Apr 19 2021
WALKING ON WEDNESDAYS

Walking on Wednesdays meets every Wednesday at 10:00 am at Exedra Plaza!

The Recreation Department has developed a new set of protocols designed to keep the Wednesday walkers protected and safe on their walks.
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Individuals wanting to participate in walks will be required to register on the Recreation Department’s CommunityPass site. Only residents of Alameda County will initially be allowed to participate in WOW walks 
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Walkers will be placed in a pod and each pod of walkers will have a different assembly and walk start time. The start times will be at fifteen minute intervals starting at 10:00 am every Wednesday at the Exedra Plaza in the center of Piedmont at Magnolia and Highland Avenues.
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The walkers in each pod will be defined and set until pandemic activity restrictions are removed or modified by Alameda County or the City of Piedmont. Participants will not be allowed to move within pods, or walk with other pods, after the pods have been defined. Additionally, before, during, and after their walks participants will be required to wear masks, not have physical contact with non-family participants, and maintain six feet of separation from non-family member participants.
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If Alameda County’s tier level changes, or conditions in Piedmont change, the protocols and the appropriateness of conducting the Walking on Wednesdays activity will be reevaluated by PRD.
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There are no fees to participate in Walking on Wednesdays activities. Those interested in walking with the group should register, or contact the Piedmont Recreation Department at 510 420-3070.
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Apr 19 2021

 Join the City of Piedmont in a virtual

celebration of the 51st anniversary of Earth Day .

This Thursday, April 22, the City will be holding virtual events featuring a presentation and community discussion about Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan and a discussion of the documentary Rebuilding Paradise with a panel of local fire experts, including the City’s new Fire Chief.

The City will also announce the winners of this year’s Piedmont Climate Challenge. Visit the City’s Earth Day page to find additional information about the events including a list of regional celebrations and resources.

– Lunch and Evening Program –

Click announcement below for sign-ups, details, links, and program schedule:

Earth Day 2021 Notice

Apr 18 2021

 Council Agenda for virtual meeting on April 19, 2021 – 6 pm

PROVIDE INPUT TO THE CITY COUNCIL AT:

citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

READ THE FULL AGENDA AND METHODS OF WATCHING AND PARTICIPATING BY CLICKING BELOW.

4192021 council-agenda

Apr 17 2021

How does the City Council plan to oversee the use of the City owned property at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

While seniors decry the lack of senior programing and voice a need for a Senior Center in Piedmont, private business use has taken priority over public use limiting public use.

Approval of a new lease with the Art Center Board indicates various Council policies are needed:

  • Policy decision authority retained by the Council, the ultimate landlord
  • Guaranteed inclusion rather than exclusion of legitimate non-profit uses of the facility 
  • Council oversight of compliance by all users with local, state, and federal laws including: municipal, state, federal taxes, 501c3 non-profit status, workers compensation, ADA compliance, anti-discrimination, incorporation documentation, valid business licenses and  prohibition of political activities on the premises
  • Accounting of space utilization and ongoing consideration of lost City revenue
  • Evaluation and accountability of liability, risks, and costs to the City by each user and provision of appropriate insurance coverages
  • Semi-annual reports to Council on diversity of users, uses, financial statements, compliance with City policies, and City obligations
  • Staff Annual reports to Council on building structural integrity, safety measures, maintenance, ADA compliance, and interior and exterior upkeep expenditures
  • Required Council approval for all commercial subleases extending over two weeks
  • Council adoption of written conditions required for all sublets 
  • Prohibition of Art Center Board members and advisors to sublet the property for more than two weeks per year
  • Prompt staff reports to Council concerning issues arising from the lease or sublets 
  • Public access to financial records, board meetings, and minutes of Art Center Board
  • Adoption of comprehensive Council policies governing the use and rental of all Piedmont public properties

Piedmonters, owners of 801 Magnolia Avenue, have been awaiting invitations to observe Board meetings and receive regular financial reports from their tenant.  The Piedmont Center for the Arts Board is composed of well-meaning, generous, local residents of Piedmont and Oakland who may have overlooked their obligation to keep Piedmont citizens informed in a transparent manner of the use of this important public asset.

Apr 15 2021

Should the facilities at 801 Magnolia continue to be for the arts commingled with a commercial business?

“City staff has negotiated the lease renewal behind closed doors and there seems to be a majority on Council that couldn’t be bothered with public input on matters other than the lease.  That’s too bad because over the years residents have proposed creative ideas for 801 and were Council to engage in an open conversation with its constituents it would lead to better use of the building.”   Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member submitted to this website.

At its regular meeting on Monday April 19th, the City Council will consider the proposed revised lease renewal for the Piedmont Center for the Arts.  Should this City building be dedicated to community use? The proposal continues to avoid the issue of whether the building should be subleased by the Art Center Board to a private business.    

The City did not seek open public participation on the use and lease of 801 Magnolia.  As noted by concerned citizens, the proposal was fashioned behind closed doors, continuing the practice of exclusion and special favors.

It is unknown if any Council members were involved in voicing their opinions privately to the staff in a “hub and spoke” process forbidden under California’s open meeting laws, the Brown Act.

No written policy on non-arts uses of the public building.

Did the City Council willingly relinquish its responsibility in order to permit undefined Non-Arts Related Rentals?

“Non-Arts Related Rentals (15.1) The amended Lease requires PCA [Piedmont Center for the Arts] to seek the City’s prior written consent in the event it wishes to allow activities to occur at the Leased Premises other than Approved Uses (e.g., non-arts related activities), where PCA would charge user fees for the activities. The previous version of the Lease deemed any preexisting arrangement for user fees as approved, but PCA has now agreed to let go of its long-standing weekly Wednesday rental to a non-arts related user and has designated that time as part of the upfront City allotment.”

Piedmont has been seeking greater equity and inclusion in public decisions and public property use.  The public has a right to participate in decisions about the use of public property.  This proposal excluded open public input.

The proposal does not resolve the public use issue – public over commercial use and Council involvement in subleases.

There appears to be a community desire for musical, dramatic, and artist programs to continue under the leadership of the Piedmont Center for the Arts.  Yet, turning the building into partial commercial use under a stub-lease to the exclusion of public use has been highly criticized.

No publicly agendized meetings, hearings, community outreach or known research has occurred since the preemptive move in November 2020 to approve the now discarded problematic lease renewal with the Piedmont Center for the Arts group.

Many in the community have waited months for City input solicitation, but none came.   Meanwhile, the “City” devised and negotiated terms of a new lease without open public input.

History appears to be repeating a faulty, exclusionary process:

The City Council, if it accepts the process, will be repeating the prior practice of excluding the public and allowing pre-authorization of commercial use of the public building without public hearings or a Council adopted specific policy on non-art commercial use of the building and grounds.

On November 16, 2020, a rushed, surprise lease renewal proposal was promptly approved at a first reading in a  3-2 split vote by the then members of the City Council.  Council members Rood and Cavenaugh voted “No” wanting more information, inclusion, and input prior to approving the free rental proposal and unclear policies.  The new Council will  determine the equity and  appropriateness of the lease and sublease requirements .

Uses other than music, drama, and art programs have not been publicly discussed or considered.  For example, Piedmont seniors who bear the burden of taxes for Piedmont, have sought a facility for seniors programs.  801 Magnolia has sufficient unused space to allow the Art Center group to coexist with seniors programs.  Yet, the proposed lease does not provide for this expanded use.

The current non-art commercial business sublease of the property was privately granted outside of Council view and unknown to all Councilmembers.  The then City Administrator collaborated privately with the commercial business and the Art Center Board to sublet space under the free Art Center lease at 801 Magnolia.

Public uses and priorities have been excluded from use considerations as the City allows continuation of prior commercial practices.

Members of the  City Council when previously asked to consider and approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) under the free Art Center lease for a commercial use were never informed by the City Administrator (“the City”), acting as the landlord, had already approved and signed off on the commercial sublease without public consideration or Council approval.

Outreach to the community was minimal and some neighbors were not aware of the closed door arrangement for a commercial business sublet.  Public use was preempted.  A newspaper notification was absent.

Some City Council members not realizing the commercial use and sublease had already been granted by the City Administrator were told the City Council could only consider matters such as parking and hours of operation, not the sublets commercial use or sublease.  The Council was never provided a copy of the sublease and had no opportunity by policy to examine the terms and appropriateness.

The Art Center management drew concerns from the community by providing the commercial business owner, an Art Center Committee Advisor, a below market rate commercial sublease, while excluding various public users and consuming space for business purposes. The Piedmont Recreation Department regularly referred potential public/community users of the facility to the commercial business owner, who  determined if they could use the facility.

The City staff proposed agreement once more bestows upon the staff (“the City”) rather than the Council, unilateral decision authority on a policy matter – what is good or bad for Piedmont  – with no policy direction from the Council or public input.

Read the staff report and lease language by clicking below:

Final Proposed Art-Center-2021-2nd-Reading-of-Ordinance-758-N.S-–-Approving-an-Amended-and-Restated-Agreement-with-the-Piedmont-Center-for-the-Arts-at-801-Magnolia-Avenue

Certain individuals were excluded, while others were allowed to provide input to the staff on the proposal.  There was no investigation of community-wide priorities or a use policy draft.  The rushed attempt in November 2020 to renew the faulty lease was publicly abandoned for 6 months without explanation.

The Piedmont City Council will – Consider Renewal of the Piedmont Center for the Arts Lease on Monday, April 19th.   Major changes to the lease are noted by the staff as:  • Addition of Rent Payment • Additional Time Designated for City Programming • Improved Early Termination Clause • Addition of an Emergency or Unforeseen Circumstance Clause • Prior Written Consent [by “the City”] for Non-Arts Related Rentals.

Provide input to the City Council at  citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

AGENDA >  Meeting  Participation and Schedule for Monday, April 19, 2021  

Consideration of the lease has been placed last on the agenda.

Art Center 2021-04-09 Council to Consider Piedmont Center for the Arts Lease Renewal on April 19th

Apr 13 2021

City Council Selects David Brannigan as Fire Chief

Following a rigorous recruitment process, the City Council has selected David Brannigan as Piedmont’s next Fire Chief. Mr. Brannigan was chosen unanimously by the Council from a field of over thirty candidates. His formal appointment will be considered at the City Council meeting of April 19, 2021.

This selection follows interviews of highly qualified finalists by a panel of staff and residents and separately by the City Administrator. Following that process, two candidates were then interviewed by the full City Council. The selection of Mr. Brannigan by the City Council was unanimous and all agreed that he will be a great asset to the community and the Piedmont Fire Department.

As Piedmont’s Fire Chief, Brannigan will focus on optimizing fire prevention and emergency response through strategic planning, data-based decision making, and ensuring an equitable distribution of programs and resources throughout the Piedmont community.

As President of the Alameda County Fire Chiefs’ Association, Chief Brannigan has a collaborative relationship with neighboring cities and departments which he says will be critical in planning for the increasing danger of wildfire.

Chief Brannigan, who currently serves as Berkeley’s Fire Chief, is the youngest son of career military parents and a graduate of Villanova University, worked in the software industry and coached high school rowing until he joined the Berkeley Fire Department in 2002.

In 19 years working through the ranks at BFD, Chief Brannigan worked in many field positions, managed the Emergency Medical Services Division and the Office of Emergency Services which provides public disaster preparedness education as well as City-wide disaster planning and training. Under his leadership, the City adopted its first Emergency Operations Plan and expanded public disaster preparedness to previously under-represented vulnerable populations.

Since his appointment in 2018, Chief Brannigan has led the Berkeley Fire Department through multiple unprecedented wildland fire seasons, numerous periods of civil unrest, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Chief Brannigan has extensive experience in the fire service,” said Mayor Teddy Gray King. “I know he will be a tremendous asset to the Piedmont community, the City of Piedmont, and the Fire Department. The fact that Chief Brannigan knows Alameda County so well will be a great asset. Our department works in coordination with other jurisdictions and his experience will make his transition seamless.”

“I believe that Chief Brannigan will serve the City of Piedmont well as Fire Chief,” said City Administrator Sara Lillevand. “His nearly twenty years of local experience in Berkeley and his regional leadership roles will bring a great deal of value to Piedmont. In addition, his experience running a paramedic transport agency similar to Piedmont’s will help keep our emergency medical services running effectively and efficiently.”

“Having served in years past as a volunteer referee in Piedmont youth soccer, being the Fire Chief in Piedmont should be a walk in the park” Brannigan said with a smile. “This community is close to home for my family and me and I look forward to guiding the evolution of the Fire Department to meet the new challenges of emergency response and the needs of the City of Piedmont.” Press Release

 

Fire Chief 2021

Apr 12 2021

Two dozen Piedmont artists will exhibit their Paintings, ceramics, mixed media, sculpture, photography, and more. 

Art Walk Sunday, May 2, 12 to 5 pm

2nd Annual Art Walk to raise awareness, appreciation, and support for the arts in Piedmont. Visit local artists showcasing their work at their homes. 20% of sales go to the Piedmont Arts Fund to directly support art programs in the schools. https://piedmontartsfund.org/piedmont-art-walk-2021

Piedmont is filled with amazing artists. The city has always fostered a love and appreciation for what art offers. The Piedmont Art Walk brings together local artists and the Piedmont community to raise awareness, appreciation, and support for the arts in our community.

Purchases support local artists and art programs in our community. Twenty percent of proceeds are donated to the Piedmont Education Fund to support art in our schools.

For more information, email piedmontartwalk@gmail.com

The Art Walk is working closely with the city in following Alameda County’s COVID-19 guidelines to keep everyone safe.

Please wear masks
Practice social distancing
Please no touching of the art

No refreshments or receptions

Apr 12 2021

 A Look at the California Electrical Grid Evolution  –

I got interested in studying the California electric grid as the result of the passage of Measure UU. The amount of energy consumed by an aquatic facility is significant:  in 2019 the existing pools used 25,396 therms of gas and 110 MWh of electricity a year, equivalent to 854 MWh (1MWh = 1,000 kwh). The new Piedmont aquatic facility is planned to have three times the surface and therefore could need as much as three times more energy in a steady state.

Clearly the new facility ought to minimize greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.  Given the expected lifetime of the future facility, it makes sense to look forward and consider its GHG footprint in the long term in the context of the evolution of the grid, the City Climate Action Plan and the State 2050 decarbonisation goals.

I built a simulation engine for the California grid based on the hourly empirical data available for the year 2019 from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the California Public Utility Commission. It simulates the way the energy available from various in-state and out-of-state sources are fed into the grid to meet demand. Increase in wind and solar supply is assumed to be based on scaling existing farms, therefore resulting in a proportional increase in such hourly energy offered to the grid. Demand is scaled based on the projection of the adoption of electric vehicles, the construction of new all-electric homes, and the conversion to electricity of residential, commercial, and industrial natural gas usage. Each sector has its own specific hourly demand distribution.

Wind and solar are energy sources with very large down and up swings.

  • On the down side in 2019 the wind and solar offering fell below 5% of hourly demand 19% of the time. Such intermittent power needs to be backfilled on a real time basis by dispatchable sources to match demand. Dispatchable energies are generated by power units able to vary output to follow demand, such as natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear and geothermal plants. The utilisation factor of such traditional plants diminishes with intermittent energy use, but the plants cannot be decommissioned because their full power is needed for the several hours a year with high demand and lack of wind and sun.

  • On the up side, wind and solar energy production has to be curtailed whenever its hourly generation exceeds demand (minus a dispatchable energy floor to ensure reliable service). As the proportion of wind and solar power offered to the grid relative to demand increases, the proportion of such refused energy relative to the one offered increases.

The graph below is the result of running scenarios on the simulator corresponding to the projected demand in 2045. Note that the projection does not take into account converting industrial natural gas use (768,188 million cubic feet a year) to electricity, equivalent to 225 TWh a year assuming all industrial usage is for heating (one TWh equals 1,000,000 MWh).

The refused wind and solar energy could be converted to hydrogen through electrolysis rather than curtailed and used either to power hydrogen cars, to generate dispatchable electricity through hydrogen turbines and/or to be mixed with natural gas for distribution through the existing gas network.  See  below: Looking at the various possible evolutions of the mix of energy sources in the grid, I was hoping to calculate the sweet spot on the blue lines in the chart for the ratio of wind and solar power offered relative to demand that would optimize all life cycle costs and service reliability. But I failed because of the large uncertainties on many parameters which would allow me to reach any conclusion that I am biased towards, in particular:

  • Cost of upgrading the natural gas distribution network to handle hydrogen.

  • Life cycle cost of new nuclear and hydrogen dispatchable power plants.

  • Life cycle cost of new solar and wind farms with potentially lower level of utilization than currently accounted for.

  • Life cycle cost of traditional power plants operated at much lower utilisation factor, but still needed to power the grid in the hours with no wind and solar.

  • Energy efficiency in the electricity-hydrogen- electricity life cycle.

  • Life cycle cost of batteries.

Politics will drive where the grid ends up. Currently intermittent energy sources are favored over dispatchable non-fossil power plants as they create jobs all over California rather than in a few places and have a projected low life cycle cost.

With regard to the design of the new aquatic facilities, I would favor a single smaller pool focused on sports rather than recreation because of my belief that frugality is essential to meet the climate challenge. In any case, I know that a competent team focused on sustainability is working on the design of a “green” pool and I am confident that the promises of Measure UU will be achieved to the satisfaction of our community.

Bernard Pech, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 10 2021

Lit Price Signs Proposed for Highland Gas Station

Digital LED-lit and Corner Monument Digital Signs

Planning Commission Consideration of New Signs for Highland Avenue Gas Station – Monday, April 12, 5:30 pm

The application proposes to construct new signage at the gas station including: a new interiorlit monument sign with digital price indicators at the corner of Highland Avenue and Highland Way; a digital LEDlit sign on the gas station canopy; and unlit signage above the convenience store and auto repair garage.

Virtual Meeting by ZOOM Teleconference open to the public.  See agenda for instructions on tuning in. >  Agenda

APPLICABLE GENERAL PLAN POLICIES:

Design and Preservation Policy 27.9: Signs – Require quality, balance, consistency, and high quality materials in the design of signs, including commercial business signs, municipal signs, street signs, and traffic signs. Signs should be compatible with buildings and streetscapes, and should be minimally obtrusive to surrounding uses.

Apr 10 2021

“Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units..”

With the state-mandated relaxation of the rules for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs), the City of Piedmont is producing new housing at a rate not seen since the 1960s.

Since 2015, the City has issued building permits for approximately 73 new homes. In 2019, the Building Division issued 11 building permits for new homes. In 2020, the Building Division issued 24 building permits for new homes and expects to issue an increasing number of building permits in 2021. The vast majority of building permits are for the construction of small detached cottages or the conversion of space inside existing homes to be used as apartments. These small apartments are called ADUs [Accessory Dwelling Units] and JADUs [Junior Accessory Dwelling Units].

The City has finaled the construction of approximately 60 new homes since 2015. However, the City has produced only 12 of the 24 very-low-income affordable housing units required by state law.

The annual progress report can be an assessment tool for the effectiveness of the City’s fair housing policies and programs. In addition, the annual progress report informs the development of the City’s next Housing Element update, scheduled to begin later this month. The first meeting of the Piedmont Housing Advisory Committee is scheduled for April 20, 2021.

Currently, the state-mandated housing goal for Piedmont’s next Housing Element for the 2023 to 2031 time period is 587 housing units. City staff have questioned the accuracy of the state’s methodology for determining the new 587-unit goal. More information about the next Piedmont Housing Element update is at www.PiedmontIsHome.org   < RESIDENTS CAN SHARE OPINIONS. 

Report to be presented to the Piedmont Planning Commission on > Monday, 5:30 pm  > April 12, 2021…….

The City of Piedmont finaled building permits for six new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in 2020, bringing the total of housing units constructed to 55 new units out of a state-mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022. In addition, the City of Piedmont issued new building permits for 21 new ADUs and three new single-family houses, bringing the total number of building permits, issued since 2015, up to 73 permits.

The 2020 annual progress report shows that the City of Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units anticipated by the RHNA, having issued building permits for the construction of approximately 73 new units out of a state mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022. However, with the changes to state legislation, it will be challenging for the City of Piedmont to show that sufficient low and very low income housing is being produced under the 2015-2023 Housing Element’s programs and policies. The preparation of the next Housing Element will require innovative approaches to developing new housing with much higher goals. The next Housing Element will likely require the City to affirmatively plan for the development of approximately 587 new housing units on new sites not considered in the 2015-2023 Housing Element.

Consideration of innovative approaches to creating more and different types of housing is already underway. On April 20, 2021, the Piedmont Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) will hold its first meeting to consider housing and equity issues in Piedmont, including the draft RHNA and planning for the next Housing Element. Also, City staff members are in the process of leading community planning efforts, funded through the SB2 Planning Grant Program.

Through SB2, the City launched the Piedmont Is Home campaign on March 12, 2021 with the launch of a project website (piedmontishome.org) with interactive public engagement tools, such as the online Fair Housing survey and pinnable map, as well as a social media publicity campaign. These tools will be available to members of the Piedmont community, including people working in Piedmont, until April 15, 2021.

In addition, the ad hoc Subcommittee of the Planning Commission on Measure A-1 has been meeting with housing experts, including experts who are also Piedmont residents. The County of Alameda Measure A-1 program has made approximately $2.2 million available for the construction of affordable housing in Piedmont. The Alameda County Measure A-1 program recently granted Piedmont’s request to extend the deadline for the City’s application to use the $2.2 million in funding to a new deadline of December 31, 2022.

Through community engagement such as these early activities, the Piedmont Community will share ideas and problem-solve. Although there are many challenges ahead, Piedmont elected officials, staff and Community members are hard-working, intelligent, and creative. Piedmont will continue to be a leader in the Bay Area for innovation and housing equity and will find new ways to meet the state-mandated goals.

By: Pierce Macdonald-Powell, Senior Planner

Please find attached the City of Piedmont staff report for the Piedmont General Plan’s Housing Element annual progress report for 2020. This item is scheduled for a hearing before the Planning Commission on April 12, 2021.  >AGENDA  <

READ the full report with addresses and charts of new housing units below:

> 2021 PC Report – Annual Housing Progress Report 4-12-2021