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The following letters and other commentary express only the personal opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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Feb 1 2023

Piedmont, a community of about 10,000 residents, has not one, but two organizations formed to help remove the stain of racism from the fabric of civic life. The Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (i.e. PREC) posts: “We work with allied organizations and individuals to raise awareness about racism and to support policies for racial justice and equity.” The Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee (i.e., PADC) describes itself as: “Grounded in principles of racial equity, Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee (PADC) works to dismantle systems of oppression, and replace them with policies and practices to nurture a connected and inclusive community.”

It could be argued that Piedmont’s civic life has been sufficiently stained with racism in the past that an unusually vigorous contemporary effort to avoid more appears justified.  The Piedmont Chief of Police in 1924, a member of the KKK, condoned mob violence against an African American family that had purchased a home in the city. As bad, the then City Council used eminent domain to condemn the home thereby forcing the family from the community.  In the 1960’s, the City Council transferred a public swimming pool to a private club to avoid complying with Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that required integration of public facilities.  In the last decade, moreover, several newsworthy incidents of racist graffiti in Piedmont parks and schools have reminded us of the stains on our civic fabric.

The response of the contemporary community at large to this history has been mostly laudable.  A recent report prepared by city staff finds little evidence of segregation in the community. The School District has developed a reputation for fighting racism in all forms and the city supports and participates in much programing intended to encourage an inclusionary culture.  Indeed, the local media describes a remarkable breadth of inclusionary programming offered in Piedmont on Martin Luther Day 2023.

This programming, however, appears lost on a City Council poised to stain our civic life with a not-so-subtle attempt to segregate a Piedmont neighborhood.  A state mandate that California cities allow development of market-rate and low-income housing has led Piedmont to begin planning a whole new neighborhood in Moraga Canyon.  The plan would allow, indeed encourage, construction of 132 new homes including 60 for low-income families.  Problems with this otherwise laudable scheme include that the Council has explicitly left open the option of assigning the 60 low-income units to Blair Park.

Blair’s designation as a “park” comes from the city’s purchase of Moraga Canyon land more than a century ago with bond funding raised to protect open space and wildlife. The park as we now know it, is essentially a former land fill surrounded mostly by high hillsides so steep that no vehicular or pedestrian access to the flatter section via the hills has ever been proposed. The steep hillsides are covered with oak and other native trees that harbor a diverse collection of wildlife protected, until now, by the land’s purchase with park bond funds.

Vehicles and pedestrians access Blair Park only from Moraga Avenue, a high-speed thoroughfare that connects the 13 and 580 Freeways via Grand Avenue. A 2010 EIR prepared for playfields proposed in Moraga Canyon, found a significant and unmitigable safety hazard for drivers entering or leaving Blair Park.  The hazard arises because no location on Moraga Avenue provides the 385-foot site distance Caltrans assumes for safe stopping of vehicles traveling at 35 MPH. More than 15% of vehicles traveling on Moraga Avenue exceeded that speed in 2010. The EIR also noted a similar hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing Moraga Avenue and that the likelihood of injuries and deaths would grow with increased attempts to access Blair Park.

Piedmonters appear unaware of the scheme to assign 60 low-income families to a former landfill, cutoff from the remainder of the community by impassable terrain and a high-speed arterial deemed an unmitigable safety hazard to motorists and pedestrians leaving and entering Blair Park.  Of those who know of the scheme, few seem aware that the Council also rejected the recommendations of professional staff, paid consultants, and a Council-appointed citizens committee to allow at least some low-income families to live in central Piedmont near schools and services.  And fewer still know that those experts also recommended that any housing assigned to the Canyon be located on the safe side of Moraga Avenue – an option made even more compelling by moving the now obsolete corporation yard, which the city will have to rebuild under any scheme, to Blair.

If the Council chooses to house low-income families in Blair Park, little time will likely pass before those families attribute their stigmatizing and dangerous isolation to segregationist intent. And decent Piedmonters will likely agree.  Such opinions will inevitably corrode civility in Piedmont.  That corrosion will be made much worse if a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorist suffers injury or death accessing or leaving Blair Park – an event anticipated by the EIR alluded to above.

So, what have PADC and PREC said about the Blair Park option? Nothing. Why have they been silent on a scheme as offensively segregationist as any in our history? But they are not alone in their silence. What do our church leaders, League of Women Voters, and School Board members as well as schoolteachers, all of whom rightly speak out against racism on Martin Luther King Day, have to say about this vessel of ruinous dye about to spill on the fabric of our civic life? Where, in short, are they when we need them?

Ralph Catalano, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 31 2023

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is New for Housing Elements

A new component of the 6th Cycle Housing Element is compliance with state-mandates of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) policy.  That policy states that local jurisdictions must “analyze and address significant disparities in housing needs and access to opportunity by proposing housing goals, objectives, and policies that aid in replacing segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns, transforming racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity, and fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.”

Addressing the AFFH mandates, the City concluded that segregation is not a concern because all Piedmont neighborhoods have equal access to opportunities (the entire town is a “high resource” area).  Regarding poverty, the City claimed that there are no racial and ethnic concentrated areas of poverty in Piedmont, partly due to there not being sufficient numbers of minorities in Piedmont.

Nonetheless, the City does acknowledge that there are racial/ethnic disparities in Piedmont:

“However, according to the United States Census, American Community Survey (ACS), approximately 25.5 percent of the Piedmont population belonged to a racial minority group in 2019…. According to the March 2022 U.C. Merced Urban Policy Lab and ABAG-MTC AFFH Segregation Report, the most isolated racial group (in Piedmont) is White residents. According to the report, “Piedmont’s isolation index of 0.627 for [non-Hispanic] White residents means that the average White resident lives in a neighborhood that is 62.7% White.

In the City of Piedmont, more than 20 percent of residents are cost-burdened, meaning that they pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent or mortgage. Non-White residents are disproportionately impacted by housing cost burden, over-payment, and overcrowding, as well as other burdens…. Latinos experience higher rates of poverty relative to their overall proportion of the City’s population than White residents. Latinos comprise about 4.2 percent of the City’s population, but 7.0 percent of Latinos live below the poverty level, an estimated 33 residents.”  January 12, 2023 memo

And the City acknowledges that these disparities are associated with the western half of Piedmont:

“More non-White residents are located in the western-most census block group of the City Piedmont Census Tracts. The census tract that overlaps this block group also contains the highest amount of lower and moderate-income population at about 11 percent and exhibits the highest amount of over-payment by renters in Piedmont. Further, this western census tract contains the highest level of persons with a disability at about eight percent….. High levels of over-payment by renters in the western census tract and high rates of over-payment by homeowners on both tracts in the City indicates that many residents may be struggling to afford housing costs.”

So given these facts, why is the 6th Cycle Housing Element proposing to put virtually all of the affordable housing in Piedmont’s western-most census block?  The Ace Hardware store and Blair Park literally border with the City of Oakland and are the proposed sites for the high density low and very low-income housing. There are good reasons for increased density on Grand Avenue but by essentially excluding the Civic Center area for affordable housing, the City Administrator and City Council have pushed affordable and denser housing to the western outskirts of Piedmont.  Doing so propagates what segregation and racial/ethnic concentration exist in Piedmont.

City Council can offset this by developing a fair housing plan for Moraga Canyon that integrates the moderate and affordable housing proposed for the canyon onto one site.  Currently 132 units are proposed for Moraga Canyon but there are two basic options – put housing on either side of Moraga Ave (some in Blair Park, some above Coaches) or all on one of side of Moraga Avenue (all at Blair or Coaches).  Co-locating the moderate and affordable housing onto one site would appear to better achieve the “integrated and balanced living patterns” that is the goal of AFFH.

To achieve the AFFH goals, the City needs to seriously consider relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park.  There are safety, transportation, and environmental benefits to relocating the Corporation Yard in addition to the integrated housing.  To date, the City has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge this and housing advocates have dismissed the idea.  Hopefully the consultant will take an objective approach to planning the best housing solution for Moraga Canyon and Piedmont that meets AFFH goals.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 16 2023

Agenda item for January 17, 2023 –   >council-agenda 1.17.23

Staff report:

“Consideration of a Change to the Regular Meeting Time of the City Council to 6:00 p.m.

RECOMMENDATION

By motion, approve changing the start time of regular City Council meetings from 7:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and authorize the City Clerk to amend all documents which refer to this time.

BACKGROUND

State law and the City Charter require the City Council to hold regular meetings at a set time, place, and date to ensure the public’s ability to participate in city government decisions. Currently, by resolution, the City Council’s regular meetings are scheduled for the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Shortly after the beginning of the pandemic, the Council temporarily adjusted the start of its meetings to 6:00 p.m. to better accommodate the changed work environments of the community, Councilmembers and staff. This change has continued for the duration of the pandemic and received compliments from the community. Staff is recommending that it be made permanent.

Should Council approve this change, staff will update the appropriate documents and publicize the new time.

By: John O. Tulloch, Assistant City Administrator / City Clerk”

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The time change is a good idea IF City Council maintains the current teleconference access to all public meetings so the public can participate in meetings and comment remotely.  If not, this time change would reduce community participation in public meetings.  The 6:00 time is not optimal for in-person attendance, and it appears the pandemic is not going away.

The traditional 7:30 meeting time was intended to accommodate the family dinner hour and help with homework, late SF commuters and councilmember work schedules.  A 6:00 start time will conflict with much of that but if the public has teleconference access to all city meetings, it can juggle those commitments and still participate in meetings.

Council direction on continuing to teleconference public meetings appears later on Monday’s agenda which is unfortunate.  It would be a more fruitful discussion to have both issues addressed in the same agenda item.  Staff understandably wants the 6:00 start time but that will interfere with prime family time.  A 7:00 start time might be more attractive to younger community members who want to participate in meetings and potentially serve on Council.

Being on the Consent Calendar, this item won’t be open for public discussion unless a councilmember or member of the public requests that it be taken off the Calendar.  That can be done by attending the start of the meeting at 6:00 and requesting this item be pulled from the Consent Calendar.

Attend the Council meeting via Zoom:  https://cdn5-hosted.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf?v=5Zo1Ykv8r&v=5Zo1Ykv8r

Whatever time the Council selects, hopefully it will stay in the 21st century and maintain public participation in all city meetings through teleconference.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 16 2023

Hello City Council:

I’ve reviewed the staff report and draft RFP for the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan (MCSP) and submit the following comments and questions. Hopefully you can delve into them.

The MCSP is good planning, but clearly the RFP is being developed to expedite a City application for Measure A funds by 2024.  Perhaps for that reason, the RFP is short on explaining how the plan addresses important city policies.  Table 2 list these policies but the RFP states that these policies “may” be considered and only stipulates that the consultant team will demonstrate “professional experience and knowledge of the personnel general principles and background law applicable to specific plans, land development and affordable housing development requirements”.   There are important sustainability policies outlined in the General Plan and Climate Action Plan and the City should stipulate this a credential it seeks on the consultant team.  Does the team have a sustainability expert like our City does?  Traffic safety is another core credential that should be requested.

The staff report and RFP suggests that additional environmental review beyond the programmatic EIR will be conducted based on the impacts of the specific projects in the MCSP.  That makes sense but is predicated on a robust programmatic EIR which has yet to be released.  Without the programmatic EIR being public at this time, the generalities of that assessment may be used to gloss over specific impacts of the projects at a later date.  One way to alleviate this concern is to assure that the programmatic EIR will have a response to comments process as a project specific EIR does.  Staff should confirm this publicly.  Subsection m. in scope of services should clarify this point as well.

One important EIR consideration is whether an assessment of GHG emissions will be undertaken in the MCSP.   This assessment may occur in the “built out” programmatic EIR so this may not be a factor but without that document, who can say?   To resolve this question, staff should clarify whether these GHG emission calculations are being conducted as a part of the programmatic EIR.  According to state guidance, GHG emissions are to be part of a CEQA analysis: CEQA GHG.  However, based on certain criteria, affordable housing projects under 100 units are exempt from CEQA and staff should clarify this as well CEQA Housing. Indeed, staff should clarify whether CEQA is applicable to all the projects being considered in the MCSP, particularly the low-income housing projects.

The staff report and RFP do not clarify whether the relocation of the Corporation Yard will be studied as part of the MCSP.  The only possible reference to this is that “replacement” of the Corporation Yard be considered.  The City should clarify this in the RFP so as to provide consultants the widest latitude to develop creative proposals for the canyon.  Indeed, this latitude may provide for the subdivisions of parcels and development standards that are attractive to builders of housing at all income levels. As staff envisioned with civic center sites, the City could leverage better housing for the project if the Corporation Yard is moved to less desirable building site in the canyon.

Following are more specific comments/questions to the RFP:

The project timeline on page 5 of the staff report is particularly short on detail.  The City seems not to have identified the type of public process it intend to conduct. 

Under “Specific Plan for Success” there is no mention of field lighting as part of the recreational facilities to be developed.  Is it the intent of the City and this Council not to proceed with the installation of lights at Coaches Field?  There is some precedent for this.

The landscape plan makes no mention that it is to comply with the City’s municipal Bay Friendly Landscape Ordinance which has specific criteria for vegetation and water use.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Dec 15 2022

Much of the land in Moraga Canyon is unsuitable for development.

Publicly-owned land is designated for low-income housing in the Piedmont Housing Element (HE) because it provides the City with the greatest potential to develop such housing – the City owns the land and can work directly with developers to see that affordable housing gets built on it.  The publicly-owned sites in Piedmont are in Moraga Canyon, swaths of land around Coaches Field and the Corp Yard and all of Blair Park.  Sixty low-income units and 73 above-moderate income units are proposed for >Moraga Canyon.   A > depiction of this area shows that housing types are proposed to be dispersed throughout this canyon area.

Anyone familiar with Moraga Canyon will know instantly how unsuitable much of this land is for development.  The sites east and west of Coaches Field, initially designated for low-income housing, are steep sloped and would require a massing of building to generate the proposed density and parking.  The area to the west is particularly prohibitive for building; the required storm water permit is infeasible and would likely not be granted given the proximity of the site to the adjoining wetlands on cemetery property. As for the other Coaches sites, both are very steep, probably prohibitively so for the construction of low-income housing and would probably eliminate what little public parking is now available at Coaches.  Unfortunately, the feasibility of these sites for housing has never been publicly addressed at the Planning Commission or City Council since the draft was released in April, 2022.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will conduct this feasibility analysis, especially for the low-income sites, and find the draft HE deficient.  This is the direction HCD gave to Atherton regarding the publicly-owned sites in its HE:

“Publicly Owned Sites: The element identifies multiple publicly-owned sites including the Public Facilities and Schools District, the Menlo School, and Cal Water Bear Gulch Reservoir sites. The element must include additional discussion on each of the publicly owned sites identified to accommodate the RHNA. Specifically, the analysis should address general plan designations, allowable densitiessupport for residential capacity assumptionsexisting uses and any known conditions that preclude development in the planning period and the potential schedule for development. If zoning does not currently allow residential uses at appropriate densities, then the element must include programs to rezone sites pursuant to Government Code section 65583.2, subdivisions (h) and (i).”

Piedmont will most certainly receive this same direction in the HCD response letter to its first draft.  The highlighted text suggests fundamental considerations of the canyon sites that should have been presented months ago. Instead, between now and May 2023, as part of the Moraga Canyon Specific Site Plan study, the City will likely conclude that one if not both of the low-income sites at Coaches are not compatible for housing and conclude that Blair Park be used for the 60 low-income units and some fraction of the above-moderate units.

The City should include relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park in the Moraga Canyon Specific Site Plan so as to improve the quality of low-income housing in the canyon.  The Corporation Yard offers the only flat housing site on the north side of Moraga Avenue and, on a square foot basis, provides better sites amenities than Blair Park.  Judging by similar densities staff assigned to the Coaches sites, 60 housing units could be located at the Corporation Yard.

But beyond the housing goal, relocation of the Corporation Yard could dovetail with General Plan goals of building walkable neighborhoods, preserving open space and others as well.    There are broad planning questions that should have been raised well before the site plan analysis but the General Plan has been virtually absent during the HE process.  The HE proposes three uses for the canyon – housing, city operations and recreation.  How best should these be dispersed to achieve General Plan goals?  Housing and recreation on the Coaches side with city operations in Blair Park?    HCD does not care about these goals but our Planning Department and City Council should and, depending how they conduct the Specific Site Plan analysis, could achieve a “win-win” for Piedmont with the HE.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Nov 28 2022

Does this mean the draft Piedmont Housing Element is in a 30-day comment period which commenced November 17?

From the California Housing and Community Development (HCD) website:
“Housing Element Submittal Requirements:”
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“For first draft submittals: With the first draft submittal, please include in the cover letter how the local government complies with new public participation requirements pursuant to AB 215 (Chapter 342, Statutes of 2021). AB 215 requires that prior to submittal of the first draft to HCD, the local government must make the draft available for public comment for 30 days and if any comments were received, take at least 10 business days to consider and incorporate public comments. Please note, HCD cannot review any first draft submittals that have not demonstrated completion with this requirement. The housing element will be considered submitted to HCD on the date that documentation has been received verifying compliance with AB 215 public participation requirements.”
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Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Nov 25 2022

The City produced an HE that increases density and development pressure in neighborhoods where it need not be.

The City of Piedmont will submit its draft 6th Cycle Housing Element without any SB9 projections. SB9 allows 30-day approval of the subdivision of residential lots for the development of new housing/ADUs, a very likely development given Piedmont’s large lot sizes.   The city’s consultant claimed that Housing and Community Development (HCD) was setting a very high bar for accepting SB9 projections and advised against including such estimates in the city’s Housing Element.

Two cities I know of that have submitted SB9 projections are Atherton and Woodside (San Mateo County).  These cities share characteristics of Piedmont, namely large estate lots that could contribute to housing growth over the next 8 years under SB9.  Atherton projects 96 SB 9 units over the next 8 years based on the following methodology:

“Seventy parcels listed on the table from row 8 (60 Parkwood) to row 78 (172 Tuscaloosa) are residential parcels included as underutilized since they are of sufficient size to be further subdivided according to the existing zoning and lot size limits. Six of these parcels are vacant and have the capacity to yield 7 new dwellings for above moderate-income households if subdivided and developed in accordance with existing zoning regulations or to yield 14 new dwellings for above moderate-income households if subdivided and developed in accordance with SB 9 regulations. Sixty-four of these parcels are developed with one single-family house. Those parcels have the capacity to yield 93 net new dwellings for above moderate-income households if subdivided and developed in accordance with existing zoning regulations. Under the allowable provisions of SB9, these 64 parcels could be split into two legal parcels, with each parcel further allowed development capacity of 2 dwelling units. It follows that under SB 9, if each parcel were to meet the required criteria for an urban lot split, the overall development capacity could result in a total 123 dwelling units.”

 https://www.hcd.ca.gov/housing-elements/docs/atherton-6th-draft080222.pdf

This methodology is quite simple.  First, a GIS analysis of the city’s parcels was done to identify parcels that can be subdivided under existing zoning rules.  Then Atherton surveyed these parcel owners to determine their interest to develop their properties and combined with unsolicited SB9 applications since January 2022, assumed 12 SB 9 lots a year, 96 total over the 8-year cycle.

In a letter to the City of Atherton, this is how HCD responded to that methodology:

“SB 9 Sites: The element identifies SB9 as a strategy to accommodate part of the Town’s RHNA. To support these assumptions, the analysis must include experience, trends and market conditions that allow lot splits and missing middle uses. The analysis must list the potential SB9 sites and demonstrate the likelihood of redevelopment, including whether existing uses constitute as an impediment for additional residential use. The analysis should describe how the Town determined eligible properties, whether the assumed lots will have turnover, if the properties are easy to subdivide, and the condition of the existing structures. The analysis should also describe interest from property owners as well as experience. The analysis should provide support for the units being developed within the planning period. Based on the outcomes of this analysis, the element should add or modify to establish zoning and development standards early in the planning period and implement incentives to encourage and facilitate development as well as monitor development every two years with and identify additional sites within six months if assumptions are not being met. The element should support this analysis with local information such as local developer or owner interest to utilize zoning and incentives established through SB9.”

https://atherton.primegov.com/Portal/Meeting?meetingTemplateId=406

Woodside projects 18 SB 9 units and received a similar response from HCD (https://www.almanacnews.com/news/reports/1666208419.pdf ).  Los Gatos projects 92 and has yet to receive a response from HCD.

The Atherton City Council met last week to address HCD comments and anticipates it will lower its SB9 projections, but that is open to negotiation.  Nonetheless, Atherton is in the position to account for some SB9 growth because its Planning Department took initiative and conducted ADU and SB9 surveys of its residents to compile a baseline of intent to show HCD.  In Woodside’s case, councilmembers developed the SB9 projections after staff did not.  HCD may push back but these cities can demonstrate real potential because they reached out to their communities about SB9.

Assuming these projections are accepted, they demonstrate how Piedmont lost out on an important planning tool in developing its HE.  Atherton projects adding 96 SB9 units to its 2560 total parcels – 3.75%.  Woodside, 18 to its 1919 – 1%.  Imagine if Piedmont had projected just 1% SB9 units for its 4000 parcels – 40 over the next 8 years.  Including that estimate in the HE would have eliminated the need to place 30 moderate units in the canyon.  At 3% (120 units) it would have reduced the need to increase density at the Ace Hardware properties on Grand Avenue.

Piedmont certainly has the land for SB9 growth – there are 200 lots of 20,000 square feet or more in the estate zone. 50 of those lots are over 40,000 sq ft and could be subdivided today.  30 are over 60,000 sq ft and could be tripled if zoning allowed it.  SB9 applies to any parcel in Zones A and E that meet certain requirements and large residences can be partitioned into “plexes” so there’s lots of SB9 potential to go around.  Piedmont should have accounted for this in its HE.

Staff has always said the RHNA projections were about housing potential, but by underestimating that potential has produced an HE that increases density and development pressure in neighborhoods where it need not be. Staff has said SB9 units that develop in the future will count towards the RHNA target, but that doesn’t help now with the current HE site analysis and policy development.  Built-out cities like Piedmont should be using every planning tool to address what seem to be unrealistic RHNA projections.  It’s better planning as well.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Nov 15 2022

Will the Housing Element Prohibit U-17 soccer and lacrosse at Coaches Field?

The Moraga Canyon Specific Plan Study, a study of the changes needed in the canyon to accommodate the proposed housing sites, includes the following goal:
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“4. The specific plan must include recreation facilities, including but not limited to an under-14 soccer field, youth baseball/softball field, batting cages, artificial field turf, ballfield seating, a skate spot, a picnic area, and parking for these facilities.”
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After the City of Piedmont withdrew plans for a soccer field at Blair Park some years ago, it came forward with a conceptual plan for a U-17 soccer/multipurpose field at Coaches Field.  This plan called for a relocation of the large retaining wall to accommodate a 150-300 foot field, the required size for league-sanctioned U-17 soccer games.  It did not require relocating the Corporation Yard.  With goal #4 the City appears to be backing away from this commitment.  The purpose of bringing a U-17 field to Piedmont was to avoid the need to travel to Alameda Point.   Goal #4 also does not mention lacrosse which uses the field.
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The only way to achieve an expanded field and housing in Moraga Canyon may be to move the Corporation Yard to Blair Park, but this option is excluded from the Specific Plan Study.  Moving the Corporation Yard would also provide a better pedestrian-ready site for affordable housing.  Unfortunately the General Plan and smart planning in general have been absent from the Housing Element process.
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Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member
Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Nov 14 2022

    Blair Park, along Moraga Avenue, is a perfect place for high density housing!  The site is easily accessible for developers.  Everyone who drives on Moraga Ave. past Blair Park knows that it is very underused!  Who wants to be in a park with such heavy traffic speeding past?

Please move the new Blair Park from its current 4.85 acre location in Moraga Canyon. The park, not housing, would be better located on a portion of the original 75 acre Blair Park site, above Coaches Field-high on the hillside (see historyofpiedmont.com search Blair Park)!  All Piedmont residents could enjoy this superior park location high on the hill with its mature trees, some of the original graded trails, and unsurpassed views!

Following is a description of our magnificent hillside from the San Francisco Morning Call newspaper, Sunday, March 22, 1891. Page 8: “a splendid view is had over the whole of, what ranges from the Golden Gate inward to the Contra Costa shore.  To gain this view at the back to an altitude of some 700 feet, dominates the whole surrounding country and gives the view in panorama of everything from Berkeley to Alameda on this shore and from Mount Tamaulipas down along the Coast Range.”

Isn’t it better for our climate issues, if Piedmonters just walk out of their houses’ to a majestic new Blair Park on the mountain for exercise, rather than jumping into their cars to drive somewhere else?  It was a highly desired destination for people in 1891 and it could be again!

Chris Read, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Nov 10 2022

Where? When?

A wealthy suburb with a history of racial discrimination is forced, by law, to designate sites for low-income housing. A group of residents organizes and tells the City Council “not near us!” The Council relents and designates a former landfill in a canyon accessible only by a high-speed thoroughfare previously identified by city staff as dangerous for drivers and pedestrians. No one seems to care.

Ralph Catalano, Piedmont Resident

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