Sep 24 2022

Piedmont City Council and City Staff need to take Project Management Seriously –

“…, we have exceeded the original $15M estimate by a whopping $7.5M or 50%.” 

While cost overruns on public projects are sadly nothing new, the Pool project’s overrun before construction bids have been received and after scope reductions have been made is hard to fathom and extremely disappointing. 

With that in mind, consider that the City will soon have to face up to the State’s mandate to bring Essential Services Buildings or ESB ( police, fire and city offices ) up to State code requirements.    For comparison, consider that the Pool project is heading toward a $22-23M price tag while the ESB project costs, as compiled by the City Staff in April, 2020, was estimated to be between $80 to 100M – and that was with very preliminary plans and scope.  Without vastly better methods of cost control for the ESB projects, overruns of the scale of the pool project could easily cause a financial crisis for our small town.

A little background.   In the lead up to Measure UU, the Pool project was represented as a $ 15M project with a $4.5M Contingency added to cover latent conditions, change orders, scope changes, etc.  That resulted in the $19.5M Measure UU Bond. The $4.5M Contingency was prudent and warranted given the status of the plans at the time.

Now plans have been fully developed (and modified once to reduce the cost) and yet residents are still being asked to fund an additional $2.6M to complete the project.  There is also a separate special funding plan seeking $500K to install Heat Pumps to make the project all-electric.  So the project is currently about $3M over budget.   If we add the original $4.5M Contingency to the current $3M overage, we have exceeded the original $15M estimate by a whopping $7.5M or 50 %.   That is quite a miss and underscores my main message – that Piedmont must adopt a more rigorous and professional Project Management model.

What is that model?  It is one where the design team, the project management team and the estimating team all have equal weight and input into the project from the very early stages.  The team needs to avoid iterative design exercises – where a design is completed and then estimated and then often redesigned and estimated again.  The design and estimating processes must go forward simultaneously.  This management model is not new.  It is a model used by most major corporations or entities which have a significant building programs.  But these are top down decisions.  The Owner, in our case the City Council, must lead and require this model of Project Management if the City hopes to avoid replicating the Pool experience in the future.

Regarding the Pool project, it is up to the City Council to establish accountability for how the Pool project got to where it is.  I maintain that the issue is poor project management and definitely not hyperinflation as claimed by some.  ( Hyperinflation is defined as monthly inflation of 50% or more.- we are not experiencing that. )  No, our problem, our issue to resolve, is our current method of Project Management.   It is not serving us well.   We should not, cannot, continue to exceed our budgets and then go hat in hand to our residents to bail out our projects.

How Piedmont manages the Pool project moving forward and the ESB projects in the very near future will depend largely on the will of the City Council and City Staff to chart a different path.

Respectfully submitted,

Donald Chandler  AIA, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 22 2022

Questions on the proposed Housing Element were posed by Garrett Keating followed by Answers from the City Planning Department, plus Interpretations.

  1. Is the relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park being considered as part of the Moraga Canyon Site Assessment?

Answer:  City staff considered the broader policy issue of identifying City parkland in the Housing Element sites inventory, starting on page 157 of the Draft Housing Element. Ultimately, staff recommended a Draft Housing Element that did not include parkland in the sites inventory as a primary site. Blair Park was identified as a possible “alternative site” in the text description of the sites inventory. Dracena Park and all City parks were considered for housing sites during the development of the sites inventory in the Draft Housing Element.  On August 1, 2022, the City Council directed staff to include Blair Park in the sites inventory as a primary site as part of a proposed Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study in order to consider all of the interrelated changes that may be necessary to locate housing in Moraga Canyon and improve City facilities at the same time.

The Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study will start with a request for proposals (RFP) or request for qualifications (RFQ). The RFP or RFQ will include a project description for the types of land uses and changes to be considered.

  1. The Housing Element 102 presentation projected 82 units for the Corporation Yard.  Does that assume the Corporation Yard is relocated to Blair Park? If not, can you tell me the acreage that is available for housing in the Corporation Yard and how you arrived at 82 units for the Corporation Yard (50+32)?

Answer: Here is some background about the corporation yard site for the purposes of the Housing Element sites inventory. The corporation yard, alone, is approximately 13.6 acres. It is an approximate number because this land is also steeply sloping in some areas, and it has existing uses and facilities. Of the 13.6 acres, 3.7 acres are expected to yield 132 housing units. 100 of the 132 would be multifamily residential units at approximately 50 dwelling units per acre.  Please see Figure B-1 from the Draft Housing Element below.

On August 1, the City Council directed staff to re-distribute the housing units identified for sites in the civic center area. It is possible that some of the housing units (mainly moderate and above moderate housing units) could be added to the corporation yard site and a new Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study. These units would appear, if necessary, in the next iteration of the Draft Housing Element sites inventory this fall. Also on August 1, the City Council directed staff to include Blair Park in the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study area.

Interpretation:  relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park is currently not being considered in the identification of housing sites in the Housing Element.  The map shows that the Corporation Yard is to be maintained and staff does not indicate that they are considering it for housing.

  1. The City Administrator discussed the income levels required for new residents to be eligible for low-income housing.  The City Administrator presented income data for city/PUSD employees, citing the number of employees that fall into the 4 categories between $69,000 and $150,000. I believe she concluded that 80% of city/PUSD employees are considered low-income.  Is that correct?  The income eligibility levels are based on the income for a family of 4.  Did the city administrator’s presentation account for this – are the employee numbers she presented for employees with families of 4 (or more) or were those incomes for individuals?

Answer: To follow up the email I sent on Monday, I confirmed that the income categories described on slide 10 of the presentation on August 18, 2022, were based on a family of 4 people and that the City and PUSD employees’ incomes were evaluated against this baseline family income. The analysis did not base the employees’ income categories on the size of their actual families.

Interpretation Using individual income levels of city/PUSD employees to characterize those employees’ eligibility for different low-income family housing overstates their eligibility.

  1. The Planning Director presented a new total for ADUs of 142 and a new income distribution of 84/42/16 = 142. He attributed this new distribution to guidance from HCD and ABAG.  Can I obtain a copy of that guidance from the two agencies or can you direct me to a s source for it? 

Answer: Click on the following link to review the ADU projected income levels from ABAG guidance from June 2022:

Interpretation These new ADU allocations help Piedmont in that they count towards the city’s low-income unit target, lessening the need for low-income units elsewhere.  It should be noted the City has very little control over the actual rental or monthly rent of these units.

 Would moving the Corporation Yard to Blair Park make that side of Moraga Avenue more eligible for development.

“It is our understanding that a number of these facilities have significant capital deficiencies and that they are likely to require substantial renovation and/or replacement at some point in the near future. Because these sites are in strategic locations, it will be possible for the City to engage with the private sector to establish partnerships that would lead to the redevelopment of these facilities along with the identified housing programs.  These sites have value that the City can potentially leverage to attract private partners and to move forward on the basis of a public-private partnership that meets the community’s needs for improved facilities, along with the provision of additional housing.” From the City FAQ about Civic sites:

Both sides of Moraga Avenue can accommodate housing but on which side does the City have more leverage to improve facilities and add housing?  Working with developers, the City can certainly add low income housing to Blair Park but there are no facilities on that side of Moraga to improve, with the exception of the park.  The Corporation Yard offers multiple upgrade options. The City intends to expand Coaches Field to a 150 x 300 multi-purpose field and major reconfiguration of the space is needed.  The Corporation Yard itself is outdated – would a developer contribute to its relocation to eastern Blair Park for the right to develop the site?  The Moraga Canyon Specific Plan needs to include this analysis to achieve the best return to the community on the public land that will be converted to housing.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author and the City of Piedmont Planning Department.

READ PROPOSED  HOUSING ELEMENT :>  LWC_Piedmont_HEU_PRD_040822-compiledfix

Sep 19 2022

There are 3 candidates seeking to be elected to 2 seats on the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Directors. Voters can vote for up to 2 of the candidates. The election is on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

The candidates are listed below in alphabetical order along with their photographs and ballot statements.

Shirley Hooi

Shirley Hooi


My education and qualifications are: COVID-related online learning has forced PUSD students to endure an unprecedented period of educational losses and mental stress. Now is a crucial period to help our students get back on track. I believe that parent, student and community member involvement in school board decisions is critical. Their opinions should be considered in the selection of the superintendent, along with issues regarding school curriculum and teacher retention/recruitment. As a product of the Oakland Unified School District, PUSD was regarded as the epitome of an exceptional public school education. Families strived to move to Piedmont to raise their children in a community in which a public school education was comparable to the local private schools. Unfortunately this has changed and PUSD continues to lose students to local private schools every year. My immigrant parents instilled in their children the belief of education and hard work as a path out of poverty. Now as a PUSD parent, it is my role to instill the same beliefs upon my children. If you support this philosophy, now is the time for me to be your voice on the school board. Get Involved:

Ruchi Medhekar

Ruchi Medhekar

Healthcare Executive/Parent

My education and qualifications are: I’m running for school board for four primary reasons: i) to strengthen district academics at all grade levels, ii) to foster curiosity and creative thinking in our students; iii) to strengthen positive relationships between teachers, administrators, and parents; and iv) to provide equitable opportunities that promote students’ emotional well-being. I have benefited tremendously from a strong STEAM education – graduating from MIT with undergraduate degrees in biology and chemical engineering, and a PhD in microbiology from UCLA. Currently, I work for a healthcare IT company, responsible for product and strategy. I grew up in the Bay Area and have lived in Piedmont since 2016. My husband is a local physician, and our daughters are in kindergarten and 4th grade at Beach. I’ve volunteered in many capacities at Beach, for PUSD, and our city: as classroom parent, VP and president of the Beach Parents Organization, on the Tri-School Site Council, Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Committee, and the district’s Budget Advisory Committee. I am on the board of the Piedmont Education Foundation and on the Piedmont Recreation Commission. These opportunities have helped me understand the needs of different stakeholders in the district, which will be invaluable in achieving my goals.

Lindsay Thomasson

Lindsay Thomasson


My education and qualifications are: As the parent of students currently at PMS, Havens, and in preschool, I have held numerous volunteer roles over the past five years, giving me a robust understanding of how our district works, its strengths and weaknesses. I served as Havens’ Parent Club President, on the LCAP Committee, Superintendent Community Advisory Committee, and Wellness Center Committee, to name a few. As a member of PUSD’s Board of Education, my priorities would be to ensure PUSD has the leadership and resources to provide students an excellent, well-rounded academic experience, including the hiring of a superintendent aligned in our goals, and attracting and retaining well-qualified, diverse, engaged educators. This will allow PUSD to truly equip students with the essential critical-thinking, STEAM, and language arts skills needed to succeed at the universities and in the careers of their choosing. I have attended California public schools my entire life, culminating in degrees from Cal Berkeley and UCSD. Piedmont schools are the foundation of our community, yet the past three years have been divisive. To move forward we must engage in meaningful community dialogue, be pragmatic and creative, ensure all stakeholders are engaged in our decision-making processes, and always put students first

The League of Women Voters Piedmont is holding a virtual School Board Candidates’ Forum:

When: Thursday, September 29, 2022 @ 7:00 pm
Where: online via Zoom and YouTube

Register to receive a link to join the live Zoom webinar. This event will also be live-streamed on YouTube and the recording will be available there for future viewing.


Editors’ Note: The League of Women Voters and the Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) are separate community organizations. PCA does not support or oppose candidates for public office.  All candidates and the community are invited to submit information about candidates, including endorser lists to the link listed on the left side of this page.

Sep 19 2022

Bridget Harris, candidate for the Piedmont City Council, voices, “The City Council should carefully consider applying the “Walkable Oriented Development” (“WOD”) approach to all possible locations and present the results to the community for approval before submitting any proposal for the 6th Cycle Housing Element.”

As the City of Piedmont addresses potential locations for additional housing to meet the 6th Cycle Housing Element, the following criteria should be considered:
1.      Maintain the culture and character of the City;
2.      Maintain traffic safety and security in the City;
3.      Minimize the loss of park land and open space;
4.      Offer locations that maximize the efficiency of construction and living.

A study by the American Enterprise Institute suggests that these criteria can best be met by “Walkable Oriented Development” (“WOD”).  This approach focuses development in areas within a ten minute walk of services and infrastructure. WOD focuses on the placement of multi-unit housing close to existing supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants and public transportation.  It allows an increase in density while minimizing the need for the construction of additional infrastructure. WOD also makes it easier and less expensive for low income owners/renters to access necessary services thereby reducing traffic impact .

Piedmont doesn’t have a WOD location in the center of the City nor does it have a WOD area along Moraga Avenue.  It doesn’t make sense to force expensive and inefficient high density development in these locations.  However, Grand Avenue and Park Boulevard could become WOD areas with significantly less expense and disruption to the existing community.  The City Council should carefully consider applying the WOD approach to all possible locations and present the results to the community for approval before submitting any proposal for the 6th Cycle Housing Element.

Bridget Harris, Seaview Avenue

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 18 2022

Dear City Administrator  City Council, and Public Works Director,

While street sweeping is conducted by a Public Works Department professional driving a very expensive street sweeping machine, our city’s street sweeping program is run like an amateur volunteer activity.  Effective street sweeping requires that the machine sweeps up fallen leaves in the gutters, otherwise those leaves wash down into our storm drains and clog them.  Yet, cars routinely park on streets scheduled for sweeping, so the machine just sweeps around them, missing most of the gutter leaves.

Why do cars remain on streets during sweeping days?

The answer is because clearing the streets depends upon an intensive and frustrating volunteer effort.  Local residents have to find out and remember when their street is scheduled for sweeping.  Then, volunteer residents have to tie or tape floppy cardboard “no parking” signs to trees or poles in front of their houses.  Then, they have to call the Public Works department to report and register that they have mounted the temporary signs.  Oh, and the report must be made three full days before the scheduled street sweeping day.  Then, on street sweeping day, the volunteer has to check to see if any cars are parked where the signs were posted, and if so, call the Piedmont Police to report a violation.  Then, this is the frustrating part, they have to wait to see if a cop will come out to ticket the violating parker.  Sometimes a parker has moved his car before a cop comes out.  Often, someone will park in the empty space after the cop has left, causing the volunteer to call the police department again to request street sweeping enforcement.

Whew!  It has taken a lot of time just to describe the process.  Most of our neighbors don’t have time to actually go through this process.  Last year, my wife, Karen, followed the city protocol – to the letter – because a lot of leaves have been accumulating.  She even raked the leaves away from the gutter into the street to help the machine collect them.  In spite of her efforts, four cars parked on the street, ignoring the signs she posted.  This is not the way to run a professional city service, and, the lack of adequate sweeping costs our city extra expense to clean out clogged storm drains.

The solution is not rocket science; it just requires looking at what most other cities do.

(1)    Establish a regular schedule for sweeping each street.

(2)   Post permanent signs saying “No Parking” on those specific dates and times.

(3)   Deploy police to enforce the regularly scheduled “no parking” rules.

(4)  Empower the street sweeping machine operator to report parkers to the police, for ticketing.

This is similar to the way Oakland conducts its street sweeping parking restrictions on Linda, Kingston, and other nearby streets in that city.

My wife and I are not going to continue performing this tedious volunteer work to aid the city’s street sweeping.  Many of our neighbors don’t do so either, because they are not home during sweeping times or because it is too much of a burden.  It is long past time for Piedmont to run its street sweeping operation professionally.

Taxpayers paid a lot of money for the street sweeping machine, and that money is wasted if the machine can’t clean the gutters because cars are parked on sweeping days.  This year, as street sweeping begins, please implement these suggestions and run our City maintenance program professionally.

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 18 2022

The Piedmont City Council starting at 6:30 pm will consider the following at their Monday, September 19, 2022 meeting. Full staff reports are linked below the various noted items.

“In 2021, six small accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Piedmont that received final building permit inspection would likely have rents affordable to residents earning low-income wages. Three ADUs finaled in Piedmont would likely have rents affordable to moderate income residents. Three new ADUs are so small (336 s.f. or less) that they would likely rent at rates affordable to households earning very low incomes, and another two ADUs (337 s.f. and 901 s.f.) were approved under prior City ordinances and have restrictions limiting occupants’ incomes and rents to very low rates for a period of 10 years. Finally, two new ADUs would likely rent at rates above moderate income due to their size and number of bedrooms. There were no single-family residences completed in Piedmont in 2021. For addresses, sizes, and numbers of bedrooms, see the list of completed ADUs for 2021 below.  See full staff report linked above.

“During the calendar year 2021 the City of Piedmont gave final inspection approval to building permits for 16 new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in 2021. In addition to the 16 that received final inspection approval, the City of Piedmont issued building permits for 23 new ADUs. Zero (0) building permits were issued for new single-family homes, bringing the total number of building permits issued during the 2015-2023 term up to 96 permits. The City’s issuance of building permits for new housing units exceeds the overall goal set by the State of California in the RHNA for the 5th Cycle Housing Element by 36 housing units. However, production of very low-income units has lagged, resulting in a total since 2015 of 18 building permits for very low income units, where the RHNA goal is 24. The following staff report provides background and analysis on the annual progress report.” Staff report.

Agenda and participation details:

Sep 18 2022

Street sweeping for the winter begins this Monday, September 19, 2022.

Street sweeping is critical for keeping our storm drains clear during leaf drop season.

Please help by moving cars and any other obstacles off the street on street sweeping days. Take these steps to get ready now:

On your street sweeping day:

  • move your vehicle off the street
  • remove any obstacles blocking access to the curb, including green waste, recycling, and trash cans

Thank you for helping to keep our streets clean and protect our storm drains.

Email alerts
You can now sign up for email reminders about upcoming street sweeping dates.

On weeks that we’re doing street sweeping, we’ll send a reminder to the street sweeping email list on Sunday with the schedule.

This list will be used only to send street sweeping calendar information.
Sep 15 2022

There are 6 candidates seeking election to 3 seats on the Piedmont City Council. Voters can vote for up to 3 of the candidates. The election is on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The candidates are shown below in alphabetical order with their ballot statements copied beside their photographs.

Betsy Andersen

Betsy Smegal Andersen

City Council Member

My education and qualifications are: My priorities on the Piedmont City Council have been community health and safety, financial stability, and strong city-school relations. During my time on Council, we have renovated Hampton Park and the Corey Reich Tennis Center, invested $3.75M for future pension needs, facilitated in-town COVID-19 testing, allocated funds to modernize police and fire dispatch, and maintained a balanced budget. Currently, we are rebuilding the city-owned Piedmont Community Pool, thanks to voter-approved Measure UU. As a lifelong resident, I appreciate the challenges and opportunities as we develop strategies to meet our climate action goals, address the state housing crisis, and replace aging infrastructure. Prior to serving on Council, I volunteered on the Public Safety Committee to promote emergency preparedness and chaired the Recreation Commission with a focus on improving recreational facilities and opportunities for all ages. I attended Piedmont public schools, majored in Public Policy at Duke, earned my law degree from UCLA, and practiced law for nearly two decades. My husband, Robert, and I raised our daughters here, Jane (PHS ’18) and Ellie (PHS ’21). If re-elected, I will continue to listen thoughtfully to all voices as we work together to strengthen the community we call home

Sonny Bostrom-Flemming


Nancy “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming

My education and qualifications are: Once upon a time there was a chubby little rich boy who lived in a mansion. He was driven in a limousine to school where he faced name calling, shoving, pinching. His mother sang, taught him piano & knitted him sweaters. He earned two doctorates. One music, one in theology, trained as a Presbyterian minister, married, had two children, four grandchildren, & millions of stepchildren. You might be one of them. His name was Fred Rogers and he lives in your heart. He never forgot the pain he experienced when he was helpless as we all have been or will be. His sweater is at the Smithsonian. My name is Sunny. I ran before. I promoted cameras at Piedmont’s entrances that keep your family & pets safer. My father taught me to swim when I was six months old. When I went to Katrina to help I realized that African-Americans are at a great & deadly disadvantage as far as swimming education is concerned. We can start a program to promote water safety for all children in America, saving thousands of lives. The issues before us are among the most important in our histor

Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long

Appointed City Council Member

My education and qualifications are: I am running for City Council to serve our beautiful community and maintain its greatness as it grows and evolves. With an impending pool build, critical infrastructure repair (and or replacement) and housing development, Piedmont is poised to be a city with the future in mind. In these unprecedented times, our city needs leaders who understand the interests of our citizens to maintain its excellent schools and outstanding public services such as the police and fire department. My perspective as a current member of the council and my direct engagement with the Piedmont community allow me to get to the essence of what is needed to create and maintain a safe, inclusive, and fiscally-sound community. My experience as a current city council member, attorney and life coach provide me with a solid foundation to tackle the matters that lie ahead for Piedmont. Through my work in various community organizations and with my connections to a variety of community members from sports teams to schools, I have a deep understanding of what makes Piedmont the outstanding community we all love and how to make it evolve into a city we will continue to be proud of in the future.

Bridget Harris

Bridget McInerney Harris

Estate Planning Attorney

My  education and qualifications are: I seek election to the City Council to serve the community with a strong commitment to public safety, fiscal discipline, realistic growth and common sense. I believe we can improve our community’s engagement regarding the increased housing requirement imposed by California by introducing more public forums and clear accessible diagrams of what is being discussed and debated. Importantly, I would advocate that all residents should vote before any park or city land is used for multi-family units within the city of Piedmont. Another top priority is public safety with additional support for the police and fire departments; improving both facilities and funding. I would be honored to put my knowledge, work ethic, and love for Piedmont to work as your City Council member. I earned my B.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, my JD from Gonzaga University, and my Taxation LLM from Georgetown University. I have practiced tax law locally for more than 40 years. We have resided in Piedmont since 1986, raising our four children here. I serve on the Executive Boards of the Piedmont Boy Scouts and Order of Malta Clinic in Oakland, a provider of free medical care to uninsured patients in our community.

Tom Ramsey

Tom Ramsey


My education and qualifications are: Piedmont’s a great town. 25 years ago, my family moved here for the public schools, and now that our daughters graduated PHS, we stayed for the friendships, location, and services delivered by the city. I value safe neighborhoods, and I expect fiscal responsibility. Our town does have work to do. We have a pool to build as construction costs increase. We have public facilities with deferred maintenance issues. We have the difficult task of navigating the state mandates for housing density in a small town already built out and full of beautiful historic homes and civic buildings. I’m an architect, a problem solver and for over 30 years I’ve been building and leading diverse teams around the Bay Area. I’ll leverage my professional experience and my seven years on the planning commission to continue to accommodate growth while preserving Piedmont’s physical character. I’ve served on committees: Seismic Advisory, Design Guidelines, Measure A1 and I’ve worked with Piedmont’s youth through Scouting’s Community Service Crew for over a decade. I’m confident that when our town is fully engaged and works together, we can successfully resolve the issues in front of us; that’s what makes Piedmont a great town.

Jeanne Solnordal

Jeanne Solnordal


My education and qualifications are: I am running for the City Council to bring a much-needed perspective and balance to our beautiful city. Many voices are underrepresented, especially those residents who oppose the plan to add 587 units of affordable housing to Piedmont at a cost of around $850,000 per unit. I am well-educated, having earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 1994 after working for the IRS for 18 years. In 1994 I obtained a Broker’s license and established a property management company which I still run. My legal (landlord/tenant) and tax accounting experience will be very helpful to Piedmont going forward. I will work to prioritize the city’s needs and will be fiscally responsible with your hard earned taxpayer dollars. My family has lived in Piedmont since 2002 and our children attended Piedmont schools. I served as a Girl Scout leader, President of Millennium Parents Club, a school volunteer, and assisted in organizing the Spring Flings and Harvest Festival. Currently, I am serving on the Public Safety Committee. Piedmont is a unique and desirable place to live. Let’s keep it that way.

The League of Women Voters Piedmont is holding a virtual City Council Candidates’ Forum:

When: Thursday, September 22, 2022 @ 7:30 pm
Where: online via Zoom and YouTube

Register to receive a link to join the live Zoom webinar. This event will also be live-streamed on YouTube and the recording will be available there for future viewing.


Editors’ Note: The League of Women Voters and the Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) are separate community organizations. PCA does not support or oppose candidates for public office.  All candidates and the community are invited to submit information about candidates, including endorser lists to the link on left side of this page.

Sep 14 2022

City of Piedmont Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

Thursday, September 15, 2022 6:00 p.m. Via Teleconference

Agenda and Participation >- 2022-09-15 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

1. Review of FY 2021-22 Revenue and Expenditures: Actual vs Budget

FY 2021-22 Highlights

 Revenue exceeded annual budget by $5.9 million

Major variances include:

• Transfer tax receipts totaled $6.0 million,

• $3.2 million HIGHER than budget, but $0.3 million LESS than last year

• Home sales 11% LESS than last year (152 vs 170)

• Average Sales Price increased 6% to $3.0 million

• Recreation revenue up $0.9 million as programs and facilities rentals returned to normal levels versus conservative budget.

• Building Permits and Planning Fees $0.5 million higher than budget

• Mutual Aid \ Strike Team revenue was $0.5 million as we participated in battling the seasons severe wildfires.

• Property taxes exceeded annual budget by $0.3 million

2. Review of Proposed FY 2022-2023 General Fund Transfers

Year End General Fund Transfers • Projecting Ending Balance of General Fund to be $10.1 million.

Staff recommends the following:

• $1.7 million to the Facilities Maintenance Fund.

• $1.0 million to the Equipment Replacement Fund.

After transfers, General Fund will be $7.4 million, or 24% of Expenditures.

READ the full staff report on revenue and expenditures:   >BAFP_Meeting_09-15-2022

Available records of the BAFP Committee have been limited and minutes are not kept and approved by the Committee.  Those interested in the subject matter are advised to participate in the meeting as noted in the Agenda > 2022-09-15 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

“SECTION 6.05 PUBLIC RECORD Minutes for each of such boards and commissions shall be kept as a record of its proceedings and transactions. Each board or commission shall prescribe its own rules and regulations which shall be consistent with this Charter and with City Council ordinances and resolutions, and copies of which shall be kept on file with the City Clerk.” City Charter

READ the full Piedmont City Charter >charter

Committee Roster –

  • Andrew Flynn
  • Cathie Geddeis
  • Deborah Leland
  • Robert McBain
  • Paul Raskin
  • Frank Ryan
  • Vanessa Washington
  • Alice Cho (Alternate)

Council Liaison: Jennifer Cavenaugh | | (415) 215-6933
Staff Liaison: Michael Szczech | | (510) 420-3045

Sep 13 2022

Senate Bill 9 (SB9) can be a Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) Game Changer for Piedmont.

How so and are actions possible now?

The ADU  [Accessory Dwelling Unit] discussion in the Civic Discussion Forum has much of the insight needed to help implement the opportunity of ADUs in Piedmont with respect to political support needed to develop ADUs in Piedmont and help guide the ADU discussion to help save the downtown “look and feel” of Piedmont in general. Here are a few observations that hopefully adds to the expertise here.

First, Piedmont is essentially implementing the ministerial RHNA housing allocation without a revised Master Plan. The community knows that the math allocations do not add up to the values shared for our collective sense of “Piedmont”.  We also know that fellow community members such as teachers, police, community staff cannot afford to live in our city limits. We also know we need more time to articulate a new Master Plan that implements both Piedmont’s values we share, while increasing the supply of affordable housing we need.

Second, our Piedmont housing element acknowledges, “The 2008 General Plan Update is the first major Plan revision in 12 years. It looks ahead to a horizon year of 2025. Most of the work on the Plan update was completed over a 15-month period between April 2007 and July 2008.”; long before anyone had dreamed of RHNA or the need for affordable housing in Piedmont.

Question: Can Piedmont comply with RHNA and timing while committing to the time commitment needed to articulate a new Master Plan with a diverse community, without abandoning value, purpose and civic sense of place of Piedmont?

Let’s look at the RHNA math more closely.

•       The RHNA estimate is generally based on the average number of ADU building permits issued each year, “multiplied by eight (because there are eight years in a housing element cycle)”.
•       If numbers were low in 2019 but were high in 2020, 2021, and 2022, a given city jurisdiction could potentially use 2020-2022 as the baseline.
•       “A slightly larger number may be warranted if a robust, funded, and clear plan to increase production has been put in place.”

Again, the RHNA formula allows Piedmont to multiply our ADU units by a factor of 8 if these permits and the intentions and performance are real.

Suggested Goal for discussion:
How can Piedmont develop ADUs at the rate of 70 ADUs per year, beginning in 2022, for eight years.  But let’s also look at how we achieve the outcome of permitting 250 ADU units in less time and less money than the City’s spend on consulting fees to explain the RHNA math to its citizens.

Proposal for Discussion:
Piedmont’s permitting process is highly unusual. Most cities accept filed permits and terminate them after a very short period of time, say 18 months. However, Piedmont’s permits stay actively open indefinitely and pass on from respective homeowner to homeowner, until built or revised. Permits do not expire in Piedmont.

This unique process can be used to Piedmont’s advantage. This may help demonstrate and meet long-term goals for Piedmont’s ADU permitting count; and show immediate proof to the RHNA that Piedmont’s volume of ADUs complies with Piedmont’s RHNA quota. This approach could demonstrate policy results and buy time for a better Piedmont Master Plan.

If the City of Piedmont combines Piedmont’s unique permitting and permit process with a new “surged effort” to help the City enable low cost access for anyone who is considering building an ADU in the next 10 years, Piedmont can “hit its numbers.”  The City needs a new operations model with a concerted, coordinated, significant, programmatic design, budgeting and mass permitting of high quality ADUs.

Is the trade worth the hassle?  Is the needed change to the City Planning Operations and focus worth the reward to save us from knee jerk “numbers game” and buy Piedmont the time needed for a new Master Plan? Can we do a better job at coordinating the look and feel of Piedmont’s future?

The New RHNA Math may be possible if the City of Piedmont and its Planning Department creates a programmatic approach to design, permitting in a massive coordinated effort to plan and permit ADU’s within Piedmont.  Can the City help guide or retain a prepaid pool of consulting architects and builders to provide easy, low cost planning access to anyone in Piedmont who wants to build an ADU in Piedmont in the next 10 years, without penalty for changing plans?

These systems exist in other venues – is it worth the trade of the hassle here in Piedmont for the results?

If Piedmont homeowners take the time and also have access to simple resources to help develop their respective ADUs, even if it takes 10 years to save, plan and build … or sell the opportunity to the next homeowner …  legitimate RHNA permits counts are possible. The housing opportunity is real.

By this new math, Piedmont needs at a peak initiative 20 residents per week to participate in affordable designs and permits approved per week for the next 4 months to reach 250 Permitted ADU permits.

The RHNA math only demands 70 permits to extrapolate Piedmont’s 8-year trend, but Piedmont can do better. On average, the building California City building departments provide comments to completed ADU applications in 10 days. The design standards are already set in Piedmont. Let’s change that to 30 approvals per every 10 days if the applicants are among the Petition of 1,000 signatures of concerned citizens.

John Cheney, Lincoln Avenue, Piedmont

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