May 9 2022

Special Planning Commission Meeting – Thursday – May 12, 2022

 WHERE ARE 587 NEW HOUSING UNITS GOING TO GO IN PIEDMONT?
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The City of Piedmont is moving ahead with a new Housing Element.    Few Piedmonters have trudged through the almost 400 page Draft Housing Element containing profound suggested changes to Piedmont zoning.  The proposal suggests ending the Piedmont City Charter requirement of Piedmont voter control over zoning.
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Piedmont’s Planning Commission will hold a hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting on May 12, 2022, at 5:30 pm to consider a recommendation on the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element. On April 8, 2022, the City of Piedmont published the Draft Housing Element for public review and comment. The Draft Housing Element is posted to the homepages of the City of Piedmont website and Piedmontishome.org. Other formats are available upon request to the City. 

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Agenda and participation information >Planning 2022-05-12 Special Meeting

 

May 2 2022

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

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

Require large home remodels include an ADU in the expansion. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact information:

510/420-3050 – Planning Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

> 2022-05-04 Park Agenda

Apr 24 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Read and Review the Draft Housing Element

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

 This is a City website.

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

Mar 22 2022

Watch the video on Piedmont Heritage Trees!

The Piedmont Heritage Tree Program was created by the City Council, acting upon a recommendation from the Piedmont Park Commission, on January 16, 2018

The overall intent of the Heritage Tree Policy is to:

  • Recognize and identify special and distinctive trees that are noteworthy by their size, unique species, prominent location or historical context in our parks or open spaces.
  • Encourage residents to visit City parks and open spaces to find trees eligible for heritage tree designation.
  • Promote the study of nature through the use, enjoyment, and greater awareness of our public parks, streets, and medians.

Applications for heritage trees are sought each year and the application period well publicized.

Since its inception, the Park Commission has designated 19 trees (or groups of trees) as City of Piedmont Heritage Trees. The map below, created by Park Commissioner Patty Dunlap, highlights Piedmont’s Heritage Trees. 

Video >https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sHHQ_AXflY

Click on the icons below to view the Heritage Trees.

Mar 21 2022

Where Should Piedmont Grow?

Housing Element Community Workshop #2 [Virtual only]

Sites Considerations

Thursday, March 24th, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

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On Thursday, March 24th, at 5:30 p.m., the City of Piedmont will host a VIRTUAL Housing Element Community Workshop, focusing on Housing Element sites. This will be the second public workshop about the 2023-2031 Housing Element update.
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The Community Workshop on March 24th will feature an introduction to the draft 2023-2031 Housing Element and a demonstration of a new, interactive community planning tool, called The Piedmont Puzzle, hosted on Balancing Act software. During the Community Workshop, Chris Adams, president and co-founder of Balancing Act, will lead a demonstration of the new software app, which adds transparency and creativity to government policy discussions.  
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The Piedmont Puzzle, hosted on the Balancing Act app, is an online tool that let’s you pick where Piedmont grows in the future and what form that growth takes. Is it ADUs, apartments over ground-floor commercial, triplexes, fourplexes, tiny homes – or a mix of building types?
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Balancing Act app welcome page online
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Chris Adams is president and co-founder of Balancing Act, which is a company that offers government transparency tools and which has been named to GovTech 100 every year since 2017. He is also a Senior Fellow at the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs.
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Please let the City of Piedmont  know you will be there at: Piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov
[This is a request by the City, however it is not required. See below for links. ]

Community members can access the workshop in the following ways:

• Join the Zoom meeting (computer or smart phone): Click https://piedmont-cagov.zoom.us/j/87034575751

• Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar meeting number 870-3457-5751

• Watch on KCOM: https://www.piedmont.ca.gov/government/meeting_videos

*Participants are asked to have a smartphone for live polling during the virtual workshop.
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Confused about RHNA?
Watch these short videos for 10 things you need to know about the Housing Element. Topics covered in the videos include:
•What is the RHNA?
•What is the Housing Element?
•What are the components of the Housing Element and General Plan?
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City staff and housing consultants LWC and Plan to Place are reviewing new ideas and suggestions made by the Piedmont community and drafting new housing strategies. These housing strategies and the locations of sites for new housing will be outlined in the draft Housing Element to be released in April 2022.
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Important Upcoming Dates for Fair Housing Policy and Programs
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March 18 – Deadline for comments on the scope and breadth of the Housing Element Environmental Impact Report (EIR). More information is available on the City website at this link. Send comments to kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov
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April 7 – Welcome to Piedmont: Real Estate Practices In Support of an Inclusive Community, co-sponsored by City of Piedmont, Piedmont League of Women Voters, Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee, and Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign. Event details at the City website at this link.
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April 2022 – Release of Draft Housing Element for public review and comment.
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Please check the Get Involved page at PiedmontisHome.org
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  THOSE UNABLE TO USE OR MANIPULATE A SMARTPHONE OR COMPUTER WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS  HOUSING ELEMENT POLICY MAKING PROCESS.

For more information call:

CITY OF PIEDMONT, CITY CLERK  (510) 420-3040

PIEDMONT PLANNING DEPARTMENT (510) 420-3050

For more information and future meetings click below:

PCA2022-03-21 Housing Element Workshop 3-24

Nov 20 2021

Who is fighting to stop the State takeover of local land use planning?

California residents, including Piedmonters, are becoming more and more aware of the loss of control over local land use planning in their cities and neighborhoods. Public interest groups are forming to fight State takeover of local planning processes.

Developers are projected to be the monetary gainers of State control over housing and planning.

The continuing loss of local citizens’ ability to control development and feel confident of their community’s future is felt and shown in the number of homeowners deciding this is the time to leave California. 

To date, the Piedmont City Council has fully supported the Piedmont Regional Housing Need Assessments (RHNA) calling for an additional 587 housing units added in Piedmont.  Proposals call for the Piedmont Planning Department to ministerially take action on approvals without neighborhood input on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that meet certain criteria. Areas in Piedmont, including a park, are  being considered to be designated for multiple housing units. 

State legislation impacts Piedmont’s two “single family” residential zones differently.   Zone A where smaller parcels are typically found in “lower Piedmont,” there is a requirement of a 5 foot setback from side and rear property lines for habitable buildings.  Zone E (Estate), an elite zone where parcels are generally located in upper Piedmont,  require more space  around their homes for the greater 20 foot side and rear yard setbacks.   Roof overhangs are allowed into the setbacks further narrowing the distance between buildings.  Zone E has been questioned as illegally established as never having been established by voter action per the City Charter . 

The required number of RHNA housing units was assigned to Piedmont without consideration of the numerous substandard, narrow, and winding road ways impacting safety and emergency vehicles.   Deficient municipal open space, lack of local employment, and other local problems were also not factored into Piedmont’s 587 new housing unit assessment.

Various groups opposing State imposition of housing requirements are linked below for information.

 www.stopsacramento.org
https://www.livablecalifornia.org/livable-california-endorses-the-our-neighborhood-voices-initiative/
Sep 14 2021

Planning Commission Makes Recommendation to City Council Regarding Use of Measure A-1 Funding –

“(Our community) needs time to understand and explore what this means… Development is more successful with community support behind it.” 

On September 13, 2021, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council direct staff to continue developing an affordable housing program using Piedmont’s share of Alameda County Measure A-1 funding. The Commission supported the three-step approach for the funds recommended by the Planning Commission’s Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Measure A-1.

The Commission recommended the City Council explore ways to: 1) Establish a Piedmont Affordable Housing Fund; 2) Launch a low-interest loan program for affordable housing, such as scattered site single-family homes, ADUs and JADUs, conversion of commercial land, small houses, and shared housing; and 3) Preserve $2.2 million in funding in the form of a low-interest loan for the development of an affordable housing development of up to 40 housing units on ½ to 1 acre of land in Piedmont.

The reason behind the Commission’s recommendation of a sequential use of the Measure A-1 funds, first for the low-interest loan program that then transitions for use towards a traditional multifamily development as the loans are repaid, is that the County’s timeline does not allow for the time necessary to successfully identify and analyze a site for a multifamily project and carryout robust community engagement for the General Plan amendments and zoning ordinance revisions that would be necessary to attract a developer.

Planning Commission Chair Rani Batra stated, “(Our community) needs time to understand and explore what this means… Development is more successful with community support behind it.”

Commissioner Tom Ramsey stated, “All of us support a traditional affordable housing development… Where we have discussion is how we get there.”

In making its recommendation, the Planning Commission determined that the development of a multifamily affordable housing project on City-owned land would have a greater chance of attracting a developer and gaining entitlement once the City had completed its update to the Housing Element, the related zoning code revisions and environmental review. That process is not expected to be completed within the constraints of the County’s timeline for receipt of Measure A-1 funds.

The City Council’s receipt of the recommendation for the approach for the use of the funds has not been scheduled but is expected to occur in October or November.

During the meeting, the Planning Commission heard comments from eleven community members. Many urged the Commission to recommend that the City Council approve the 2023- 2031 Housing Element update and associated changes by November 2022 so that the Measure A1 funding could be used towards the development of affordable housing in Piedmont within the faster timeline requirements set forth by Alameda County.

In 2016, Alameda County residents voted to adopt Measure A-1, a $580 million property tax revenue bond for affordable housing. The City of Piedmont is allocated $2.2 million in Measure 2 A-1 funding in the form of a low-interest (3%) loan program administered by the Alameda County Department of Housing and Community Development (County HCD). Piedmont’s Measure A-1 allocation must be used for the development of affordable rental housing or site acquisition.

State requirements have challenged City officials to find sites and policies to promote the construction of 587 new houses and apartments by 2031. Earlier this year the City Council engaged the services of Lisa Wise Consulting to assist the City in preparing a Housing Element update that facilitates the production of this allocation of housing units, and the services of Rincon Consulting to perform the related environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29th, the Piedmont Planning Commission and Housing Advisory Committee will hold a joint study session about the basic requirements for Housing Element updates in California.

Senior City Planner Pierce Macdonald-Powell

For more information and project updates, please visit the City of Piedmont’s web site at http://piedmont.ca.gov

May 2 2021

Housing Element Consulting Services $691,230

City Council Meeting Monday, May 3. 2021

On March 1, 2021, the City Council approved the issuance of a Request for Proposals for Professional Services to Update the Piedmont Housing Element for the 6th Cycle/2023-2031. Only one firm submitted a proposal of services.

The City Administrator recommends an agreement with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. (LWC) in the amount $691,230 for services related to a Housing Element update.

State law requires every city and county in California to adopt a housing element of its general plan. The law also provides for periodic updates of the housing element. Piedmont has updated its Housing Element on five previous occasions.  Piedmont did not contest its housing allocation of 587 new housing units.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) upcoming “round six” Housing Element update covering the time frame 2023-2031 began with the adoption of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).  Piedmont’s allocation jumped to 587 housing units, compared to 60 units in RHNA 5, the 2014-22 planning period.

The next step is preparation of the Housing Element Update, the environmental documentation, and the Update’s submittal and review for certification by HCD. The deadline for adoption of the Update is January 31, 2023.  State law provides a penalty if the update is not adopted within 120 days after the deadline. That penalty is a requirement for an update every four years rather than every eight years if the update is adopted on time.

Consideration of a Consulting Services Agreement with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc., in an Amount Not to Exceed $691,230 for Services Related to a Housing Element Update

AGENDA

Comments to the City Council – citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

Oct 8 2020
“There are three good reasons to vote No on  Measure UU Pool Bonds.”
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I sincerely thought Piedmont learned a valuable lesson after the Hills Under-grounding debacle and the famous and equally outrageous Blair Park proposal that was thankfully averted due to its handful of determined and fiscally responsible citizens.
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Based on the estimates of a half baked design can be categorized as oversized, under-budgeted, and perhaps, can also be described as a trivial issue given the current needs of Piedmont to improve its police, fire and government buildings, combat climate change, improve roads and public transportation systems, etc., etc.
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Lastly, I hear the proponents claim it is cheap money so lets go ahead and spend it. There is no such thing as cheap money; money is only cheap when you spend others money and not yours.  Given the current use, money would be spent most wisely if the existing pool is renovated at a fraction of the proposed $19.5 million aquatics facility by competent people to continue to serve those who use the pool and perhaps limit its use only to the residents of Piedmont.
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PHS and private swim teams, middle and high school PE class, adaptive PE, the PHS water polo teams, adult fitness swimmers, and senior water aerobics do not need a new aquatics facility that costs $19.5 million, it needs a well maintained and managed functioning pool.
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Please reject Measure UU by voting No on UU.
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Sinan Sabuncuoglu
Architect and Piedmont Resident for over 35 years
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.