May 19 2022

Unlike other City meetings when broadcasted videos are produced, home/remote viewers will not be able to observe the City Council and Staff as important policy and program issues are considered at the Saturday Budget Session. Interested persons must be physically present to observe the meeting.

Taxes, fees, policies, programs, and priorities involving the City budget are to be presented by staff and considered by the Council during the important Council Budget Session Saturday, May 21.

On Saturday May 21, 2022, Council Budget Session

9:00 am Emergency Operations Center in the Police Department on Highland Avenue

With transparency, equity, and inclusion touted as goals of the Piedmont City Council, accessibility to certain public meetings, including this Budget Session, continue to be difficult or impossible for many individuals. If you can not physically attend the Budget meeting, you will not be able to observe the proceedings remotely via Zoom, computers, or cable television.

During the height of the COVID pandemic, residents had the “luxury”of being able to remotely watch the Council make decisions without being physically present at a meeting.  Some of the “Zoom” meetings, although broadcast during the time of the meeting, were not preserved as a cost cutting measure.   Presentations and considerations were not preserved reducing transparency, accessibility, and accountability.

The 2022-23 Annual Piedmont Budget Session will once more follow the long -held Piedmont Council tradition and not be broadcast for remote viewing. The Saturday Council Budget Session will be moved from City Hall where cameras are installed and videos are regularly made of the proceedings.  The Budget meeting will take place in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Highland Avenue where broadcasting is not done leaving home/remote viewers unable to observe the proceedings.

Ironically, during the month of May, in a prior list of  public meetings, there were 12 public City meetings.  See link below. These 12 different City meetings, Regular Council, Commission, and Committee meetings, are stated to be held either “Virtually or Hybrid”, consequently using City broadcast facilities.  Broadcasting meetings allows  interested persons to watch and observe the Council away from the meetings. The Council Budget Session is the only full Council meeting on the list to require observers physical presence.   

Under consideration and discussion at the Budget Session are:

  • How should the City Council spend City resources?

  • How much should residents be taxed or charged for sewers, municipal services, fees, use of City facilities, priorities,  programs and monetary considerations, such as broadcasting City meetings and preserving public records?

Concerns have been expressed in the past to the City Council regarding broadcasting meetings to encourage greater public access to governance, but the Council’s tradition of not broadcasting meetings remains, thus missing an opportunity to increase access, accountability, transparency, equity, and inclusion.

2022-05 Notice of Regular Meetings – Revised

> City of Piedmont 2022-2023 Budget

Agenda > City Council Agenda 2022-05-21 (Special)

  • 1. Overview of the Proposed FY 2022-23 Budget
  • 2. Review of Departmental Budgets for FY 2022-23
  • a. Police
  • b. Public Works
  • c. Planning & Building
  • d. Recreation
  • e. Fire
  • f. Administration & KCOM
  • g. Non-Departmental and Other Funds Budgets

City notice with links below:

BUDGET WORK SESSION THIS SATURDAY

The Piedmont City Council will consider the proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2022-23 at three separate meetings. A Saturday work session will be held on May 21, 2022 at 9:00 am in the EOC at 403 Highland Avenue. Members of the public are invited to participate in this meeting.

Public hearings regarding the proposed budget and the levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Sewer Tax will be held during regularly scheduled City Council meetings on June 6 and June 20, 2022. The public is invited to attend these meetings and speak to the City Council about spending priorities for the city in the coming year. Click to visit the Annual Budgets page, where all sections of the proposed budget as well as approved budgets from previous years are available for download.

For questions on contents of the budget, please contact Finance Director Michael Szczech via email at mszczech@piedmont.ca.gov or by phone at (510) 420-3045. If you wish to write to the Council regarding the budget, please send an e-mail to the City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or send a letter via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, c/o City Clerk’s Office, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, 94611.

May 19 2022

Most pedestrians and walkers in Piedmont bemoan the numerous cracks and divots in many of Piedmont’s sidewalks.  The City annually budgets for sidewalk repairs.  Piedmont’s handsome street trees are known for their roots to uplift and crack the sidewalks in a seemingly endless cycle of growth and repair.

Staff report:

Piedmont’s sidewalks are increasingly showing their age. For loss prevention purposes, it is essential to repair sidewalks with significant defects soon after they are reported. Prompt repair of defective sidewalk reduces the risk of accidents and the liability associated with injuries that might result thereafter.

Last fiscal year, sidewalk replacement and repair costs totaled $868,905. Through March of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the City has spent $870,000. The approved budget for these costs was $900,000, consisting of $600,000 from the Facilities Maintenance Fund and $300,000 from the Gas Tax Fund.

Staff is requesting an additional appropriation of $300,000 from the General Fund in FY 2021-22 to continue to repair and replace sidewalks that are identified as having significant offsets and defects. We expect sidewalk repair costs to continue near the current level and our long-range financial plan will reflect such costs.

Currently, the system for managing sidewalk maintenance is manual and cumbersome. Staff is working towards the implementation of an asset management software program to track service calls and maintenance history. Once implemented, the tools in this software will allow staff to track service calls and develop recommendations to improve not only for the City’s sidewalk replacement program, but for other types of maintenance as well.

READ the full staff report linked below:

sidewalk repairs 522022

May 16 2022

CITY of PIEDMONT’S FREE GALA FOR ALL

WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

The City will be hosting an awards “gala” on Wednesday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Piedmont Community Hall in Main Park on Highland Avenue to celebrate excellence in building and landscape design.

The City Planning Department is pleased to provide the 2022 Piedmont Design and Sustainability Award winners.

View the winners by clicking below:

>2022 Design Award Winners List

If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Planner Steven Lizzarago or Planning Technician Suzanne Hartman  Tel: (510) 420-3094

May 16 2022

Recognizing over a quarter-century of service to the students and community of Piedmont, the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) and School Board honored Eileen Ruby as its 2022 Arthur Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award Winner.

“This is a well-deserved and overdue accolade for Ms. Ruby, who has been instrumental in building the framework of financial support in the community that benefits all of our schools and every one of our students,” said PUSD Superintendent, Randall Booker. “Myself, the Board, and all of PUSD are thrilled to recognize her work and valuable service to education in Piedmont.”

“Many in our community know Eileen as a fundraising savant, who is a clear communicator and highly skilled at asking the right questions at the right time,” added one of Ruby’s nominators. “Others remember her to be the architect of the professional fundraising infrastructure and successful campaigns we see today in support of our schools.”

A longtime Piedmont resident, Ms. Ruby chaired the Piedmont Education Foundation’s inaugural ‘Reaching for the Stars’ campaign in 2000, eventually creating a nearly $10-million endowment. She was the catalyst in coordinating efforts to bring fundraising for all six PUSD schools under the Piedmont Education Foundation (PEF) umbrella, building an efficient model to support all students. Ms. Ruby served as President of the Piedmont Middle School Parent’s Club and has been a Parent Club board member at Havens Elementary, PMS and Piedmont High School. She has participated on the PUSD Budget Advisory Committee and has led hundreds of volunteers through various parcel tax and Bond campaigns. She continues her work today as a member of the PEF Board of Directors and recently announced she will be retiring later this year.

The PUSD Board of Education celebrated Ms. Ruby at its May 11 meeting and presented her with a work of art from Piedmont High School student, Margaret “Frankie” Broening.

The Arthur Hecht Volunteer of the Year award is presented annually to individuals who have volunteered their efforts over a period of time and made a difference because of their involvement and commitment to Piedmont’s youth. Arthur ‘Art’ Hecht was a tireless community volunteer dedicated to students in both Piedmont and Oakland. He served on Piedmont’s Board of Education from 1970 to 1982, and was very active with the Piedmont Continuation High School (now called Millennium High School). In 1998, the Volunteer of the Year Award was established in his memory.

Previous recipients include: Hunter McCreary (1998); Ann Chandler (1999); Ruth Cuming (2000); Lisa Lomenzo (2001); jointly by Cathie Geddeis and Marion Souyoultzis (2002); jointly by Fritz and Mary Wooster (2003); Elizabeth (Betsy) Gentry (2004); Cynthia Gorman (2005); Grier Graff (2006); Julia Burke (2007); Maude Pervere (2008); jointly to Anne-Marie Lamarche and Mark Menke (2009); Janiele Maffei Tovani (2010); Andrea Swenson (2011), June Monach (2012), Bill Drum (posthumously) and Mary Ireland  (2013), Ray Perman (2014), Jennifer Fox (2015), Katie Korotzer (2016), Hilary Cooper (2017) Holly Hanke (2018), Cathy Glazier (2019),  Sue Smegal (2020), and Ken Li (2021).

Art Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award winner, Eileen Ruby (center), poses with PUSD Board President, Corey Segal (left), and PUSD Superintendent, Randall Booker (right).

Art Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award winner, Eileen Ruby (center), poses with PUSD Board President, Cory Smegal (left), and PUSD Superintendent, Randall Booker (right).

 

May 16 2022

The City released the draft budget for 2022-2023 last week and it’s on the May 16 Council agenda. ( City of Piedmont 2022-2023 Budget).

One purpose of the document is to project tax revenue growth for the next 10 years so that City can implement long-term financial planning.  Growth from property tax revenue in Piedmont is pretty stable, increasing 4-5% a year.  Transfer tax revenue, the 1.3% tax assessed on the sale of homes, can be volatile, but contributes more to annual growth than the property tax.   
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As the figure below shows, revenue bounces between $2 and $4M/yr (the exception being the three years of the Great Recession) and shows a steady rate of growth from 2010 to 2020.  Averaged over those 10 years, the transfer tax is $3.4M/yr and the City projects that as a flat growth rate for the next 7 years, leading many city funds into the red. Alternatively, when the transfer tax growth rate is used to project growth (Transfer Tax Projection), transfer tax revenue grows to almost $5M/yr over the same time period.

The City describes 2020-2021 transfer tax revenue ($6.3M) as an outlier, but that remains to be seen.  2021 transfer tax revenue was a record for Piedmont that may well be broken this year. Through the first quarter of the 2021-22 fiscal year, transfer tax revenue was ahead of last year by about 24% and carried over the year that comes to a transfer tax of $7.8M for 2021-2022.  Staff may provide an update on this tax revenue at tonight’s meeting.

So this is good news but will it last?  I don’t know, but it strikes me that averaging over the past 10 years is too conservative an approach that naturally leads the City to seek tax increases to make up for funding it projects it won’t receive when in fact it will.   The City should at least run two financial projections – flat growth and expected growth – to provide City Council with a more balanced report for long-term planning.  Perhaps the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee can request this from staff.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 13 2022

Superintendent Randall Booker announced he will be leaving to take the superintendent position at San Mateo Union High School District effective July 1st.

Below are letters from Randy Booker and the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Board.

Dear PUSD Community,

I am writing to share the news that I accepted the position of Superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District effective July 1, 2022.
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For me, this is bittersweet, as I have been privileged to work in the Piedmont schools for 19 years.  Here, my extraordinary colleagues continually innovate to improve education for one and all.  Together, we have kept a steady focus on enhancing educational opportunities and preparing students for the future.  We have modernized curricula and facilities and developed critical programs for student wellness.  We have risen to the many challenges presented by repeated cuts in State education funding, a sea change in educational technology, and a global pandemic.
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I am deeply proud of our work together.  At the same time, I am thrilled for the professional opportunities in the San Mateo Union District, where I attended elementary, intermediate and high school.  In many ways, my career in education is coming full-circle.
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On a personal level, I want to express my gratitude as a parent for the wonderful education provided to my two sons, Aidan and Christian.  As an educator and administrator, I had countless reasons to take pride in the caliber and compassion of our staff.  As a parent, I had the opportunity to see our staff and our programs from a different vantage point, and my appreciation only deepened.  It has indeed been a privilege for the Booker family to be part of the PUSD family.
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I am working with the Board of Education to ensure a smooth transition and the Board will follow-up with staff about the next steps with regard to District leadership…

With gratitude and best wishes,
Randall Booker, Superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District
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Dear PUSD Community,

With gratitude for almost 20 years of service to our community, the Piedmont Unified School District Board has accepted the resignation of Superintendent Randy Booker. Effective July 1, 2022, he will be the new superintendent for San Mateo Union High School District. Randy grew up in Burlingame, attended Burlingame schools, and will now be a returning alumnus, serving the community that launched him. His last day in our District will be June 30, 2022.

Randy’s optimism and belief in the power of education sustain his work and are exemplified by the following excerpt from the letter he wrote at the start of the 2020-21 academic year:  “It is the educator that inspires all of us to think critically, partner collaboratively, express creatively, and communicate broadly. Students need these skills now more than ever. Teaching is the greatest act of optimism against a backdrop of challenging times across our country.” That recognition of what teaching brings to our community and beyond is what has informed so much of Randy’s approach to leadership, management, and day-to-day operations.

On behalf of previous board members, our educational community, and ourselves, we thank Randy for his hard work, advocacy, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to placing students at the heart of all his decisions. To the board, he has been a reliable and candid advisor, sounding board, and partner. He has served Piedmont for almost two decades with honor and integrity and we are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him and learned from him. We wish Randy all the very best on this next part of his professional adventure.

In terms of next steps, the board will provide additional information on the Superintendent search at our next meeting on May 25.  The board intends to do a nationwide search and will engage the community to gather their valuable insight.  If you have any questions, please contact Board President Cory Smegal at csmegal@piedmont.k12.ca.us, or Brian Killgore at bkillgore@piedmont.k12.ca.us.

Sincerely,

Piedmont Board of Education

Cory Smegal, President

Megan Pillsbury, Vice President

Veronica Anderson Thigpen

Hilary Cooper

Amal Smith

May 12 2022
At the Planning Commission hearing on the Housing Element on May 12, 2022, the consultant from Lisa Wise Consulting stated that Housing and Community Development Department was not accepting SB9 projections to count towards a city’s RHNA housing goals.  A little web searching revealed that Atherton is preparing SB9 projections to include in its Housing Element and there are consulting firms using SB9 potential in housing element calculations.
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SB9 projections are highly uncertain this early after implementation of the law, but if HCD is willing to accept these estimates then Piedmont should generate them.  Yes, such sites are unlikely to be very low and low affordable units, but the point is to claim this capacity so as to remove pressure to develop public sites like the Veterans Building and the 801 Magnolia Avenue Building, sites identified for moderate income units.  The Atherton estimate is based on 10 SB9 units (10 units since  January 2022, so 80 units over 8 years) and it remains to be seen if HCD will accept this projection.
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Inline image

https://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/10036/ITEM-17

From “Proposal for the Town of Ross Housing Element Update” submitted by Dyett and Bhatia, Urban and Regional Planners, January 28, 2022.

“Next, we will evaluate the realistic development capacity for each site with reference to demonstrated development trends, drawing on input from the Housing Forum and the Town’s recent APRs. Documenting the number of ADUs developed in recent years and prior to 2018 will be an important consideration, as HCD guidance allows jurisdictions to project based on past trends with adjustments that account for new laws that significantly increase the potential for ADU development. Capacity calculations will also consider the potential for lot splits permitted under SB9. Based on this evaluation, sufficient sites to satisfy the Sixth Cycle RHNA for all income levels will be included on the inventory.”

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Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member and Resident
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 10 2022

Garrett Keating, former member of the Piedmont City Council, evaluated parts of the Draft Housing Element being considered by the Piedmont Planning Commission at their Special Meeting on May 12, 2022. 

Click below to read Keatings letter to the Commission.

HE_comment_Keating 52022

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 9 2022

Special Planning Commission Meeting – Thursday – May 12, 2022

 WHERE ARE 587 NEW HOUSING UNITS GOING TO GO IN PIEDMONT?
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The City of Piedmont is moving ahead with a new Housing Element.    Few Piedmonters have trudged through the almost 400 page Draft Housing Element containing profound suggested changes to Piedmont zoning.  The proposal suggests ending the Piedmont City Charter requirement of Piedmont voter control over zoning.
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Piedmont’s Planning Commission will hold a hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting on May 12, 2022, at 5:30 pm to consider a recommendation on the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element. On April 8, 2022, the City of Piedmont published the Draft Housing Element for public review and comment. The Draft Housing Element is posted to the homepages of the City of Piedmont website and Piedmontishome.org. Other formats are available upon request to the City. 

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Agenda and participation information >Planning 2022-05-12 Special Meeting

 

May 9 2022

May 11, 2022 – The School Board Will Ratify the Appointment of Piedmont Middle School Principal: Karyn Shipp –

Shipp was the Assistant Principal of the Piedmont Middle School .

READ the background and selection process  >5112022 PMS Principal_

Karyn Shipp.docx Press Release