Jan 26 2020

Nominations Open Now Until  March 16, 2020

This 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

Following are the previous recipients:

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), and Cathy Glazier (2019).

Art Hecht was a tireless community volunteer, and was dedicated to students in both Piedmont and Oakland. He served on Piedmont’s Board of Education from 1970 to 1982. Art also was very active with the Piedmont Continuation High School (now called Millennium High School).

In 1998, the Art Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award was established in his memory.

Nominations for this award are now being sought and will be kept strictly confidential. The deadline for nominations is 4:30 p.m. on March 16, 2020. A selection committee will vote on the award recipient, who will be recognized at the May 13, 2020 Board of Education meeting, where the honoree’s good works will be acknowledged. They also will receive the gift of a work of student art. The student will receive a monetary award and commendation from the Board.

Nomination Forms are available on the PUSD website, in the District Office or by calling Sylvia Eggert, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, at (510) 594-2614.

Jan 26 2020

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont is forming discussion groups to participate in the 2020 Great Decisions program on world affairs.

Sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association, Great Decisions is America’s largest discussion program on global matters.

The program is a series of eight meetings, lasting approximately two hours each. Participants receive a Foreign Policy Association briefing book which provides background and context for group discussion. Each session starts with an insightful video created by the Foreign Policy Association, followed by a lively discussion of the week’s topic.

Chosen by a panel of foreign policy experts, this year’s topics are:

  1.  Climate Change and the Global Order
  2. India and Pakistan
  3. Red Sea Security
  4. Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
  5. U.S. Relations with the Northern Triangle
  6. China’s Road into Latin America
  7. The Philippines and the U.S. 8. Artificial Intelligence and Data

The program offers two sessions: Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm, and Thursday afternoons from 1 – 3 pm. Participants can attend either session.

The Wednesday session will meet at 40 Highland Ave. beginning February 12.

The Thursday session starts February 13, meeting at the Piedmont Police Department Conference Room, 403 Highland Ave.

Both sessions meet every other week, with the eighth and final sessions ending May 20th & 21st, respectively.

To RVSP, please visit the LWVPiedmont.org and click the Great Decisions Discussion Group link.

The cost of the program is $32.00. Payment via credit card, debit card or PayPal is accepted. Payment via check should be payable to the League of Women Voters Piedmont and sent to Ward Lindenmayer, 40 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611. Please note in the memo section that the check is for Great Decisions and indicate whether you prefer to attend daytime or evening session.

Regardless of which way you pay, please send your email contact to Ward at wardandelaine@comcast.net.

Last year’s Great Decisions program attracted 60 participants, nearly twice as many as in the past. This, perhaps, says something about the state of the world and how global affairs have become important to so many.

Great Decisions is open to all. You do not need to be a member of the League to join in. Briefing books are now available for pick-up at 40 Highland Ave., Piedmont. Please sign the sheet when you pick up a book and leave a check in the envelope if you have not previously paid.

Jan 21 2020

Piedmont City Council approved the first reading of a binding ADU ordinance while leaving open a number of outstanding questions. The required Second consideration will be on Monday, February 3, 2020, 7:30 p.m., City Hall. 

ADU applications that comply with a new binding ordinance will be approved by city staff without neighbor notification or public participation.  ADUs will be approved “by right.”  Parking, privacy, and views will not be allowed to be considered.

Planning Director Kevin Jackson and City Attorney Michelle Kenyon acknowledged that it had been difficult to determine the ramifications of the various State laws and their impact on Piedmont’s proposed ordinances. 

Numerous outstanding issues remain: safety requirements including street width and existing parking, driveway widths, fire safety, distance from a bus stop by foot, clarity on design review requirements, landscaping, enlargements to garages on the property line, risks of waiting to approve an ADU ordinance until information is provided by the state, deed restrictions, opaque window requirements, balconies, etc.

The Council supports increased Piedmont density by adding more ADUs approved by staff.   There will be no public notice or consideration by the Planning Commission on conforming ADUs.  Higher and taller ADUs over 16 feet were also sought by the Council. 

The Council seeks to meet regional housing needs, especially for below market rate housing, through increased ADUs. The Planning Department was praised for their efforts.

City Planning Consultant Michael Henn of Piedmont spoke to the Council on January 21 asking for a more considered approach on the ADU ordinance by awaiting  the California Department of Housing and Community Development guidelines assisting cities on ordinances regarding ADUs. 

Henn carefully explained his approval of ADUs and his prior role drafting ordinances.  He recommended a delay in ordinance approval by the Council pending further information on what other cities are approving for appropriate Piedmont ADUs.

Below is the Henn letter sent to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Greetings,
I am a city planning consultant in the East Bay. I am following the creation of local ADU ordinances. I have been told that HCD is preparing new guidelines to assist cities with AB 68& 881& SB 13.
If so, when do you expect them to be available?
Thanks,
Michael Henn, AICP
Piedmont CA

Mike,

Attached you will find our guidance memo. We are working on an ADU booklet (similar to the previous HCD ADU Booklet), which will have a sample ordinance, a summary of the recent legislation, and an FAQ section. Expect that booklet out in the next month or so. In the meantime, feel free to send in any questions you may have. Thanks!

  • Jose

READ Information from Housing and Community Development > ADU TA AB 881 others 01-10-20

Despite the long processes to amend ordinances, the Council did not want to delay the ordinance.  There appeared to be no consideration of how other small cities were dealing with ADU requirements.

Jan 20 2020

Safety, traffic, transit, parking –

Mayor and City Council

City of Piedmont

120 Vista Avenue

Piedmont, CA 94611

Subject: Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) -Revisions

Dear Mayor and Members of the City Council

As a planner, I have long supported allowing more ADUs when they were virtually outlawed by most cities. However, it now seems like the State may have overreached in taking away cities’ rights to regulate ADUs.

Piedmont may be rushing action on a revised ADU ordinance when the state law only became effective three weeks ago. I have checked with several other jurisdictions and they are just beginning to study the issue and have not yet began public hearings. There is a lack of urgency because the State Housing and Community Department has not yet published its implementation guidelines.

Our premature actions may necessitate subsequent otherwise unneeded revisions when the HCD guidelines are issued.  Also, if Piedmont does not have its own local ordinance in place, then there would be no impact on the potential production of ADUs, because the state’s rules would apply by default, until we adopted our own. So there is little real urgency and there is time for proper study.

What is being proposed largely precludes the normal community discussion which Piedmont residents are used to. In particular, just following the law and accurately measuring the half mile walking distance from bus stops will require some time. And if we were to provide for street-safety thresholds, also consistent with the law, additional time would be required for analysis.

I have including pertinent sections of the newly adopted state law to illustrate the following concerns:

66582.2  (a) A local agency may…

(A)Designate areas within the jurisdiction of the local agency where accessory dwelling units may be permitted. The designation of areas may be based on criteria that may include, but are not limited to, the adequacy of water and sewer services and the impact of accessory dwelling units on traffic flow and public safety.

(Presumably this section means that the jurisdiction may designate areas where accessory dwelling units may not be permitted, or, there should also be latitude to allow ADUs but with some minimum of off-street parking provided)

66582.2 (d)Notwithstanding any other law, a local agency, whether or not it has adopted an ordinance governing accessory dwelling units in accordance with subdivision (a), shall not impose parking standards for an accessory dwelling unit in any of the following instances:

(1)The accessory dwelling unit is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit.

66582.2 (j) (10): “Public transit” means a location, including, but not limited to, a bus stop, or train station where the public may access buses, trains, subways, and other forms of transportation that charge set fares, run on fixed routes, and are available to the public.

(This definition would preclude counting mere proximity to a bus route where there is no designated bus stop) 

66582.2 (o) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

Analysis

Transit Availability: Some of the restrictions on cities’ powers largely apply to homes within a half mile, by foot, from a bus stop (66582.2 {d} {1) The staff report declares that every part of Piedmont is within a half mile of a bus stop. While largely true, that conclusion was apparently based on a crow-fly review since it’s not entirely true. For example, I took well-known Wildwood School as a starting point, and using my admittedly less accurate car’s odometer, I have checked the distance along streets, (not crow-fly distance), and found that it is at least a half mile to the nearest bus stops for AC Transit Lines 29, 12, 33 and P.  Because of curving streets and a few cul-de-sacs, there are probably several other areas which are beyond a half mile. Also Line 33 above the central area has only weekday commuter service with no midday or weekend service. These transit deficiencies are important because the statute’s justification for not providing any new parking for an ADU, is that convenient transit is available. Where transit is not available, some relief seems justified.

Traffic and Emergency Vehicle Safety: There are a few existing, seriously impacted and unusually narrow streets where on-street parking is already extremely impacted, and emergency vehicles may already have trouble getting through. The extremely narrow stretch of Scenic Avenue comes to mind. The new state law (66582.2 {a}) allows a city to designate areas not suitable for additional ADUs for safety reasons. To be objective and defensible, I’d suggest language like: The City has determined that certain existing streets which are of insufficient width according to accepted Fire Protection standards, and such streets already allow on-street parking, and accordingly, the provision of one parking space per ADU is required, and such spaces may be open and tandem: (street names to follow).

Correction of Existing Code Violations: As I am sure you all know, there have been a lot of historic or even recent conversions of garages to living quarters for the primary dwelling unit. This is distinct from cases where a parking deficiency is legally non-conforming (grandfathered). If such a residence were now to further worsen the on-street parking demand by adding one or even 2 ADUs, that would add to the existing on street parking conflicts. Without violating the new law’s prohibition on requiring any parking for the ADU, the city could ask/require that existing zoning/building violations regarding parking be corrected. This would mandate that a parking analysis be done in concert with the ADU review. Merely suggesting that the building inspector will catch past violations is unrealistic.

Summary: In crafting the legislation, the legislature made some concessions for where transit was not conveniently available and for valid public safety reasons. I would expect that a good faith effort that is tailored to the unique nature of a city and supports its specific exceptions with a logical nexus to traffic safety and emergency vehicle access would escape much criticism. A Planning Commission member has suggested finding a legal way to provide notice of new construction to neighbors, but not deter from the ministerial approval requirement. There can be a lot of good ideas to protect neighborhoods, but not if the new ordinance gets rapidly approved as written.

We can ask, How can we work within the law, but tailor it to the uniqueness of Piedmont? I of course agree that most of Piedmont can and should accommodate additional ADUs with little impact. However, areas where most of the once existing one-car garages have already been converted to living quarters, and where the narrow streets are already jammed with parked cars, really shouldn’t have to accept more units with no new parking or even correcting past violations.

Therefore, I urge the Council to take a step back and allow the normal community involvement to take place. A citizens’ committee could assist the staff in reviewing the options and look at how other jurisdictions have looked at the issue.

Thank you for your consideration,

Michael Henn, Former Piedmont Planning Commissioner

Jan 20 2020

Few small California cities decide to create such lengthy new ADU ordinances as Piedmont’s 112 page opus.  Nevertheless, their brief updates retain public notice to neighbors, contain requirements that are sensitive to the privacy challenges of squeezing in additional people in close quarters, etc.

San Marino, CA has adopted a 14 page ordinance expressing compliance with AB 68, AB 587, AB 881, and SB 13.   An early statement in the ordinance is:

“The City shall not approve an application for an ADU unless the ADU satisfies all of the standards provided in the ordinance.”

Among San Marino’s requirements for a complete application prior to obtaining an ADU/JADU building permit: a recorded deed restriction, rental period of no less than 90 days,  letters of service availability for sewer and water, utility services may not be separate from the primary residence, tree removal permit, grading permit, a 10 foot fire lane within 150 feet of the ADU and a minimum fire flow of 1000 gallons per minute.

Read the whole ordinance here.

San Carlos, CA is in the process of updating its ADU ordinance and is recommending several interesting requirements:

– Prohibit all balconies and second-story decks on ADUs on top of detached garages; prohibit roof decks above accessory structures to reduce privacy impacts

– Require opaque windows when facing immediately adjacent side and rear neighbors.

– Detached ADUs shall not occupy more than 50% of the required rear yard area.

Read the report here.

Mill Valley, CA is also preparing to update its ADU ordinance and is considering several of these requirements:

Additional Design Standards:

  • No internal connections to primary residence; 
  • A closet required for every bedroom space (defined in the draft ordinance);
  • The primary residence must comply with parking standards (2 off-street parking spaces and 1 guest space when on-street parking not available); and
  • At least 1 parking space required for the ADU.

Additional Requirements and Deed Restrictions:

  • Require the ADU to be rented to an “Affordable Household” (Moderate, low or very low income affordability levels, as defined in the Draft Ordinance), or to an adult immediate family member (defined in the Draft Ordinance).
  • Require annual owner verification of renting the ADU space, including submittal of the rental agreement documenting the rent charged, household size, and gross household income.  

Read the report here.

Piedmont City Council’s first consideration of the ADU ordinance will take place on Tuesday, January 21, 2010, 7:30 p.m., City Hall.  See prior PCA reports for further details.

 

Jan 16 2020

Piedmont City Council, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, 7:30  p.m., City Hall – viewable on the City website under videos.

At the Piedmont Planning Commission on Jan. 13th, numerous questions arose regarding changing Piedmont’s ordinances for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to conform to City staff interpretation of newly passed state laws.  Some of the issues raised were parking, notice, public input, number of people living in an ADU, safety, distance from public transit, staff review process, design review considerations, plantings, landscape requirements for privacy, construction plans, necessity to act prior to complete information, etc.

Four of the Planning Commissioners, voted to recommend approval to the City Council, with one opposed (Levine).

An important question has arisen regarding the necessity of moving ahead with a new Piedmont ordinance prior to the California Department of Housing and Community Development issuing a directive on how the new laws are to be implemented.  Piedmont’s Planning Staff acknowledged publicly it had been challenging to meld three new statutes together because of conflicts and lack of clarity.  Some community members have indicated the proposal includes unnecessary items while excluding items as noted above.

Nowhere in the staff documentation is there a direct correlation between the new state laws and the proposed changes to Piedmont’s laws. 

Given that the new state laws may (unless Charter cities are ruled exempt on zoning) preempt any conflicting Piedmont ordinances not complying with the new state laws, it has been stated that a hasty adoption of an incomplete new ordinance is not in Piedmont’s favor and should not be enacted by the Piedmont City Council until issues are resolved.

According to the Piedmont Planning Department, State laws place limits on a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs).  The staff report does not quote the relevant State law language for each inconsistency it cites.

READ the proposed Ordinance  HERE.

Comments can be sent to the Piedmont City Council for their first consideration on Tuesday, Jan. 21 by clicking below. 

citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.

To send comments via U.S. Mail, use the following address: Piedmont City Council c/o City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

~~~~~~~~~

The staff recommended revisions to Piedmont’s ADU ordinance to address the identified inconsistencies with state laws are:

a. Once an application for an ADU has been deemed complete, the City has 60 days to take action on it, rather than the currently required 120 days.  What action does state law require and does it require the proposed changes immediately? 

Contrarily, if approved by the legislature and Governor, SB 50 would require beginning after January 1, 2023 creating new inconsistencies:

A local agency must notify a multi-family development proponent if the application does not qualify for ministerial approval within 60 days.  (However, a local agency could exempt a project from streamlined ministerial approval if the project will cause a specific adverse impact to public health and safety.)  To qualify, the project must be constructed on vacant land or convert an existing structure that does not require substantial exterior alteration into a multifamily structure, consisting of up to 4 residential dwelling units and that meets local height, setback, and lot coverage zoning requirements as they existed on July 1, 2019.

b. ADUs must be allowed in every zone in which residential use is allowed. In Piedmont, this is every zone.

c. A requirement for owner occupancy on the property is no longer allowed, at least through 2025.

d. Architectural review of construction related to an ADU is allowed, but it must be done ministerially without public hearing.

e. Any minimum size standard for an ADU must allow 850 square feet for studio or one-bedroom units, and 1,000 square feet for an accessory dwelling unit that provides more than one bedroom. (The current code limit is 800 square feet.)

f. When a garage or carport is demolished or converted for the purpose of creating an ADU, no replacement parking can be required, and existing nonconforming setbacks and coverage can be retained.

g. In addition to a regular ADU, the City must also allow a JADU. Both an ADU and a JADU can be constructed on a single lot.

h. There are four categories of ADUs the City must approve by right:

1. One ADU and one JADU within the existing building envelope of a single family dwelling, with an expansion of up to 150 square feet for ingress and egress.

2. On a lot with a single-family dwelling: A detached ADU that is not more than 800 square feet, that is no more than 16 feet in height and is set back at least 4 feet from side and rear property lines.

3. Within existing multi-family residential buildings: multiple ADUs converted from areas not currently used as living space (at least 1 ADU and not more than 25 percent of existing dwelling units).

4. Not more than two detached ADUs on a lot with an existing multi-family residential building that are no more than 16 feet in height and are set back at least 4 feet from side and rear property lines.

BACKGROUND: Current Regulations

The City adopted the current regulations for accessory dwelling units in May 2017. In brief, the current regulations require an owner of a single-family dwelling to seek an accessory dwelling unit permit to create an ADU as a dwelling unit independent of the primary residence. Except for Exempt ADUs (those created before 1930) either the primary or accessory dwelling unit must be owner occupied. The ADU may be attached or detached, but must have a separate exterior entrance.

As required by state law, an application for an accessory dwelling unit permit must be processed ministerially (without a public hearing) if it meets all the standards required for the ADU permit. New buildings or changes to buildings that are intended to contain the ADU require separate design review and building permits and must meet design review criteria and zoning provisions for buildings, or a variance from those provisions.

Revision of Incentives for Affordable Housing

The current code imposes a limit of 800 square feet on all ADUs and authorizes the Planning Commission to grant an exception to the size limit for units up to 1,000 square feet if the owner agrees to rent the unit to a low income household for a period of 10 years,

Page 2 of 112  – or 1,200 square feet if the owner agrees to rent the unit to a very low income household for a period of 10 years (Sec. 17.38.070.C.1).

Since May 2017, the City has received no applications for an ADU requesting an exception from the unit size requirement and has approved no ADU permits with a rent restriction.

The state law changes the minimum size standards permitted under local regulation, requiring revision of the City’s exception provisions. In accordance with Government Code section 65852.2(a)(3), it is recommended that exceptions to size requirements to provide an incentive to create affordable housing be processed ministerially.

City of Piedmont General Plan Housing Element

The majority of the General Plan Housing Element for 2015-2023 (separately available on the City’s website) is devoted to ADUs (referred to as second units in the Element) because, as a built-out city, ADUs are the main means by which the City is able to provide new housing units, either market rate or affordable.

Housing Element policies and programs that relate to ADUs include the following:

Policy 1.2: Housing Diversity. Continue to maintain planning, zoning and building regulations that accommodate the development of housing for all income levels.

Policy 1.5: Second Units. Continue to allow second units (in-law apartments) “by right” in all residential zones within the City, subject to dimensional and size requirements, parking standards, and an owner occupancy requirement for either the primary or secondary unit. Local standards for second units may address neighborhood compatibility, public safety, and other issues but should not be so onerous as to preclude the development of additional units.

Policy 1.6: Second Units in New or Expanded Homes. Strongly encourage the inclusion of second units when new homes are built and when existing homes are expanded.

Program 1.C: Market Rate Second Units. Maintain zoning regulations that support the development of market rate second units in Piedmont neighborhoods.

Policy 3.1: Rent-Restricted Second Units. Continue incentive-based programs such as reduced parking requirements and more lenient floor area standards to encourage the creation of rent restricted second units for low and very low income households.

Policy 3.2: Occupancy of Registered [Permitted] Units. Encourage property owners with registered [permitted] second units to actively use these units as rental housing rather than leaving them vacant or using them for other purposes. Page 3 of 112

Policy 3.3: Conversion of Unintended Units to Rentals.Encourage property owners with “unintended second units” to apply for City approval to use these units as rental housing. “Unintended” second units include spaces in Piedmont homes (including accessory structures) with second kitchens, bathrooms, and independent entrances that are not currently used as apartments.

Policy 3.4: Legalization of Suspected Units. Work with property owners who may be operating second units without City approval to legalize these units. Where feasible and consistent with the health and safety of occupants, consider planning and building code waivers to legalize such units, on the condition that they are rent and income restricted once they are registered.

Policy 3.5: Second Unit Building Regulations. Maintain building code regulations which ensure the health and safety of second unit occupants and the occupants of the adjacent primary residence.

Policy 4.4: Updating Standards and Codes. Periodically update codes and standards for residential development to reflect changes in state and federal law, new technology, and market trends.

Policy 5.2: Second Units, Shared Housing, and Seniors. Encourage second units and shared housing as strategies to help seniors age in place. Second units and shared housing can provide sources of additional income for senior homeowners and housing resources for seniors seeking to downsize but remain in Piedmont.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE SECTIONS 65852.2 AND 65852.22: In September 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 68, AB 881, and SB 13 into law.  

Read the full Planning Department Report by clicking below

Planning-ADU-Report-2020-01-13

 

Jan 16 2020

No Digital Gadget Exposure for Kids of Tech Elite

Many Silicon Valley leaders prohibit exposure of their children to digital gadgets, including iPads, smartphones and even banning use by their nannies while at work.  Several current reports suggest why these parents are making this choice.

The National Education Policy Center at University of Colorado, Boulder, found “self-interested advocacy by the technology industry” as a factor in investing in installing and using digital devices in classrooms.

Personalized Learning and the Digital Privatization of Curriculum and Teaching   Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Christopher Saldaña    Read more here.

Researchers have now produced actual evidence questioning the use of digital gadgets in schools.  Quotes from the report in the January/February 2020 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Review:

“Teachers don’t know much about how well digital tools work, but they support using them.”

“Most students in the US are using ed tech tools every day.”

“College students who used laptops or digital devices did worse on exams.”

“Eighth graders who took Algebra I online did much worse than those who took the course in person.”

To read the whole article  (online by subscription only) and see the data and charts begin on page 18 of the paper January/February 2020 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Review.

Jan 9 2020

No more single-family housing zones in Piedmont.

Piedmonters who falsely relied on Piedmont’s City Charter and voters rights to protect single-family zoning in Piedmont have lost their authority under new state legislation changing Piedmont and housing in California by opening development opportunities while eliminating Charter City rights and public input in determining  housing requirements.  

Piedmont housing is dramatically impacted by the signing in October 2019 of state legislation AB 68, AB 881, and SB 13.  The legislation was unopposed by Piedmont’s City Council.  The laws essentially eliminate Piedmont’s  single-family zoning which was controlled by Piedmont’s City Charter and voting rights.

While some cities strenuously resist AB 68, AB 881, and SB 13, Piedmont’s City Council guided by the Piedmont Planning Department has stepped in line to become a different city by discarding Piedmont voters’ rights specified in the Piedmont City Charter to either support or oppose the changes.

Developers for decades, who have wanted to change and densify Piedmont, will now have “by right” without public input the ability to densify  Piedmont properties up to 3 units on a former single-family property.

At 5:30 p.m. on January 13, 2020, the Piedmont Planning Commission will review an ordinance amending Chapter 17 (Planning and Land Use) of the City Code to conform the City’s regulations regarding Accessory Dwelling Units to new state laws and make a recommendation to the City Council.  See staff report below.

A week later, at 7:30 p.m. on January 21, 2020, the City Council will consider the proposed ordinance and the recommendation of the Planning Commission and could approve the first reading of the ordinance.

Both meetings will be  held at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, City Council Chambers and will be televised via the City website under videos.

Background – 

On January 1, 2020, new state laws came into effect which limit a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These units are frequently referred to as “Granny Units” or “Secondary Units.” With the new legislation, parcels can contain up to 3 units without the owner being a resident. 

The Piedmont staff believes and interprets existing state law to require extensive reduction in resident planning for a desirable single-family community.

  According to the staff provisions affected by the changes to state law include, but are not limited to:

  • ministerial review and approval of all ADU permit applications= no public hearings  or neighborhood input
  • off-street parking requirements = off-street parking requirements eliminated
  • garages can be converted to ADU’s with no set back requirements
  • unit size limitations on applications = size increases 
  • approval timelines = 60 day term
  • owner occupancy requirement  = owner no longer needs to be a resident on the property
  • allowance for junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs) = Small ADU
  • ADUs on multi-family properties = increased densities
  • ADUs that must be approved by-right
  • allowance for 3 dwelling units on a property
  • setback requirements in certain situations = eliminated

“Local laws which do not conform to these new state standards are preempted and cannot be enforced. City staff has developed the proposed ordinance which will be considered by the Planning Commission and the City Council to conform Piedmont’s ADU regulations to the new state law.”  Piedmont Planning Department

Link to staff report:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Planning%20Division/Planning-ADU-Report-2020-01-13.pdf

Documents on the City Website

Documents related to this effort are available on the City website. A staff report to the Planning Commission dated January 13, 2020 is provided on the website (see Agenda Report mid-webpage). It includes the proposed changes that will bring the City’s regulations for ADUs into compliance with the new state laws, while preserving the City’s rent-restricted ADU program, as well as the City’s ability to regulate ADUs and JADUs.

The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to make a recommendation for consideration by the City Council, which is the decision-making body. The City Council staff report for this item will be posted on the City website no later than 12 noon on Friday, January 17, 2020.

Public Engagement:

Following no consideration of the legislation by the Piedmont City Council, the legislation was signed in October 2019.  Piedmont is now moving to an expedited review and rapid adoption of a new ordinance, which does not comply with the Piedmont City Charter.

According to the City, the opportunity for public input is available throughout this rapidly moving process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the public meetings. Both the Planning Commission meeting on January 13, 2020 and the City Council meeting on January 21, 2020 will be televised live on KCOM-TV, the City’s government access TV station and available through streaming video on the City’s web site at piedmont.ca.gov/

Written comments regarding the proposed ordinance may be sent to the City Council and Planning Commission via email to: :@piedmont.ca.gov. Comments intended for the Planning Commission’s consideration preferably should  be submitted by 5 p.m., Thursday, January 9, 2020 for distribution to the Planning Commission.

Comments can be sent to the Piedmont City Council for their first consideration on Jan. 21. 

citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.

To send comments via U.S. Mail, use the following address: Piedmont City Council c/o City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

If you have questions about the ordinance, contact Planning & Building Director Kevin Jackson by email at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov. Any correspondence sent to the City will be considered a public record.

Contact: Kevin Jackson, Planning and Building Director at Tel: (510) 420-3039   Fax: (510) 658-3167  kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov.

Jan 9 2020

A number of Piedmonters are registered as “No Party Preference” and may not realize they may not be able to vote by mail for  nominees in California’s Presidential Primary on March 3, 2020, unless they changed their registration prior to January 2, 2020.

Piedmonters are confused by the following statement on the Alameda County Registrar of Voters website:

All registered voters in Alameda County are eligible for this Presidential Primary Election.

Change your party affiliation at any time by filling out a new registration form; you can use the Online Registration Form. Be sure to re-register at least 15 days prior to the next election in order for the change to take effect for that election.

However, in late December, 2019 the Alameda County Registrar of Voters  mailed notices to every Piedmonter registered as “No Party Preference” stating:

You are currently registered to vote as No Party Preference.  You will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election that does not include candidates for U.S. President unless you return this postcard” [with a party selection] “by January 2, 2020.”

Some citizens did not see this notice until after the holidays.

Piedmonters registered as “No Party Preference,” who wish to vote for a party candidate in the presidential primary on March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election, are encouraged to re-register at least 15 days prior to March 3 here and then go to the polls to vote in person on March 3.

Dec 10 2019

“…housing is strictly a matter for local officials.”

“(T)his court finds that the (Housing Accountability Act) is unenforceable to the extent the HAA conflicts with or purports to disregard otherwise enforceable portions of the city’s Municipal Code regarding review of housing development projects,” Judge George Miram ruled.

In its December 7 editorial the Chronicle’s Editorial Board warned that the ruling’s “startling conclusion” is a threat to housing construction in charter cities across California.  “In charter cities, the judge ruled, housing is strictly a matter for local officials.”

“This is a dramatic challenge to state officials. It has the potential to derail their authority not just in San Mateo but in more than 120 charter cities across California.” Read the Editorial here.

On November 21, 2019, the Bay Area Council asked Attorney General Xavier Becerra to request a rehearing of the case.  The Council noted “A terrible and misguided court decision in San Mateo County threatens to undo and undermine a raft of recent [housing] legislation …”

“In a stunning judgement, Miram effectively ruled that the state does not have a role in guiding or enforcing zoning, land use and permitting decisions in cities that are governed under their own charters.”

Local Control and the Opportunity for Meaningful Citizen Input into Planning is a Problematic Issue  in Piedmont.

Piedmont neighborhood groups have complained of lack of citizen input and local control when faced with changes that raised health concerns, destruction of views, harm to aesthetics, loss in property values on Maxwelton and elsewhere. When residents offered modifications to improve projects Planning Commissioners supported, they lost on appeal.  Others complained to no avail, when told they “cannot comment on” proposed development.

700 local citizens signed a petition in opposition to the proposed dispersal of cell towers (68 cell towers ultimately envisioned spread across virtually every street in Piedmont).  Resident Bruce Mowat opined that the response would change, “Once those ‘Above Highland’ realize that most of the future 68 sites will be sited on locations like Seaview, Hampton, St. James, Estates, etc.”