Apr 12 2021

 A Look at the California Electrical Grid Evolution  –

I got interested in studying the California electric grid as the result of the passage of Measure UU. The amount of energy consumed by an aquatic facility is significant:  in 2019 the existing pools used 25,396 therms of gas and 110 MWh of electricity a year, equivalent to 854 MWh (1MWh = 1,000 kwh). The new Piedmont aquatic facility is planned to have three times the surface and therefore could need as much as three times more energy in a steady state.

Clearly the new facility ought to minimize greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.  Given the expected lifetime of the future facility, it makes sense to look forward and consider its GHG footprint in the long term in the context of the evolution of the grid, the City Climate Action Plan and the State 2050 decarbonisation goals.

I built a simulation engine for the California grid based on the hourly empirical data available for the year 2019 from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the California Public Utility Commission. It simulates the way the energy available from various in-state and out-of-state sources are fed into the grid to meet demand. Increase in wind and solar supply is assumed to be based on scaling existing farms, therefore resulting in a proportional increase in such hourly energy offered to the grid. Demand is scaled based on the projection of the adoption of electric vehicles, the construction of new all-electric homes, and the conversion to electricity of residential, commercial, and industrial natural gas usage. Each sector has its own specific hourly demand distribution.

Wind and solar are energy sources with very large down and up swings.

  • On the down side in 2019 the wind and solar offering fell below 5% of hourly demand 19% of the time. Such intermittent power needs to be backfilled on a real time basis by dispatchable sources to match demand. Dispatchable energies are generated by power units able to vary output to follow demand, such as natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear and geothermal plants. The utilisation factor of such traditional plants diminishes with intermittent energy use, but the plants cannot be decommissioned because their full power is needed for the several hours a year with high demand and lack of wind and sun.

  • On the up side, wind and solar energy production has to be curtailed whenever its hourly generation exceeds demand (minus a dispatchable energy floor to ensure reliable service). As the proportion of wind and solar power offered to the grid relative to demand increases, the proportion of such refused energy relative to the one offered increases.

The graph below is the result of running scenarios on the simulator corresponding to the projected demand in 2045. Note that the projection does not take into account converting industrial natural gas use (768,188 million cubic feet a year) to electricity, equivalent to 225 TWh a year assuming all industrial usage is for heating (one TWh equals 1,000,000 MWh).

The refused wind and solar energy could be converted to hydrogen through electrolysis rather than curtailed and used either to power hydrogen cars, to generate dispatchable electricity through hydrogen turbines and/or to be mixed with natural gas for distribution through the existing gas network.  See  below: Looking at the various possible evolutions of the mix of energy sources in the grid, I was hoping to calculate the sweet spot on the blue lines in the chart for the ratio of wind and solar power offered relative to demand that would optimize all life cycle costs and service reliability. But I failed because of the large uncertainties on many parameters which would allow me to reach any conclusion that I am biased towards, in particular:

  • Cost of upgrading the natural gas distribution network to handle hydrogen.

  • Life cycle cost of new nuclear and hydrogen dispatchable power plants.

  • Life cycle cost of new solar and wind farms with potentially lower level of utilization than currently accounted for.

  • Life cycle cost of traditional power plants operated at much lower utilisation factor, but still needed to power the grid in the hours with no wind and solar.

  • Energy efficiency in the electricity-hydrogen- electricity life cycle.

  • Life cycle cost of batteries.

Politics will drive where the grid ends up. Currently intermittent energy sources are favored over dispatchable non-fossil power plants as they create jobs all over California rather than in a few places and have a projected low life cycle cost.

With regard to the design of the new aquatic facilities, I would favor a single smaller pool focused on sports rather than recreation because of my belief that frugality is essential to meet the climate challenge. In any case, I know that a competent team focused on sustainability is working on the design of a “green” pool and I am confident that the promises of Measure UU will be achieved to the satisfaction of our community.

Bernard Pech, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Apr 10 2021

Lit Price Signs Proposed for Highland Gas Station

Digital LED-lit and Corner Monument Digital Signs

Planning Commission Consideration of New Signs for Highland Avenue Gas Station – Monday, April 12, 5:30 pm

The application proposes to construct new signage at the gas station including: a new interiorlit monument sign with digital price indicators at the corner of Highland Avenue and Highland Way; a digital LEDlit sign on the gas station canopy; and unlit signage above the convenience store and auto repair garage.

Virtual Meeting by ZOOM Teleconference open to the public.  See agenda for instructions on tuning in. >  Agenda


Design and Preservation Policy 27.9: Signs – Require quality, balance, consistency, and high quality materials in the design of signs, including commercial business signs, municipal signs, street signs, and traffic signs. Signs should be compatible with buildings and streetscapes, and should be minimally obtrusive to surrounding uses.

Apr 10 2021

“Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units..”

With the state-mandated relaxation of the rules for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs), the City of Piedmont is producing new housing at a rate not seen since the 1960s.

Since 2015, the City has issued building permits for approximately 73 new homes. In 2019, the Building Division issued 11 building permits for new homes. In 2020, the Building Division issued 24 building permits for new homes and expects to issue an increasing number of building permits in 2021. The vast majority of building permits are for the construction of small detached cottages or the conversion of space inside existing homes to be used as apartments. These small apartments are called ADUs [Accessory Dwelling Units] and JADUs [Junior Accessory Dwelling Units].

The City has finaled the construction of approximately 60 new homes since 2015. However, the City has produced only 12 of the 24 very-low-income affordable housing units required by state law.

The annual progress report can be an assessment tool for the effectiveness of the City’s fair housing policies and programs. In addition, the annual progress report informs the development of the City’s next Housing Element update, scheduled to begin later this month. The first meeting of the Piedmont Housing Advisory Committee is scheduled for April 20, 2021.

Currently, the state-mandated housing goal for Piedmont’s next Housing Element for the 2023 to 2031 time period is 587 housing units. City staff have questioned the accuracy of the state’s methodology for determining the new 587-unit goal. More information about the next Piedmont Housing Element update is at www.PiedmontIsHome.org   < RESIDENTS CAN SHARE OPINIONS. 

Report to be presented to the Piedmont Planning Commission on > Monday, 5:30 pm  > April 12, 2021…….

The City of Piedmont finaled building permits for six new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in 2020, bringing the total of housing units constructed to 55 new units out of a state-mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022. In addition, the City of Piedmont issued new building permits for 21 new ADUs and three new single-family houses, bringing the total number of building permits, issued since 2015, up to 73 permits.

The 2020 annual progress report shows that the City of Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units anticipated by the RHNA, having issued building permits for the construction of approximately 73 new units out of a state mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022. However, with the changes to state legislation, it will be challenging for the City of Piedmont to show that sufficient low and very low income housing is being produced under the 2015-2023 Housing Element’s programs and policies. The preparation of the next Housing Element will require innovative approaches to developing new housing with much higher goals. The next Housing Element will likely require the City to affirmatively plan for the development of approximately 587 new housing units on new sites not considered in the 2015-2023 Housing Element.

Consideration of innovative approaches to creating more and different types of housing is already underway. On April 20, 2021, the Piedmont Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) will hold its first meeting to consider housing and equity issues in Piedmont, including the draft RHNA and planning for the next Housing Element. Also, City staff members are in the process of leading community planning efforts, funded through the SB2 Planning Grant Program.

Through SB2, the City launched the Piedmont Is Home campaign on March 12, 2021 with the launch of a project website (piedmontishome.org) with interactive public engagement tools, such as the online Fair Housing survey and pinnable map, as well as a social media publicity campaign. These tools will be available to members of the Piedmont community, including people working in Piedmont, until April 15, 2021.

In addition, the ad hoc Subcommittee of the Planning Commission on Measure A-1 has been meeting with housing experts, including experts who are also Piedmont residents. The County of Alameda Measure A-1 program has made approximately $2.2 million available for the construction of affordable housing in Piedmont. The Alameda County Measure A-1 program recently granted Piedmont’s request to extend the deadline for the City’s application to use the $2.2 million in funding to a new deadline of December 31, 2022.

Through community engagement such as these early activities, the Piedmont Community will share ideas and problem-solve. Although there are many challenges ahead, Piedmont elected officials, staff and Community members are hard-working, intelligent, and creative. Piedmont will continue to be a leader in the Bay Area for innovation and housing equity and will find new ways to meet the state-mandated goals.

By: Pierce Macdonald-Powell, Senior Planner

Please find attached the City of Piedmont staff report for the Piedmont General Plan’s Housing Element annual progress report for 2020. This item is scheduled for a hearing before the Planning Commission on April 12, 2021.  >AGENDA  <

READ the full report with addresses and charts of new housing units below:

> 2021 PC Report – Annual Housing Progress Report 4-12-2021

Apr 6 2021

Park Commission Wednesday, April 7, 5:30 pm.

Read about the Heritage Tree selection, flowers, minutes, Agenda, participation, and much more by clicking the link below.

Park Commission 4-07-2021

Mar 31 2021

The 801 Magnolia Avenue building would be the perfect place for a Senior Center.

I am amazed that there is no Senior Center in Piedmont and the 801 Magnolia building would be the perfect place to have such a center.  We who live here and have helped build this community have nowhere to go in Piedmont. 

There is a Senior meeting held once a month (during non-Covid times) that does not engage the community very well. 

Seniors need to be able to get together in their own communities for arts, crafts, exercise, classes, excursions and social engaging. Those of us who still live here need to go outside the community for such endeavors, now and as Covid is still strongly present, I have realized the lack of such in our community.

Carol Warren, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

A Community Room for Piedmont at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

How should the public 801 building be used? Public or Private purposes?

If I read the tea leaves right, City Council won’t be holding any public hearings on the use of the 801 Magnolia Building. City staff has negotiated the lease renewal behind closed doors and there seems to be a majority on Council that couldn’t be bothered with public input on matters other than the lease.  That’s too bad because over the years residents have proposed creative ideas for 801 and were Council to engage in an open conversation with its constituents it would lead to better use of the building.

So if the West Wing is lost, let’s talk about the East Wing.  It’s a pretty utilitarian space with a series of cubicles left over from its days as a Sunday School Building.  Sort of a conference room with cubby holes.  Others have commented that the East Wing is well-suited for tutoring, historical displays, and other small group activities.   It might hold 20 comfortably around a conference table or more dispersed throughout the room. A that capacity, it is perfect for a community room. Many cities offer such rooms in libraries or municipal buildings at no or little cost to residents and non-profits.  Open the doors to the East Wing and Piedmonters will find a way to use it.

For that to happen, two things need to occur. First, city staff needs to occupy the offices in the West Wing.  Based on my time on Council, staff has every reason to do this – City Hall is packed to the rafters – or more accurately the basement – and staff was always asking for appropriations to rehab the downstairs.   Why do that when there is perfectly good office space in 801?  But more to the point, having the City occupy the West Wing offices would put staff in proximity to an East Wing community room which would enable public use of the room, particularly as a drop-in center.  Staff would be on hand to “chaperon” the space.  In my experience Piedmonters don’t need chaperoning but I suspect this would be required legally. 

Second, the Piedmont Center for the Arts (PCA) needs to agree to City use of the office space.  That may be hard for PCA to do.  The current tenant of the office is an ex-board member of PCA who was given a below-market rent for the space. Abrogating that arrangement could lead to some bad press for PCA.  The proposed lease for 801 currently has PCA retaining control of the office spaces in the West Wing which it will presumably continue to rent to the ex-board member.  Why should PCA be allowed to rent a public space at below market rates while the City charges higher rates to other non-profits?  If PCA does not need the office space for its own programming, then let the City use the space for its needs.

Surveys of the community have consistently shown that residents want more gathering spaces in the civic center area, be it public or commercial space.  The East Wing offers an excellent opportunity to meet this need and Council should consider how use of the West Wing could facilitate operation of a drop-in center in the East Wing.

  Residents with ideas on how the 801 Building should be used should contact City Council at:


Garrett Keating, Former Member Piedmont City Council 
Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

After 27 years, Recreation Supervisor Erin Rivera, a 27-year employee of the Piedmont Recreation Department, has announced her retirement, effective May 21, 2021.

Ms. Rivera joined the Recreation Department in 1993 as the Wildwood Schoolmates Site Coordinator. In 1996, she was promoted to Recreation Supervisor. In her time with the City, she has been integral to programming for children of all ages.

In her time with PRD, Erin has supervised pre-school and school aged programming. She supervised the Schoolmates program for many years, ensuring high-quality before and after school care for Piedmont students. Erin also grew PRD’s preschool programs from an enrichment program into a full preschool program with six classes being offered five days a week.

Another of Ms. Rivera’s achievements has been PRD’s summer programs. Erin has worked diligently over the years to expand the breadth and quality of the summer programming offered to Piedmont’s youth. Some of her favorite camps have been Camp Cottontail, Camp Ishi, Camp 1973, Huckleberry, Outdoor Explorers, and Camp Everything.

Ms. Rivera is most proud of the CIT and Junior CIT programs, created in 1995, which have given thousands of kids their first job and work experience. She also is proud providing Movies in the Park to the Piedmont Community for twenty-four years.

“I have had the opportunity to work with amazing people over the last 27 years and we were all always focused on the same goal of providing care and experiences that were good for kids!!” said Rivera.

“Erin has dedicated her entire career to the Piedmont Recreation Department,” said Recreation Director Chelle Putzer. “She is responsible for building PRD’s wonderful Schoolmates, Preschool, and camp programs. Her creativity, dedication and service to the Piedmont community has been a cornerstone in the success of the Department for the past 27 years.”

“Erin’s enthusiastic dedication to providing great programs that were good for kids has been evident to me since my first day as Recreation Director,” said City Administrator Sara Lillevand. “She deserves tremendous credit for the programs she developed and the experiences she’s given to kids in her nearly three decades of work at the Recreation Department.”

Mar 30 2021

The City Council talked to candidates for hours on March 29, 2021, before diligently considering who to appoint to each available position.  The public meeting allowed viewers via Zoom to see the Council struggle amongst the talented group of applicants.  Residents should be pleased by the conscientious selection process. The meeting lasted for four hours, and in the end with one motion a slate was approved unanimously by the Council.  Service on the bodies is for 3 year terms as volunteers.

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee: Robert McBain and Vanessa L. Washington

Civil Service Commission: Laura Isaacs and Michael Reese*

Park Commission:  Amber Brumfiel* and Patty Dunlap*

Public Safety Committee:  Stella Ngai and Jeffrey Horner*

Recreation Commission:  Rebecca Posamentier and Lisa Gardner

CIP Review Committee: Sharon Shoshani

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee: Robert Dickinson

* Incumbent

Mar 28 2021

Open Meeting: Monday, 6 pm March 29, 2021 

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

  AGENDA >  City Council Agenda 2021-03-29 (Special)                * Incumbent

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (2 Vacancies)

6:15 p.m. Vanessa L. Washington

6:20 p.m. Jill Tanner (Also applied for Public Safety)

6:25 p.m. Robert Dickinson (Also applied for Housing Advisory, Planning)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Police & Fire Pension Board)

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Civil Service, Public Safety)

BAFP 2021_Redacted    Applications

Civil Service Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:30 p.m. Amy Kelly

6:35 p.m. Laura Isaacs

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Public Safety)

Civil Service 2021_Redacted   Applications

Park Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:40 p.m. Sharon Shoshani

6:45 p.m. Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Recreation)

Amber Brumfiel*

Patty Dunlap*

Park 2021_Redacted Applications

6:50 p.m. BREAK

Public Safety Committee (2 Vacancies)

7:00 p.m. Jamie Totsubo

7:05 p.m. Michael Reese (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Civil Service)

7:10 p.m. Stella Ngai

7:15 p.m. Sara Kaplan

Jeffrey Horner*

Jill Tanner (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Public Safety 2021_Redacted Applications

Recreation Commission (2 Vacancies)

7:20 p.m. Brooke Wall

7:25 p.m. Rebecca Posamentier

7:30 p.m. Mike McConathy

7:35 p.m. Lisa Gardner

7:40 p.m. Caroline Davis

7:45 p.m. Derek Cheung

Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Park)

Recreation 2021_Redacted  Applications

CIP Review Committee (1 Vacancy) No Applicants

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee (1 Vacancy)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Police & Fire Pension 2021_Redacted   Application

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <



Mar 28 2021

On March 22, 2021, the City Council appointed Doug Strout to the Planning Commission and an alternate Planning Commissioner Justin Zucker.  Also, the Council appointed 5 members to the new Housing Advisory Committee, Rani Batra, from the Planning Commission, June Catalano, Jane Lin, Justin Osler, and Claire Parisa.

Interview Schedule 2021-03-22   Unannounced

Planning 2021_ Applications [Redacted by City Clerk]

Housing Advisory 2021_ Applications [Redacted by City Clerk]

WATCH THE MEETING  >https://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=2318  Video of 3/22/2021 Special Council meeeting

Readers are advised to watch the interviews and meeting now.  A public meeting notice was not provided to media sites, including this one, an error noted by the City. Interested individuals could not know the March 22, 2021 meeting was taking place unless they checked the Police Department Bulletin Board * 24 hours prior to the meeting. 

*Correction from the City Clerk: The agenda was posted in three locations, the city’s web site, City Hall (we’re posting on the front door, as the bulletin boards are not accessible to the public because of COVID), and the Police Department. Residents who went to any of these locations would have seen the agenda, not just individuals going to the Police Department.  City Clerk John Tulloch 3/29/2021

PCA Editors Comment:  PCA’s goal is for transparency, public information and public involvement.  The California Brown Act, requires agendas to be timely distributed to requesting media outlets.  PCA, a media outlet, received no notice.  The City Clerk has apologized for the noticing error. 3/30/021

More to follow in the future on the process.