & Kelley, a noted Law Firm that drafts and administers Parcel taxes, commented on Donlinger, a Jan. 2019 appeals court decision concerning per square foot of building tax: “Last week (Jan 2019), a California appellant court validated a local agency’s special tax calculated on the basis of square footage of improved structures. In Donlinger . . . the statute involved mirrors the statutory authority used by school and community college district to levy parcel taxes, including the requirements that the tax be “uniform” . . . The court concluded: “We do not read the statute to require a uniform effect or outcome, but rather uniform application.””  https://www.dwkesq.com/per-square-foot-parcel-taxes-upheld-by-court-of-appeal/

Mr. Raushenbush states the per square foot of building tax is legally suspect. The per square foot of building school tax is used in Alameda which prevailed in 2011 and 2018 to legal challenges specific to its per square foot tax. There have been no legal challenges to per square foot school taxes in Berkeley and Emeryville. West Contra Costa after litigation uses a per square foot of building tax. Mr. Raushenbush raised the issue of litigation cost for Piedmont schools; all School Districts take litigation costs as seriously as Piedmont, they will not invite litigation and the per square foot tax is now unexceptional. There is no case of a per square foot building school tax being litigated which forced the School District to abandon the per square foot tax.

The groups of Plaintiffs in the various actions against Alameda Schools are large commercial property owners. In Piedmont a litigant would most likely be a homeowner who would then likely suffer a significant social stigma. With a reasonable cap in place, I suggest $4,999, the very few commercial owners that previously paid $5,052 before 2013 would have no incentive to sue. While virtually anything can be contested with a financially willing client, the likelihood of a per square foot of building School tax being challenged by a Piedmont resident is unthinkable.

Mr. Raushenbush states that unimproved lots should be taxed the same as homes “as the Piedmont schools make those parcels valuable.” A few examples of the 100+ unimproved lots currently taxed at our $2,656 flat rate:

Assessor’s Number       Lot Size             Tax Value                    Address
11-855-28                              nine sf                     $729                           558 Crofton
11-878-40                             21 sf                         $1,056                        1110 Portal
11-882-56                            38 sf                         $1,557                         1370 Sunnyhills
48C-7180-23                       200 sf                        $729                           5474 La Salle

There are at least 40 unimproved lots smaller than 1,000 sf. The owner/taxpayers of these low value unbuildable lots will never enjoy the increase in value created by our schools. Unimproved parcels and especially those that can never be improved should not be taxed at the same flat rate as a home.

Mr. Raushenbush misstates my income based senior exemption proposal by writing that a senior exemption will “impose a significant burden on remaining taxpayers.” A “significant burden” would be concerning to taxpayers if it were true, however Mr. Raushenbush omits key parts of my letter. I wrote: “The tax may (underline added) include an income based senior exemption at a rate to be determined and would not cost the District more than 2% of what the total tax revenue would be without this exemption.” My specific proposal is if the exemption is included, the Board can set qualifying income levels so that the total revenue reduction is no more than 2% or less; or not have any senior exemption which is traditional in Piedmont. Mr. Raushenbush’s concern of a senior exemption “significant burden” is baseless.

While no tax can be uniformly fair to all taxpayers, a per square foot of building tax is the best option Piedmont has to continue providing adequate revenue for our schools in the most equitable manner available. The final ballot results of the Tax Survey P.15 shows definite/probable yes at 73% for the per square foot and 62% for the flat rate. 67% is needed to pass.

I ask the Board to put a square foot of building tax before voters this year.

Rick Schiller Piedmont resident

April 22, 2019

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
Feb 27 2019

City Surveillance Camera Installations: Community Meeting March 5, 7 pm

The public is invited to the Veterans’ Hall on Tuesday, March 5th at 7 p.m.

Surveillance Camera Locations: the intersections of: Grand and Wildwood Avenues; Oakland and Grand Avenues; Grand and Rose Avenues; Sunnyside and Olive Avenues; Trestle Glen Road and Cavanaugh Court; as well as Kingston and Monte Cresta Avenues. These locations may change.

The City of Piedmont is in the process of evaluating and considering a Public Safety Camera program. The evaluation has taken the form of a pilot which has been in process since September of 2017. While the Piedmont Police Department has experienced successes with the pilot, the City is seeking to engage the public to provide information on a proposed program, seek input and answer questions the public may have.

The Police Department is partnering with the Public Safety Committee to aid with public outreach on this important topic. The City has created a web page at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/public-safe… to provide the public with information including frequently asked questions, important dates for public meetings and the police department’s existing Public Safety Camera Policy. Again, no decision of whether to approve the Public Safety Camera Program has been made. The City of Piedmont, Piedmont Police Department and Public Safety Committee thanks you for your time and interest.

A community meeting will be held at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 5th in the Veterans’ Hall at 401 Highland Avenue. Members of the Community are invited to come and hear a presentation from the Police Chief Jeremy Bowers, ask questions, and provide feedback on the possibility of the City of Piedmont undertaking this program.

Read the City of Piedmont’s Public Safety Camera Frequently Asked Questions document here.

Community members with question about the proposal are encouraged to contact Police Chief Jeremy Bowers at jbowers@piedmont.ca.gov or via telephone at (510) 420-3010.

Feb 4 2019

Piedmont Police Officer in Schools

City Council Consideration of Police Officer in the Piedmont schools.

Draft minutes of the January 7, 2019 City Council meeting to be considered Monday, February 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. :

“Police School Resource City Administrator Paul Benoit indicated that the Police Department had applied Position for and received a grant from the State of California to possibly fund a School Resource Officer (SRO) position. He indicated that the application timeline for the grant did not allow for City Council or the Board of Education to discuss the possibility of a SRO prior to the application. Mr. Benoit recognized that the application for and receipt of the grant was ahead of preferred sequence of events.

“Mr. Benoit stated Chief Bowers and Piedmont  Unified School District Superintendent Booker would conduct public outreach and return to the City Council and Board of Education for determination of whether or not to accept the grant and establish the SRO position.

“Mr. Benoit indicated that the grant offered a grant opportunity and, should the Board of Education and City Council choose to move forward, a discussion would need to take place before the grant funding expired as to whether the program would continue and how it would be funded.

“Chief Bowers summarized his and Superintendent Booker’s discussions for a SRO and discussed existing programs offered to students by the Police Department. He indicated that a reliable and consistent presence in the schools is necessary to foster true and trusting relationships between students and the Police Department. He informed the Council of the duties and effectiveness of an SRO.

 PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker stressed the importance of assigning appropriate tasks to the SRO, and the dangers of involving a SRO with school discipline. He discussed the importance of hiring the correct person for the position, ensuring that they have core values of service and education. He provided statistics on the need for caring adults on campus and a stronger, positive connection between students and officers.

“Chief Bowers explained the grant funds, which would cover the first three years, and discussed the proposed community engagement. Chief Bowers indicated that he and Superintendent Booker would visit schools as well as parent and community groups to discuss and hear feedback on the proposed program. They would then return to the Board of Education and City Council, which will decide whether to establish the program and accept the grant.

“Public Testimony was received from: Sunny Bostrom-Fleming indicated support for an SRO and commended Chief Bowers for applying for the grant.

“Tonda Case, Co-President of Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, questioned whether a SRO was an appropriate solution for Piedmont. She suggested increased public engagement and outreach to determine if a SRO is necessary.

“The Council acknowledged the work of the Police Department in applying for the grant. They commended the relationship between the City and the PUSD. The Council agreed with the proposed outreach program, making suggestions as to how outreach could be most effectively undertaken. The Council requested the Board of Education make a decision on whether it wanted to pursue the program before the matter is brought back to the Council for consideration. (0785, 0765)”

Communicate with the City Council:

Robert McBain, Mayorrmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov
Teddy Gray King, Vice Mayortking@piedmont.ca.gov
Jennifer Cavenaughjcavenaugh@piedmont.ca.gov
Tim Roodtrood@piedmont.ca.gov
Betsy Smegal Andersenbandersen@piedmont.ca.gov

 To send comments to  all Councilmembers > citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us. To send via U.S. Mail, use the following address: City Council, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Communicate with the School Board:

Amal Smith, President, amalsmith@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Cory Smegal, Vice President, csmegal@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Andrea Swenson, aswenson@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Sarah Pearson, spearson@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Megan Pillsbury, mpillsbury@piedmont.k12.ca.us