Jul 31 2021

$691,230  plus $252,619 ($943,849) for housing consultants – 

Piedmont city staff recommends that the City Council approve a $252,619 Agreement  for services related to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the City’s 6th Housing Element Update covering the period 2023 through 2031.  The  Piedmont City Council, unlike numerous similar Bay Area cities, has acceded to the suggested new housing to be built in Piedmont.  City expenditures are being made now in an effort to expedite the construction of 587 new housing units.  Piedmont currently has approximately 4,000 housing units. 

The consultant recommended by staff for approval by the City Council is Rincon Consultants, Inc. (Rincon).  An Optional Task (see Exhibit A in the report) is a Study of Piedmont Sewer Capacity.

Read the report & agreement here.

On May 3, 2021, the City Council approved an earlier consultant agreement addressing the 587 new housing unit allocation in the amount of $691,230 with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. (LWC), to provide for professional services to update the Housing Element and prepare for the additional Piedmont housing units

The consultant agreement will be considered by the City Council on Monday, August 2.  Participation and timing details can be found on the City Council Agenda linked here.

Jul 31 2021

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 3:00 p.m. Via Teleconference –

Regular Agenda – 

1. Overview of Aquatics Bond Project

a. Review of Current Market Conditions

b. Recommended Bond Structure

c. Review of Bond Issuance Timetable

2. Consideration of a Recommendation to City Council on Whether to Pursue a Negotiated or a Competitive Method of Bond Sale Announcements,

Supporting staff reports were not distributed with the Agenda. 7/30/2021

Click link below for Agenda Schedule and Participation details:

2021-08-04 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

Jul 19 2021

Dear Piedmont City Council,

Back in the spring, we approached the City about sharing the results of the calculations we had been working on since the fall about the feasibility of designing a pool facility that created zero carbon emissions in its operation. We were asked by the City Administrator to prepare a summary report, with the idea that we’d follow it up with an in-person (Zoom) meeting. We understand that the City Administrator’s leave may have been what prevented this from happening, but we still would like the opportunity to present our feasibility study. We find it concerning that our input has basically been ignored, as evidenced by the draft RFP for a pool design team, which makes no reference to Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan or to the energy and GHG calculations that are needed if the City is going to follow the CAP and aim for a zero or very low emissions pool facility.

To summarize, our analysis of the 2017 Conceptual Design found that, even with its proposed use of solar tubes, the new pool facility would need 46% more natural gas to operate than the old pool facility needed in 2019. This is clearly not in line with our CAP targets of reducing our emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. Piedmont Connect did some preliminary calculations to determine if it would be possible to design a pool heating system that uses zero natural gas. We found that it would, indeed, be possible, using primarily a combination of efficient electric air-to-water heat pumps powered by solar PV. We estimated the annual operating costs of two such systems — one using a heat pump with a COP (Co-efficiency of Production) of 4 and one using an even more efficient heat pump with a COP of 6.  And we compared these two zero emissions options with an all-gas option and the solar tube option presented in the 2017 Conceptual Plan.

 All-gas

 Solar tubes

   COP 4 Heat   Pump

  COP 6 Heat  Pump

Annual C02 emissions

 494 MT*  C02

  68 MT  C02

   0 MT C02

  0 MT C02

Annual operating cost

 $169,924

 $ 93,220

 $165,744

 $132,211

*MT = Metric Tons

As you can see, the operating cost of the system using a COP 6 Heat Pump is only about $39,000 more per year AND it delivers on having zero emissions, in line with meeting our CAP goals. The solar tube-based design of the 2017 Conceptual Plan, as we say above, would increase pool emissions by 46% over 2019 levels, making it impossible for the municipal sector to meet Piedmont CAP targets. (Since heating the old pool constituted around 67% of overall municipal emissions, there is just no room to increase these emissions and meet our CAP targets.) These numbers are preliminary, and an updated conceptual design would need to do further analysis.

Please do not approve this RFP until the Climate Action Plan targets and the necessity of aiming for a  zero carbon pool water heating system and pool building are thoroughly integrated into the expectations we have of bidders.

Sincerely,

Piedmont Connect’s Pool Committee

Indira Balkissoon

Garrett Keating

Margaret Ovenden

Tom Webster

Jul 19 2021

Dear Council, Staff, and Members of the Pool Advisory Committee,

My sense from last week’s Pool Advisory Committee and from speaking with Council Members is that everyone involved in this project wants a pool facility that emits as few carbon emissions as possible. But the schedule and work plan presented at last week’s Pool Advisory Committee meeting, as well as the draft RFP for a project design team before you tonight have me deeply concerned that we are not on track to do this. I believe that right now we are in danger of being lulled into a design process that is biased, inadequate, and likely to lead to failure. I urge you to send this RFP back to the drawing board and to re-evaluate the project timeline and milestones.

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan

How we set up the design process for the pool facility now will determine whether or not we are able to make its operations as close to zero carbon as feasible. From the looks of the RFP, we aren’t making a serious attempt at all. First of all, why is there absolutely no mention of Piedmont’s 2019 Climate Action Plan in the RFP? The CAP is a guiding document for the City, developed by staff with community input and approved by Council. If we aren’t going to pay attention to it now, for the first new major municipal construction project since it was passed, why did we bother investing our time and energy to develop it? Why don’t we just admit to the world that we in Piedmont value our comfort and convenience over making a serious effort to reduce our GHG emissions? An explanation of the Climate Action Plan and Piedmont’s GHG emissions targets needs to be part of  the “Background” section of the RFP, and it needs to be made clear to potential bidders that their proposals need to clearly explain how they will approach reaching these emissions reduction targets.

2017 Conceptual Design 

Planning for serious GHG emissions reductions in line with California and Piedmont emissions reduction targets has not been part of the conversation about the new pool facility to this point — not in the conceptual design process (at least rigorously), not in the UU campaign, not in the interviews for Pool Advisory Committee members. Granted, the early stages of this process were before the completion of our 2019 CAP and before the developed world started to experience widespread and unmistakable climate disasters. Now that we know how concertedly we need to act to mitigate climate change, we cannot move forward assuming that the 2017 conceptual design is the project “bible” and that everything must be planned around it. I am very concerned, based on information presented at the first PAC meeting and in this RFP, that staff and the project management team see that conceptual design as already being locked in.

Previously, Connect was told that the 2017 conceptual design was just a placeholder and that it would be thoroughly re-done when the actual project began. However, the information presented at the PAC meeting seemed to indicate that this 2017 conceptual design is what will be taken before the public for “validation.” Since it’s old, the conceptual design doesn’t take into account the emissions reduction targets set by Piedmont’s 2019 CAP. Its “green tech” elements are simply outdated and inadequate. It proposes to accomplish 55% of the pool water heating with a solar tube array (passive solar), leaving 45% of the pool water heating to natural gas. Since the proposed new facility will triple the pool area of the old facility, the 2017 design will still lead to an increase in the facility’s natural gas usage, despite its “green tech” features. The design would significantly (likely irreparably) set back the City’s GHG emissions reduction efforts. (For more details about the problems with the 2017 conceptual design in terms of emissions reductions, see page 3 of the April report Piedmont Connect prepared at the request of the City Administrator.)

The RFP appears to deepen this problem by paving the way for an early ruling out of attempting a zero emissions design. Instead of starting the project by figuring from scratch how to design a zero emissions facility, it calls for working backwards from the (flawed) 2017 conceptual design to see if it can be made zero emissions. If this is how we go about it, the answer will likely be, “no, it’s impossible.”

If the facility is truly going to achieve as few emissions as possible, the specific emissions reduction technologies that could achieve this need to be incorporated into the conceptual design from the beginning, as the space they would occupy will be part of the space of the overall facility and thus influence its layout (these technologies would likely include high efficiency air-to-water electric heat pumps, powered by on-site solar PV, passive solar elements, etc., all of which need dedicated space). If we try to reverse our way out of the 2017 design, we are almost guaranteed failure.

Emissions Calculations

While those of us in Connect who have been analyzing the possibilities for a zero emissions facility have called for doing the emissions calculations early, we were not asking for what the RFP calls for (“an in-depth feasibility and cost/benefit analysis to determine if the facility can reach a Net Zero Energy for construction, operations and maintenance of the facility. This analysis shall be performed in the Preliminary stage of design to make an early determination of the feasibility of this goal.”). The way the thinking of project managers seems to be going, the zero net carbon features are being seen as add-ins, frills that would be nice to have, but not essential to the project. With this mindset, zero carbon technologies will be first on the chopping block when it comes to value engineering. Instead, they need to be non-negotiable, and, if value engineering is needed, some of the actual frills of the project should be what we cut until we can get to them later. A pool energy system is not something that can easily be revised later. We may need to incorporate some of the elements in stages, but we need to plan for them from the beginning.

In addition, the type of GHG emissions analysis Connect has been calling for is not a simple cost-benefit analysis. This analysis will require a separate team of experts in complex energy and emissions calculations (so this team needs to be added to the RFP’s list of consultants who will be needed). These are not calculations that a team coming at the issue from a cost/benefit perspective will have the expertise to do correctly. They will be unfamiliar with the newer technologies that will be needed in a zero carbon design, and, as such, they could easily rule them out without understanding their role.

CEQA

Another big flaw in the RFP is that the section on CEQA submittals (1.3.4.1) does not reference the GHG assessment that is now part of CEQA (as of 2019). Here’s a link to the new language: https://resources.ca.gov/CNRALegacyFiles/ceqa/docs/2018_CEQA_FINAL_TEXT_122818.pdf  

In summary, “The revision of CEQA Guidelines section 15064.4 clarified several points, including the following:

  • Lead agencies must analyze the greenhouse gas emissions of proposed projects. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (a).)
  • The focus of the lead agency’s analysis should be on the project’s effect on climate change, rather than simply focusing on the quantity of emissions and how that quantity of emissions compares to statewide or global emissions. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (b).)
  • The impacts analysis of greenhouse gas emissions is global in nature and thus should be considered in a broader context. A project’s incremental contribution may be cumulatively considerable even if it appears relatively small compared to statewide, national or global emissions. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (b).)
  • Lead agencies should consider a timeframe for the analysis that is appropriate for the project. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (b).)
  • A lead agency’s analysis must reasonably reflect evolving scientific knowledge and state regulatory schemes. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (b).)
  • Lead agencies may rely on plans prepared pursuant to section 15183.5 (Plans for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gases) in evaluating a project’s greenhouse gas emissions. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (b)(3).)
  • In determining the significance of a project’s impacts, the lead agency may consider a project’s consistency with the State’s long-term climate goals or strategies, provided that substantial evidence supports the agency’s analysis of how those goals or strategies address the project’s incremental contribution to climate change and its conclusion that the project’s incremental contribution is consistent with those plans, goals, or strategies. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (b)(3).)
  • The lead agency has discretion to select the model or methodology it considers most appropriate to enable decision makers to intelligently take into account the project’s incremental contribution to climate change. (See CEQA Guidelines, § 15064.4, subd. (c).)

LEED Certification

In the RFP and in the project management team’s presentation at the PAC meeting, when LEED certification was brought up, it was made to sound like LEED would apply to the entire facility. In my understanding, there’s no LEED certification system for pool water heating systems (I’d love to be proved wrong). LEED may perhaps apply to the pool structure, but it’s the pool water heating that will be by far the major source of the facility’s GHG emissions (unless we eliminate natural gas usage). It’s disingenuous (greenwashing) to label the entire facility as LEED certified, if this leaves out the major source of GHG emissions. In addition, for the structural elements of the pool (such as the pool house), why would we limit ourselves to LEED Silver? Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum LEED standards are older standards and mainly focused on energy efficiency and sustainable building materials. We should be aiming, instead, for the newer LEED Zero Carbon standard, which accounts for energy sources and verifies net zero goals. We strongly urge you to aim for LEED Zero Carbon, for the applicable parts of the project. Even if we can’t reach LEED Zero Carbon in the end, we need to set an ambitious goal to start with, rather than admitting defeat from the beginning.

This can be a pool facility for the 21st century, if we put our minds and wills to it. It’s time to pause and re-do the design team RFP as well as the project work plan and timeline.

Margaret Ovenden, Piedmont Resident

Jul 18 2021

Special Closed Session 6 pm

Special & Regular Session 6:30 pm

Consent Calendar

1. Approval of Meeting Minutes for 05/22/2021, 06/07/2021, and 06/21/2021

2. 2 nd Reading of Ord. 761 N.S. Renewed and Amended Lease for the Piedmont Educational Foundation at 401 Highland Avenue 0705, 0045  https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17851807

3. Approval of an Agreement with the Local Government Commission for a the Placement of a Civic Spark Fellow for FY 2021-2022 0045

4. Receipt of a Report on the City’s Investment Portfolio 0475-3070 https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17851792

5. Approval of the Replacement of Two Police Department Unmarked Vehicles 0045

6. Approval of a Renewed Agreement with Alameda County Regarding the Collection of Taxes 0045

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

Ceremonial Items Introduction of New Employees

Regular Agenda

7. Consideration of the Designation of Four Parking Spaces on Bonita Avenue as Ninety Minute Parking and an Agreement with East Bay Community Energy for Electric Vehicle Charger Funding 0045, 0735  at this point  https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17851796

8. Consideration of the Issuance of a Request for Qualifications/Proposals for Architectural/ Engineering/Planning and Design Services of the Piedmont Community Pool 0270-1022 https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17851805

9. Consideration of an Agreement with the University of Texas, San Antonio to Conduct Data Analysis of Piedmont Police Department Calls for Service 0045 https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17851788

10. Consideration of Memoranda of Understanding with the Following Labor Groups for the Period of 07/01/2021 through 06/30/2025: a. Piedmont Firefighters Association b. Piedmont Police Officers Association 0045  https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17851800

Reports from Councilmembers

Announcements

Old business and consideration of future agenda items

Adjourn

Agenda and participation via teleconference below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf

More staff reports > https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/city_council/staff_reports

 

Jun 24 2021

Alameda County Grand Jury points to Piedmont as an example –

Piedmont Measure TT was identified by the Grand Jury as problematic.  Piedmont’s City Council, responsible for the ballot question language, proposed an increase to the city’s real estate transfer tax. The measure was rejected by voters by 48% yes to 52% no.

The question placed on the Piedmont ballot read as follows:

Shall the City of Piedmont, to be in alignment with neighboring East Bay  Cities, increase the real estate transfer tax from $13.00 to $17.50 per $1,000  of transfer price, generating $948,462 annually until ended by voters, to provide general tax revenue for city services and to repair and maintain city facilities including police and fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities, and other city infrastructure, be adopted?”

The Grand Jury stated:

“Piedmont’s Measure TT recited a list of possible expenditures, including ‘to repair and maintain city facilities including police and fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities, ‘ yet none of these expenditures was required by the  proposed ordinance. That such spending might occur does not make the question an accurate and impartial synopsis of a measure, which may not result in any additional spending on the mentioned repair and  maintenance. Piedmont’s measure also included the statement that a purpose of the measure was ‘to be in alignment with neighboring East Bay Cities.’   The grand jury did not see how this statement related to a description of the measure or to its purpose.”

The Grand Jury Report notes Ballot Questions [Language found on ballots asking for a yes or no vote] often fail the accuracy, transparency and impartiality requirement.

Several key points:

  • Alameda County Grand Jury investigation focused exclusively on the accuracy, transparency and impartiality of ballot questions.
  • Ballot Questions are required by law to be Brief, Accurate and Impartial.
  • Ballot Questions suffer from a “proponent’s bias.”
  • Ballot Questions fall short of what voters have a right to expect in terms of transparency and impartiality, even when satisfying minimum legal standard.
  • The Grand Jury declined to prosecute violators, instead urging governments to improve their behavior within the requirements of the California Elections Code.

Click the link below to READ the full 2020-21 Alameda County Grand Jury report: http://grandjury.acgov.org/reports.page?

Jun 20 2021

“In reviewing the City’s long term projections and considering the current economic situation, the Committee reminds the Council of several things:

• The financial projections seek to maintain, over the long term, an 18% General Fund balance (which, the Committee thinks is prudent). Achieving this target, however, requires that the City eliminate or reduce transfers to the Facilities Maintenance Fund, which addresses ongoing and deferred maintenance of city facilities, and eliminate supplemental funding for street and sidewalk repairs beyond the current budget year. Current projections indicate the Facilities Maintenance Fund will be depleted by FY 27-28. Even without incorporating the yet to be determined costs of major capital projects referenced above, the Facilities Maintenance Fund is inadequately capitalized for the duration of the 10- year projections. This underfunding is not sustainable; it will severely affect repair and replacement expenditures within this decade.

• The Committee supports the conservative approach used to establish the budget for transfer tax revenues given their historic volatility. The Committee also supports the modest increase in projected transfer tax revenue, from the $2.8 million consistently used in the recent past, to $3.2 million annually beginning in FY23. This increased budget amount could still be attained with a recessionary pace of sales and/ or drop in sales prices given substantial gains in Piedmont home values over the past decade. The Committee recommends that to the extent actual transfer tax revenue exceeds the conservative estimate, such funds be used to fund the Facilities Maintenance Fund, consistent with prior years.

• The projected pension expenses have increased based on an updated actuarial study completed earlier this year, which assume CalPERS 2 Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee investment returns decline to 6.0% over the next 20 years. However, future pension costs could still rise should CalPERS investment performance be below target due to a sustained downturn in financial markets.

• The prior funding of the Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) Fund, supplemented by the proposed capital transfer from the current budget surplus, will provide the City much needed flexibility in managing future pension cost increases, as the City’s obligations are expected to increase substantially over the course of this decade. However, this flexibility may be adversely affected by stock market fluctuations to the extent there is significant decline in values during the withdrawal years.

• As in prior years, the projections continue to show that the long term financial health of the City is dependent on property-related taxes, especially the continuation of the Municipal Services Parcel Tax. The projections assume that the MSPT continues with a standard CPI adjustment each year, and the Committee supports this approach.

• The City continues to benefit from a robust economic recovery and rising Bay Area housing prices. Given the uncertainty as to how long such favorable economic conditions will persist, it is important to continue with conservative property tax and transfer tax assumptions.”

READ the entire Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Report 2021-2022

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee members:

Deborah Leland, Chair

Andrew Flynn,

Cathie Geddeis,

Robert McBain,

Paul Raskin,

Frank Ryan

Vanessa Washington

Jun 20 2021

$31,173,188 Budget, Municipal Services Special Tax for tax year beginning July 1, 2021, Special Municipal Sewer Tax and More on Monday, JUNE 21, 2021 Council agenda

On Monday, June 21 the City Council will vote on adopting the 2021-22 Budget, the Municipal Services Special Tax, the Special Municipal Sewer Tax, the Operating and Other Funds Budgets, as well as the Schedule of Fees and Charges, and Appropriations (Gann) Limit.

Personnel costs are budgeted at $1,193,071 (6%) higher than 2020 -2021, while the total budget increases 10%.

Closure of the Community Pool in 2020 was helpful to City finances,  since it has operated at a loss after the City took over its administration.  The Budget presumes the pool will be closed the entire 2021-22 fiscal year.

Special Municipal Sewer Tax estimated revenue of $2,802,000 for the 2021-22 tax year:

Single Family Residence Property Size:

0 to 4,999 sq. ft. $625

5,000 to 9,999 sq. ft. $712

10,000 to 14,999 sq. ft. $821

15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. $957

Over 20,000 sq. ft. $1,127

Commercial Properties:

0 to 10,000 sq. ft. $1,127

Over 10,000 sq. ft. $1,554 

Multi-Family Residence:

per unit $521

Parcels Divided by Tax Code Area Line $625

The City Council previously approved loans totaling $800,000 to the Sewer Fund from the Equipment Replacement Fund and the Facilities Maintenance Fund.

The Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee suspended its activity due to COVID-19 but is expected to convene during FY 21-22

Read Staff Report here

June 21  – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Jun 5 2021

budget PUBLIC HEARING FY 2021-2022 Taxes

Budget Advisory committee to meet after the Council first considers the 2021- 22 budget and tax levies.  The Committee was formed following a major failing by the City when allowing the undergrounding project in upper Piedmont to go over budget by $2 million due to incorrect contracts, funding, and oversight.

The City has not been following the charge to the committee.  Charge example: “Provide a financial review of any new program commitments and funding sources in excess of $250,000 in any fiscal year.” 

On the June 7 Council Agenda the Council is asked to approve a $600,000+ contract for management of the Municipal Pool construction, yet there is no review by the BAFPC indicated in the staff report.

See May 2. 2021 article:    Housing Element Consulting Services $691,230

BAFPC charge

Although the City website states minutes are available, none have been publicly disseminated and there is no evidence minutes were approved by the Committee, as the minutes have never been found on any Committee agenda.

The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee is one of the most vulnerable public bodies to a conflict of interest, yet the City Council does not require compliance with disclosure of assets per state conflict of interest laws. This is not to say there have been conflicts of interest, for none have manifested.

 

May 24 2021

Zoom meeting details 2021-05-25 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

  1. Election of a Chairperson
  2.  Fiscal Year 2020-21 Financial Update
  3.  Review Proposed Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget and Consideration of FY 2021-2022 Budget Report
  4.  Review Long Range Financial Plan

Distributed presentation >2021-05-25 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Presentation