Dec 2 2019

Council relents and removes the language change in the  proposed Special Municipal Parcel Tax Ordinance to be voted on at the March 3, 2020, Primary Election.

On December 2, 2019, Piedmont’s contract City Attorney, Michelle Marchetta Kenyon, continued to maintain her opinion that the proposed language change was not substantive.  Her opinion was disagreed with by many in Piedmont.

Vice Mayor Teddy King noted her concern over changing the language if the result was the same, for it added voter confusion. She stated many residents had stated the change from INCLUDING  to MAY INCLUDE was substantive.

Speakers Hedi Gerken, Kathleen Quenneville, and Liane Campodonico agreed with King, that the language should not be changed, while voicing it would be a substantive change allowing services to be dropped by the Council.  The Council had also received opposition to the language change by  emails, letters, and comments.

Council member Betsy Andersen, an attorney, stated she had proposed the change to clarify language, but withdrew her proposal upon believing flexible options would be available, and there would be no guarantee of funding for the named services.  

Questions were raised as to whether or not the 9 listed service items would be funded, if funds were available.  The answer appeared unclear. Some had  assumed that the parcel tax funds were delineated as a funding source for specific services; however, it has been Council practice during their May budget sessions to pool funds rather than specifically assigning the parcel taxes to specific services. During the budget sessions, the Council makes a determination on whether or not the parcel tax needs to be levied to support city services.

Services named in the ordinance are:

  • police and fire protection,
  • street maintenance,
  • building regulations,
  • library services,
  • recreation,
  • parks maintenance,
  • planning and public works
  • and similar services.

The Special Election for the parcel tax will held on March 3, 2020. Mayor Bob McBain and Council member Jennifer Cavenaugh will write the supporting arguments in the “Voter Information Guide.”  

Opposition arguments for the “Voter Information Guide” are due to the City Clerk on December 13, 2019, with rebuttals due on December 20, 2019.  For specific information contact the City Clerk, John Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Click > Notice of Election – 2020 Special Municipal – Measure for official ballot language and election protocols.

Dec 2 2019

Dec. 2, 2019

Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch
re: Dec 2 Parcel Tax Agenda Item
Dear Mayor McBain and Council,
         The Parcel Tax is commonly understood and accepted by Piedmont taxpayers to be for essential City services as follows: police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works. Your proposed language change allows the parcel tax to be used for any purpose and not limited to the traditional nine essential City services.  I object to this and ask that the original tax language passed by voters in 2016 be continued.
         The reality is that virtually all Piedmont residents will not read the full text of the tax and then compare it to the 75 word ballot question for discrepancies.  Residents mostly rely on the ballot question and Proponent material.  If the Council elects to retain the altered wording that allows the parcel tax to be not limited to essential City Services, the ballot question must clearly state that the parcel tax is no longer limited to essential City services as is commonly understood.
Sincerely,
 Rick Schiller
 Piedmont Resident and Property Owner
Dec 1 2019

“Agenda Insight” to be presented before December 2, 2019 City Council meeting:

Item 3, the first item on tonight’s regular agenda, is the second reading of Ordinance 746 N.S. to renew the Municipal Services special Tax for 4 years effective July 1, 2021, and to place this before voters in a special election on March 3,2020, consolidated with the California Presidential Primary on that date….

Although most aspects of this renewal reflect no change, there is a word change that appears to have an impact. The wording of the present parcel tax says, “If in any fiscal year the City Council shall determine that municipal services INCLUDING but not limited to…” and then it names 9 services which must be included in general fund expenditures, with support from the parcel tax if other city income isn’t sufficient to cover them.

At the first reading of this ordinance, last meeting, that language was changed to, “municipal services which MAY INCLUDE but are not limited to..” and then lists the same 9 services. The staff report calls this a non-substantive change, but many people read it as a very substantive change because it gives Council the flexibility to remove any service from this list. The 9 services are police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works.

If the Council wants to put this on the March ballot, they must pass the second reading tonight because they are up against a deadline for submitting the final ballot language to the Registrar of Voters…..

Item 4 is consideration of a resolution approving procedural details for the Special Election of March 3… Of particular interest to voters, this item also sets the 75 word ballot question to read, “Shall Ordinance 746 N.S. which maintains essential police, fire, and paramedic services, prevents the reduction in maintenance of City parks, greenspaces and other public areas, and prevents the loss of recreational and other public services, by renewing the City of Piedmont’s expiring parcel tax for four years… be adopted?”

….Interestingly enough, this ballot language is almost the same language we voted on in 2016, so all 9 services were not mentioned last time around either. However, in both 2016 and 2020, it is the language of the resolution we are voting on, not the 75-word summary, and the language of the resolution has changed.

Ann Chandler, Piedmont Resident

Nov 29 2019

Proposed Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax has key language changes allowing elimination of services previously funded by the Piedmont parcel tax. Some have called the parcel tax proposal a “blank check.”

The Piedmont City Council in haste is expected at their, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, 7:30 p.m. meeting  to approve the second and final reading of Ord. 746N.S. which will place a renewal of the Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax, effective July 1, 2021, before the voters at a Special Municipal Election consolidated with the upcoming Presidential Primary Election on March 3, 2020. 

On November 18, 2019, the City Council approved a first reading of Ord. 746N.S.  At that meeting, the Council, according to the staff report, made what is called a “non-substantive” amendment to the language of Section 20B.2.on the first page of the ordinance.  Vice Mayor Teddy King objected to changing the existing language of the parcel tax proposal which states how the funds are to be spent. However, the rest of the Council and the City Attorney indicated the new language is not significantly different.

Apparently, the councilmembers and the City Attorney did not realize the language change no longer stipulates required uses of the parcel tax funds. For, the language changes from “including, but not limited to” to  “which MAY include, but are not limited to” were viewed by councilmembers as “essentially the same.”  

Voter concern has consequently arisen regarding the proposed new parcel tax language pointing to the change as considerable and  substantive in stating: “which may includeing,” rather than the current word “including.”

The newly proposed change to the parcel tax language would no longer require the Council to use the parcel tax money for the longstanding list of services and permits the Council to eliminate parcel tax funding for:

  • police and fire protection,
  • street maintenance,
  • building regulations,
  • library services,
  • recreation,
  • parks maintenance,
  • planning and public works
  • and similar services.

Some have stated the language change gives the Council a “blank check” by allowing the deletion of previously supported parcel tax funding for the named services.

The amended parcel tax language is indicated below in context. Deleted text is in strike through and new text is in italics.

“If in any fiscal year commencing on or after July 1, 2021, the City Council shall determine that municipal services, which may includeing, but are not limited to, police and fire protection, street maintenance, building regulations, library services, recreation, parks maintenance, planning and public works and similar services, are necessary for the public good, welfare and safety, and that the cost of making available such services will exceed the amount of funds generated through other revenue and income of the City for such services, then it may levy a special tax for such fiscal year on each parcel of real property within the City in a manner provided herein.”

READ the agenda HERE.

READ the three staff reports* on the tax proposal below:

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243381

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243385

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243387

*Editors Note: The newly revised  City of Piedmont website has become more difficult for Piedmonters to access information on specific agenda issues. Example, the subjects of the staff report no longer appear in the links. Only a file number is provided.

Nov 19 2019

The November 18, 2019, Council meeting went on for hours as numerous residents appealed to the Council to reject the proposed wireless sites.  At the beginning of the meeting, speakers were surprised by Mayor Robert McBain’s declaration limiting speakers to 2 minutes rather than the standard 3 minutes forcing last minute rewrites of prepared statements. 

Opponents noted serious health concerns, destruction of views, harm to Piedmont  aesthetics, loss in property values, lack of demonstrated need for the proposed sites, improper surveys, need to wait for court resolution of pending lawsuits relevant to Piedmont, and incomplete application information. 

Although pleas and great concerns were expressed by neighbors living near the Crown Castle proposed wireless installations sites, the Council unanimously approved all the proposed sites while adding new conditions for their approval.

A potential ongoing lawsuit with Crown Castle weighed heavily on Council members decision who saw better ways to spend Piedmont funds than legally challenging the large corporation.  Some Council members extensively questioned the proposals and were concerned by the many communications the Council received opposing the sites.

Led by Piedmont’s contract attorneys and the Piedmont Planning staff,  the Council was convinced to approve the sites based on compliance with Piedmont laws, despite the Planning Commission’s vote recommending denial of the proposals.

Since the sites are essentially  governed by the Federal Communication Commission, state laws, and are a part of the public utility system, the Council feared the next proposal could be less advantageous than the current proposal.

The Council predicted that numerous future proposals are virtually guaranteed with 50 sites in other areas of Piedmont. Driving the installation of the wireless communication systems, is the notion that landline communications will soon be replaced by cellular service, even though during emergencies landlines have been essential.

After three years of debate and discussion, the disappointed opponents left the Council Chambers indicating they did not feel that the City Council was standing up for Piedmont’s greater good.

Nov 14 2019

PIEDMONT TAXES, TURKEY TROT, WIRELESS SITES –

  • Street Closures and City Staff Allocations for Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc.  See Map > HERE

  • Consideration of Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Applications and Exceptions filed by Crown Castle NG West LLC and SureSite for sites PHS01 to PHS08 and PHS10 to PHS18 (Applications #19-0188) and License for Use of City-Owned Streetlights and Determining that the Applications are Categorically Exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 1127 4. Two council members, King and Andersen, cannot vote on all sites.  City Administrator Lillevand cannot participate in all site discussions. Staff report  > HERE

  • Key features of the proposed WCF applications include:

    1. No underground equipment vaults, with fewer impacts to street trees
    1. Smaller, more compact radios and antennas
    1. No noise-generating equipment
    1. 10-inch diameter radome shrouds atop streetlight locations
    1. 14-inch diameter radome shrouds atop utility pole locations
    1. Trash receptacle equipment enclosure design (only at sites PHS01 and PHS03)
    1. Small side-mounted equipment enclosures on utility poles
    1. Encroachment permits for future maintenance work
    2. Radios 2203 and 8843, appropriately sized for the sites
    3. Power and communication cables concealed in 2-inch-wide risers
  • Introduction and First Reading of Ord. 746 N.S. – Renewal of the Municipal Services Special Tax Effective July 1, 2021 and Placing the Measure Before the Voters 0435, 0705, 1030.  March tax election is to be selected. Staff report > HERE.

~~~~~~~~

City of Piedmont City Council Agenda Monday, November 18, 2019 6:30 p.m. – Special & Regular Meeting City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA Closed Session The City Council will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue a. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION (Govt. Code 54956.9) Name of Case: Crown Castle NG West, LLC v. City of Piedmont .

 

The City Council will convene its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers Call to Order Pledge of Allegiance Consent Calendar 1. Approval of Council Meeting Minutes for 10/21/19 2. Approval of a Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc. 1000 Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. Special & Regular Session 3. Consideration of Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Applications and Exceptions filed by Crown Castle NG West LLC and SureSite for sites PHS01 to PHS08 and PHS10 to PHS18 (Applications #19-0188) and License for Use of City-Owned Streetlights and Determining that the Applications are Categorically Exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 1127 4. Introduction and First Reading of Ord. 746 N.S. – Renewal of the Municipal Services Special Tax Effective July 1, 2021 and Placing the Measure Before the Voters 0435, 0705, 1030

For more information, contact the City Clerk at 510/420-3040.

Oct 6 2019

The current City of Piedmont Parcel Tax expires on June 30, 2021.  The Budget  Advisory and Financial Planning Committee recommended continuation of the Parcel Tax at its current rate, but believes additional funding will be needed either by increasing the current Parcel Tax rate or supplementing with an increase in other revenue sources, such as the Transfer Tax.  Agenda item 4

The unassigned balance of the General Fund at June 30, 2019 is estimated to be $6.4 million and a transfer of $1.1 million from the General Fund to the Facilities Maintenance Fund is recommended by Michael Szczech, Finance Director.  Agenda item 6

The Piedmont City Council meeting will be on Monday, October 7 at 7:30 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on the City website and Cable Channel 27.  Recordings of the meeting are available on the City website.

Consent Calendar, followed by the Regular Agenda

  1. Approval of Council Meeting Minutes for 08/19/19 
  2. Receipt of a Report on the City’s Investment Portfolio
  3. Approval of a Resolution Directing the Police & Fire Pension Board to Provide Oversight Over Additional Investment Portfolios
  4. Consideration of a Report from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Regarding the Municipal Services Special Tax and Possible Direction to Staff on Next Steps 0320, 1030
  5. Consideration of FY 2018-19 Year-End Appropriations, Adjustments, and Carryforwards 0165
  6. Consideration of FY 2018-19 Year End Fund Transfers

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Report

—–Staff Reports—-

Year End Fund Transfers

Year-End Appropriations, Adjustments, and Carryforwards Report

All agenda reports are available on the City of Piedmont website.

 

Sep 29 2019

The Piedmont Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee will meet in the Emergency Operations Center, Police Department, 403 Highland Avenue at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, October 1.

The meeting is open to the public. The meeting will not be broadcast. Minutes of the meetings are not kept.

Agenda:

Public Forum  This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Committee.

1. Consideration of the Committee’s Report on the Municipal Services Special Tax

2. Consideration of Scheduling Future Meetings

Audio recordings are made of the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee meetings and are available from the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

Sep 17 2019

The Recreation Commission meeting agenda includes Schoolmates, Coaches Field, Social Media and Tennis/Pickleball.

The public is invited to attend the meeting in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, September 18. Minutes are kept of the meeting and the meeting is broadcast live then archived on the Piedmont website. The meeting is also broadcast live on Cable Channel 27.  See staff reports linked below.

Regular Agenda

  1. Approval of Minutes–August 21, 2019
  2. Chair’s Report
  3. Director’s Report
  4. Program/Staff Spotlight
  5. Schoolmates Update -Jackson Stearns
  6. Update:Harvest Festival September 22, 2019 -Jackson Stearns
  7. Update: Coaches Field–Public Works Director Staff Report
  8. Update: City Website Live/Social Media–City Clerk Staff Report
  9. Update: Tennis/Pickleball Sub Committee–Steve Roland

READ the draft minutes and staff reports > Sept 2019 Recreation Commission Packet.

 

Sep 17 2019

Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Ready to Recommend Municipal Services Special Tax –

The Piedmont Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee will meet in the Emergency Operations Center, Police Department, 403 Highland Avenue at 6 pm on Thursday, September 19.

The meeting is open to the public. The meeting will not be broadcast. Minutes of the meetings are not kept.

Agenda:

Public Forum  This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Committee.

1.  Review and Compilation of the Committee’s Report on the Municipal Services Special Tax

2. Consideration of Scheduling Future Meetings

Audio recordings are made of the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee meetings and are available from the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.