Feb 23 2018

Proposed Changes to Piedmont Governance Are Missing  Community Input – 

The February 5, 2018 Staff Report has the proposed revised  City Charter. There are single lines added that are fundamental changes to the way Piedmont operates and has operated for many, many years. Example: p19 Sec. 3.01 “All other officers shall be appointed and directed by the City Administrator.” Only the City Administrator and Attorney would be appointed by the Council under the new charter.

Under the current City Charter the City Council is the final authority. Under the proposed new Charter the Chiefs of Police and Fire, City Clerk, Director of Finance, Director of Public Works, City Engineer, Planning Director, Director of Recreation and such other subordinate officers, assistants, deputies and employees would be appointed by the City Administrator. This is a fundamental change in Piedmont governance. Much more community input is required for this and other fundamental changes.

The essential character of government in Piedmont is civic involvement and public discourse. The City Charter is the central document and rushing this to a vote without more public input and a committee report seems unwise.

Recently the Planning Commission approved a recommendation that Staff have more input on window reveals. If the distance a window is set back from the horizontal exterior wall plane is worthy of committee review, surely changing the City Charter also deserves a thoughtful committee investigation and report.

As public discourse is at the heart of Piedmont governance, an Open Government Ordinance is needed and should be made part of any new charter. This would extend the Brown Act three day notice requirement to a longer period such as eleven days so that during holidays, summer vacations and other demanding family times there would be more notice and adequate time for residents to digest and involve themselves in important changes in town.

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Feb 21 2018

Piedmont League of Women Voters Joins Individual Citizens Expressing Great Concern About the Lack of Citizen Participation and Quick Timing of Proposed Revisions to the City Charter – 

Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh suggested the newly proposed office holder limits appeared to be a solution looking for a problem.

As Piedmonters find out about proposed Piedmont City Charter changes, concern has grown.  In years past when important City Charter changes were proposed, community involvement was primary.  The majority of the City Council at their February 5, 2018 meeting made no attempt to require outreach to Piedmonters.  Only Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh desired more civic engagement prior to placement on the June ballot, which would postpone the Charter ballot to November, 2018.

The City Charter requires all proposed Charter changes be placed on a Piedmont ballot and approved by Piedmont voters prior to becoming law.

The Charter changes were agendized by Mayor Bob McBain and the City Administrator with little time for general public input.  After the February 5 introduction of Charter changes, the next Council meeting for consideration has been scheduled for March 5, 2018.  A Council meeting typically would have been held on February 20, following President’s Day of February 19, however that meeting was cancelled making the Monday, March 5, 2018 the next and last regularly scheduled Council meeting to take action on the ballot measure for it to qualify for the special election in June.

City Attorney Michelle Kenyon told the City Council the numerous changes to the Charter came from the City Administrator, the City Clerk and the Council members. The public was not involved or informed of Charter changes until release of the staff report for the February 5 Council meeting.

Mayor Bob McBain immediately suggested that the June 2018 ballot measure only offer two proposed Charter changes, which evolved to: 1. Exclude former two term officials from seeking public office until an eight-year waiting period has elapsed.  2. Remove from the Charter the budget limitation of 25% in Piedmont General Fund reserves. 

 The Council has shown interest in changing the limit on General Fund reserves from the current 25% limit. To avoid the accumulation of reserves in the General Fund, the Council has recently established various reserve funds where excess money has been placed in an effort to avoid exceeding the 25% limit. 

Cost to the City of up to $55,000 to vote on the Charter changes in June instead of November 2018.

The unexpected urgent placement of the ballot measure requires Council action within weeks of their first public introduction.  The incomplete and unavailable form of the possible ballot language must receive Council action by March 8 if it is to be on the June 2018 ballot.  (See Alameda County election deadlines below).  The expedited timing eliminates the opportunity for broad citizen participation prior to a ballot measure and would cost Piedmonters up to $55,000 than  waiting for the November election when there would be one ballot measure at a reduced cost. 

Some Council members suddenly want Charter changes for Special June Ballot, rather than waiting for November Election.

City Clerk John Tulloch told the Council that City Administrator Paul Benoit had informed the Superintendent of Education Randall Booker the Council wanted to place further limitations on out-of-office former officials seeking election to the Board of Education.   Benoit’s conversation took place prior to public information or Council consideration.

City Attorney Michelle Kenyon explained that the City Council and ultimately the voters rather than the School Board would make the decision on term limit requirements.  Kenyon acknowledged that this was an “important change” to the Charter.  

Importance of the Piedmont City Charter 

The Piedmont City Charter is the underlying legal basis of Piedmont governance.  Previously when significant changes to the City Charter were considered, a Charter Review Committee was appointed by the Council to review, carefully consider issues in open meetings, and then make recommendations to the Council.

The proposed Charter change limiting former office holders’ return to the City Council or School Board originated with Mayor Bob McBain.  McBain explained to the Council he had been approached about office holder term restrictions and had decided it would be beneficial to end prior officer holders ability to ever serve again.

McBain stated he felt it was unfair, and created an uneven election if past officeholders, who he referred to as “incumbents,” sought election after an absence of only 4 years.  He noted that many people want to serve and there are many volunteers.  This City Council has had the practice of recycling prior commissioners and committee members between the various boards, raising a question of the appointments excluding new willing volunteers. Though he had suggested a permanent exclusion, McBain was later convinced during the meeting that an eight year absence from  service was an acceptable time limit for an individual to once more seek election.

Council member Jen Cavenaugh stated that only one person in recent years had wanted to come back and returning past office holders were able to hit the ground running.  She was repeatedly interrupted by other Council members during the meeting when she attempted to speak. 

City Clerk John Tulloch had initiated outreach to other cities to see what exclusions on past officials they included  in their Charters.  He spoke of no outreach within Piedmont. 

On February 13, Mayor McBain and City Clerk Tulloch made a presentation to the School Board.   Following McBain and Tulloch’s presentation, the School Board was not prepared to take a position on the Charter changes.  See Superintendent’s report below.

The City Council has not taken final action to place the term limit issue on the June 2018 ballot and despite the School Board’s inaction, Mayor McBain preemptively proclaimed to the School Board that the service limits impacting the Board members would be on the June 2018 ballot and he hoped that the School Board would vote for the new limits on public service. 

McBain’s proclamation was on a split Council vote with Council member Cavenaugh seeking further information and citizen involvement prior to expending money for the ballot measure in June. 

Given the few past office holders out of office for only four years, the limitation and barring of candidates appeared to be targeting specific individuals.

Deadlines for June 2018 Election Ballot:

Close of Nomination Period for the June 5, 2018 Direct Primary Election –  March 09, 2018

Deadline to file Arguments In Favor/Against a Measure on the June 5, 2018 Direct Primary Election – March 14, 2018

Deadline to file Rebuttals to Arguments In Favor/Against a Measure on the June 5, 2018 Direct Primary Election – March 19, 2018

Ballot arguments are filed with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Board of Education current Policy 9110 states in regard to terms of office:

“BB 9110 Board Bylaws Terms Of Office:  The Piedmont City Charter contains the following provisions relative to the Board of Education: 1. The Board shall consist of five members elected from the city at large for a term of four years. Board members shall be elected at the times and in the same manner provided for members of the city council. Only qualified voters of the city shall be eligible to hold the office of Board member. No person who has served two full consecutive terms as a members of the Board shall be eligible to hold office until one full intervening term of four years has elapsed. Any person who serves as a member of the Board for more than eighteen months of an unexpired term shall be considered to have served a full term.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

TO: Board of Education   FROM: Randall Booker, Superintendent  DATE: February 13, 2018   RE: POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS TO THE PIEDMONT CITY CHARTER

___________________________________________

I. SUPPORT INFORMATION

At its June 19. 2017 meeting, the Piedmont City Council directed staff to review the city charter and point out provisions that may be outdated. Subsequent to that meeting, Councilmembers also reviewed the charter and made suggestions regarding provisions they thought might need amendment.

At the February 5, 2018 City Council Meeting, City staff presented on the culmination of this review. As part of the discussion, a Councilmember suggested a possible revision of term limits (which in turn, could affect the [Piedmont Unified School District] PUSD School Board). City staff then requested direction from the City Council on further proposed Charter amendments and the possible placement on a ballot for consideration by Piedmont voters.

The following are the proposed changes that could specifically affect PUSD:

Article II – City Council
Section 2.03 Term of Office

Article VII – Public Schools
Section 7.02 Membership, Term of Office

Board Bylaw 9110

A question was raised as to whether Piedmont should amend the existing term limits provided for in the Charter. Currently, the Charter (and Board Bylaws) limits Councilmembers (and by extension Board of Education Members) to serving two consecutive terms. The current provision, however, does not prohibit a Councilmember (or Board Member) who has served two consecutive terms from running again after a full term (four years) has elapsed. The question for Council (and Board) consideration is whether there is a desire to impose stricter term limits than currently exist.

If there were such a desire, an option described for Council (and Board) consideration would be to limit Councilmembers (and Board Members) to serving two full terms in office. Should the Board wish to consider this option, both Section 2.03 and Board Bylaw 9110 would need to be revised as follows:

No person who has served two (2) full consecutive terms as member of the Board shall be eligible to hold such office again. until one full intervening term of four (4) years has elapsed. [Editors Note:  This appears to have been an error.]

II. RECOMMENDATION: REVIEW AND ACTION

Review the City’s proposed changes to the City Charter and, by extension, Board Bylaw 9110 and provide direction to the Superintendent.

Read the Piedmont League of Women Voters letter to the City Council HERE.

Feb 21 2018

The City Has Another Survey for You!

The City of Piedmont is seeking resident input to help build a new website! Over the next six months, the City will be working with CivicLive, a municipal web development and hosting firm on the creation of a new web site.

The first step in this process is gathering opinions on the City’s current web site and finding out what residents would like in a new website for the City of Piedmont. Please share your thoughts with the City! Your input will help the City create a new, modern, and responsive web site.

Please take the > survey!

Feb 20 2018

What will happen when you want to replace a window?

Staff site visits, measurement of recesses, materials, compatibility with existing windows, additional time to gain a permit, increased costs, and drawings are part of the newly proposed Window Guidelines.

Piedmont Planning staff once more scheduled important public input on changing building permit guidelines at an undetermined time near the end of the February 12, 2018 Planning Commission meeting.  The draft Window Guidelines were not publicized. Generally, a public hearing follows publicity and involves ready access to a hearing at a specific time. One person was in the audience.  For practical purposes, the Window Guidelines consideration by the Planning Commission did not constitute a public hearing,

The Commission discussed changing a keyword to “recessed” to indicate window depth from the wall of a building to the window. 

More administrative cost and involvement will be required with the new guidelines, including staff site visits, measurements of the recesses, materials, compatibility with existing windows, drawings, etc.  The resulting additional cost of the Window Guidelines to homeowners and the additional City staff time for window replacement was not detailed or integral to the Commission’s recommendation. 

Consideration of expense to homeowners appeared of little concern to Commissioners following a commissioner remark that standard manufactured windows are not always desirable. 

The recommended Window Guidelines will need to be acted on by the City Council who typically credit the Commission’s recommendations with involving broad public consideration and information.  Although the Commission considered the issue in public and the meeting was recorded, broadcast, and a video was made, available in the City archives, it was apparent there was little public participation or knowledge.

Read the staff report with examples of windows >PCA PC Report Window Guidelines 2-12-2018.doc

Feb 20 2018

March 2 is the deadline for public comment on draft Climate Action Plan 2.0 –  Survey is > HERE.

BE A PART OF THE CONVERSATION!

Open House is scheduled for February 29, 2018

Read the Agenda for the Open House HERE.

Piedmont’s Draft Climate Action Plan 2.0 is Ready for Review A CAP 2.0

The OPEN HOUSE will take place on Monday, February 26, 2018, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., at the Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue.

In addition to the CAP 2.0 being available on the City’s website, the City of Piedmont Planning Department and the Climate Action Plan Task Force will host a community open house on February 26th in order to provide the public another forum in which to learn about the Climate Action Plan 2.0. In addition to providing a presentation on the plan, staff and Task Force members will be available to answer questions from attendees.

The CAP 2.0 is available for review at: http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/climateaction-plan-2-0/. For more information about the Climate Action Planning process, please visit http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/committees/captf.shtml.

The City of Piedmont is asking its residents, families, business owners and people who work in Piedmont to review the City’s draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2.0 and provide comments on the Plan.

The CAP is available on the City’s website during a 45-day comment period from January 16, 2018 through March 2, 2018. Written comments can be submitted during this period. In addition, and in order to facilitate public comment, an electronic survey will be made available online at the end of January.

Climate change poses a real and significant threat to human health and the environment both globally and locally.

The Task Force is an advisory body composed of Piedmont residents appointed by the City Council.

While under the advisement of the Piedmont Climate Action Plan Task Force during the past 10 months, City staff has developed an updated proposed Climate Action Plan (CAP) for Piedmont.

The CAP 2.0 includes and expands on the measures and goals introduced in the current 2010 Climate Action Plan, defines climate change and its potential effects, outlines the actions the State and City are taking to address climate change, describes how residents, business owners, and the City can participate in greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts, and presents new GHG reduction targets of 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

During the plan’s development, the public was able to provide comment on the plan during a Community Forum held in November 7, 2017, at hearings of the Climate Action Plan Task Force, and by writing staff. Now that the final draft has been completed and the Task Force has recommended its approval, it is being made available for a 45-day public review period prior to its consideration for adoption by the City Council, which is expected to occur during their regularly scheduled hearing on March 19, 2018.

“From the preliminary analysis to the measures and concrete actions proposed, this new version of the CAP is unique to all sectors of Piedmont, and has been developed in collaboration between City Staff and residents of Piedmont, making it a true community plan,” said Tracey Woodruff, Chair of the Piedmont’s Climate Action Task Force. “In order to continue working with the same spirit of heightened community engagement to address the very real threats of climate change, it is crucial that all members of our community get involved by familiarizing themselves with the Climate Action Plan, sending their comments, and working together to keep reducing our individual and collective environmental footprint on the region and the planet.”

Please submit your comments in writing to Assistant Planner Mira Hahn at mhahn@piedmont.ca.gov or at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont CA 94611.

For those without a computer, a limited number of paper copies of the CAP 2.0 are available for review at the Public Works counter in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

The development of Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan is funded in part by grants received by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and StopWaste.Org, as well as by CivicSpark which in turn gets funds from both the Corporation for National and Community Service, East Bay Energy Watch, and the City of Piedmont.

Contact: Mira Hahn, Assistant Planner, (510) 420-3054

Feb 18 2018

The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Recreation Commission has been cancelled for the month of February.  The next meeting of the Recreation Commission will be on Wednesday, March 21 at 7:30 pm.

Feb 18 2018

League of Women Voters of Piedmont presents

Eric P. Brown

“Constitution in the Classroom”

Sunday, March 4, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

40 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont presents Constitution in the Classroom with guest speaker Eric P. Brown. Mr. Brown is a member of the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy.

Constitution in the Classroom brings members of the American Constitution Society (ACS) into primary and secondary classrooms to raise awareness of fundamental constitutional principles.  As lawyers, law students and educators, ACS representatives share knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution.  By spending as little as one-hour teaching in a high school, middle school or elementary school classroom, ACS members inform and excite young minds about their constitutional rights and responsibilities.

ACS believes that law should be a force to improve the lives of all people. The organization promotes positive change by shaping debate on important legal and constitutional issues through the development and promotion of high-impact ideas to opinion leaders and the media. The group builds networks of lawyers, law students, judges and policymakers dedicated to promoting these ideas, and counters activist movements that seek to erode enduring constitutional values. By bringing together powerful ideas and passionate people, ACS makes a difference in the constitutional, legal and public policy debates that shape our democracy.

Eric P. Brown is a partner in the firm of Atshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco.  Eric’s practice consists primarily of representing labor unions, workers and advocacy organizations in all manners of litigation and advisory matters, including labor, employment, constitutional and environmental law. He earned B.A. from Yale College and his J.D., Yale Law School.

The event is open to the public at no charge.  Please RSVP by March 2, 2018 to Lois Corrin at loiscorrin@gmail.com or by text at 510-318-4840.

Feb 18 2018

Three Linda-Beach Designs Address Stormwater Drainage

On Thursday, January 18th, the City of Piedmont held its second meeting regarding the Linda Beach Master Plan in the hopes of gaining community input on the matter. The development project, taken on by Recreation Director Sara Lillevand and landscaping firm Groundworks Office, is set to revamp the large area between Howard and Linda Avenues near Beach Elementary School. The meeting was designed to allow Piedmont’s citizens to share their opinions about three existing proposals to assist in the process of creating one final master plan.

    The new concepts were designed based on the expectations of the community and the existing features of the area that give the park its character. The first concept presented was called the “Sports Plan”. Including two regulation size tennis courts and a skate park area, the plan encouraged play for families with children of all ages. The second concept was known as the “Nature plan” which replaced the tennis courts with planted terraces and open event spaces. This concept would create a more traditional park feel with lots of greenery and open space, as well as stadium seating and a picnic deck. The final concept offered was a “Hybrid Plan” which involved what Groundworks viewed as “the best of both worlds”.  The layout would feature one regulation size tennis court as well as an outdoor classroom, greenspace, and bocce courts.

    There were also necessities that the new park will have no matter what. All three plans would include treatment planting to address stormwater drainage as well as a variety of different surfaces with varying levels of porosity to prevent flooding. Picnic tables, event space, and increased access to the area were deemed a must to the project early on and will most likely be included in any final plan. Another element included across the board was interactive art to add color and life to the park as well as support local artists. The city has also requested that the plan provide space for Beach Schoolmates to expand to accommodate its large number of students.

    One of the main concerns expressed throughout all three plans was how to make the best use of the very limited amount of land allocated for the project. City Council member Jen Cavanaugh expressed concern that the storage space beneath the Oakland Avenue bridge would remain empty in all three proposed plans and could be renovated into bathrooms to preserve space.

In my personal opinion, the third plan presented was the most efficient use of land and met more of the communities wishes. I believe it will make the best use of the city’s money and time and, in return, will become a place of great popularity. The city needs a park with a classic park feel that also offers a safe variety of activities for a wide variety of ages. I strongly support the city’s decision to include the community in formulating a plan that is going to create an idyllic new space.

After the meeting concluded Recreation Director Sara Lillevand explained “There are so few opportunities in town to develop available square footage and it is exciting to see what the community wants to do with it”.

The new Linda Beach Playfield is going to be an exciting new place for the city and through this collaborative process it is really going to reflect what we want as a community.

by Ellie Roberts, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Feb 12 2018

Piedmont League of Women Voters has sent the following letter to the Piedmont City Council urging adequate community input prior to placing proposed Piedmont City Charter changes on the June or November ballot. 

February 9, 2018

Mayor Bob McBain

City of Piedmont

120 Vista Avenue Piedmont, CA 94611

Dear Mayor McBain,

The issue of revisions to the Piedmont City Charter and the governing of our city are of considerable concern to the Piedmont League of Women Voters (LWVP) and equally, I am sure, to all the residents of Piedmont. In fact, recently our League conducted an in-depth study and developed a position on local elections which, among other things, included criteria for selecting our mayor.

After viewing the City Council meeting of February 5th our board met and discussed the implications of the Council’s action regarding revisions to three items of the City Charter: term limits for the City Council and PUSD School Board, provisions for filling a vacant seat and general fund reserves. The quick timing of this action is of great concern because it does not allow for adequate community input and discourse between the Council and residents prior to adopting and placing these items on the June ballot.

The League of Women Voters has a position that “believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation at all levels of government. The League further believes that governmental bodies must protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.”

Therefore, LWVP urges a public meeting for a two-way discussion on these proposed charter changes so that the public has sufficient opportunity to share its input with the Council and for the Council to consider any revisions to the three proposals. If there is insufficient time for a two-way discussion with the public, we then urge the Council to reconsider its decision to put these charter changes on the June ballot.

In addition, with respect to those City Charter amendments proposed for the November ballot, we respectfully request that the City Council engage in a meaningful and adequate dialogue, as noted above, before any amendments are placed on the November ballot.

Regards,

Katy Foulkes
President, League of Women Voters Piedmont

cc All City Council members

Paul Benoit, City Administrator

John Tulloch, City Clerk

PUSD School Board

LWVPiedmont,  325 Ramona Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94610 lwvpiedmont@gmail.com

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Feb 12 2018

OAKLAND AVENUE REPAIR WORK EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 16 – 

The Piedmont Public Works Department, aided by Pacific General Engineering, has completed a portion of the emergency road work on Oakland Avenue between Bonita and Hillside Avenues. The City anticipates that normal traffic will be able to flow on this block until Friday morning (2/16). Motorists are advised to travel this block with care.

The City anticipates traffic control to be implemented on Friday morning to inspect the recently poured concrete. If it has sufficiently cured, the plates will be removed. If it has not sufficiently cured, the plates will be replaced and additional work will be necessary next week. Should additional work to ensure safety be necessary before Friday, traffic control will be implemented.

The section of concrete that appeared to be undermined has been removed, the surface under the roadway has been compacted, and a new portion of concrete roadway has been poured. Crews will place steel plates over the newly poured concrete, and the plates will be left in place until Friday morning (2/16) to allow the concrete to cure.

The City will provide an additional update on Friday to advise residents of the status of the work.

Residents with questions can call the Public Works Department at (510) 420-3050 during normal business hours.