Nov 19 2017

The City Council will convene a Special Meeting in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue, which will begin in open session at 5:45 p.m., Monday, November 20, 2017.

  1. At 5:45 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, Interview of Candidates for the Recreation Commission Vacancy to be Followed by Possible Appointment to the Posted Vacancy (Interviews and appointment consideration are open to the public.)
  2.  At 7:00 p.m. Closed Session in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue for CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATORS (Govt. Code §54957.6) Agency Designated Representative(s): Janae Novotny  (This item is not open to the public.)  All Represented Labor Groups: (Piedmont Firefighters Assn; Piedmont Police Officers Assn; SEIU Local 1021 (General and Public Works Units). Unrepresented Employees: City Administrator; City Clerk; Finance Director; Confidential Employees; Public Works Director; Professional, Technical & Supervisory Employees; Planning Director Parks & Project Manager; Building Official; Police Chief; Police Captain; Police Support Services Commander; Fire Chief; Fire Captains; Recreation Director; Recreation/Childcare Employees)

At 7:30 p.m. – Regular City Council Meeting, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

 AGENDA :  November 20, 2017 < Click for Special & Regular Meeting Agenda – Items are open for public input.

To read the staff reports, click on the underlined reports below:

Private Underground Utility Districts’ Bond Refinancing – 

11/20/17 – 2nd Reading of Ordinance 736 N.S., Authorizing a Refinancing of Limited Obligation Bonds Related to Undergrounding Assessment Districts

Mosquito Abatement District Appointment

Nov 14 2017

On November 6, 2017, I attended a City Council Meeting which addressed the third quarter reports of the Piedmont Police Department and the authorization of limited obligation bonds linked to Undergrounding Assessment Districts. New technologies utilized by the Police Department were also discussed.

The meeting began after the Council recited the pledge of allegiance, which is a custom at the beginning of every meeting. Before Chief of Police, Jeremy Bowers, was called to present his report, the City Clerk called for any persons to address a matter not present on the Agenda.

I went to the podium and discussed my gratifications towards the recent developments and improvements to Hampton Park. I expressed that the changes were a great benefit to the City and that it was nice to see brand new turf and foundations. The Council members seemed very pleased with my remarks, giving me happy nods and cheerful smiles.

After my address, the City Clerk called Roy Connors to the podium. Roy expressed his deep feelings about the benefits of constructing telephone lines throughout the area. Roy went on to say that, “I believe that the construction of these lines would greatly improve cell reception and provide reliable phone connections to areas of Piedmont.” The Council members unanimously nodded there heads in agreement and Roy stepped off the podium.

Lastly, a man approached the podium and discussed the recent implications of the disastrous Napa fires and how Piedmont residents should prepare for an event like this. He proposed to the Council the benefits that would be included with fire insurance being provided to residences. The Council agreed that further steps should be taken in order to prepare for a situation like the Napa fires.

After the clerk called for any last comments, the Chief of Police gave his address on the 3rd Quarter crime rates.  Chief Bowers began his address by stating that crime rates have dropped by 15% compared to this time last year. He cited that there were 176 reported crimes last year compared to the 146 crimes reported this year. The Council commended this statistic and he continued by saying that “Robberies have declined from 11 to only 1,” which met with even more praise. Chief Bowers attributed these downward trends to technology, officer awareness, and citizen reports.

Chief Bowers went on to explain how new technologies such as camera’s were providing the identification of wanted criminals. He described a situation which involved the brandishing of a firearm as a means of road rage. The suspect was later identified after he was reported, thanks to the use of high optic cameras installed at the intersection where the scene occurred.

After Chief Bower’s debrief on crime statistics, he delved into the topics of underage drinking and smoking. Bower’s emphasized that the Piedmont Police were not serving to punish kids, but were merely attempting to protect them from the harm that ensues from drinking and smoking. He went on to explain the repercussions of marijuana use and how the police department is cracking down on kids smoking in Piedmont Park.

Underage drinking was also briefly discussed.  Bowers stated, “Recently two girls had to be transported to a hospital for acute alcohol poisoning. The Police Force cares about the short term and long term effects of these kids’ health.” This statement prompted Council member Jen Cavenaugh to commend Chief Bowers on all he was doing to suppress the problems of underage drinking and smoking.

Once Chief Bowers had concluded his report, the City Clerk asked the Council members if they had any questions they wished to discuss. Council member Tim Rood, appreciated the recent decline of car collisions, which has decreased by 20% since last year.

Mayor Robert McBain noted the issue of car thefts stating that, “It is important that we reduce the thefts involving cars.” The Mayor suggested that people should hide any valuables in their cars. McBain concluded his remarks by re-affirming to the public that, “The Piedmont Police are here to help us and protect us.”

I believe that Chief Bowers is doing a tremendous job of reducing the criminal activity in Piedmont and also spreading awareness about the dangers of drinking and smoking. These changes will ultimately benefit Piedmont and new technologies will also contribute even more to a decrease in crime rates. Regarding Bower’s address on kids health, I believe that it was very powerful for him to say that the Piedmont Police Department truly cares for every single Piedmont Unified School District kid. The Police only seeks to enlighten us on the dangers of underage drinking and smoking and are not here to incarcerate any teenagers.

At the end of the meeting, I interviewed a local resident of Piedmont, Lisa Gros. Mrs. Gros attended the meeting with her son who was a Boy Scout, as he was required to attend a City Council meeting. She was intrigued about the topics of drinking and drug awareness and seemed optimistic that her son would never partake in such activities.

I then asked Mrs. Gros how she would take action on the issues of underage drinking and smoking to which she replied, “I will be a role model for my kid and give him the right guidance when the time is right, but for right now I just hope that being openly against underage drinking will be enough to dissuade these kids from partaking in these detrimental activities.”

The City Council meets on the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of every month to address community issues and to hear community input from local residents and officials.

By Kevin Mead, Piedmont High School Senior

~~~~~~~~~

I attended a Piedmont City Council meeting at the Piedmont City Hall on November 6, 2017. The main topic on the agenda at the November 6 meeting included the Police Quarterly report presented by Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers. The Police Quarterly Report dominated the majority of the meeting as recent crime reports and specific criminal incidents in general were addressed.

Bowers said that the crime rate is continuing to decrease in the past two years. Bowers also was concerned with recent incidents of mail being stolen from citizens, and suggested that citizens should shred old mail.

A big issue was the recent incidents regarding parties in Piedmont where two girls were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. Police intend to be vigilant for parties and be on the lookout for alcohol consumption among teenagers simply in concern of their long term health.

Councilwoman Jen Cavenaugh asked Bowers if the Police Department tracks who hosts these private parties. Bowers responded by saying that the police do take note of that yet try to educate residents about the City of Piedmont ordinances regarding parties.

Another topic in the police report was the policy on marijuana use by young people. Bowers spoke of two officers from the Piedmont Police who went to Colorado to study how the legalization of marijuana has affected the state, and how it will work in California when it is legalized.  Bowers said the Police Department wants to educate young people on the effects of  marijuana use as opposed to taking a strictly punitive approach.

Councilwoman Cavenaugh asked if the police would still enforce the laws and punish young people caught with marijuana, and Bowers responded by saying that they would while emphasizing education and would also increase police controls in the Piedmont Park as that is an area where marijuana use is prevalent.

I appreciate this approach by Bowers as it is important for people to know what they are doing wrong and why it is harmful as opposed to being locked up without learning more about the crime they committed.

After the meeting concluded, I interviewed Bryan Gros, who attended the meeting with his son who is a Boy Scout and must attend a City Council meeting in order to earn his communication merit badge. Gros went there to support his son and he “learned a lot about the Piedmont Police Department.” In terms of his reaction to the police report, Gros said he “appreciated the way that the Police Chief thinks the best way to handle issues is in the community.”

At the beginning of the meeting, there was an opportunity for citizens to speak to the Council regarding any issue. I spoke about the recent protests in front of City Hall regarding the installation of new cell phone towers throughout the City. I said that the cell phone towers were necessary because the service in areas such as Hampton Field is quite bad and is inconvenient and could pose as a safety risk if someone needs to make an emergency call but cannot due to poor service. I also said that cell phone towers themselves do not cause harm to anyone and the protestors are misinformed on the effects of the towers.

The Piedmont City Council meets on the first and third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The Piedmont City Council addresses issues of public safety and budget issues for the City including various aspects of the City. including the Police and Fire Departments.

by Roy Connors, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors. 
Nov 4 2017

Monday, November 6, 7:30 p.m., City Hall

The City Council will hear and consider approving a first reading of two resolutions to issue City of Piedmont Limited Obligation Refunding Bonds not to exceed $4,115,000.  The original bonds were for the expense of putting utility wires underground in three neighborhoods of Piedmont.

Questions raised by the public:

  1. Will the approximate $2.4 paid for by the City to cover the costs overruns of the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding District be a part of the refunding toward reimbursing the City?
  2. Will any of the refunding proceeds go toward returning balances to the PG&E funds for undergrounding in other areas of the City?
  3. How are the City administrative and legal costs to execute the bond refunding included in the bond refunding?
  4. Is there a guarantee that the City will not be responsible for any bond failures or costs, including administrative or legal?

Agenda item 5.

Take the following actions related to the refinancing of limited obligation bonds issued
for the Dudley/Blair/Mountain/Pacific/Hagar & Vicinity Undergrounding Assessment District; Wildwood/Crocker Avenues Undergrounding Assessment District; and the
Piedmont Hills Underground Assessment District:
Staff recommends that the City Council take the following action:
1.
Approve a resolution appointing a finance team for the issuance, sale and delivery of City of Piedmont Limited Obligation Refunding Bonds and adopting a Debt
Management Policy as required by state law.
2.
Conduct a first reading of Ordinance 736 N.S., which authorizes the issuance, sale and delivery of limited obligation refunding bonds not to exceed $4,115,000.
Over seven years ending in 2009 the Council authorized the creation of three Undergrounding Assessment Districts in the following areas of the City:
(i)
Dudley/Blair/Mountain/Pacific/Hagar & Vicinity Undergrounding Assessment
District Limited Obligation Improvement Bonds, Series 2002-A,
(ii)
Wildwood/Crocker Avenues Undergrounding Assessment District Limited
Obligation Improvement Bonds, Series 2005-A, and
(iii)
Piedmont Hills Underground Assessment District Limited Obligation Improvement Bonds Series 2009- A.
Read the staff report HERE.
Nov 1 2017

Recreation Commission Meeting of 10/18/2017 – Schoolmates was the main item of consideration.

On the night of October 18th, 2017, I attended a Recreation Commission meeting at Piedmont City Hall with six or seven other students, a concerned father and a councilwoman in attendance. The Commission meets monthly to discuss issues pertaining to recreation within the City of Piedmont. The first issue discussed was the election of the new Chair of the Commission. The Commission casually and unanimously elected the Acting Chair,  Vice Chair, Steve Roland as Chair and Commissioner Carrie Graham Lee as Vice Chair.

After an introduction, time was allotted for people to speak about issues not on the agenda. I was the only person from the audience that spoke during this time. For some reason, I was extremely nervous, and I stumbled over many of my words at first. I proposed a program in which part-time high school and college Recreation Department employees could sign up and receive internship opportunities that relate to their employment. For example, a lifeguard could intern at the Fire Department or a paramedic company. They responded mostly by smiling and nodding respectfully.

The meeting took a more serious and professional turn when addressing the third issue on the agenda, tennis. Recreation Director Sarah Lillevand did most of the speaking during the remainder of the meeting. She first addressed updates for the tennis courts in Piedmont, including plans for maintenance and repair. Director Lillevand addressed the public tennis courts near the Municipal Swimming Pool used by the Piedmont High School tennis program , stating that they would receive a resurfacing, among other improvements. These renovations would occur either in a tight window during winter or a two week window in May after PHS Tennis season was over.

After a brief questioning by the Commission, Lillevand moved on to Schoolmates, the most discussed issue on the agenda. She began by reading out many summary stats, such as financial changes, attendance and time slots available.  Lillevand explained that even after fee increases, revenue was down 30% and participation was down 36% compared with the same 9 week period last year.

After this brief introduction, Lillevand moved on to the most important topic within the Schoolmates discussion: the 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. time slot. Since Kindergarten changed from a staggered start for a morning session and an afternoon session, to a uniform 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. kindergarten schedule, the morning hour was no longer needed by the kindergarteners, who had previously been the bulk of kids enrolled during that hour. Now, the question is whether or not to keep that hour; the only kids who are even eligible to attend are first grade late readers. It would be extremely cost inefficient to have two full time employees overseeing at most 4 or 5 children during that hour (There has to be at least two employees at the same time). Some parents rely heavily on this hour, however, and the loss of the time slot would be devastating to them. The Commission gave no solutions, only promised to continue discourse on the subject in the future.

Next was the issue of Schoolmates coverage during Parent/Teacher conference week arose. School lets out around noon every day for that whole week, however Schoolmates doesn’t offer hours until 2 p.m. Director Lillevand told the Commission that the solution is a Conference Week Camp that runs from around noon to 3 p.m, after which the regular Schoolmates would start again. This camp would be more expensive than normal Schoolmates, and would require Schoolmates to hire private contractors to help with the camp.

In response, a father expressed his concerns with this program, and with Schoolmates in general. His main point was that he was concerned with community outreach within Schoolmates and the Recreation Department, as a whole. He claimed the private contractors needed for this camp would create a divide between the Schoolmates program and the community. The Commission recognized his concerns, and told him that they would make sure the contractors were compatible with the community, and would continue to reach out to the community.

In my opinion, the Recreation Department does an excellent job with community outreach, at least within the Aquatics Department.

After a long discussion on Schoolmates, the Commission changed gears and began discussing renovations of Recreation sites around Piedmont. Lillevand explained that the renovation projects for the Aquatics Facility, Veteran’s Hall, Beach Playfield and Coach’s Field are all still in the planning phase and there is no new information on the projects.

The meeting concluded with a brief discussion about the almost completed renovation of Hampton Field. Overall, the Commission is very happy with the new field, tennis courts and basketball courts.

After the meeting, I interviewed a fellow audience member who would rather remain anonymous. The concerned citizen attended the meeting “to receive updates on the pool facility renovations,” the same reason I chose to attend the meeting. In order to keep himself updated, this concerned citizen will attend next month’s meeting.

by Robbie Alazraqui, Piedmont High School Senior

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    On October 18, 2017, I attended a Recreation Commission meeting. The Commission consists of 5 commissioners, a Chair, and a Vice Chair, who all oversee public parks, sports, and recreational programs (Schoolmates, camps). They hold their meetings monthly in City Hall and they focus on many different issues around mainly Piedmont youth. The audience is able to give their opinion on any issue being discussed on the agenda by giving the Chair of the Recreation Commission a speaker card with their name and what number on the agenda they wanted to comment on.

    They began their session by doing a “Call to Order,” where the Vice Chair opened the session by stating who was present, the time, and banging the gavel. It is usually the Chair’s job to call the meeting to order, but the previous Chair had stepped down in the time between the last session and the current one, so the duty was left to Steve Roland, the Vice Chair.

   They then moved into the Public Forum, which lasts ten minutes, where anyone in the audience could voice their opinion on an issue not on the agenda. One of my peers, Robbie, was the only member of the audience to give his opinion at this time.

   After the Forum closed, they moved on to their “Regular Agenda.” Because of the vacant spot of Chair of the Recreation Commission, the first thing on the agenda was to elect a new Chair. They voted unanimously on election of Steve Roland, the current Vice Chair, to become Chair. This left a spot open for a new Vice Chair, and Carrie Graham Lee was voted unanimously, as well, to fill that role. They then approved their last meeting’s minutes (September).

    The next item on the agenda was an update from the Tennis Subcommittee, where the director of the Piedmont Recreation Department, Sara Lillevand, spoke on behalf of the Recreation  Department. She talked about proposed maintenance on the PRD tennis courts and explained that the Department wanted to repair a cracked wall, as well as extending fences between courts to limit tennis balls from entering other courts. She had a preliminary meeting with contractors on an estimate and hopes to be finished with the project by the time NCS rolls around because PHS usually hosts multiple games between the men’s and women’s teams. She will be briefing the Recreation Commission further at the next meeting.

    The Recreation Commission then transitioned to an update on Schoolmates, the daycare for kids who attend the elementary schools, where Lillevand again took the lead. The issue was that Schoolmates was not having enough participation this year and they were struggling to keep their full-time staff. The reason for this was that, for the last 15+ years, kindergarteners at Havens, Beach, and Wildwood Elementary Schools would spend half of their day in school and, as needed, the other half at Schoolmates. This year, however, the hours for kindergartens shifted to 9 a.m.-2 p.m., leaving Schoolmates in a bad spot. Schoolmates is not limited to just kindergarteners, but that is where their largest participation is.

   The Recreation Department first tried to increase fees for families to pay for staff, who are beloved on their respective campuses, but that is not a sustainable method. Even though the school year has just recently started, participation is down 31% from last year. She says that their 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. and 7:30am-8:30am slots have not changed in participation, but the middle of the day is where the drop happens, because there are no more kindergarteners there.

   A Commissioner then had the idea to use teacher aides for the in-between hours if needed, but Lillevand would like to keep the full-time staff on if that is a possibility. Then the newly elected Vice Chair, Carrie Graham Lee, asked what would happen during weeks like parent-teacher conference week, if Schoolmates would not have full-time staff working. Lillevand responded by saying that Camps during that week could be an option, although not nearly as cheap for families as Schoolmates.

   They then concluded that portion of the meeting and left it open to the public. My speaker card was read and I went up to the podium and told the members that having full-time staff at Schoolmates is so important to the community because they have such a positive impact on kids and that anything they could do to keep staff on at Schoolmates would have a lot of support from the community and myself.

    I chose to comment on Schoolmates because it was the most personal to me as I absolutely loved hanging out with Michael and David at the Havens Schoolmates when I was in Kindergarten. I still talk to them sometimes and they have always remembered who I am and ask me how my parents and siblings are doing, even though I have not been to Schoolmates in 12 years. They are truly dedicated to the town and are such a huge part of so many young kids lives in Piedmont, so that is why I felt I needed to try and support them by voicing my opinion.

    The final items on the Regular Agenda were on a couple of Master Planning projects. The Commissioners did not show the actual Master Plans for the items discussed, it seemed to have been discussed in a previous meeting. They went over plans for new aquatics facilities, where Councilwoman Teddy King spoke about a poll sent out to Piedmont citizens about the new aquatic facilities. She did not specify what they were as well.

   They transitioned to the Master Plans for the Recreation Department and Veteran’s Hall. The City wants to remodel them to make them more marketable.

   They then moved onto the Master Plans for Beach and Coaches Fields. Planning will be engaged on November 16, 2017. The last Master Plan they covered was Hampton Field. Because it is nearly complete, they only talked about finishing signage. Lillevand said that in total it was a two million dollar remodel, with $ 800,000 of that coming from private donors.

    They finished their meeting with some announcements. The most important being that Haunted House tickets are now being bought prior to the event, online. Lillevand made the change this year because she believes cash is inefficient, as it does not always get to where it needs to go.

   Chair Roland then adjourned the meeting by hitting the gavel.

    Following the meeting, I talked to Jeffrey Dorman, a newly appointed Recreation Commissioner. He chose to be on the Recreation Commission because he “had gotten involved with the Piedmont Soccer Club, and also have had kids in Recreation programs.” He believes that “having a background from the Soccer Club,’’ he “could help out especially as it relates to fields and field usage.” Since joining the Recreation Commission, he has learned that it is “way more broad and diverse than I had originally thought, it’s not all about sports, it’s also about tons of educational programs, especially programs for little kids; you don’t even realize.” He talked about how he has dealt a lot with people who want something and then the opposite side of people, who want the opposite.  I try to make decisions for the best interests of the town.” He has enjoyed his time on the Commission and hopes to continue as a member for the foreseeable future.

    I never knew that things like this existed in our town, and, honestly, I thought the meeting was fascinating. It hit close to home with Schoolmates, and I was excited to hear all the new changes to come for this town. I thought it was very cool to hear about Hampton Field because it is very nice now, and I use it quite a bit. As a student, it is great to hear about what is going on around you in your town and I am very glad this project was assigned.

by Conner Weber, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Oct 30 2017

On October 30, 2017, at a Special Council meeting with all council members present, the Council voted unanimously to approve all 3 proposed cell facility sites.

Numerous written comments had been sent to the council members prior to the Special Meeting.  Suggested reasons for Council denial of  the applications included: noise, safety, health concerns, potential harm to trees, aesthetic issues, disruptive maintenance requirements, lack of information on coverage and capacity.

McBain and Rood expressed their concurrence with the staff and attorney’s advice to conditionally approve the installations.  The other three council members indicated less enthusiasm for approval.

After listening to residents, applicants, council members, and the staff in the full Council Chamber, Council member Tim Rood made the motions to approve each of the applicant’s proposed sites.  Hearing no seconds to the motions to approve, Mayor Bob McBain seconded all of the motions for the three sites.

Vice Mayor Teddy King stated it had been her most difficult issue in her 10 years of public service.  However, based on the City’s legal advisement of a potential lawsuit costing $250,000, she felt responsible in saving money, thus she supported approval.

Council members Jennifer Cavenaugh and Betsy Andersen asked many questions and in the end reluctantly voted for approval.

The approval includes requiring the applicant and contractors to meet a number of conditions, one of which is to prove compliance with Piedmont’s noise ordinance prior to construction.

The approved sites are:

1. Site PHS01, a WCF proposed across from 340-370 Highland Avenue;

2. Site PHS03, a WCF proposed at 799 Magnolia Avenue; and

3. Site PHS04, a WCF proposed across from 740 Magnolia Avenue.

Read the prior PCA article on the communication facilities and the staff report recommending approval HERE.

Oct 23 2017

Anti-hate signs are being made available to interested Piedmonters.

If you want to obtain a sign, contact Conna McCarthy at > 

mccarthycraigie@gmail.com.  

Also, a limited number of signs are available at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall and at the Piedmont Unified School District Office.

Sep 29 2017

The City states the reissuance of bonds will not cost Piedmont taxpayers.  Costs for the continuing City staff time appear not to have been factored into the reissuance of the private special district bonds. 

Agenda item: City Council Meeting, 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 2, 2017

Consideration of Authorization to Engage a Financial Advisor with Regard to the Possible Refinancing of the Bonds of the Piedmont Hills (Special District that Cost Piedmont taxpayers millions) Wildwood/Crocker, and Dudley/Blair/ Mountain/Pacific/Hagar & Vicinity Underground Assessment Districts.

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2017-10-02/underground-bond-refinance.pdf

According to the staff report as stated:

“The City’s General Fund has no obligation to pay or ensure the full and timely payment of the debt service related to refunded debt. Debt service associated with the assessment district is solely the responsibility of the 217 parcel owners.”

Sep 8 2017

Some residents have been surprised and disappointed to read the new garbage pickup rates proposed by Republic Services:  Curbside rates will go from $55.11 per month to $88.65 per month and “backyard” service from the current $61.08 to $131.43 per month.

Out of curiosity a Piedmont resident uncovered old waste collection bills from earlier decades. For curbside service in 1990, single family homes were billed $32.10 per three months, not per month!

All Piedmont property owners are required by law to pay for waste collection by the service provider chosen by the City. This also applies to residents who no longer generate any waste (whether green or solid) or recycling, due to their adoption of limited consumption, growing family food, composting their limited food scraps in an effort to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

Aug 15 2017

Several Small Bay Area Cities Have Simpler Contracts for Services

     Albany, California negotiated until it reached an agreement less than a month before new garbage removal services began. Even then, one Councilmember objected, wanting further efforts to reduce costs to citizens. The Albany City Council approved a ten year solid waste & recycling agreement in October 2011 with the following provisions:

Seniors 62 years of age and older receive a 20% discount on service.

Disabled residents with an ongoing physical disability that prevents them from being able to wheel a cart curbside may qualify for an exemption to curbside service (carts will be serviced from location as designated by resident – typically side or backyard)

Beginning November 1, 2011 the standard residential household monthly rate was $36.37.  With a cap of 5% increase annually, the standard residential household rate increased from $36.37 to $38.04 effective November 1, 2012.

As of May 1, 2017 backyard residential pickup was an additional $15.21. Low waste generators receive monthly trash service (10 gallon) and recycle service (64 gallon) and weekly organics service (64 gallon) at the monthly rate of $15.25.  See the complete residential household monthly rates listed here.

     Belvedere, CA differentiates between the city’s “flat” and “hill” areas. The complete rates listed here.
 
    Mill Valley, CA differentiates between the city’s “flat” and “hill” areas.  The cost to SSI residents are $8.46 in the “flat” and $10.32 in the  “hill” areas.  The complete rates are listed here

    Corte Madera, CA differentiates between the city’s “flat” and “hill” areas and offers a list of “Lifeline” rates to seniors, disabled and low income residents. The complete rates are listed here

Aug 13 2017

No tax deduction allowed for ratepayers paying for city waste services.

Placing the cost of City Waste Services on private home garbage ratepayer billing rather than using the Piedmont General Fund Budget eliminates the tax deductibility of a legitimate municipal service, which should be covered by the Municipal Services Tax. 

How much municipal cost for waste services will be shifted from the city budget to individual residents’ in their required monthly waste removal charges? The recently received Republic Services bid provides no breakout of the cost of providing the city service that is billed to ratepayers.

Questions have also been raised about the ratepayer fees for City services without a benefit to the individual ratepayer, which may be considered an unauthorized required tax.  

Simultaneously, the City Council is moving ahead on considering a change to the City Charter to allow the city to accumulate more than the Charter prescribed maximum reserve of 25% of the annual budget. The city has been experiencing unprecedented increases in excess revenues which have been placed into various city reserve funds. Rather than using existing money for ongoing municipal services, such as city waste removal or the greatly needed pavement of substandard or damaged sidewalks, the city continues to ask for more funding from Piedmonters.

The voter enacted Piedmont City Charter states:

“The Council shall establish a fund known as the General Fund Reserve in an amount not to exceed twenty-five (25%) of the budget for the purpose of maintaining municipal services during periods of reduced revenues to the City, as well as meeting unforeseen contingencies and emergencies of the City.”

Council Moves Forward to Contract with Sole Source Bidder – 

On July 17th, the Piedmont City Council accepted the proposal submitted by Republic Services for waste collection services beginning on July 1, 2018, notably imposing huge rate increases particularly for backyard services and no rate break for seniors or the disabled.

Numerous residents have expressed dismay and shock at the cost of procuring only one bidder and the expensive end result.  It is not unusual for sole source procurement to result in unacceptably high costs. No breakout of the cost to go 30 feet into a backyard versus 100 feet or up many steep steps was offered.

Piedmont resident Alan Kong recommended “a re-procurement … with a non-responsive” penalty or  “a more stringent annual renewal cap.”

Despite the long lead time, a new less complex RFP for Piedmont property owners will not be sent out in an attempt to acquire waste removal charges in line with other communities. Detailed contract negotiations will proceed on the basis of the lone bid by Republic Services.

Concerns over the huge increase in rates for garbage collection have produced suggestions from a range of individuals.

“From what I have read in Mr. Benoit’s report may be indicative of inappropriate discussions by the proposers. In some industries such as sanitation/waste disposal, where there is limited to no competition, the eligible participants will divide territories/cities. Periodically these territories/cities will be redistributed in an RFP re-bid process. It seems odd that 2 proposers declined to bid altogether while of the remaining 2 proposers (Waste Management and Republic), there was a formal “no bid” citing safety. 

“Perhaps a re-procurement should be enacted with a qualifier that a non-responsive proposal will penalize/disqualify that party from future contract award considerations. Or implement a more stringent annual renewal cap (no greater than a legitimate index + X%, annually…and tie the contractor into a 5-10 year term contract with a stringent termination clause).

“However this is resolved, the seemingly damaged party will be the residents of the City of Piedmont. There are easy answers to this situation.” Alan Kong

~~~~~~~~~~~

“What the City has left out in its online explanation of the process and in response to Mike Rancer’s thoughtful comment, is that Waste Management, which services many Oakland streets right next to Piedmont, wanted to use a different type of cart that matched to a lift on the trucks which would reduce their concern about worker injury. Piedmont did not want to investigate this thinking backyard service would not be possible. The Jan. 17 2017 staff report included my letter and research material; that material has Oakland provider Waste Management’s rate sheet which clearly shows Waste Management providing both curbside and backyard service.”  Rick Schiller

~~~~~~~~~

“Are the City’s requirements asking for something that is far too expensive? Maybe relaxing some of the requirements would result in lower prices, and more competitors for the contract.”  Bruce Joffe

~~~~~~~~

“Maybe the problem is that Piedmont is too small to generate competitive bids or economies of scale. Given that Piedmont is completely surrounded by Oakland, and many of our streets cross the boundary into Oakland, has the city considered talking to Oakland about joining their contract and consolidating services to improve efficiency and lower our cost? It would be the height of negligence if our City Council simply rolled over and accepted this non-competitive bid. ”  Michael Rancer

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“Those are enormous rate increases – did Republic provide a quantifiable basis? They admitted they blew the last bid – you have to wonder how good this estimate is. And their flat rate for backyard makes no sense – all Piedmont backyards are not created equal. Staff’s formula may have been too complex for Republic, so make it simple – scale backyard service to lot size.

“Bad month for ratepayers – sewer, garbage and water rates all go up.”  Garrett Keating

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“Rick Schiller is to be commended for the extensive research and persuasive recommendations that he made.

“I hope that the shocked ratepayers will remember this when City Council election time comes around again. As a reminder: “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?”

“Politics tends to be forgotten. Writing those quarterly checks is the “gift” that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. ” Jim McCrea

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“July 14, 2017
Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch, City Clerk

July 17 Agenda: New Republic Services refuse contract.

Dear Mayor Wieler and Council,
It is what it is: one bid from Republic Services. Regrettably the preliminary cost estimates are for substantial increases of 60% for curbside service and 120% for backyard service. Considering the considerable increases, it is most unfortunate there will be no accommodation for seniors over 70. Staff indicated such an accommodation leaves the City vulnerable to legal challenge yet, perplexingly, this specific accommodation is common elsewhere and has not been legally challenged.

The Staff Report states “backyard service would be available to disabled residents at curbsides rates.” What is the mechanism for disabled qualification?
Mr. Benoit indicated, when we spoke at the Linda Triangle opening, that the new contract would include unlimited curbside green waste. This is most appropriate in lush, expansive Piedmont with its many large lots. Unlimited curbside recycling also seems appropriate and is in harmony with Piedmont’s embrace of ecological concerns.”   
Rick Schiller

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“I find it odd and inconsistent that Piedmont finds a senior exemption of backyard service at curbside rates contrary to State law as many Municipalities have this exemption. In Marin County Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Homestead, Marin County, Mill Valley, Strawberry and Tiburon provide exemptions for backyard service at curbside rates for (1) any age 70 Senior on signature alone that requests the service and (2) any disabled person with a doctor’s letter. The City of Berkeley has the same two exemptions and lowers the qualifying age to 62 and does not require a doctor’s letter for the handicapped exemption (form and code attached). City of Albany has both a disability exemption and an age 62 low-income discount exemption (see attached p 7). Santa Clarita has an age 60 low-income discount exemption (see attached p 7). No doubt there are many more California cities with an age based senior exemption of backyard service at curbside rates.”  Rick Schiller

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“I think that there should be a provision that someone at age 75 (or pick a comparable age) or older should automatically be entitled to backyard collection at curbside rates. Will some noses get out of joint if they are thought to be “too old” to haul the cans to and from the curb and they don’t feel that way? If so, let THEM opt out of the reduced rates. “ Jim McCrea

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“I have not followed the Piedmont waste issue closely, but I did have a caution that may be useful. The City of Oakland spent a great deal on staff, consultants and public time to craft a detailed and specific RFP that outlined a great number of demands and requirements. Unfortunately, their efforts were rewarded with only one responsive bid from their current provider, Waste Management. This caused no end of trouble for the city ending up with recirculation of the EGO, eventual litigation and very increased rates. The 2016 Grand Jury report covers this problem pretty well. Piedmont should not repeat Oakland’s path on this. Also, collusion between garbage companies is not unknown. ”  Michael Henn

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“Good news- the proposed contract has significant reductions in service levels in that unlimited recycling/composting and individual curbside pick-ups are eliminated from the contract which should lower rates. These services were likely the reason rates were increased so much in the last contract so their elimination now should lead to lower rates. Likewise, the scalable backyard service formula should result in a more accurate (and higher) rate for this service, again leading to a rate reduction for curbside service, the majority of Piedmont’s service.

“Bad news – for recycling, this contract is a serious step backwards. Specifically, the contract calls for a 60% diversion rate, a rate the city had already achieved before the advent of the cart system 10 years ago. And it ignores the 75% diversion rate that council set by resolution – the stretch goal for this contract is 70% by 2028. Many other east bay cities are achieving 75 % and our city has routinely been above 70%. Staff assumes that with the reduction in unlimited recycling, green waste will go to the landfill instead and result in an underestimate of our true diversion rate – this happened in the past. But it won’t now – Alameda County has banned the dumping of green waste in land fills and green waste is now properly sorted and credited. The contract should at least adjust the diversion targets to 65, 70, and 75% at a minimum to maintain the current level of recycling in town. To do the right thing, the contract should set the target at 75% as directed by Resolution 38-08.

“General Plan Goals and Policies: the staff report lists the numerous goals and policies this contract addresses (wish that had been done with chapter 17 revisions) but many are really not related to this service contract. To make true headway with our Climate Action Plan, this contract should require the use of biodiesel vehicles – this is likely the largest source of truck traffic GHG emission generated by the city and the city could achieve major reduction by mandating this in the contract.”  Garrett Keating

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“May I suggest that a requirement be included that the carts be placed back on the curbs after emptying. When the carts are left in the street, as they usually are, they occupy parking spaces where parking is very limited to begin with. I asked the company to include this in its instructions to its drivers, but compliance lasted approximately one week. This is a minor irritation but an irritation nonetheless.”  Susan McCreary

Read prior PCA article HERE.

Read City web page on waste services HERE.