Nov 28 2022

Public Input Sought via City Administrator Recruitment Survey

Comments are to be made by Wednesday, November 30, 2022 using the City survey > > https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/city_news___notifications/city_administrator_selection_survey

Residents are invited to help shape the selection process for Piedmont’s next City Administrator by completing a brief online survey.  The City is not collecting names or any other personal information from respondents to this survey.  The survey asks community members to share their thoughts regarding the recruitment:

• the most important challenges and opportunities the new City Administrator will face

• what skills and experiences are the most critical in a new City Administrator

• what management and leadership attributes should the City Council look for

• how the new City Administrator should interact with the community.

The City Council will use the input gathered in this survey to help guide its decisions during the selection process. Piedmont’s City Administrator is appointed by the City Council and is responsible for overseeing day-to-day City operations and addressing the priorities established by the City Council.

City Administrator Sara Lillevand intends to retire in Spring 2023 or after the City Council has appointed a successor. Lillevand was appointed City Administrator by the City Council in 2019, after spending five years as Piedmont’s Recreation Director.

The Piedmont City Charter states the role of the City Administrator as follows:

SECTION 3.02 CITY ADMINISTRATOR

The City Council shall appoint a City Administrator for an indefinite term and fix his/her compensation. The administrator shall be appointed on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications. The City Administrator shall be the chief administrative officer of the city and shall be responsible to the City Council for the administration of all City affairs placed in his/her charge by or under this charter.

The administrator shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) Shall appoint all city employees.

(2) Shall discipline, and, when deemed necessary for the good of the City, suspend or remove City officers and employees except as otherwise provided by law, this Charter, or personnel rules adopted pursuant to this Charter.

(3) Shall supervise the administration of all departments, offices and agencies of the City, except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by law and except further that the internal administration of each department shall remain with each department head.

(4) Shall attend Council meetings and shall have the right to take part in discussion, but may not vote.

(5) Shall see that all laws, provisions of this Charter and acts of the Council, subject to enforcement by him/her or by officers subject to his/her supervision, are faithfully executed.

(6) Shall prepare and submit the annual budget to the Council and shall supervise its administration after its adoption.

(7) Shall submit to the Council and make available to the public a report on the finances of the City each fiscal year.

(8) Shall make such other reports as the Council may require concerning the operations of City departments, offices and agencies.

(9) Shall keep the Council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the City and make recommendations to the Council concerning the affairs of the City.

(10) Shall administer the personnel system of the City and, in particular, those matters involving the City’s personnel classification system and employee benefit and retirement plans.

(11) Shall maintain a system of City records.

(12) Shall perform such duties as are specified in this charter or may be required by the Council. (Charter Amendment 11/06/2018)

Comments may also be sent directly to the Council.

To send comments to the City Council as a whole, send an email to citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.

2022-11-07 City Administrator Recruitment Survey

Nov 27 2022

Any property in Piedmont can become the site of a new Multifamily density increasing project.

The recently released City legal opinion points to the 2017 definition of “reclassify” inserted in the Piedmont City Code that no one thought of great import.  It now seems that the new definition created for the City Code in 2017 may have been inserted for the purpose of nullifying the Piedmont City Charter specifying the zoning control designation to Piedmont voters in an attempt to reclassify Piedmont’s zones and uses without voters approval.  

Can a City Charter be nullified by a non-standard definition inserted many decades later by a City Council enacting a separate document, an ordinance, not approved by enacting voters who approved the actual language in the City Charter ?

Without voters amending the approved City Charter, can a non-standard definition retroactively replace a well-established term, “reclassify,” when the standard meaning of “reclassify” had been approved by voters and acted upon over years and years of the existence of the voter approved City Charter?

The Piedmont City Charter states:    Section 9.02 Zoning system.

“The City of Piedmont is primarily a residential city, and the City Council shall have the power to establish a zoning system within the City as may in its judgment be most beneficial. The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election. No zone shall be reduced or enlarged and no zones reclassified unless a majority of the voters voting upon the same shall vote in favor thereof; provided that any property which is zoned for uses other than or in addition to a single-family dwelling maybe voluntarily rezoned by the owners thereof filing a written document executed by all of the owners thereof under penalty of perjury stating that the only use on such property shall be a single-family dwelling, and such rezoning shall not require a vote of the electors as set forth above.”

Since all Piedmont zones allow single-family residential buildings, the attorney’s opinion opens all Piedmont properties to multi-family high density housing without voter approval of the increase in residential density. 

Piedmont’s City Attorney determined that Piedmont voters rights outlined in the City Charter and the long history of zoning control by voters in Piedmont are not applicable to density, thus without voter approval multi-family high density housing is opened in all of Piedmont: Single-family Residential Zones, Public Zone, and Commercial Zone properties.  
.
Vital now are the design standards for how these multi-family dwellings including high density housing are approved for construction in Piedmont by City staff, who will have “ministerial” control of the permitting process outside of public view and notice requirements. The staff simply refers to a check list of approved “objective design standards”, MODS, to decide if a project qualifies for a building permit.   Public hearings and neighborhood input are not a part of the permitting process. Only the staff can unilaterally determine qualification for a building permit based on the adopted standards.
.
Importantly, the development of the City’s Design Standards for Multifamily Objective Design Standards (MODS) will impact all of Piedmont, since every property in Piedmont is zoned for single-family dwellings, and thus according to the City’s legal opinion makes all zones have a potential for a higher density multifamily use.  

The “Objective Design Standards (MODS)” are a response to state laws attempting to promote lower cost housing throughout the state, including Piedmont, by allowing Planning staff to make permit decisions based on adopted MODS design standards without public input.  Additional new legislation, further impacts housing in Piedmont by promoting multiple housing, yet not mentioned by the City in this proposed action.

The time to provide your input on matters such as set-backs, safety, parking, landscaping, etc. is now.

READ the draft proposal >

Piedmont Multifamily Objective Design Standards,

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

City Announcement———— below.  Notations inclosed in brackets are not part of the City announcement.

Comments Sought on Draft Multifamily Objective Design Standards for Commercial and Mixed-Use Areas

[The standards will apply to all areas in Piedmont when multifamily housing is considered.]

Published October 7, 2022 by the City of Piedmont


Piedmont’s Planning & Building Department has published draft updated multifamily development design standards for public review and comment. The draft standards, officially called the Piedmont Multifamily Objective Design Standards, or “MODS,” would govern new development in existing commercial and multifamily zones.

[As Piedmont is currently proposing multifamily use in other zones, such as the Public Zone and Commercial Zone, the MODS criteria will be paramount to staff’s ministerial decisions on permitting development of multifamily structures without public input.]

[Piedmont’s City Attorney’s opinion has stated density in all zones is not controlled by voters. making these standards important for the exclusionary ministerial permitting purpose.   As applied by the City to the Commercial Zone and Public Zone, both are zoned for single-family use, as all of Piedmont, opening the Single-family Zone to multifamily high density usage ]

[ The City of Piedmont is proposing multifamily high density dwellings within Piedmont’s Public zone, which includes parklands and municipal properties, because the Public zone permits single-family residential dwellings and density can be increased without voter approval.  The design standards (MODS) would apply in all areas where housing is proposed for multifamily use. The new design standards are subject to implementation  for: Piedmont Public properties, Commercial, and Single-family zoned properties. ]

This project is separate from Piedmont’s Housing Element update and began in 2019, when the City applied for an SB2 planning grant to fund development of the standards. The purpose of objective design standards is to ensure new multifamily and mixed-use development aligns with and enhances the character of Piedmont’s neighborhoods.

[ Single-family residential zoning is contiguous to all Public, Commercial, and Multifamily use zones in Piedmont.]

These standards would apply to proposed developments in Piedmont’s Zones C and D, where mixed-use and multifamily development is already allowed. These areas constitute less than 5% of total land in Piedmont.

[The City Attorney’s opinion does not separate uses or limit residential uses in a particular zone.  The recently devised Mixed Use Zone was never approved by Piedmont voters as required by the Piedmont City Charter. The City Attorney’s opinion notes density increases are allowed because single-family zoning is permitted, announcing voters do not control density.]

The standards are intended to help maintain privacy and mitigate other possible impacts to neighbors and surrounding single-family properties. They provide specific guidelines for design elements like:

  • Setbacks, building placement, and façade design
  • Size, placement, and materials for windows and outdoor spaces like balconies and decks
  • Location and visibility of parking areas

Objective design standards are required by State laws, including > SB 35 (2017) and SB 330 (2019). The purpose of these laws is to streamline the review process for multifamily properties statewide, with the goal of easing development of housing that is affordable to both owners and renters at all income levels. Piedmont’s draft standards support this goal while ensuring new development will not compromise existing community character.

[The standards will be applied ministerially without neighborhood input.] 

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft standards this winter, likely in December or January.

The timeline as set by the City Planning Department states acceptance of public comment on the draft standards through November 21, 2022. Community members can email comments to Piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov.

[If comments have not been sent by November 21, 2022, responders are welcome to send their comments after that date addressed to the Piedmont Planning Commission via the Planning Director Kevin Jackson, ]

kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov.

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

Additionally, comments may be sent to members of the Piedmont City Council, as the matter will be considered by the Council on a future Agenda.

To send comments to the City Council as a whole, email citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or send via U.S. Mail to the following address:

Piedmont City Council, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, Ca 94611

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 19 2022

Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, City Council –

The City Charter once more is considered when adding housing units in Piedmont.  The City’s controversial Charter interpretation is presented in relation to the proposed ordinance expanding housing in Piedmont.

The City claims a recently adopted ordinance #17.02.C prevails over the City Charter, as copied below:

“CITY CHARTER The modifications to the City Code are in conformance with the City Charter, including section 9.02. No zones have been reduced or enlarged, and no zones have been reclassified. City Charter provisions are expressly referred to in City Code division 17.02.C.”

Not all Planning Commissioners approved recommending approval of the proposed ordinance.  On a 3-1 vote the ordinance was recommended to the Council. There are  6 commissioners eligible to have participated in the consideration.

Should the Council approve a first reading of the recommended ordinance on November 21, 2022, a second reading could occur as soon as December 5, 2022, and the Code amendments would go into effect thirty days after that.

Perpetuated is the unequal distribution of housing in Piedmont.  One zone (Zone E) continues to require a lot size Minimum of 20,000 square feet, subject to exception for accessory dwelling unit construction set forth in division 17.38, whereas Zone A  location of the majority of Piedmont properties  require a Minimum lot size of 8,000 square feet.

 “Objective standards in the Piedmont Design Guidelines” are required, however these are yet to be approved and are forthcoming.  These standards have the potential to impact every property and neighbor in Piedmont.

 

“B. Ministerial review. The Director shall review each application ministerially to determine if the development standards in section 17.38.060 are met, and shall within 60 days of a completed application approve or deny the application, except if the application to create an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit is submitted with an application to create a new primary single-family or multi-family dwelling on the lot, the Director shall delay acting on the permit application for the accessory dwelling unit or the junior accessory dwelling unit until permits for the new single-family or multi-family dwelling are approved. The Director will review the application without notice or public hearing. The time period for review may be tolled at the request of the applicant.”

READ the entire ordinance to be considered by the Council on Monday, November 21, 2022 by clicking HERE.

Participation and Nov. 21 Agenda > HERE.

 

Nov 14 2022

With additional votes added to the totals, the elected candidates remain the same.  See updated voting totals for the City Council and School Board positions below.

City Council – Three Seats Up for Election – 3 Candidates with highest number of votes are considered elected pending final official certification.

Candidate No. of Votes
Betsy Smegal Andersen 4,679
Tom Ramsey 3,917
Jennifer Long 3,898
Bridget McInerney Harris 1,674
Jeanne Solnordal 982
Sunny Bostrom-Fleming 200

Board of Education – Two Seats Up for Election – 2 Candidates with highest number of votes are considered elected pending final official certification.

Candidate No. of Votes
Ruchi Medhekar 4.288
Lindsay Thomasson 3,946
Shirley Hooi 1,691

These results were posted to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters website at: 9:17 p.m. on Monday, November 21, 2022.

Nov 12 2022

At the request of the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education, this is to inform families and the community that a Forum has been scheduled with consultants from Leadership Associates to provide input about the desired personal and professional qualities anticipated in the incoming superintendent.

Your comments will be used in the development of the candidate profile, recruitment process, and reference checking. The consultants will also compile a summary of all comments received during these sessions and share the report with the Board and with the new superintendent.

Date: Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Time: 6:00-7:00pm

Location: PHS Theater at 800 Magnolia Ave.

During the session, consultants will share an overview of the process, and then ask two primary questions:

  • What are the desirable qualities, characteristics, background and professional and personal experiences for the next superintendent?
  • What do you see as the strengths of the district and the major challenges facing the district in years ahead?

There is no need to RSVP. If unable to attend, you will still have an opportunity to provide your feedback and responses to these same questions via an –

>anonymous online survey open from November 14-21, 2022.

Nov 12 2022

Public Input Sought: City Administrator Recruitment Survey

Residents are invited to help shape the selection process for Piedmont’s next City Administrator by completing a brief online survey.  The City is not collecting names or any other personal information from respondents to this survey.  The survey asks community members to share their thoughts regarding the recruitment at:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/city_news___notifications/city_administrator_selection_survey

Look for the “complete the survey online” link on the site.

• the most important challenges and opportunities the new City Administrator will face

• what skills and experiences are the most critical in a new City Administrator

• what management and leadership attributes should the City Council look for

• how the new City Administrator should interact with the community.

The survey will remain open through November 30th, 2022.

The City Council will use the input gathered in this survey to help guide its decisions during the selection process. Piedmont’s City Administrator is appointed by the City Council and is responsible for overseeing day-to-day City operations and addressing the priorities established by the City Council.

City Administrator Sara Lillevand intends to retire in Spring 2023 after the City Council has appointed a successor. Lillevand was appointed City Administrator by the City Council in 2019, after spending five years as Piedmont’s Recreation Director.

The Piedmont City Charter states the role of the City Administrator as follows:

SECTION 3.02 CITY ADMINISTRATOR

The City Council shall appoint a City Administrator for an indefinite term and fix his/her compensation. The administrator shall be appointed on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications. The City Administrator shall be the chief administrative officer of the city and shall be responsible to the City Council for the administration of all City affairs placed in his/her charge by or under this charter.

The administrator shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) Shall appoint all city employees.

(2) Shall discipline, and, when deemed necessary for the good of the City, suspend or remove City officers and employees except as otherwise provided by law, this Charter, or personnel rules adopted pursuant to this Charter.

(3) Shall supervise the administration of all departments, offices and agencies of the City, except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by law and except further that the internal administration of each department shall remain with each department head.

(4) Shall attend Council meetings and shall have the right to take part in discussion, but may not vote.

(5) Shall see that all laws, provisions of this Charter and acts of the Council, subject to enforcement by him/her or by officers subject to his/her supervision, are faithfully executed.

(6) Shall prepare and submit the annual budget to the Council and shall supervise its administration after its adoption.

(7) Shall submit to the Council and make available to the public a report on the finances of the City each fiscal year.

(8) Shall make such other reports as the Council may require concerning the operations of City departments, offices and agencies.

(9) Shall keep the Council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the City and make recommendations to the Council concerning the affairs of the City.

(10) Shall administer the personnel system of the City and, in particular, those matters involving the City’s personnel classification system and employee benefit and retirement plans.

(11) Shall maintain a system of City records.

(12) Shall perform such duties as are specified in this charter or may be required by the Council. (Charter Amendment 11/06/2018)

Comments may also be sent directly to the Council.

To send comments to the City Council as a whole, please send an email to citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.

2022-11-07 City Administrator Recruitment Survey

Nov 8 2022

UPDATED RESULTS NOVEMBER 10, 2022 –

This information is based upon results posted on the Registrar of Voters website.  Results are shown as of Thursday, November 10, 2022.

Results are not considered final until certified by the Registrar of Voters Office, which has 30 days to do so.

City Council

Three Seats Up for Election – The 3 candidates receiving the highest number of votes are considered elected pending certification.

Candidate No. of Votes

Betsy Smegal Andersen

2,145

Tom Ramsey

1,823

Jennifer Long

1,804
Bridget McInerney Harris 790
Jeanne Solnordal 518
Sunny Bostrom-Fleming 99

Board of Education –

Two Seats Up for Election -The 2 candidates receiving the highest number of votes are considered elected pending certification.

Candidate No. of Votes

Ruchi Medhekar

1,920

Lindsay Thomasson

1,812
Shirley Hooi 861

These results were posted to the Registrar of Voters website on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

The Piedmont Civic Association congratulates those elected to office and thanks all who sought office.  Voters are praised for their attention to this important civic responsibility.

Nov 6 2022

” … and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election.”  Section 9.02 of the Piedmont City Charter

The City’s refusal to submit new proposed reclassified City zones to a vote by the citizens rests on the meaning of the word “reclassified” in the City Charter.   A newly released undated, unsigned legal opinion relies on a 2017 definition of  “reclassification” inserted in the City Code, but not submitted to the voters as an amendment to the City Charter. 

History shows Piedmont citizens have been urged to vote approval of  “reclassifications” of City zones at general or special elections in recent decades, yet the newly released legal opinion ignores these votes.

The City’s legal conclusions are inconsistent with the City Charter, City practices, and ballot measure history of asking Piedmont voters to approve zoning changes and Conditional Use Permit processes.

(Read the City’s legal opinion here)

Nov 4 2022

The City of Piedmont is in an untenable situation. The City failed to appeal the allotment of 587 housing units in the city under the stated mandated Housing Element. The City failed to provide options that the residents could consider and then vote upon with sufficient time to then submit a HE plan.

Requirement for a Vote before land can be re-zoned. The areas under consideration for the Housing Element include park and municipal land, such as the Moraga Avenue properties and 801 Magnolia Avenue. These properties are in Zone B. Section 17.08 of the Code of the City of Piedmont is titled “Establishment of Zones; Zoning Map; Interpretation” and provides that the city is divided into five zones. “Within each zone, certain uses of land and buildings are allowed as permitted or conditional uses, and certain other uses of land and buildings are restricted or prohibited. If a use is not permitted or conditionally permitted, it is not allowed.”  Section 17.22.020 states “The following are permitted uses in Zone B: …A single family residence … City building…Public School…Parks…Cemetery…Emergency shelter…”.Multi-family residences are not a permissible use in Zone B (Blair Park and 801 Magnolia).

Section 9.02 of the City Charter provides that “…The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election. No zone shall be reduced or enlarged and no zones reclassified unless a majority of the voters voting upon the same shall vote in favor thereof; provided that any property which is zoned for uses other than or in addition to a single family dwelling may be voluntarily rezoned by the owners thereof filing a written document …stating that the only use on such property shall be a single-family dwelling, and such rezoning shall not require a vote of the electors as set forth above.” The Charter clearly states that the ONLY time a vote is not necessary is when property in Zones B, C, D or E is converted to a single family residence.

Requirement to submit a Plan. The state of California wants the City to present a plan showing where 587 units can be built within the boundaries of Piedmont by January 31, 2023. Failure to submit a plan by that date could result in various penalties; most of which do not apply to the city. The one penalty that could apply during a period of noncompliance is the ability of a builder to force the city to approve permits for building affordable housing. This penalty assumes there is property available for development (sale) in  Piedmont and that the cost of construction is such that the builder will reap a profit.

There have been many discussions in the city that we just submit a plan with the understanding that it is unlikely the housing will be built. However, recently the HCD responded to a plan submitted by Santa Monica that the city had to show actual timelines for construction of housing on any city owned sites. If Piedmont submits a plan that includes city owned property the state can then force the city to act on that plan. Any plan that is submitted can be enforced and by then we will have no voice in the process. Further, it will set a precedent that the zones in Piedmont are meaningless. https://smdp.com/2022/04/29/too-many-units-too-little-time/ .

The Choice. The decision is between three choices: 1) Submit a plan that includes park and municipal land without a vote to rezone those lands which is a violation of Section 9.02 of our City Charter and could result in overbuilding in the city center and Moraga Avenue as well as undermining our zoning laws or 2) Submit a plan that is contingent on a vote to rezone certain areas for multi-family housing or 3) Delay submission of a plan, provide the necessary information so the electorate can make informed decisions and schedule a special election with options so that we can decide the future of Piedmont.

If the City Administrator’s letter dated September 30, 2022 had been sent early in 2022 there would have been time for a Special Election. However, at this juncture we must decide which is less harmful to the city of Piedmont; the possibility of the Builder’s Remedy being exercise versus our right to vote on the reclassification of zones in Piedmont.

I believe we should delay submission of a plan. We must bring the matter to a vote in Piedmont which will offer us a voice in the process, resolve the conflict in the community, preserve our Charter, allow multi-family housing projects in areas zoned accordingly and prevent future litigation. The city has already spent almost a million dollars in analyzing where the units could be placed and the people immediately rejected the city center location. This time let the citizens of Piedmont decide by a vote – it will be worth the cost.

Almost two-thirds of Southern California’s cities failed to meet their state housing plan deadline. We should immediately determine locations in Piedmont for affordable housing, summarize the options in a clear format (including maps), mail the information to each residence, prepare for a special election and elect new leadership that keeps Piedmont informed and engaged with a vote.

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/07/11/southern-california-cities-get-more-time-to-rezone-land-for-housing/

Bridget Harris, Candidate for the Piedmont City Council

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