Feb 13 2023

Recreation Commission Meeting February. 15 7:30 pm

Item 5 on the Recreation Commission Agenda is Consideration of an Exclusive Pickleball Trial at the Beach Tennis Courts for a Five-Month Period
from February 27, 2023 to July 31, 2023 and Parameters for the Trial

Item 5 on the Agenda.

The Recreation Commission will consider whether or not to go forward with the trial of dedicated Pickleball at Linda.  Read the meeting agenda and participation particulars  here.


Feb 11 2023

Fair Housing Policy

Prior to hearings on requested Variances and Design Reviews of  individual private property projects, a verbal report will update Commissioners on the activities of staff and the City’s housing consultants related to the development of a fair housing policy.  (Item 3 on the agenda.)  This is an informational item only, not for Commissioners’ action or advice.

Read the agenda here.

The draft proposal included:

1. Support equitable distribution of affordable units across the City. A diversity of  housing choices, including new affordable multi-family housing, new mixed-income  multi-family housing, new residential mixed-use development, converted units, ADUs,  and JADUs, should be considered throughout the City’s neighborhoods, corridors, and  zoning districts.

2. Promote and enhance community design and neighborhoods. Infill development  should be compatible with the neighborhood context. Development and design standards  should ensure that new construction “fits in” in terms of building scale, placement, and  design; and is sensitive to impacts on the neighborhood, including impacts related to  sunlight access, privacy, and roadway access. Each building must exhibit high-quality  design and play a role in creating a better whole.

3. Remove barriers to development and access to housing through clear and objective  standards. Development standards and procedures should guide development that is  equitable and feasible and that lead applicants through procedures that are transparent and  predictable.

4. Facilitate the development of new housing units through strategic partnerships  between the City and the broader community. Partnerships to facilitate development  include reaching community consensus for desired designs; and achieving community  support for new incentives, standards, and tools to meet housing goals.

5. Social equity. Work with the Community to proactively facilitate greater social equity  by considering City incentives and programs that will enable new homes and apartments  for a range of income levels, creating opportunities for all persons regardless of race,  religion, ethnic background, or financial ability.

Read the Memorandum on Consideration of Fair Housing Guiding Principles here.



Feb 7 2023

Piedmont High School Hosts 54th-Annual Piedmont Bird Calling Show

After a three-year absence, the famed Piedmont Bird Calling Contest is set to return on Thursday, March 30, 7pm, at the new Alan Harvey Theater, 800 Magnolia Ave., on the campus of Piedmont High School.

Under the theme of ‘Maskarade,’ guests are encouraged to show their creativity  and personality through their masks – bird-themed or not.

Created in 1963, the Piedmont Bird Calling Contest grew into an annual event that over the decades has attracted attention both locally and nationally as winners have appeared on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,’ and ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’ Recently, a former PHS student and participant demonstrated her skills on ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.’ Though the show has changed somewhat over the years, its spirit and traditions were carried on by the many who share in a spirit of innovation.

Students have spent weeks and months perfecting their bird calls and will be judged based on three criteria:

Authenticity of Call – The judges will act as experts of the Show to certify the authenticity of the call.
Poise and Delivery – Both stage presence and smoothness of delivery are considered. The beauty and singularity of the bird call are essential.
Content of Introduction – Contestants must write their own ‘sketches’. It should include pertinent information about their bird. The information should be organized, well-composed, and in good taste. Humor can be a plus or minus, depending on its appropriateness.

Tickets for the Piedmont Bird Calling Show will go on sale on March 2, through ShowTix4U.  General admission tickets will be available for $25. General admission student tickets will be available for $15.
Plan to buy tickets in advance because the one-time performance usually sells out.

Prior to every Bird Calling Contest, high school students are encouraged to submit their artwork for the official Contest poster. This year’s winner is PHS senior, Macie Gard.


Feb 6 2023

The California Energy Commission approved Piedmont’s updated “reach codes” at their January 25, 2023 meeting, formalizing this set of local energy efficiency requirements for building  projects that reach beyond statewide standards.

Piedmont’s reach codes require that all new single-family homes and detached accessory  dwelling units (ADUs) be all-electric. Additionally, the reach codes require energy efficiency  measures be included in certain renovations to existing properties:

Electric panel replacements or upgrades must have capacity to accommodate future  electrification of all appliances

Kitchen or laundry area renovation projects must install outlets that allow for the use of  electric appliances in the future

• Renovations or additions to existing homes that meet certain project value thresholds  must incorporate one or more items from a menu of energy efficiency and electrification  measures, such as installing insulation in attics or walls, replacing gas furnaces or water heaters with heat pump alternatives, or swapping incandescent light fixtures with LEDs.  A renovation project that costs $30,000 or more must include an energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvement to include in the renovation. A renovation project that costs $115,000 or more must include two energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements to include in the renovation.

• Projects that add a new upper level or increase the building’s roof area by 30% or more  must install a photovoltaic (solar power) system

For questions about  the updated reach codes, contact Sustainability Program Manager Alyssa Dykman at  sustainability@piedmont.ca.gov.

For more information on reach codes, visit the City’s reach code webpage.

Feb 5 2023

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

Tuesday, February 7, 2023  6 pm  Via Teleconference

Regular Agenda
1. Mid-Year Financial Review – Fiscal Year 2022-2023
2. Discussion of the Municipal Services Special Tax (Parcel Tax) and Consideration of the  Committee’s Review of the Parcel Tax Pursuant to Resolution 120-14.

Feb 4 2023

City Council Agenda  Monday, February 6, 2023, 6 pm

Ceremonial Items Proclamation of Black History Month

Introduction of New Employees

Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on  the agenda.

Regular Agenda

3. Consideration of the Acceptance of the California Department of Justice Tobacco Grant in the  Amount of $410,117 and Approve a Memorandum of Understanding with the California  Department of Justice to Disburse Grant Funds to the City

4. Consideration of the Award of a Contract to Provide Professional Services Related to the City of  Piedmont’s Clean Water Program and Municipal Regional Permit Compliance to Kimley-Horn in  the Amount of $174,913
5. Consideration of the Award of the Contract for the 2022 Striping Project to Chrisp Company in the  Amount of $71,665.50,  Approval of an Overall Construction Budget of $89,332.50, and a  Determination that the Project is Exempt from the Requirements of the California Environmental  Quality Act

6. Consideration of FY 2022-23 Mid-Year General Fund Appropriations and FY 2022-23 Mid-Year  Fiscal Report

Read Staff Reports here

Feb 1 2023

Piedmont, a community of about 10,000 residents, has not one, but two organizations formed to help remove the stain of racism from the fabric of civic life. The Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (i.e. PREC) posts: “We work with allied organizations and individuals to raise awareness about racism and to support policies for racial justice and equity.” The Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee (i.e., PADC) describes itself as: “Grounded in principles of racial equity, Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee (PADC) works to dismantle systems of oppression, and replace them with policies and practices to nurture a connected and inclusive community.”

It could be argued that Piedmont’s civic life has been sufficiently stained with racism in the past that an unusually vigorous contemporary effort to avoid more appears justified.  The Piedmont Chief of Police in 1924, a member of the KKK, condoned mob violence against an African American family that had purchased a home in the city. As bad, the then City Council used eminent domain to condemn the home thereby forcing the family from the community.  In the 1960’s, the City Council transferred a public swimming pool to a private club to avoid complying with Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that required integration of public facilities.  In the last decade, moreover, several newsworthy incidents of racist graffiti in Piedmont parks and schools have reminded us of the stains on our civic fabric.

The response of the contemporary community at large to this history has been mostly laudable.  A recent report prepared by city staff finds little evidence of segregation in the community. The School District has developed a reputation for fighting racism in all forms and the city supports and participates in much programing intended to encourage an inclusionary culture.  Indeed, the local media describes a remarkable breadth of inclusionary programming offered in Piedmont on Martin Luther Day 2023.

This programming, however, appears lost on a City Council poised to stain our civic life with a not-so-subtle attempt to segregate a Piedmont neighborhood.  A state mandate that California cities allow development of market-rate and low-income housing has led Piedmont to begin planning a whole new neighborhood in Moraga Canyon.  The plan would allow, indeed encourage, construction of 132 new homes including 60 for low-income families.  Problems with this otherwise laudable scheme include that the Council has explicitly left open the option of assigning the 60 low-income units to Blair Park.

Blair’s designation as a “park” comes from the city’s purchase of Moraga Canyon land more than a century ago with bond funding raised to protect open space and wildlife. The park as we now know it, is essentially a former land fill surrounded mostly by high hillsides so steep that no vehicular or pedestrian access to the flatter section via the hills has ever been proposed. The steep hillsides are covered with oak and other native trees that harbor a diverse collection of wildlife protected, until now, by the land’s purchase with park bond funds.

Vehicles and pedestrians access Blair Park only from Moraga Avenue, a high-speed thoroughfare that connects the 13 and 580 Freeways via Grand Avenue. A 2010 EIR prepared for playfields proposed in Moraga Canyon, found a significant and unmitigable safety hazard for drivers entering or leaving Blair Park.  The hazard arises because no location on Moraga Avenue provides the 385-foot site distance Caltrans assumes for safe stopping of vehicles traveling at 35 MPH. More than 15% of vehicles traveling on Moraga Avenue exceeded that speed in 2010. The EIR also noted a similar hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing Moraga Avenue and that the likelihood of injuries and deaths would grow with increased attempts to access Blair Park.

Piedmonters appear unaware of the scheme to assign 60 low-income families to a former landfill, cutoff from the remainder of the community by impassable terrain and a high-speed arterial deemed an unmitigable safety hazard to motorists and pedestrians leaving and entering Blair Park.  Of those who know of the scheme, few seem aware that the Council also rejected the recommendations of professional staff, paid consultants, and a Council-appointed citizens committee to allow at least some low-income families to live in central Piedmont near schools and services.  And fewer still know that those experts also recommended that any housing assigned to the Canyon be located on the safe side of Moraga Avenue – an option made even more compelling by moving the now obsolete corporation yard, which the city will have to rebuild under any scheme, to Blair.

If the Council chooses to house low-income families in Blair Park, little time will likely pass before those families attribute their stigmatizing and dangerous isolation to segregationist intent. And decent Piedmonters will likely agree.  Such opinions will inevitably corrode civility in Piedmont.  That corrosion will be made much worse if a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorist suffers injury or death accessing or leaving Blair Park – an event anticipated by the EIR alluded to above.

So, what have PADC and PREC said about the Blair Park option? Nothing. Why have they been silent on a scheme as offensively segregationist as any in our history? But they are not alone in their silence. What do our church leaders, League of Women Voters, and School Board members as well as schoolteachers, all of whom rightly speak out against racism on Martin Luther King Day, have to say about this vessel of ruinous dye about to spill on the fabric of our civic life? Where, in short, are they when we need them?

Ralph Catalano, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 31 2023

Regular Agenda for 5:30 pm meeting in the City Council Chambers:

1. Approval of Park Commission Minutes for January 4, 2023

2. Update on Liquid ambar Street Trees on Selborne Dr.

3. Update on Opportunities to Memorialize the Sidney and Irene Dearing Family History at the  Triangle Park at the Intersection of Magnolia and Wildwood Avenues

4. Update on City Park Projects

a. Linda Park Lawn Renovation and Linda Off Leash Dog Park Closure

b. Highland Guilford Handrail and Stair Project

c. Piedmont Park Irrigation and Native Garden Renovations

d. Bottle Filling Stations in Various Parks

5. Update on Tree Inventory and Street Trees

6. Update on the Pedestrian Bridge in Piedmont Park

7. Update on Arbor Day – April 27, 2023

8. Update on Heritage Tree Signage and Nominations for 2023

9. Monthly Maintenance Report: Park, Open Space, and Street Tree Update for the Month of
January 2023

Jan 31 2023

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is New for Housing Elements

A new component of the 6th Cycle Housing Element is compliance with state-mandates of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) policy.  That policy states that local jurisdictions must “analyze and address significant disparities in housing needs and access to opportunity by proposing housing goals, objectives, and policies that aid in replacing segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns, transforming racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity, and fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.”

Addressing the AFFH mandates, the City concluded that segregation is not a concern because all Piedmont neighborhoods have equal access to opportunities (the entire town is a “high resource” area).  Regarding poverty, the City claimed that there are no racial and ethnic concentrated areas of poverty in Piedmont, partly due to there not being sufficient numbers of minorities in Piedmont.

Nonetheless, the City does acknowledge that there are racial/ethnic disparities in Piedmont:

“However, according to the United States Census, American Community Survey (ACS), approximately 25.5 percent of the Piedmont population belonged to a racial minority group in 2019…. According to the March 2022 U.C. Merced Urban Policy Lab and ABAG-MTC AFFH Segregation Report, the most isolated racial group (in Piedmont) is White residents. According to the report, “Piedmont’s isolation index of 0.627 for [non-Hispanic] White residents means that the average White resident lives in a neighborhood that is 62.7% White.

In the City of Piedmont, more than 20 percent of residents are cost-burdened, meaning that they pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent or mortgage. Non-White residents are disproportionately impacted by housing cost burden, over-payment, and overcrowding, as well as other burdens…. Latinos experience higher rates of poverty relative to their overall proportion of the City’s population than White residents. Latinos comprise about 4.2 percent of the City’s population, but 7.0 percent of Latinos live below the poverty level, an estimated 33 residents.”  January 12, 2023 memo

And the City acknowledges that these disparities are associated with the western half of Piedmont:

“More non-White residents are located in the western-most census block group of the City Piedmont Census Tracts. The census tract that overlaps this block group also contains the highest amount of lower and moderate-income population at about 11 percent and exhibits the highest amount of over-payment by renters in Piedmont. Further, this western census tract contains the highest level of persons with a disability at about eight percent….. High levels of over-payment by renters in the western census tract and high rates of over-payment by homeowners on both tracts in the City indicates that many residents may be struggling to afford housing costs.”

So given these facts, why is the 6th Cycle Housing Element proposing to put virtually all of the affordable housing in Piedmont’s western-most census block?  The Ace Hardware store and Blair Park literally border with the City of Oakland and are the proposed sites for the high density low and very low-income housing. There are good reasons for increased density on Grand Avenue but by essentially excluding the Civic Center area for affordable housing, the City Administrator and City Council have pushed affordable and denser housing to the western outskirts of Piedmont.  Doing so propagates what segregation and racial/ethnic concentration exist in Piedmont.

City Council can offset this by developing a fair housing plan for Moraga Canyon that integrates the moderate and affordable housing proposed for the canyon onto one site.  Currently 132 units are proposed for Moraga Canyon but there are two basic options – put housing on either side of Moraga Ave (some in Blair Park, some above Coaches) or all on one of side of Moraga Avenue (all at Blair or Coaches).  Co-locating the moderate and affordable housing onto one site would appear to better achieve the “integrated and balanced living patterns” that is the goal of AFFH.

To achieve the AFFH goals, the City needs to seriously consider relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park.  There are safety, transportation, and environmental benefits to relocating the Corporation Yard in addition to the integrated housing.  To date, the City has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge this and housing advocates have dismissed the idea.  Hopefully the consultant will take an objective approach to planning the best housing solution for Moraga Canyon and Piedmont that meets AFFH goals.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 30 2023

Following the 6 pm Call to Order in Council Chambers, the Council will adjourn to a Closed Session in the Conference Room for one agenda item:

a. Public Employee Appointment (Government Code Sec. 54957 (b)(1))
Title: City Administrator