Jul 15 2020

The Piedmont Unified School District, along with other California School Districts, has been unsure how to safely and effectively open Piedmont schools.

At a Special Meeting on July 16, 2020, 5 p.m., the Piedmont School Board will discuss and consider Distance Learning programs for Piedmont schools with instruction beginning August 17.  For full Agenda details, time, staff reports and participation instructions for the meeting, click below:

https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=79474&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

The School Calendar for 2020-21  –

Revised-2020-21-Instructional-Calendar-Board-Approved-071320.pdf

The following letter was sent from Superintendent Randall Booker to PUSD Educators and Families,

I’m writing to provide you all with updates related to our planning for a return to teaching and learning in the 20-21 school year.

During the July 13th Board of Education Meeting, the PUSD Board of Education directed me to bring forward a plan to begin the school year in a 100% Distance Learning Model.  I agree with this directive and appreciate the Board’s flexibility and willingness to recognize how COVID-19 is affecting the start of school for countless districts across Piedmont, Alameda County, the bay area, and the state.

I also agree with the Board of Education that we must continue to develop plans to bring students and staff back to our campuses, as we had previously discussed, as soon as it is possible and within acceptable parameters of safety.

The safety of our students and staff continue to be our top priority. 

Over the past several days, we have witnessed the infection rate spike across Alameda County, the bay area, and the state.  We simply do not live in a bubble and must consider how the virus is impacting not just Piedmont, but our surrounding communities as well.  In order to bring students and staff back onto our campuses, we were hoping to witness a decrease in the infection rate and hospitalizations.  We were also hoping to see an increase in the access and availability of testing.  Neither of these important criteria are materializing.  In fact, we are witnessing these trend lines headed in the opposite direction.

We are not alone in this thinking.  Many school districts, within and outside of Alameda County, are making the decision to move to a 100% Distance Learning Model to start the school year for similar reasons.  If we hope to transition to an on-site blended learning model, it is imperative to ensure that our students and staff remain safe during a period of increased transmission.

The Board of Education will consider a proposal to begin the 2020-21 school year in a 100% Distance Learning model at the July 16th Special Board of Education Meeting (5:00pm).  All stakeholders are welcome to provide public input prior to Board action.

If approved, administration, educators, and staff will direct our efforts entirely on developing a Distance Learning model that is focused, targeted, and productive for all of our students.  While the spring saw us shift into a crisis mode of distance learning, the fall will be met with much more structure that addresses the six following themes:

  1. An emphasis on a set and consistent daily bell schedule and number of synchronous (live) minutes for direct teaching and learning.

  2. Social/Emotional learning and support systems

  3. Consistent and required benchmark assessments and grading

  4. Structured professional development, training, and collaboration for all of our educators and staff throughout the school year.

  5. Uniform learning platforms and instructional technology

  6. Daily attendance tracking

This summer is challenging as we continue planning with our educators in an environment that constantly shifts.  We have spent a tremendous amount of human capital on the development and implementation of multiple plans based on multiple scenarios.  We have adjusted the 20-21 instructional calendar.  We have negotiated topics including instructional minutes, bell schedules, student cohorting practices, master scheduling, on-campus safety requirements, and employee leave of absence rights.  We have also planned for and reacted to drastic changes to our budget.  In short, all of these challenges have diluted our effectiveness and efficiency.

With a Board decision, the next five weeks, leading up to the start of school, will focus solely on the development and delivery of a Distance Learning Model to ensure a focused, targeted, and productive environment for all.  I recognize that any form of Distance Learning cannot adequately compare to in-person instruction, but I’m looking ahead, doing what is necessary to keep students and staff safe in the immediate, and hoping that under the right environment, we can return to in-person instruction with a full complement of learners and educators.  I fear that a rush to an immediate environment of in-person learning will only lead to an increased infection rate among our students and staff and return us right away to distance learning.

The Board will need to consider the appropriate parameters and benchmarks needed to return to in-person teaching and learning.  We are partnering with the Alameda County Office of Education, Alameda County Public Health Department, and surrounding districts to develop some semblance of uniformity around these benchmarks.  My goal is to provide the Board, our educators, and the community with recommended safety benchmarks prior to August 17th.

I deeply recognize how challenging these decisions are for our educators, staff, families, and students.  There is no single popular decision.  The Board of Education and I are making informed decisions based on the current landscape and what we feel is best for the safety and health of our students and staff.  As we have said since March, COVID-19 is largely in control and will require our planning to be unprecedented in its flexibility.  With that said, there is still so much we can all do to expedite an in-person learning environment:

  1. Masks are a must in all environments outside of the home.

  2. Social Distancing is real and desperately needed.

  3. Establish limited family cohorts and bubble groups.

  4. Delay any unnecessary travel.

  5. Wash your hands/use hand sanitizer fastidiously.

Please be on the look-out for active communications from school sites in the next week or two with updated instructions and developments.  Thank you for doing your part to keep our entire Piedmont community healthy.

Randall Booker

Superintendent

Mar 27 2020

Don’t believe the hype that you can flush that so-called “flushable” wipe. Despite many marketing claims, “flushable” wipes do not breakdown in water.

“The wipes clump together in sewer systems and clog sewage treatment equipment. An independent consumer report in 2014 even found that a “flushable” wipe would not break down in water after being mixed by a kitchen mixer for 10 minutes. That’s not to say that wipes are bad; they’re just not good for the system that cleans our wastewater so it can safely be discharged into the San Francisco Bay.”     East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)

“Sewer systems and toilets are becoming clogged as too many people are flushing wipes and other cleaning materials.” The Washington Post, March 26, 2020

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/05/21/flushable-wipes-are-terrible-plumbing/

Flushable wipes can twist and become stronger, clogging pipes and sewer pumps, while attracting other materials to them, creating so-called fatbergs — congealed masses of flushed items that float, destructively, through sewers.

“Wipes are kryptonite — they should not be flushed,” says Barry Orr, who worked with Joksimovic on a 2019 flushability study as a master’s student in environmental applied science and management at Ryerson University.  The Ryerson study, which was highly critical of flushability claims for consumer goods, is part of a wider dispute involving consumers, municipalities, the wastewater industry, and manufacturers of personal care and cleaning products.”

Read East Bay MUD here

Read Washington Post here

Sep 17 2019

Click below to read the full Street Sweeping schedule.

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Public%20Works/street_sweeping.pdf

Jun 1 2019

The Piedmont Budget Hearings usually produce few comments on the tax levies or allocation of funds.

On Monday, June 3, at the  7:30 p.m. City Council meeting in City Hall, a Public Hearing will be held on the FY 2019-20 Budget.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos. 

Below are the staff reports, recommended tax levies, and report from the Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee.

06/03/19 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding the Proposed Budget and Fee Schedule for FY 19-20 and the Levy of the Municipal Services Special Tax and the Special Municipal Sewer Tax, Receipt of a Report from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, and Consideration of the Following:

Report from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee

a. Adoption of the FY 19-20 Operating Budget

b. Adoption of the FY 19-20 Other Funds Budget

c. Approval of the FY 19-20 Schedule of Fees and Charges

d. Confirmation of the City’s Annual Appropriation (Gann) Limit

e. Approval of the Levy of the FY 19-20 Municipal Services Special Tax

f. Approval of the Levy of the FY 19-20 Special Municipal Sewer Tax

Comments to the City Council >

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

 

 

May 18 2019

ECONOMIC FACTORS AND NEXT BUDGET 

General Fund

Over 60 percent of the City’s general revenue sources are property related. One of the critical sources of General Fund revenue is the voter approved parcel tax which represents approximately 7% of the General Fund revenues and provides discretionary funding to maintain essential services.

In November 2016, Piedmont voters approved a four year extension and increase of the parcel tax, which will run from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021. The additional funds will assist with facilities maintenance and the modernization of information technology systems.

Another critical source of General Fund revenue is the real property transfer tax, which is realized when homes are sold. During this fiscal year, real property transfer tax represents approximately 12% of General Fund revenues, the same as compared to last fiscal year. Real property transfer tax is an area to be monitored as tax receipts will fluctuate as they are dependent on the strength of the real estate market in Piedmont.

In FY 2017-18, revenues in excess of the budgeted amount was transferred to the Facilities Maintenance and the Pension Rate Stabilization Funds.

The City’s salary and benefit costs represent approximately 69% of the General Fund and the employee agreements from 2017 provided for salary increases, but required employees to continue contribution to pension and medical costs.

Sewer Fund

On August 4, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issuing a negotiated Consent Decree (CD). The CD is intended to provide an expanded period of time (21 years) to allow the City to rehabilitate the sewer systems in order to substantially reduce the amount of infiltration and inflow (I&I) in the EBMUD system.

The City restarted Phase V preliminary work and has completed the 100% design documents and has submitted State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) loan documents since the State provides funding with low interest rates. The SWRCB granted the loan and construction began in the summer of 2017 and was completed in the fall of 2018.

READ the entire Audit by clicking below:

05/20/19 – Receipt of the FY 2017-2018 Audited Financial Statements

READ the May 20, 2019 agenda by clicking below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/agendas/2019-05-20.pdf

May 18 2019

General Fund and Sewer Taxes along with fees proposed to move upward.

The City Charter requires that a public hearing be held prior to adoption of the budget, the levy of the Municipal Services Special Tax, and the proposed levy for the Special Municipal Sewer Tax. This is the first of two scheduled public hearings, with the second hearing to be held on June 3, 2019. Following the June 3, 2019 public hearing, staff is recommending that the City Council consider adoption of the budget and levying the taxes.

READ the entire budget proposal for the May 20, 2019 FY 2019-20 and view proposed taxes and fees by clicking below:

05/20/19 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding the Proposed Budget and Fee Proposals for FY 19-20 and the Levy of the Municipal Services Tax and Sewer Tax

READ the agenda for the May 20, 2019 Council meeting by clicking below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/agendas/2019-05-20.pdf

May 10 2019

CIP Recommendations: Yes to improvements for Piedmont Middle School courts for pickleball usage, license plate readers at all Piedmont entrances, drinking fountain in Piedmont Main Park for dogs and people – No to Blair Park and Witter Field improvements. 

The CIP Review Committee recommendations will be discussed as part of the Piedmont Proposed FY 19-20 Budget Presentation and Workshop Saturday, May 11,  9 am Piedmont Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

CIP Review Committee recommendations with respect to the 9 new 2019-20 resident proposals can be summarized as follows:

The following 3 proposals can move forward with City Council support:

-Renovation of PMS Hard-courts
-Installation of ALPRs at Piedmont Entrances
-Installation of a drinking fountain (for humans and dogs) in Piedmont Park

The following 3 proposals are recommended as meritorious but requiring additional study from public safety and/or public works:

-Two related Wildwood Gardens proposals
-Development of a landscape triangle at Blair and Calvert Court

The following 3 proposals are determined to need direction from City Council:

 – Blair Park proposals for donated fencing and parking improvements

 – Two related Witter Field proposals

READ the agenda below for the Council Budget Work Session when the Council will consider all CIP proposals and department budgets:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/agendas/2019-05-11_special.pdf

READ the full CIP Review Report for 2019 below:

CIPreviewreport 2019

Minutes, broadcasts, and recordings were not made of any of the CIP Review meetings.  Staff reports were not publicized. 

Recordings and broadcast will not be made of the Saturday, May 11, 2019 Council Budget Workshop held at 403 Highland Avenue in the Emergency Operations Center of the Piedmont Police Department.  The public is welcome to attend and participate.

 

READ the full staff 2019-20 Budget recommendations including fees, permits, salaries, benefits, use of City property, tax rates, personnel, etc. – http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/finance/budget/19-20/19-20_budget.shtml

Apr 19 2019

On the Morning of Thursday, April 18th, a small sinkhole was reported at the intersection of Hampton Road and LaSalle Avenue. The City barricaded the area and started investigating the cause of the sinkhole.

Crews determined that a twelve inch storm sewer pipe, running from a catch basin to the storm drain main in the middle of the street, made of corrugated metal, had rusted out. The deterioration of this pipe allowed water to flow beneath the pavement and undermine the roadway.

The intersection of Hampton Rd. and La Salle Ave. has many underground utilities, including electric, gas, water, telephone, cable, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer. We worked with our utility partners to locate and mark the location of their underground facilities.

Beginning Friday morning, City contracted crews began excavating the site. Due to the number of utilities in the area, a great deal of hand excavation was required. The deteriorated pipe, which is approximately fifty years old, was fully excavated and replaced with plastic pipe, which is the standard today.

Though the City is 80% complete in modernizing its sanitary sewer system, this incident shows the next underground challenge which will be faced upon completion of that project. The condition of this pipe is indicative of the work the City will need to undertake with its storm sewer system.

Steel plates will be placed over the section to accommodate weekend traffic. Work will continue into the week of April 22nd. Traffic should be able to flow through the intersection around the work, but residents traveling through the area are asked to proceed with caution and exercise care.

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

 

Mar 15 2019

 – Consideration of Temporary Designation of Parking Spaces on Bonita and Highland Avenues as Permit A (School District Employee) Parking Spaces

Approval of the temporary use of designated public parking spaces by PUSD staff holding valid Permit A parking permits during the H-1 Bond related high school construction at one or more of the following locations:

  1. 9 new parallel parking spaces along the Highland Avenue curve at the intersection of Highland and Sheridan Avenues.
  2.  A new designation of the 11 existing unregulated diagonal parking spaces (and one (1) new diagonal parking space) on the west side of Bonita Avenue between Magnolia Avenue and Vista Avenue to include the following:

a)  Five (5) Permit A parking spaces for temporary use by PUSD staff.      b)  Three (3) City of Piedmont Employee parking spaces.  c)  Four (4) 2-hour parking spaces for general use by the public.

(Read the report > here.)

– Receipt of a Report on the 2017 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Implementation Status of the Climate Action Plan

This report provides information on the 2017 Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions inventory, including estimates for both community and municipal emissions. Piedmont staff completed the 2017 Municipal GHG Emissions Inventory in January of 2019.

(Read the 26-page report > here.)

The biggest sectors contributing to total municipal emissions (as opposed to private residential emissions) were transportation (48% of the total) and buildings and facilities (33% of the total).

The 2017 GHG emissions inventory reveals that Piedmont, in total, experienced a 2.9% increase in emissions from 2016. This increase applies to all sectors within the community and municipal functions, except for the community transportation sector, municipal vehicle fleet, City employee commute, and municipal street lights and traffic signals. The community decrease in transportation generated emissions may be a result of people consciously using alternative fuel vehicles, using more public transportation, and/or walking or biking more often.

– Consideration of a Project Specific Supplemental Agreement with Coastland Civil Engineers for Mapping of the City’s Storm Sewer System

Approval of the Project Supplemental Agreement with Coastland Engineers to provide professional engineering services for Phase One of the City-Wide Storm Sewer Mapping Project in an amount not- to-exceed $85,920.

(Read the staff report here.)

The Council meeting will be in City Hall starting at 7:30 p.m., open to the public, and viewable live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City website under City Council videos.

(Read the full agenda here.)

Dec 12 2018

Chester Nakahara, Director of Piedmont Public Works wrote to:

Bruce [Joffe],

On September 6, 2016, the City Council approved a new street sweeping schedule after operating for years under the former schedule. The former schedule was complicated and was loosely based on specific tree leaf drop cycles, impacted streets, and driver efficiency. It was Council’s goal to make the schedule easier to remember and therefore promote more cooperation.

Moving of the cars was still voluntary, but it was our hope that the online neighborhood groups would establish their own regular notifications for each sweeping day in each neighborhood.  I know this voluntary cooperation can be frustrating, but on the whole, it works well for Piedmont as our streets are clean for an urban setting. We know this through our annual reports for the Alameda County Clean Water Program. In addition, this new schedule helps the City achieve approximately 20 – 25% more scheduled sweeping compared to the old schedule. This does not include any “supplemental or emergency sweeping” that usually occurs on the off-weeks and during storms. I’m not sure the system you suggest would significantly impact what our peers already consider a pretty clean city. I agree that it might affect how it looks in front of your house, but we have to look at street sweeping with a bigger lens over the whole city.  Also, remember that you can call Public Works for supplemental sweeping

Creating a system as you suggest would have significant impacts. These include:

  • Increase Police personnel and costs for daily enforcement of parking restrictions, towing, impounding vehicles, and administering enforcement.
  • Increased costs and aesthetic impacts for a massive signage program throughout the City, which is largely residential in character.

Chester Nakahara, Director of Public Works
City of Piedmont
(510) 420-3061

~~~~~~~~

Hi Chester [Nakahara],

     Thanks for your responsive reply.

     I am glad to know that Piedmont now has a standard, regular street sweeping schedule.  I didn’t know what the schedule was for Rose Avenue this year.  How will the City notify us about the schedule when next year’s sweeping season starts?

     I am also glad to know that the volunteer notification process – neighbors posting signs four days in advance, calling the Public Works office, and calling the Police Dept when cars have parked in violation – works in some neighborhoods.  It does not work in the Lower Piedmont neighborhoods.

     You sited increased cost for not having a professional procedure of permanently posted signs (“no parking during these street sweeping days”), but what about the cost of the expensive machine NOT sweeping curbs because cars are parked on sweeping days?  As I said in my previous letter, taxpayers paid a lot of money for the street sweeping machine, and that money is wasted if the machine can’t clean the gutters because cars are parked on sweeping days.  And what about the cost of having to clean out storm drains because they are filled with unswept leaves?

     I suspect those costs would be reduced if the City conducted street sweeping more professionally, without depending on volunteers to keep cars off the street on sweeping days.  The benefits of cleaner leaf removal could be greater than the cost of posting signs (a on-time expense) and the cost of increased enforcement (paid for substantially by the fines imposed on violators).

Please reconsider your response of continuing to conduct street sweeping as a volunteer-assisted operation.

Sincerely,

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident