Mar 31 2021

The 801 Magnolia Avenue building would be the perfect place for a Senior Center.

I am amazed that there is no Senior Center in Piedmont and the 801 Magnolia building would be the perfect place to have such a center.  We who live here and have helped build this community have nowhere to go in Piedmont. 

There is a Senior meeting held once a month (during non-Covid times) that does not engage the community very well. 

Seniors need to be able to get together in their own communities for arts, crafts, exercise, classes, excursions and social engaging. Those of us who still live here need to go outside the community for such endeavors, now and as Covid is still strongly present, I have realized the lack of such in our community.

Carol Warren, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

A Community Room for Piedmont at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

How should the public 801 building be used? Public or Private purposes?

If I read the tea leaves right, City Council won’t be holding any public hearings on the use of the 801 Magnolia Building. City staff has negotiated the lease renewal behind closed doors and there seems to be a majority on Council that couldn’t be bothered with public input on matters other than the lease.  That’s too bad because over the years residents have proposed creative ideas for 801 and were Council to engage in an open conversation with its constituents it would lead to better use of the building.

So if the West Wing is lost, let’s talk about the East Wing.  It’s a pretty utilitarian space with a series of cubicles left over from its days as a Sunday School Building.  Sort of a conference room with cubby holes.  Others have commented that the East Wing is well-suited for tutoring, historical displays, and other small group activities.   It might hold 20 comfortably around a conference table or more dispersed throughout the room. A that capacity, it is perfect for a community room. Many cities offer such rooms in libraries or municipal buildings at no or little cost to residents and non-profits.  Open the doors to the East Wing and Piedmonters will find a way to use it.

For that to happen, two things need to occur. First, city staff needs to occupy the offices in the West Wing.  Based on my time on Council, staff has every reason to do this – City Hall is packed to the rafters – or more accurately the basement – and staff was always asking for appropriations to rehab the downstairs.   Why do that when there is perfectly good office space in 801?  But more to the point, having the City occupy the West Wing offices would put staff in proximity to an East Wing community room which would enable public use of the room, particularly as a drop-in center.  Staff would be on hand to “chaperon” the space.  In my experience Piedmonters don’t need chaperoning but I suspect this would be required legally. 

Second, the Piedmont Center for the Arts (PCA) needs to agree to City use of the office space.  That may be hard for PCA to do.  The current tenant of the office is an ex-board member of PCA who was given a below-market rent for the space. Abrogating that arrangement could lead to some bad press for PCA.  The proposed lease for 801 currently has PCA retaining control of the office spaces in the West Wing which it will presumably continue to rent to the ex-board member.  Why should PCA be allowed to rent a public space at below market rates while the City charges higher rates to other non-profits?  If PCA does not need the office space for its own programming, then let the City use the space for its needs.

Surveys of the community have consistently shown that residents want more gathering spaces in the civic center area, be it public or commercial space.  The East Wing offers an excellent opportunity to meet this need and Council should consider how use of the West Wing could facilitate operation of a drop-in center in the East Wing.

  Residents with ideas on how the 801 Building should be used should contact City Council at:

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.gov.

.
Garrett Keating, Former Member Piedmont City Council 
Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

The City Council talked to candidates for hours on March 29, 2021, before diligently considering who to appoint to each available position.  The public meeting allowed viewers via Zoom to see the Council struggle amongst the talented group of applicants.  Residents should be pleased by the conscientious selection process. The meeting lasted for four hours, and in the end with one motion a slate was approved unanimously by the Council.  Service on the bodies is for 3 year terms as volunteers.

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee: Robert McBain and Vanessa L. Washington

Civil Service Commission: Laura Isaacs and Michael Reese*

Park Commission:  Amber Brumfiel* and Patty Dunlap*

Public Safety Committee:  Stella Ngai and Jeffrey Horner*

Recreation Commission:  Rebecca Posamentier and Lisa Gardner

CIP Review Committee: Sharon Shoshani

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee: Robert Dickinson

* Incumbent

Mar 28 2021

Open Meeting: Monday, 6 pm March 29, 2021 

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

  AGENDA >  City Council Agenda 2021-03-29 (Special)                * Incumbent

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (2 Vacancies)

6:15 p.m. Vanessa L. Washington

6:20 p.m. Jill Tanner (Also applied for Public Safety)

6:25 p.m. Robert Dickinson (Also applied for Housing Advisory, Planning)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Police & Fire Pension Board)

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Civil Service, Public Safety)

BAFP 2021_Redacted    Applications

Civil Service Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:30 p.m. Amy Kelly

6:35 p.m. Laura Isaacs

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Public Safety)

Civil Service 2021_Redacted   Applications

Park Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:40 p.m. Sharon Shoshani

6:45 p.m. Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Recreation)

Amber Brumfiel*

Patty Dunlap*

Park 2021_Redacted Applications

6:50 p.m. BREAK

Public Safety Committee (2 Vacancies)

7:00 p.m. Jamie Totsubo

7:05 p.m. Michael Reese (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Civil Service)

7:10 p.m. Stella Ngai

7:15 p.m. Sara Kaplan

Jeffrey Horner*

Jill Tanner (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Public Safety 2021_Redacted Applications

Recreation Commission (2 Vacancies)

7:20 p.m. Brooke Wall

7:25 p.m. Rebecca Posamentier

7:30 p.m. Mike McConathy

7:35 p.m. Lisa Gardner

7:40 p.m. Caroline Davis

7:45 p.m. Derek Cheung

Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Park)

Recreation 2021_Redacted  Applications

CIP Review Committee (1 Vacancy) No Applicants

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee (1 Vacancy)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Police & Fire Pension 2021_Redacted   Application

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

 

 

Mar 28 2021

On March 22, 2021, the City Council appointed Doug Strout to the Planning Commission and an alternate Planning Commissioner Justin Zucker.  Also, the Council appointed 5 members to the new Housing Advisory Committee, Rani Batra, from the Planning Commission, June Catalano, Jane Lin, Justin Osler, and Claire Parisa.

Interview Schedule 2021-03-22   Unannounced

Planning 2021_ Applications [Redacted by City Clerk]

Housing Advisory 2021_ Applications [Redacted by City Clerk]

WATCH THE MEETING  >https://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=2318  Video of 3/22/2021 Special Council meeeting

Readers are advised to watch the interviews and meeting now.  A public meeting notice was not provided to media sites, including this one, an error noted by the City. Interested individuals could not know the March 22, 2021 meeting was taking place unless they checked the Police Department Bulletin Board * 24 hours prior to the meeting. 

*Correction from the City Clerk: The agenda was posted in three locations, the city’s web site, City Hall (we’re posting on the front door, as the bulletin boards are not accessible to the public because of COVID), and the Police Department. Residents who went to any of these locations would have seen the agenda, not just individuals going to the Police Department.  City Clerk John Tulloch 3/29/2021

PCA Editors Comment:  PCA’s goal is for transparency, public information and public involvement.  The California Brown Act, requires agendas to be timely distributed to requesting media outlets.  PCA, a media outlet, received no notice.  The City Clerk has apologized for the noticing error. 3/30/021

More to follow in the future on the process. 

Mar 9 2021

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont is sponsoring its second annual essay contest open to all high school juniors and seniors who are residents of Piedmont or are currently enrolled in Piedmont High School or Millennium High School.

Prize: $500 for first place essay; prize may be split among the top two entries.

Contest Rules Content: Your essay should answer the question,

“Given the fragility of democracy as evidenced by the insurrection of January 6, 2021, how can your generation work to ensure that democracy in the United States is strengthened for future generations?”

You may, but are not required to, rely on outside sources that are properly cited within the text and in a bibliography. We do not require a specific format for your citations or bibliography, but please ensure you include enough information to allow us to readily verify your sources. Citations do not count toward your total number of words.

Please keep in mind that this essay is not solely a research paper, but should draw on your personal experiences and insights. Your essay will be judged on originality, clarity of expression, vocabulary and style, proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Students are encouraged to have a teacher, parent or mentor review the essay prior to submission keeping in mind that all work must be the student’s own.

The essay must be 250-500 words excluding citations. Entries must be typed, double-spaced and in pdf format. Please include the following information at the top of your essay or on a separate cover page: : Your essay should answer the question, “Given the fragility of democracy as evidenced by the insurrection of January 6, 2021, how can your generation work to ensure that democracy in the United States is strengthened for future generations?”  See details below.

Format: The essay must be 250-500 words excluding citations. Entries must be typed, double-spaced and in pdf format. Please include the following information at the top of your essay or on a separate cover page:

• title of essay

• your first and last name

• your city of residence

• name of your school

• your current grade (junior or senior)

Submission: Please submit completed essays via email to lwvpiedmont@gmail.com.

Deadline: April 17, 2021 at 11:59pm, Pacific Standard Time.

Winner will be notified by May 1st, 2021.

Read flyer below:

ESSAY CONTEST

Feb 22 2021

– Piedmont Priorities –

With life as good as it is in Piedmont, it’s hard to think how it could get better. But there’s always room for improvement so in 2007 the City conducted a community survey as a prelude to updating its General Plan.

The response to the 2007 survey exceeded all expectations. Approximately 3,800 surveys were mailed out, and almost 1,300 surveys were completed and returned. That’s a 34% response rate, the highest ever response rate of any community survey of Piedmont residents.  Question 7 in the survey asked “For which types of projects would you support increases in city taxes or fees?”.  The range of responses to that question are in the table below.  

Q7: FOR WHICH TYPES OF PROJECTS   WOULD YOU SUPPORT INCREASES IN   CITY TAXES OR FEES?
Total with Opinion Response Average Strongly Oppose Somewhat  Oppose Somewhat  Support Strongly Support
Additional recreational facilities 1116 2.69 20.2% 17.4% 35.7% 26.8%
Landscaping and tree planting 1155 2.87 13.3% 15.2% 42.9% 28.6
City-owned competitive swimming pool 1124 2.59 28.3% 15.1% 25.5% 31.0%
Undergrounding of overhead utility wires 1159 2.96 18.5% 11.8% 25.0% 44.7%
A parking garage in the City Hall area 1122 2.21 37.9% 21.7% 22.4% 18.1%
More child care centers 932 2.25 29.4% 27.8% 30.9% 11.9%
A teen center 1083 2.87 17.6% 12.3% 35.7% 34.3%
Bike paths and marked bike lanes 1095 2.85 14.8% 16.6% 36.9% 31.7%
A community gathering place or plaza 1080 2.78 17.9% 16.8% 35.1% 30.3%
City arts and cultural center 1067 2.57 22.2% 20.0% 36.7% 21.1%
Wheeled mixed materials recycling carts 1003 2.63 22.1% 20.8% 29.0% 28.0%
Backyard service for recycling/ green waste 998 2.60 23.3% 21.2% 27.3% 28.2%
Free citywide wireless (WiFi) internet  1030 2.80 22.5% 13.5% 25.7% 38.3%

Now 14 years later, what has come of this community survey?

Additional recreation facilities – check.

City-owned pool? – check.

Backyard service for recycling/green waste – check.

City arts and cultural center – half-check.  The city has a classical arts and cultural center. Chamber music only.

A teen center – negative.

Creating a community gathering place or plaza – negative.

Why this lookback matters is because the city is on the verge of missing a golden opportunity to address the two negatives on the list.  A teen/senior center and community drop-in space could easily be run out of the East Wing of the building with access to the restrooms in the West Wing and the placing of city staff in the West Wing office space.  And no additional taxes required – seniors and the community don’t need to be supervised by staff.  They do need a place to freely gather and schedule meetings and an accessible East Wing would facilitate that.  

Instead, city staff has negotiated a lease for the 801 Magnolia Building with the Piedmont Center for the Arts that reduces both city use of and access to the 801 building for the next 7 years. There are significant flaws in the lease (https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2020/11/29/opinion-four-major-flaws-in-proposed-art-center-lease/) and better ideas for true community use of the space (https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2021/02/03/opinion-arts-center-founder-wants-usage-opened-up/ ; https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2021/01/10/opinion-a-false-choice-has-been-presented-for-arts-center-lease/).

So the City has two choices – hold a public hearing on the use of the 801 Magnolia building or a second reading of the flawed lease.  By all indications, city staff is proceeding with a second reading of the lease with PCA.  Unless Council steps up and calls for a public hearing, this opportunity for Piedmonters to achieve long-standing aspirations of a community space will be lost for another 7 years.   To that end, newly elected Councilwoman Conna McCarthy could honor her campaign pledge and call for public meetings on the use of 801 before any lease is approved:

“I want to be part of the leadership that encourages large conversations where all stakeholders thoughtfully plan and manage limited resources for the benefit of Piedmont now and into the future.” 

Elected Council Candidate Conna McCarthy  

https://www.piedmontcivic.org/category/new-elections/page/8/

If you want the City Council to hold public hearings on the use of 801 Magnolia Avenue, you can reach all Council members at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Dec 8 2020

Piedmont Council Chooses Mayor Teddy Gray King, Divides Term of Vice Mayor

Discussion on the City Council Resulted in a Split Decision 

The election of the Mayor by the City Council had proceeded routinely on Monday, December 7, with a 4 – 0 (Rood briefly absent) vote for Teddy Gray King, but then the meeting strayed into unfamiliar territory. 

Mayor King suggested deferring the selection of a Vice Mayor to the next meeting to allow the presence of Council member Tim Rood, who had informed King he wanted to be present for the discussion and regretted his temporary absence for business matters. 

Discussion led to moving ahead with the selection of the Vice Mayor and Council member Jennifer Cavenaugh was nominated to be Vice Mayor by Council member Betsy Smegal Andersen and seconded by Cavenaugh herself.  Then Mayor King nominated Council member Tim Rood to be Vice Mayor, seconded by Council member Conna McCarthy. 

Cavenaugh believed in a “tradition” of allowing the candidate with the highest number of votes and most tenure to be selected to become the Vice Mayor with the Vice Mayor rotating upward to become the Mayor two years later.  Andersen argued that a long held tradition should be adhered to until the Council considered a different tradition.

King and McCarthy supported Rood as Vice Mayor, with McCarthy pointing out Rood would be the first openly LGBTQ Vice Mayor.  King emphasized that she and Rood had essentially been tied for top votes and thought Rood should become the next Vice Mayor, and he had told her he wanted the position.  McCarthy noted that Piedmont voters were never informed that their votes would indicate the next Mayor or Vice Mayor.

Assistant City Administrator John Tulloch stated the more recent selection “tradition” had been started in the mid-eighties.  Previously, Mayors and Vice Mayors were selected on a different basis.

With two Council members nominated for Vice Mayor,  City Attorney Michelle Kenyon informed the Council that the first nominee, Cavenaugh, had to be voted upon first.  If her nomination failed the next nominee would be voted upon. After additional Council discussion, the Cavenaugh nomination failed, being supported by only two Council members, Cavenaugh, herself and Andersen.

More discussion was held and a vote was taken on the Rood nomination, which also failed to achieve 3 votes, with only King and McCarthy supporting the nomination. Rood remained absent.

Council member Andersen offered a compromise motion to make Rood Vice Mayor for one year and Cavenaugh Vice Mayor for the second year.  This motion was approved by Andersen, King and McCarthy with Cavenaugh voting no and Rood absent.

The tradition of who is mayor and vice mayor has changed over the decades.  An older “tradition” held that the Mayor dropped back to become the Vice Mayor.

The City Charter does not prescribe how the Council shall select the Mayor and Vice Mayor.   The Council may attempt to solidify an actual policy in the future.  Some considerations are: tenure, number of election votes, length of Mayor and Vice Mayor terms, rotating the Mayor to become Vice Mayor, qualifications, dedication, involvement, etc.

The Mayor and Vice Mayor serve at the pleasure of the Council and after setting the matter on an agenda, the Council can change their selections.

Editors Note: PCA welcomes newly elected Mayor Teddy King and  alternating Tim Rood and Jen Cavenaugh as Vice Mayors.  The positions are voluntary with no compensation.  Piedmont is fortunate to have well educated and caring individuals to serve our city.

Aug 2 2020

Consideration of a Resolution Stating the City of Piedmont’s Unequivocal Rejection of Racism and Directing that the Black Lives Matter Flag be Flown During the Month of August 2020

Piedmont takes a stand for Black Lives Matter –

In addition to making clear statements of anti-racist intent, the attached resolution directs staff to fly the Black Lives Matter flag during the month of August. 

…..WHEREAS, systemic and institutional racism, spread and perpetuated through overt actions and unconscious bias, has taken a large toll on Black people in our community and across the nation; and

WHEREAS, many in Piedmont have recently come to understand that in order to do our part to unravel systemic racism we must take a proactive anti-racism stance; and

WHEREAS, we must listen to those who have endured centuries of discrimination and exclusion as they share the truth of their lived experiences; and we must seek solutions to remedy racial harm; and

WHEREAS, we are committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and civil community through our policies, our programming, and our leadership; we stand firm in our collective belief that a safe and civil environment for all across Piedmont is paramount; and

WHEREAS, we stand in support of all in our community, honoring and protecting every person regardless of race, creed, color, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, ability, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity;……

READ the full staff report and Resolution by clicking below:

PCA Consideration of a Resolution Stating the City of Piedmont’s Unequivocal Rejection of Racism and Directing that the Black Lives Matter Flag be Flown during the Month of August 2020

 

Jul 30 2020

A significant percentage of Piedmonters are out of town and are unaware of the impacts.

 Dear Piedmonters,

I appeal to you to join me in lobbying our elected city leaders for an extension of time (beyond August 3rd) for the  second reading of the recently proposed Ordinances 750 and 751 (aka the “Reach Codes) for a variety of reasons including:

1)      Because the impact of these proposed ordinance affects all of Piedmont’s property owners, I believe it would be very welcomed and appropriate for the city to make a special effort to communicate these proposed ordinances to all Piedmont citizens.

2)      It’s my sense that a combination factors (e.g. COVID-19 and the summer season) results in a significant percentage of Piedmonters out of town and unaware of the Piedmont Posts’s  July 22nd reporting on the Reach Codes    In addition, those that have read the codes may find (as I do) that more time is needed to responsibly reflect upon the proposed ordinance and render productive feedback to our elected city leaders.

The benefits of achieving a broad awareness of the proposed Reach Codes, and the benefits of receiving constructive feedback from citizens and homeowners supports allowing more time before the second reading.

The text of the proposed ordinance can be found here:  https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16846499

Thank you for your consideration

Dai Meagher, Piedmont Resident