Jun 3 2022

Is more resident engagement needed for the Housing Element?

Many Piedmont residents do not understand or approve of plans for adding 587 new housing units within Piedmont’s built-out city limits of 1.8 square miles. The Piedmont City Council, unlike other City Councils in the region, has energetically and swiftly pressed to further densify Piedmont and add the 587 new housing units.  

No survey has been mailed to Piedmont residents, the most direct, useful, and inclusive means of gaining resident opinions.

Expensive banners are up throughout the city creating dismay about their meaning:  their grammar; insulting slogans; and seeming downgrading of neighboring communities.  Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on staff, mailers, meetings, banners, postcards, City news releases, consultants, puzzles, preferred interest-group participation,  committee and commission presentations,  fewer than 300 Piedmonters have participated by writing to the City in the process.

 The City printed “Piedmont is home.” postcards for residents, yet sent no questionnaire or survey by direct mail to Piedmont residents to gather their input. Most outreach of the Housing Element draft was conducted during the raging pandemic via the  internet, eliminating many seniors not current with the internet.  A mailed survey would no doubt have produced far greater input.

Wait Until the New Council is Elected in November to Act on the Housing Element

Piedmont is holding its election for 3 Council seats this November, 2022.  Of the three seats, one seat is totally open (Mayor King is termed out of office.), one seat has an incumbent (Councilmember Andersen), and one seat is held by an appointed incumbent (Councilmember Long).  A citizen suggested allowing the Housing Element to be thoroughly aired during the election process and campaigns.  This would conform to state extended deadlines while allowing greater resident participation and understanding of the Housing Element.  The current Council plans are:

“Summer 2022: With the City Council’s consent, submission of Draft Housing Element to the CA Housing and Community Development Department for certification.”

“May 2023: Deadline for adoption of the final draft of the updated Housing Element, date amended due to recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods.”  City publicity.

Summary Information and Question Answers missing from publicity.

Most residents have no idea of how proposed changes will impact Piedmont as a whole or their homes.   Additionally, some input has been ignored by the City. While little direct information is provided to residents, notions abound and concerns persist.

  • Is safety the foundation of all proposals in the Housing Element?

  • Have safety considerations been given for high fire areas, substandard streets, overhead utilities, public safety access, traffic, parking, transit, mud slides, water, sidewalks, city staffing requirements?

  • The City Charter specifically prescribes Piedmont voters have a right to approve zoning changes.  Will the proposals require this to be ultimately taken away from Piedmont voters?

  • What zoning or land use changes are proposed?

  • How much will the expanded staffing and public safety needs cost in taxes or other sources of funding? 

  • Will the proposed changes make Piedmont a less desirable city?

  • Is loss of air and light to be considered with proposed new higher height limits for each garage/ADU living unit?

  • When will the public be allowed to provide input on building proposals in their neighborhood?

  • The Moraga Avenue Corporation Yard was chosen for high-rise buildings. What public transit is available, new streets, new electric signaling, sidewalks, water, sewer, waste?

  • Trees in Piedmont are prized. How does the proposal protect the trees on public and private property?

  • The current pandemic has pointed out the vital need for open space and air for healthy living conditions.  How has this been addressed in the proposal?

 

City News Release below:

DRAFT HOUSING ELEMENT TOWN HALL

The City of Piedmont will host a virtual Town Hall on June 7, 2022, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm to provide an opportunity to learn more about the >Draft Housing Element. [over 600 page document]

This Town Hall will provide an opportunity for community members to pose questions about the Draft Housing Element. Following a short presentation, a panel the City’s team of housing consultants and staff will provide responses to questions submitted by attendees.

The City has received over 275 written comments from community members on the Draft Housing Element via email and the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. Over 50 community members participated at the April 19th Housing Advisory Committee meeting and at the May 12th Planning Commission meeting.

You are welcomed and encouraged to participate using the following formats:

  • Computer or smart phone:

     Click on https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/86477811380

  • Computer or smart phone:

     Click on https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/meeting_videos

  • Telephone:

Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 864-7781-1380

  • Television:

Watch on KCOM, Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T UVerse Channel 99

We look forward to seeing you there!

City news release below:

The City of Piedmont will host a Town Hall on June 7th at 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. to provide an opportunity for Piedmont residents to learn more about the Draft Housing Element. This Town Hall
will provide an opportunity for community members to pose questions about the document.

Following a short presentation addressing some of the issues, a panel  [names not listed] will provide responses to  questions submitted by attendees.

“We have received over 275 written comments from community members on the Draft Housing
Element via email and the Piedmont Puzzle. And have heard from over 50 community members at
the April 19th Housing Advisory Committee meeting and the May 12th Planning Commission
meeting,” said Kevin Jackson, the City’s Director of Planning & Building. “Several of those
comments included questions. We intend to provide answers to those questions and clarity on the
purpose and scope of the Draft Housing Element at this Town Hall Q&A meeting.”

Residents can participate in the Zoom meeting or watch the meeting by tuning to KCOM TV,
Comcast channel 27 or AT&T channel 99.

Housing Element Update Timeline:

June 7, 2022: Virtual Town Hall Q&A Meeting at 6:00 p.m.

June 20, 2022: City Council Consideration of Draft Housing Element.

Summer 2022: With the City Council’s consent, submission of Draft Housing Element to the CA Housing and Community Development Department for certification.

May 2023: Deadline for adoption of the final draft of the updated Housing Element, date amended due to recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods.

Four informational videos about the 2023-2031 Housing Element have been produced by City staff.
Please visit Piedmont’s Youtube channel at
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3RUnN7wcyGgnnjmYmFnXQ

or watch these videos on the homepage of https://piedmontishome.org.

Piedmontishome.org

The City has created a web site, https://piedmontishome.org, which is a one-stop shop for information
on the City’s housing efforts. This site contains information about the 2023-2031 Housing Element
process, as well as other fair housing programs.

Community members are encouraged to review the materials on the site and submit comments,
questions, ideas, and concerns to piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov. This email address will capture
official public correspondence about City of Piedmont housing policy work, including the 2023-2031
Housing Element Update.

2022-05-24 Housing Element Town Hall Meeting

Jun 3 2022

What’s with all those suggestive banners on Grand Avenue?  “A Housing Element for All,” “How Will Piedmont Grow?” and a couple more I could not either see (for the trees) or remember.

Anytime I see advocacy for Piedmont to grow, I hope they mean more kids in the existing housing.   I was one at ABAG — at both Regional Planning and the Executive Board, who insisted that some communities were not meant to build more housing for a number of reasons.  
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There is this compulsion that California needs to grow its population.  This began with Governor Pat Brown (Jerry’s Dad) in the early 1960’s.  The senior Brown wanted California to become the most populous state and, therefore, have the most electoral votes.  Well, we have the most votes but we have a state whose population is outrunning its resources.
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The State water project (also championed by Pat Brown) was never completed.  We lack the water capacity to support both population and agriculture.  Now, how does this affect Piedmont and it’s planning?  You run the very real risk of over burdening the community’s resources by way of infrastructure and effect on other imported resources such as water and energy.
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The State has adopted this philosophy of build, build, build and we have, have, have.  California loses valuable agricultural land to development every year.  We have less land to produce food for more people.  When did this become a good idea?  This elongated period of drought has caused tremendous harm to the underground water supply in the Central Valley.  Yet there is this continuing demand to build right over those aquifers.
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I am not even going to get into the status of public education and the effects this has on the future of public vs. private education.   
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Forcing communities, such as Piedmont, to grow its housing is just symptomatic of the harm being done throughout California.  Jerry Brown, as Governor, the second time around, spoke of a California with 50 million people.  However, he did not add that it would be 50 million living with resources for 35 million.
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The State needs to pull back on the draconian mandate to build more housing and assess California’s resources and how best to manage them.  The only State offered water plan continues to be building a piped version of the Peripheral Canal.  Likewise, why has the State been lax in planning for California’s agriculture assets?  How much more ag land can be paved over before Sacramento realizes the danger this poses for the future of this state?
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“How shall Piedmont Grow” is an indicator of how far off the rails California is headed (and I don’t mean all the money invested in “high speed rail”) with this forced building policy (more like extorsion) while under planning for the resources to supply the population.
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Steve Eigenberg, Former Piedmont Mayor and Councilmember
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 3 2022

From the City of Piedmont:

To limit the impact of increasing COVID-19 cases on hospitalizations, today Alameda County health officials announced that masks will be required in most indoor public settings beginning 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 3, 2022.

 
Masking provides an added layer of protection against infection from a virus that spreads through the air. Wearing a high-quality mask protects both the wearer and those around them, and having more people masked will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Children under age 2 should not mask.
 
“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. “We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities.”
 
Remember that for masks to work properly, they need to completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face and around your nose.
 

For more information, including the text of the Alameda County health order, please see: https://covid-19.acgov.org/face-masks.page

 
 
May 25 2022

HOUSING ELEMENTS: STATE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS FOUND TO BE IN ERROR BY STATE AUDITOR 

How many housing units are actually needed?

The Auditor’s letter suggests a number of fundamental Housing and Community Development (HCD) failures:

– adequate consideration of all factors required by state law

– accurate use of healthy housing vacancy rates

– projection of the number of future households that will require housing units lacks supportive data

– lack of a proper study to support HCD housing numbers required of local communities

Excerpt quoted from Acting California State Auditor’s letter:

“…  In reviewing the needs assessments for three regions, we identified multiple areas in which HCD must improve its process. For example, HCD does not satisfactorily review its needs assessments to ensure that staff accurately enter data when they calculate how much housing local governments must plan to build. As a result, HCD made errors that reduced its projected need for housing in two of the regions we reviewed. We also found that HCD could not demonstrate that it adequately considered all of the factors that state law requires, and it could not support its use of healthy housing vacancy rates. This insufficient oversight and lack of support for its considerations risks eroding public confidence that HCD is informing local governments of the appropriate amount of housing they will need.

“HCD’s needs assessments also rely on some projections that the Department of Finance (Finance) provides. While we found that most of Finance’s projections were reasonably accurate, it has not adequately supported the rates it uses to project the number of future households that will require housing units in the State. Although these household projections are a key component in HCD’s needs assessments, Finance has not conducted a proper study or obtained formal recommendations from experts it consulted to support its assumptions in this area. Finance intends to reevaluate its assumptions related to household growth as more detailed 2020 Census data becomes available later in the year, but without such efforts, Finance cannot ensure that it is providing the most appropriate information to HCD.”

Respectfully submitted,

MICHAEL S. TILDEN, CPA
Acting California State Auditor

Read the complete letter here.

May 24 2022

Piedmont Police Department PRESS RELEASE UPDATE

On May 19, 2022, the Piedmont Police Department was notified about a sexual assault that occurred on the Piedmont High School campus. On May 23, 2022, detectives were conducting surveillance in the 700 block of Warfield Avenue based on information received indicating the subject had been seen in the area in the past.

Detectives were able to locate the subject in front of a residence and took her into custody. She was processed and booked into the Santa Rita Jail. The case is currently being reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office for appropriate charges.

If you have any additional information about this investigation, please contact Detective George Tucker at 510-420-3013.

press release 5242022

 

May 23 2022

The all important Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee will meet on Thursday, May 26, 2022, 3:00 p.m., to make recommendations to the Council on taxes and the Budget.

The Committee is unusual, because unlike other Council appointed bodies and despite requirements set out in the City Charter, minutes of the meetings are not kept and approved by the Committee. 

“SECTION 6.05 PUBLIC RECORD Minutes for each of such boards and commissions shall be kept as a record of its proceedings and transactions.” Piedmont City Charter

Prior to remote viewing, the Committee meetings were never broadcast and were often held in a small conference room at City Hall.    Historically, the Chair produced an unapproved document for Council consideration including recommended taxes and programs.

There are no approved minutes to validate Committee actions and considerations. Conflict of interest statements are not required of the committee members, who were specifically excluded from the requirement.

The May 26 meeting is available for the public remote viewing per the instructions listed in the Agenda linked below.  No staff reports were disseminated by the City for public  review for this meeting. Public participation is available via teleconference. >>>  https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/88279880693

AGENDA –

>>2022-05-26 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

  1. Election of a Chairperson
  2. Consideration of FY 2022-2023 Budget Report  No documents were provided.
May 22 2022

Required low and very low income housing units appear concentrated in and around the city corporation yard in Moraga Canyon in the City proposed Housing Element.

An open letter to the Piedmont City Council,

Sadly, Piedmont has a well-documented history of using restrictive covenants to exclude non-white families, and of using city resources to force them from the community. But we now have an opportunity to redress those wrongs because state law requires California cities to find sites on which developers can build housing for low-income households.  To avoid yet again using city power to exclude, segregate, and stigmatize residents, current City of Piedmont policy is to “Support equitable distribution of affordable units across the City.” Working to comply with the law, city staff has unveiled a draft list of sites that mostly complies with the policy of equitable distribution although 100 of the 200 or so required units appear concentrated in and around the city corporation yard in Moraga Canyon. 

Your decision on whether, and how, to change the sites before sending the list to the State will reveal Piedmonters’ values to witnesses, including our children, to your choices.  Your most telling choice will be whether you comply with your stated policy of “equitable distribution of affordable units across the city.” Equitable distribution has become an issue because public comment includes the recommendation that the Council reassign low-income units from elsewhere in Piedmont to Blair Park across Moraga Avenue from the 100 units already assigned to the corporation yard.

Blair Park is a former landfill exposed to levels of noise and air pollution among the worst in the city, where pedestrians and bicyclists regularly encounter speeding vehicles with drivers whose sight corridors are limited by the curvature and slope of Moraga Avenue.  Indeed, the danger inherent in crossing Moraga Avenue proved so unacceptable that a plan to locate soccer fields in Blair Park a decade ago had to be abandoned.  No scheme, including those with pedestrian bridges and “traffic calming,” sufficiently reduced the danger, particularly for children, to warrant moving forward. The Safer Streets Plan you adopted only six months ago states, moreover, that “The Moraga Avenue/Red Rock Road location has been removed from the 2014 list (i.e., of pedestrian safety improvements) because of feasibility issues in providing adequate pedestrian access in Blair Park…”

An objective observer aware of Piedmont’s sad history and of the suggestion to locate nearly all the State-required units in Moraga Canyon, including 50 or more in Blair Park, could reasonably conclude that we had reverted to our exclusionary past.  Indeed, stigmatizing low-income families by isolating them in Blair Park would reek of a history decent Piedmonters regret.

I live in Moraga Canyon and endorse the staff recommendation that the corporation yard be made available for a large share of the low-income housing Piedmont must accommodate to comply with law.  But as a Piedmonter who believes that our shameful history compels us to act in accordance with our current inclusionary policies, I object to leaving open the possibility of reassigning units now shown elsewhere in Piedmont to Blair Park. Such a reassignment would amount to nothing more than a cynical reversion to the despicable exclusionary policies of the last century.  The Council should honor the current policy of equitable distribution and explicitly reject such reassignment.

Respectfully,

Ralph Catalano, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 21 2022

Piedmont Police Department – PRESS RELEASE – Person of Interest

On May 19, 2022, the Piedmont Police Department was notified about a sexual assault that occurred on the Piedmont High School campus yesterday afternoon in the area of the Binks Rawlings Gymnasium between 3:30-4:00 pm.

The suspect, pictured below, is identified as a:

Female

Square sunglasses

Hoop nose ring

Black long curly hair, tied up

Brown eyes

30-40 years old

110-120 lbs,   5’7” – 5’10”

Short sleeve pink shirt, Black sweatpants, White/blue tennis shoes

The Piedmont Police Department continues to work with the Piedmont Unified School District to ensure safe campuses throughout the City of Piedmont.

If you have information, or see an individual matching the above description, please immediately contact the Piedmont Police Department at 510-420-3000.

If you have information on the identity of this individual, contact Detective George Tucker at 510-420-3013. 

May 21 2022

City / School Liaison Committee –

 VIRTUAL MEETING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Virtual Meeting: Via Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87432812354 Or Telephone: US: +1 346 248 7799 or +1 720 707 2699

AGENDA:

Call to Order

Public Forum Total Time – 10 minutes. Speakers may be asked to limit their comments in addressing items not on the Agenda

REGULAR AGENDA

1. Title IX Updates

a. PUSD Preview

b. 50th Anniversary

2. Construction Updates

a. Community Pool

b. Theater

3. Housing Element Update

4. DBFL Location Update  (Dress Best for Less) 

5. Staffing Updates 

No written information was distributed for this meeting.

READ published Agenda below:

> PCA city school 52422

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.