Dec 14 2020

Keep the plumber away! Stop flushing wipes and other inappropriate items down your toilet. 

Residents flushing wipes in their toilets are suddenly finding significant clogs and expensive repair costs.

Help Piedmont’s sewer system, EBMUD purification systems, and your own sewer system by disposing of wipes in the trash and not in toilets.  Only toilet paper and bodily waste should go in a toilet. Kleenex, facial tissues, baby wipes, condoms, diapers, and sanitary products should not be placed in a toilet.

Click below to read previously published article linked below:

Do Not Flush Wipes: Flushable Wipes Threaten EBMUD Sewer System

Oct 25 2020

The City Council Is Not Being Open And Transparent About Measure UU. If They Were, Residents Would Have Received This Measure UU Letter.

Dear Piedmonters,

Before you vote on Measure UU, we thought there were a few things we needed to tell you. We did tell you that the City has no outstanding General Obligation Bonds, but we didn’t mention that we have LOTS of debts – $7 million in sewer loans, $13 million in Post Employment Benefits Payable, and $26 million in Pension Benefits Payable.

Oh, and if our pension portfolio returns only 6.15% instead of the estimated 7.15% (you can get 7.15% on your investments in today’s crazy market with bonds yielding close to zero, can’t you?), our Pension Benefit Liability alone increases to over $43 million.

Speaking of deficits, did we mention that our General Fund – that is, unrestricted money that the City can spend on anything – has a deficit of about $9 million?

We also glossed over the fact that the ordinance we passed estimates that the total cost of the “improvements” is $23 million, but that it allows us to issue $19.5 million in bonds. Guess who is paying for the difference?

We also haven’t mentioned it, but by reading the City Council minutes for the last six months, you can see that we know about the major deficiencies in our ability to deliver essential public services – the Police Chief, Fire Chief, and City Administrator are all on the record as saying that we do not comply with the Essential Services Act, that the fire station may sustain major damage in an earthquake, and that it may cost up to $51 million to fix these problems. That’s why we are looking at creating a Community Facilities District (aka Mello-Roos) to make it easier to issue bonds backed by another special tax on Piedmont homeowners in the near future. And because we generally ask for the maximum amount, it will probably be for the full $51 million.

Finally, we haven’t mentioned that 100% of Piedmont citizens rely on our Police and Fire Departments, while an estimated 25% of citizens use the pool.

So, if we had placed two bond measures on the November ballot – $50 million for Police and Fire, and $20 million for a new pool, we knew what would happen. Citizens would vote to maintain essential services, but they would turn down the pool.

After spending $56 million in 2006 and another $66 million in 2016 on School District Bonds (all that money is gone, and they still haven’t finished their projects), $10 million per year on Measure G, $2.6 million per year on Measure H, and $2.4 million per year on Measure T, citizens are getting a little tax weary. After all, aren’t our property tax rates some of the highest in California?

So, think carefully before you vote on measure UU. We’ll see you soon with our new $51 million bond request. You will HAVE to vote yes to maintain city services, but you can vote NO on Measure UU.

Andy Wasserman, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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.