May 7 2022

I just wanted to clarify that the timeline for preparation of Housing Element updates is set by state law.

It is an iterative process that mandates local jurisdictions prepare draft Housing Elements, open them up for public comment and send them to the state’s Housing and Community Development department (HCD) for its review.  Once HCD has reviewed, it sends back its comments and recommendations to local jurisdictions, so they can incorporate them into revised drafts, to make sure those drafts comply with all the requirements of state law.  The final product, after all these different rounds of review, needs to be done in early to mid 2023.  So while it seems like 2023 is a long time away, the timeline is actually tight. You can find a model timeline in the website for the Association of Bay Area Governments, here:

https://abag.ca.gov/technical-assistance/housing-element-update-timeline

In other words, it is not up to the City Council or the Planning Commission to extend the deadlines.  In fact, delaying the process may lead to increased oversight of the process by the state, as recently happened to the city of Los Angeles. As a result of its failure to comply with Housing Element preparation on time, LA now finds itself into a state-law mandated expedited track to approve all required rezonings within one year.  See:

https://www.planetizen.com/news/2022/02/116337-las-housing-element-considered-among-californias-most-ambitious-rejected-state

The timeline, then, must be respected.  However, that doesn’t mean that the City is trying to push this forward without real opportunities for public comment.  We, as residents of Piedmont, can comment now and when HCD provides its recommendations.  We can also comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which the City should be releasing any time now, and at the time of final approval.

Finally, I think we should remember that the draft Housing Element is NOT amending the Charter, rezoning the Corp Yard, or converting Veterans Hall or the City Council building to low income housing.  It is just proposing draft policies and identifying potential sites where the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which represents the City’s fair share of housing growth, could be accommodated.  It is a high level policy document. Even if these policies were adopted, subsequent rezonings would be needed, as the draft plan acknowledges.  And even if those rezonings occurred, that doesn’t mean that automatically these sites would be developed.  Much more process would be needed, with public input and any required environmental review, and actual  projects would need to be proposed and approved.  So, it is a long process, and there will be many opportunities for public participation as we go along.

Thanks to PCA and to all of you, readers, for the opportunity to engage in this important conversation.  I look forward to more.

Respectfully,

Andrea Ruiz-Esquide, Piedmont Resident

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

 

May 2 2022

 City Proposal for Housing Element Includes: Zoning Changes, Transitional Housing, ADU Heights to 24 feet, City Charter Amendments, Converting City Hall and Veterans Buildings to Low-Income Housing, Coaches Field, Blair Park, etc.

There’s more than just numbers (587 new housing units to be exact) to the Housing Element.  There are several programs and policies in the draft that have not gotten much attention in the city workshops or outreach program, some are noted below:

Require large home remodels include an ADU in the expansion. 

• Establish a transitional home for 6 homeless individuals in a residential neighborhood. Collaborate with a nonprofit affordable housing organization to convert a home or homes to transitional housing for six persons.  This would require changing current residential zone restrictions to allow transitional housing throughout the city. (page 74),

• Create additional local housing opportunities for persons employed within Piedmont in order to reduce commuting and associated greenhouse gas emissions. A particular emphasis should be placed on transportation and on housing for municipal and school district employees, since these are the largest employers in the City. (page 75).

• Allow ADUs to be built to a height of 24 feet if the ADU is deed restricted for 10 years. (page 55).

• Amend the City Charter to eliminate the requirement that the reclassification of zones and/or reduction or enlargement of size or area of zones be subject to a majority vote at a general or special election. (page 57).

• Rezone the Corporation Yard and areas around Coaches Field to accommodate 130 housing units.  Fifty high density units would be built in the Coaches Filed overflow parking lot and 50 units on the slope below the third base line of the field.  If this plan is infeasible, develop 200 high density units in Blair Park. (Appendix B-14)

• Convert Veterans and City Halls into low-income housing (Appendix B-15).

Public comment on the Housing Element started April 6, 2022, and will run for 3 months with Council adoption expected in June 2022. Once approved by Council, the Housing Element needs to be approved by state authorities.  By statute, the deadline for state approval was recently extended to May 2023.  

City Council should take advantage of the state time extension and extend public comment on the Housing Element through November 2022. There are a number of reasons for doing so. 

  •  The plan needs work and a June hearing should still be held to address deficiencies of the current draft so that revisions can be made. 
  • The plan currently does not achieve the equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout Piedmont.
  • The plan for Coaches Field is really half-baked. 
  • There are many new programs and policies called for in the Housing Element that need better vetting with the community. 
  • By extending public comment through November, Piedmont voters can express their opinion on the draft Housing Element by seating a majority of Council (3 seats will be on the ballot).  This timeline offers residents an excellent opportunity to have their voices heard and two of the Councilmembers will likely serve for 8 years, the lifespan of the 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element, ensuring some continuity. 
  • Postponing consideration of the Housing Element until after the November election would engage the entire community in setting Piedmont’s affordable housing future, a legacy everyone could be proud of.  

Public comments on the Housing Element will be sent to the Planning Commission if received by May 5.  Send comments to Piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov.  The public can also comment on the Housing Element at the Special Planning Commission meeting, a virtual meeting on Zoom on May 12.  Read the draft Housing Element at:

https://p1cdn4static.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Planning%20Division/Housing%20Programs/Housing%20Element/DRAFT-Housing_Element-Public-Review.pdf

Garrett Keating, Former member of the Piedmont City Council and Piedmont Resident

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

Contact information:

510/420-3050 – Planning Staff

510/420-3040 – City Clerk – City Council
Ask for the email address where you can send comments.  Sending an email to the City Council is a good place to send a comment.  Written comments become part of the public record, phone calls do not. 
Go to the City of Piedmont web page for more information.
May 2 2022

“City Staff is asking Park Commissioners to provide feedback on the Draft 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element as community members and key stakeholders. The Park Commission meeting on May 4 gives the public further opportunities to learn about the Housing Element update process and to give their input and feedback.”

Numerous proposals are in the Draft Housing Element many occurring throughout Piedmont.  Density increases, removal of parking requirements, raised height limits of buildings, end to neighbor input on proposals, zoning changes, Charter change, etc.

 All proposals in the 374 page Draft Housing Element document can be read online for public comment.  See link at the end of this article.

6. Proposed Specific Plan: Page B-12, Appendix B, of the Draft Housing Element proposes to prepare a specific plan (Government Code §65450 et. seq) for the area of the Public Works Corporation Yard to accommodate new housing development, incorporate existing amenities, and modernize current city functions. The portion of the site utilized for park Page 2 of 62 and recreational uses, are intended to remain as an amenity for the proposed specific plan area, with the existing vehicle parking reconfigured, as needed.  See map on linked attachment below.

7. Blair Park: The Draft Housing Element identifies Blair Park, which is located on the south side of Moraga Avenue, as a potential alternate site for housing if the proposed specific plan for the Public Works Corporation Yard fails to yield 122 housing units (page B-13). Blair Park is 3.55 acres, with the potential for 210 units if developed at 60 units per acre.

8. Zoning Amendments: In order to meet the 6th Cycle RHNA target with Piedmont’s limited available land, the Draft Housing Element’s Goal 1, New Housing Construction, proposes to increase the allowed residential density for housing affiliated with religious institutions in Zone A (program 1.D, page (37) and increase allowed residential density in Zone B (program 1.F), Zone C (program 1.G), and Zone D (1.H).

READ the Draft Housing Element May 4 presentation to the Park Commission and Agenda, including participation information below:

> 2022-05-04 Park Agenda

May 1 2022

Selling desirable naming opportunities has been an important fund-raising tool prior to the current stampede to remove donor’s names.

The current incentive to investigate the individual donor and ancestors to uncover impurity has led to a rash of donors’ un-naming.  Do people really want their lives examined in such punitive ways today?  Giving anonymously has a new appeal for some who don’t want to be publicly shamed for the unknown misdeeds of great-grandparents.

The usual practice was to produce a price list of the donation required to brand a building, plaza, walkway, or other feature with the donor’s name or company.

In light of the substantial costs of the Piedmont Community pools complex, the City Council is eager to encourage donations.  To this end a policy on donations and naming for the pools or other local improvements.  On April 4, 2022, the Council directed staff to develop a policy.  See the policy prepared by the City Attorney’s office here.

Among other points, it authorizes the City Administrator to accept
donations valued (in the case of in-kind donations) of up to $75,000 with the authority for larger donations reserved to the City Council.  The naming requests for facility or capital project must be reviewed by the City Council.

  • 1. Amenity: An improvement located on City property, including, but not limited to a wall,
    a plaza in front of a City building, a trail located along City property, room or rooms in a
    City building, gazebos, archways, paths, decks, patios, athletic facilities, playing fields,
    aquatic facilities, picnic areas, play structures, hard courts, and trail segments.
  •  2. Donation: A person or entity providing the City with financial support or property of a
    value exceeding the City’s payment for such item. Furthermore, a donor typically does
    not expect to receive a substantial return or recognition from the City in return for the
    donation. A donation may consist of an amenity, cash, real property (land), in-kind
    donation, or work of art. Donations may be unrestricted or restricted by the donor.
  • 3. Donor: A company, organization, or individual, who provides the City a donation without expectation of significant return or recognition.
  • 4. In-Kind Contributions: A contribution of an item or object other than cash or real
    property, which would serve a useful purpose in the provision of City services. Examples
    may include equipment, materials, or services.
  • 5. Restricted Donation: A donation made to the City where the donor has restricted its use
    to a specified purpose. Any proposed restrictions must be made in writing.
  • 6. Sponsor: A company, organization, or individual who provides the City with funding
    support for a program, activity, or facility in the form of a sponsorship, and who expects more than nominal recognition in return.
  • 7. Sponsorship: A sponsorship typically means a person or entity that provides the City with financial support for an activity, City program, or City facility, typically in exchange for the City providing more than nominal recognition of its financial support, which distinguishes a sponsorship from a donation. Financial assistance provided by a sponsor may consist of cash and/or in-kind contributions
  • 8. Sponsorship Agreement: A negotiated agreement between the City and a company,
    organization, or individual who provides a sponsorship whereby the City agrees to
    provide a sponsorship opportunity to a company, organization, or individual in exchange
    for recognition rights related to certain identified City-owned commercial or marketable
    assets. A Sponsorship Agreement may permit a limited form of advertising opportunity for a company, organization, or individual in exchange for the fee paid to the City.
  • 9. Unrestricted Donation: A donation made to the City where the donor has placed no
    limitation on its use.
  • 10. Works of Art: Includes, without limitation, physical art that may be an integral part of a public site or building, or that may be integrated with the work of other design professionals. Examples of public works of art include: sculptures; murals and paintings; earthworks; neon; glass; organic materials; mosaics; photographs; prints; film; and any combination of media forms or hybrids of any media.

Donation Policy & Naming Policy 522020

council- 522020 agenda

May 1 2022

Receipt of the Piedmont Community Pool Design Development Package and Consideration of: 

1) Approval of Design Modifications to the Recreation Pool; and

2) Authorization for Staff and ELS to Advance to Construction Documents Phase

RECOMMENDATION: Receive the 100% Design Development Package and Cost Estimate for the Piedmont Community Pool Project and by a single motion, take the following actions with regard to the project:

1) Approve design modifications to the shallow water recreation pool as recommended by the Community Pool Advisory Committee (PAC):

a) Lap Lanes: increased length of the three lap lanes from 20 to 25 yards with a depth profile that moves side to side from approximately 3.5 feet in the middle of the pool to approximately 5 feet at the western edge of the pool

b) Rotate the stairs 90 degrees such that the stairs enter the open free water area rather than the rectangular lap lane area

2) Approve expansion of the zero-beach entry area in the recreation pool by approximately 300 square feet

3) Authorize Staff and ELS to advance to Construction Documents Phase

FULL STAFF REPORT >Pool Acceptance 522022

council- 522020 agenda

May 1 2022

Public Hearing, Introduction, and 1st Reading of Ordinance 764 N.S., Adopting Piedmont Police Department Policy 710 Pertaining to Military Equipment Use

RECOMMENDATION Conduct a public hearing and approve the 1st Reading of Ordinance 764 N.S., adopting Piedmont Police Department Policy 710 pertaining to Military Equipment Use.

READ the STAFF REPORT > Military Equipment Policy 522022

council- 522020 agenda

Apr 24 2022

Piedmont is scheduled to adopt a new Housing Element to accommodate 587 new housing units in Piedmont.  You can play a role in deciding how! 

For development potential, some residents and City staff have suggested,  amongst other areas, the area around the City Corporation Yard on Moraga Avenue.  Undeveloped areas are unlikely to provide housing space for 587 new housing units leading to new units added in single family neighborhoods. 

Once the Housing Element is approved, the City will be prohibited by law from informing neighbors of certain proposed projects, potentially turning garages into housing, subdividing properties, adding new housing units on existing properties, restructuring existing homes as apartment buildings, etc. .

The Housing Element is important to all areas of Piedmont, for after parameters and requirements for housing are approved in the new Housing Element, “ministerial” permits are to be issued by the City Planning Department for all conforming proposals without neighborhood notification or input. 

The Piedmont Planning staff, along with outside consultants, have devised the new DRAFT Housing Element.  Attempts have been made by the City to involve Piedmont residents in the process.  The result is a 374 page DRAFT Housing Element document outlining conditions for approval of housing units. 

Go to the end of this article to learn how you can voice your preferences and read the DRAFT Housing Element.

TIME FOR WRITTEN INPUT TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION IS  ENDING ON MAY 5, 2022.

If you are not able or need assistance with submitting your ideas to the City, contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510-420-3040 or Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald at 510-420-3050.

  The Piedmont City Council has planned a limited comment period based on an earlier State deadline for submittal of Piedmont’s new Housing Element. 

State Housing Element Update Timeline was Extended to May 2023 due to a recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods.

  • April 8, 2022: Publication of the Draft Housing Element > Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element.  (374 pages)

  • May 12, 2022: Special Planning Commission public hearing, starting at 5:30 pm to discuss and consider the Draft Housing Element. Approximately one month comment period.
  • June 2022: City Council public hearing. Approximately one month comment period.
  • May 2023: NEW deadline for adoption of the final draft of the updated Housing Element, date amended due to recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Special Planning Commission Meeting – May 12, 2022 – City News Release Below
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Piedmont’s Planning Commission will hold a hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting on May 12, 2022, at 5:30 pm to consider a recommendation to the City Council on the >Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element. On April 8, 2022, the City of Piedmont published the Draft Housing Element for public review and comment. The Draft Housing Element is posted to the homepages of the City of Piedmont website and Piedmontishome.org. Other formats are available upon request. The Planning Commission agenda will be published on the City website and posted by May 9, 2022.
Cover of Draft Housing Element
The 374-page Draft Housing Element, shown above, includes policies to increase housing access and affordability in Piedmont.
Places to Find Draft Housing Element Online
Purple arrows identify the locations of the links to the Draft Housing Element on the homepages of the City website and Piedmontishome.org
Win $50 Gift Card To Ace Hardware!
Piedmont Puzzle Welcome Page
The web-based Piedmont Housing Puzzle supports the development of the next Housing Element by giving you the tools to imagine sites for 587 new housing units in Piedmont. Links to the Puzzle are posted here:
Over 300 Piedmont community members have already visited the Piedmont Housing Puzzle or submitted their housing plans and comments. We would like to reach more!
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Please share the City’s Facebook page at the link above, or share the link to the Piedmont Puzzle on social media or via email. People are 100 times more likely to follow a link online if it is recommended by someone they know.
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There are only 10 days left to provide comments about new housing sites through the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. The Puzzle ends Sunday, May 1, 2022.
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Win a $50 gift card to Grand Lake Ace Hardware by submitting your housing plan, email, and comments in the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. Click below to start!

How to Read and Review the Draft Housing Element

The Draft Housing Element enables construction to occur, but does not force property owners to build or otherwise change the ways that they use their property. [Notification to neighbors of certain proposals is prohibited by State law.] The organization of the Draft Housing Element begins with an executive summary and then the following four sections:
  • Introduction
  • Projected Housing Need
  • Housing Resources
  • Housing Plan: Goals, Policies, and Programs
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There are six technical appendices that provide analysis of housing law, demographics, constraints, and other issues in greater detail, including Appendix F, an analysis of compliance with AB 686 and goals to affirmatively further fair housing in Piedmont.
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Community members (everyone that lives, works, attends school, or cares about housing in Piedmont) are encouraged to review the Draft Housing Element and provide comments to City decision-makers. Comments can be made using any of the following methods:
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-Use the Share Your Voice tool on the homepage at: https://Piedmontishome.org *
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-Use the Piedmont Housing Puzzle at: https://Piedmont.abalancingact.com/housingsim
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-Mail to: Draft Housing Element, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611*
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-Attend a public meeting: Planning Commission is May 12, 2022, starting at 5:30 pm. City Council is tentatively scheduled for June 2022.
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*Comments received by May 5, 2022, will be forwarded to the Planning Commission the weekend before the first public hearing.

 This is a City website.

STAY CONNECTED & INFORMED
The City of Piedmont wants to keep you up to date on planning-related issues regarding transportation, sustainability, housing and changes to development regulations that affect you. Community participation is key to the success of new City policies. Contact pmacdonald@piedmont.ca.gov to learn more.
Get this Update email right in your inbox! Share with friends, family and neighbors!
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This is a City website.

Apr 19 2022

To view the appointee list:  Click below

2022-04-19 Commission Appointments

Apr 19 2022
In response to public criticism of the lack of transparency into the renewal of the use agreement for the 801 Magnolia Avenue building, several Councilmembers and Piedmont Center for the Arts  (PCA*) Board members pushed back, claiming that three meetings over a 15-month period allowed for adequate public input.  That sounds transparent but some history and context is needed to see how poorly the process of the past 15 months met community needs.
  • ·     The City purchased the 801 Magnolia Avenue property in 2003 at a cost of $735,000.  A the time, the City was developing the Civic Center Master Plan, a redevelopment of the Civic Center that called for replacing the 801 building with a modern building and civic plaza.  Undergrounding cost overruns and the 2008 economic downturn forestalled proceeding with the master plan at that time.

 

  • ·     In March, 2011, the City received a proposal from the Piedmont Center for the Arts to lease the building.  The City conducted a public hearing, “Consideration of the Concept of use of City Property at 801 Magnolia Avenue by the Piedmont Center for the Arts” at which PCA presented its Articles of Incorporation which state “The specific purpose of this corporation is to promote artistic endeavors for youth within the Piedmont community by providing exhibit and performance space and a website to connect the Arts Center with exhibitors and renters.”  At the hearing, commenters recommended other uses for the building such as a Maker Center, teen or senior center and public library.

 

  • ·     In April, 2011 PCA signed a 10-year, no-rent lease with the City which stipulated that PCA could rent space to only non-profit sub-tenants.  Over the ensuing 10 years, the City modified the Zone B use restrictions so that a for-profit business of a PCA Board member could be operated in the 801 Magnolia Building.

 

  • ·     In November 2021, the City came forward with a 10-year lease renewal with PCA.  No public hearings on the use of the 801 Building were held at City Council or city commissions nor did Council discuss the 801 lease renewal in closed session prior to the November meeting.

Failure to engage the public and City Council in discussions of use of the 801 Building prior to the November meeting soured the public process from the start.  According to the City Charter, “An ordinance may be introduced by any Councilmember at any regular or special meeting of the City Council.”

At the November 2021 meeting, the previous Mayor publicly stated he was asked by PCA to open negotiations on a new lease and presumably used this ordinance authority to bring forward the new lease (at his last meeting as mayor). But in so doing, he ignored the input of his Council colleagues and the community at large on the use of 801 Magnolia.  Other factors contributing to public dissatisfaction with the process were flaws in the lease and the obvious bias to Piedmont Center for the Arts it contained. Read the analysis by Rick Raushenbush to see just how badly the first draft of the agreement represented the City’s interest.

https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2020/11/29/opinion-four-major-flaws-in-proposed-art-center-lease/

Since November 2021, overwhelming public opposition to the first draft of the lease and the process by which it was brought forward resulted in the City taking more control of the building and relying on a facility use agreement that was approved by Council in March, 2022

(http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18384268). 

But as with the first draft, no public hearings or closed sessions of City Council on the use of 801 were held in the ensuing 15 months and again, the majority of public comment has been critical of the agreement and the lack of transparency into its development.  So three meetings over a 15-month period was not a “robust public process” but a series of reactionary meetings with the public trying to claw back access to this public building.

What’s really confounding is why the City didn’t conduct an open public process on the use of 801 Magnolia?  PCA would likely have retained preeminent use of the building with better community access being achieved at the same time.  Instead, a lease highly favorable to PCA was always the only topic for comment, sending a strong signal that it was a fait accompli.  It should be noted that it was in the City’s interest, as well, to have a limited discussion of 801’s use.  Office space is at a premium in City Hall and no doubt staff will make use of the new space in 801 for employees.

There are three spaces in the 801 building – the office space, classroom and performance hall – and a more equitable agreement would be to have assigned the classroom to the community as a senior center.  The Recreation Department is doing a better job of providing senior programming, but what seniors really need more is a gathering space and the 801 classroom would be perfect for that.

Why all this matters is that 6 years from now the facility use agreement will expire and the community will again go through this process for the 801 building. Several current Councilmembers could be involved again so hopefully a better public process will be followed.  This whole saga reminded me of the scene from Oliver Twist when Oliver approaches the master and asks “Please sir, I want some more”.  Hopefully it won’t be so hard to ask next time.

 Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council 
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
*Since 1986, PCA has been the logo for the Piedmont Civic Association.  In 2011, when the Piedmont Center for the Arts was formed and  began using PCA as an identifying symbol, the Piedmont Civic Association  informed the Arts Center of the potential misunderstanding for two Piedmont organizations to refer to themselves as PCA.   The two PCA organizations are separate and unrelated entities serving Piedmont.  The Piedmont Civic Association has never had a lease or agreement with the City of Piedmont for use of  801 Magnolia Avenue. 
Apr 2 2022

Update on Community Pool Design Modifications and Direct Staff to: 1) Continue Review of Program and Cost Considerations Related to the 20 Versus 25 Yard Recreation Pool Lanes with Referral to the Community Pool Advisory Committee for a Review of the Recreation Pool Length, and 2) Direct Staff to Prepare a Donation Policy for the Acceptance of Donations for the Piedmont Community Pool Project

Staff Report HERE.

Agenda and Participation Information HERE.