Jun 24 2021

Alameda County Grand Jury points to Piedmont as an example –

Piedmont Measure TT was identified by the Grand Jury as problematic.  Piedmont’s City Council, responsible for the ballot question language, proposed an increase to the city’s real estate transfer tax. The measure was rejected by voters by 48% yes to 52% no.

The question placed on the Piedmont ballot read as follows:

Shall the City of Piedmont, to be in alignment with neighboring East Bay  Cities, increase the real estate transfer tax from $13.00 to $17.50 per $1,000  of transfer price, generating $948,462 annually until ended by voters, to provide general tax revenue for city services and to repair and maintain city facilities including police and fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities, and other city infrastructure, be adopted?”

The Grand Jury stated:

“Piedmont’s Measure TT recited a list of possible expenditures, including ‘to repair and maintain city facilities including police and fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities, ‘ yet none of these expenditures was required by the  proposed ordinance. That such spending might occur does not make the question an accurate and impartial synopsis of a measure, which may not result in any additional spending on the mentioned repair and  maintenance. Piedmont’s measure also included the statement that a purpose of the measure was ‘to be in alignment with neighboring East Bay Cities.’   The grand jury did not see how this statement related to a description of the measure or to its purpose.”

The Grand Jury Report notes Ballot Questions [Language found on ballots asking for a yes or no vote] often fail the accuracy, transparency and impartiality requirement.

Several key points:

  • Alameda County Grand Jury investigation focused exclusively on the accuracy, transparency and impartiality of ballot questions.
  • Ballot Questions are required by law to be Brief, Accurate and Impartial.
  • Ballot Questions suffer from a “proponent’s bias.”
  • Ballot Questions fall short of what voters have a right to expect in terms of transparency and impartiality, even when satisfying minimum legal standard.
  • The Grand Jury declined to prosecute violators, instead urging governments to improve their behavior within the requirements of the California Elections Code.

Click the link below to READ the full 2020-21 Alameda County Grand Jury report: http://grandjury.acgov.org/reports.page?

May 27 2021

“In the last housing cycle, Piedmont was asked to plan for 60 new homes and the city fell short, issuing permits for just 37 units*. This cycle, the city is expected to plan for nearly 600 new homes.  …

In a staff report on future housing development, the Piedmont Planning Division  highlighted several ideas from residents about how to build more affordable housing, including placing it on land annexed from Oakland and subsidizing development of new units and purchasing apartments for teachers and first responders in the neighboring city.” SF Chronicle May 20, 2021

The May 20, 2021 SF Chronicle article contained several errors.  The 60 new housing units are the planning goal for the current cycle.  Piedmont is on track to exceed its effort to add 60 units by the deadline at the end of 2022.  The proposed 587 new housing units is the planning goal assigned for the cycle beginning in 2023 and ending 2031.

City staff reports “The 2020 annual progress report shows that the City of Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units anticipated by the RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Allocation] having issued building permits for the construction of approximately 73 new units out of a state-mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022.”

As a denser city, Piedmont will be seriously challenged in the future to plan for its uncontested 587 additional housing units RHNA.  The State considers that local governments play a vital role in developing affordable housing. In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income. 

Other cities having greater land availability than Piedmont have contested their allocation for increased housing units.  State laws allow for input on  draft RHNA based on individual cities conditions.

The Piedmont City Council has consistently voiced their desire to meet Piedmont’s draft allocation (587) and add the new housing units within Piedmont. 

The City Council has moved ahead on the 2023 planning process, hiring consultants, asking residents where they want to put 587 new units, and forming committees to pursue and influence Piedmonters in regard to the 587 new units.  Public hearings in Piedmont have yet to be held on the Piedmont opinions of the new housing expansion. 

Why is the Piedmont RHNA for the cycle beginning 2023 approximately 10 times larger than the current RHNA?

One contributing factor is the new “equity adjustment,” a formula was proposed that increases allocations of lower-income units for some jurisdictions identified as having racial and socioeconomic demographics that differ from the regional average. Five jurisdictions that met the formula were excluded.  These jurisdictions were excluded from the equity adjustment to avoid directing additional lower-income RHNA units to jurisdictions with racial demographics that are different than the rest of the region but that already have a high share of lower-income households.  [See tables beginning on page 31 of this report.]

Per the Piedmont City Charter, some of the potential methods of increasing Piedmont housing units will require voter approval to make zoning changes.

May 16 2021
The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) needs to get the revenue projections right before it starts considering new taxes.
Y = mX + b.  That’s not a typo but an equation, instantly recognizable to mathematicians as the equation for linear regression.  Put technically, the known value (X) times the slope (m) plus a fudge factor (b) estimates the unknown value (Y).   Put simply, estimate the unknown future value from the known past values.
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In the figure below, X, the horizontal axis, is years (2000-2030) and Y, the vertical axis, is the annual Real Property Transfer tax revenue in dollars (millions), collected on Piedmont home sales from 2000 to 2021.  The circles show the annual tax revenue and the blue line is the linear regression of that data out to the year 2030.
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Because linear regression is not perfect, to be safe, practitioners will take out the high and low values (outliers) and re-run the regression. The red line shows the estimated tax revenue with the two red circles removed from the regression.
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The 2009 data is the Great Recession when the tax revenue was $1.7M and the 2021 data is this year’s tax revenue (The COVID bubble?), likely to be $5M.  The lines pretty much overlay each other and show a very consistent increase in tax revenue over 20 years, with or without the outliers.

Every year, rather than rely on linear regression to estimate end of the year tax revenue, the City simply assumes revenue will be $2.8M.  And every year, the city winds up with $500,000 or more to put away into reserve funds like Facility Maintenance, Equipment Replacement or Pension Stabilization.

This year is an exception– almost a $2M surplus will be collected.  On a year-to-year basis, that may be ok – by staying on budget the city ends the year with a surplus that can be banked for long term needs.

But last year the City decided to project this $2.8 forward for 10 years – that’s the flat line in the figure – and claimed the city was facing a “deficit”.  This reasoning was offered as justification for putting Measure TT, the proposed increase in the transfer tax, on the 2020 ballot.  Measure TT failed, just in time for record transfer tax revenues.

Why this all matters is because the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) will soon convene and possibly consider what to do about the failure of TT.

The BAFPC reviews the revenue projections by staff and there’s chatter of a “Plan B” to raise more revenue.  Perhaps with a new Mayor and chairperson there will be new thinking by the BAFPC and the committee will advise staff to adopt a more accurate forecasting approach.

For example, transfer tax receipts over the past 10 years now average $3.4M annually (not including 2021) – use that value for the flat-line projection.  Better yet, perform this simple linear regression to project next year’s revenue and apportion that estimate to the three funds as needed.  The BAFPC needs to get the revenue projections right before it starts considering new taxes.

Click graph below to  enlarge.

Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member

Apr 28 2021

Virtual Town Hall featuring District 15

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks

League of Women Voters

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Click below for flyer and details

Final flyer- LWV Virtual Town Hall featuring Assemblymember Buffy Wicks[19714]

___________________________

Nancy O’Malley event

Thursday, May 6th, 4:00-5:00 p.m. – online media

“Perspectives on Women’s Issues”

with Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney

On Thursday, May 6th, at 4:00 p.m., the Piedmont League of Women Voters will welcome Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley.  She will discuss her important work with abused and homeless women, helping them move beyond trauma into a positive future.

DA O’Malley will address the many challenges COVID-19 has posed. She will also explain the ways in which the current lack of civility in politics is impeding the pace and scale of progress for women who suffer from violence. For example, passage of the Violence Against Women Act was held up due to politics, and funding for the Victims Crime Act, which provides resources to states for victims of crime, was also reduced.

Nancy O’Malley is a nationally recognized expert in issues involving violence against women, violence against persons with disabilities, and interpersonal violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse, stalking, and human exploitation and trafficking. She serves in an office with a national reputation for excellence dating back to former District Attorney and United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. DA O’Malley carries out this proud legacy as the first woman to serve as Alameda County’s elected District Attorney, and as a leader known throughout California and the country for her innovation and vision.

The event is free and open to all community members. To register, please go to

https://www.lwvpiedmont.org/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=601389&item_id=1256825.

You can watch DA O’Malley’s presentation live on Zoom or on our YouTube channel. The event is free and open to all community members. It will be recorded and posted on the League of Women Voters of Piedmont website for those who cannot join live.

Mar 21 2021

Piedmonters will get a rare at home view of the all important Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee considerations.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 3:00 p.m.  by Teleconference and Zoom

Taxes, tax measures, the budget and large expenditures are funneled through the Committee.  Historically minutes and video recording have NOT been made of the Committee’s meetings.  Typically, a report has been drafted by the Chair and reviewed by the Committee after a number of meetings.  

The March 23rd agenda includes the Municipal Pool, PERS pension project costs, and the annual budget actuals.

Stay up to date:

  • Call to Order Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Committee.

Regular Agenda

  • 1. Update on FY 20-21 General Fund Revenue and Expenditures: Projected Actual vs Budget

  • 2. Presentation of Ten Year Projections of CalPERS Pension Costs

  • 3. Update on Piedmont Community Pool Project and Bond Oversight Committee

Read Agenda and Participation >2021-03-23 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

 To maximize public safety while still maintaining transparency and public access, members of the public can participate in the meeting in several ways:  Computer or smart phone: Click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89251231925  Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 892-5123-1925 To participate in the meeting by providing public comment, members of the public may use the ZOOM platform to make live, verbal public comments. To speak to the Committee click the “Raise Your Hand” button when the item on which you would like to comment is called. If you are connected to the meeting by phone, please dial *9. When it is your turn to speak, the City Clerk will call your name and unmute your line, at which point you will have three minutes to address the Committee. After the allotted time, you will then be re-muted.

Instructions of how to “Raise Your Hand” is available at https://support.zoom.us/hc/enus/articles/205566129%0D-Raise-Hand-In-Webinar

Mar 9 2021

The question of reopening the Piedmont Municipal Pool was brought up under Announcements by Councilmember Betsy Andersen at the March 1, 2021 Council meeting.  Andersen requested a report from the staff regarding the possible reopening of the closed pool.  No discussion was held on the matter. 

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

Dec 14 2020

City Reminds Residents to Take Down Election Campaign Signs

The City of Piedmont is reminding residents of the City’s Sign Regulations, which specify the number of signs that can be displayed, and the maximum allowable sizes for signs.

The reminder follows the extremely high level of participation in recent elections, which was exemplified by the variety and quantity of signs placed in yards throughout the city. Now that Election Day has come and gone, the City would like to raise awareness of Piedmont’s limitations on sign displays. The intent is to ensure that all residents are aware of and comply with the City’s sign regulations now that the campaign season has come to a close.

The City regulates all signs on residential properties. In compliance with court decisions, these rules do not regulate signs on the basis of content. The full text of the sign regulations is in City Code Division 17.36.  The current effort is mainly concerned with signs posted in yards, in windows, and on walls of residential properties. The rules regarding such signs are found in City Code section 17.36.040 and summarized below.

No person may display a sign on a residential parcel unless the sign conforms to the following requirements:

Temporary freestanding noncommercial signs:
Number:  Maximum of 2
Size:  Maximum of 4 square feet per sign
Height:  Maximum (including frame) is 4 feet
Location:  Street yard of a residential parcel, but not in the public right-of-way
Lighting:  No illumination

Noncommercial window signs:
Number:  Maximum of 2
Size:  Maximum of 4 square feet per sign
Location:  Street yard-facing windows

Campaign Signs:
Residents have the right to post campaign signs on their property. Campaign signs placed on residential parcels shall comply with the same size, height, location, and lighting restrictions applicable to noncommercial signs placed on residential parcels. Any person who posts a campaign sign on private property shall remove the campaign sign within ten days after the day of the election to which it pertains.

A Noncommercial sign means a sign that does not contain a commercial message.

Piedmonters take pride in our community and this awareness drive is meant to gain voluntary compliance with the City’s sign regulations as part of that community spirit. Community members with questions are welcome to contact Planning & Building Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov or (510) 420-3050.

Dec 11 2020

– Remarks to the Community following the 12/7/2020 swearing-in of new Councilmember Conna McCarthy –
 

-I am delighted to be with all of you tonight. I am fortunate for the opportunity to thank those who helped me get here: Starting with my husband Peter Craigie who steered me into buying our first home in Piedmont 32 years ago. Thank you to our 3 amazing adult children, Kieran, Cormac, and Kathlyn, all PHS grads. Dad and I are so proud of the challenges you undertake and your service to country and community.  I am particularly grateful to each one of you for taking a leadership role in my campaign.

-Thank you to my San Francisco McCarthy Family: My mom, Jackie McCarthy. My brother Niall, my brother Adam, my sister Sharon and their spouses Yvonne, Heather and Dale and my 11 very charming nieces and nephews.

-Most importantly I am forever appreciative for being raised by Leo T. McCarthy who taught me and my siblings the value of public service.  He was a profound example of ethical leadership. He counseled each of us to use our knowledge, power, privilege, and voice to create a better community and tonight I am very proud to stand in his reflection.

-Thank you to my Campaign Team: Photographer Lauren Remer, Sean Wong who designed my signs and media materials, Campaign Administrator Wendy Szczech, Advisors Chad Olcott and our beloved, wise Cameron Wolfe, my Campaign Manager Andrea Swenson who just completed 8 years of service on Piedmont School Board. Thank you for always picking up when I call. Thank you Data Manager Sharon Hom. You make a complicated task easy. And once again, a shout out to my brothers Niall and Adam who made sure I achieved fundraising goals.

Thank you to the Endorsers and Advisors who support my leadership and continue to encourage me: former Mayor Bob McBain, newly elected Mayor Teddy Gray King, Councilmembers Tim Rood and Betsy Andersen.  Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh and I will have some catching up to do as we were both candidates in this election cycle.  I look forward to continuing collaboration with School Board members Amal Smith, Cory Smegal, Veronica Anderson-Thigpen, and Hilary Cooper.   We know that with women at the table, everyone gets fed.

I wear white tonight in deference to the 100 year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. As I am with you tonight in the role of Councilwoman, I am particularly grateful to those Piedmont women, who early on served in elected office sometimes as the only female member of a decision-making body. Sue Smegal, Ann Trutner, Stephi Moers, Valerie Matzger, Susan Hill, Tam Hege to name a few. The women elected today stand on your shoulders.

Thank you to the folks at City Hall who work every day to make sure Piedmont is a wonderful place to live.

Thank you City Administrator Sara Lillevand –  We first worked together  when I joined the Recreation Commission and Sara was Recreation Director. And now I am delighted to be joining Sara’s leadership at City Hall. Sara is the glue that holds all the pieces together. A few months into her job as City Administrator , the pandemic hit. Sara put on a second hat as Director of Emergency Services. All Piedmonters benefit from her thoroughness, patience and adaptability.

Thank you to Asst City Administrator John Tulloch.

John knows the devil is in the details. And while he is patient explaining rules and regulations, he sets a high standard for accountability. He is highly ethical and fair. Most importantly he is eager to help others succeed.

Thank you to Recreation Director Chelle Putzer and her team, Erin Rivera, Jackson Stearns, Steven Chavarria and Cora Woods. As a Recreation Commissioner I saw first-hand the incredible talent in our Recreation Department. Chelle was on the job for 3 months when the pandemic hit. She deserves widespread applause for her ability to lead a team that is consistently able to pivot with fresh starts and with creativity to meet the needs of all Piedmonters.

When I decided to run for City Council I reached out to every Department Head. Without fail, each director responded offering to make themselves available to answer questions, or add background or context or shed light on topics of concern to Piedmont voters.

-Finance Director Mike Szczech – Thank You for your humor and intellect.

-We will all miss Chester Nakahara as Director of Public Works, but I am appreciative that Parks and Project manager, Nancy Kent remains a source of continuity.

-Police Chief Jeremy Bowers is a special treasure amid a social re-awakening demanding equity and justice in Police Departments throughout the nation. Kudos to the search team who brought Jeremy to Piedmont. His leadership is gift to all of us.

-Thank you to Planning Director Kevin Jackson. There are several hot topics in your court. I look forward to working with you and your team.

-Welcome Interim Fire Chief Michael Despain, let’s work together to find the next  Piedmont Fire Chief.

-Thank you to the Voters of Piedmont

We will build an aquatics facility.

We will plan and prepare and be ready for opportunities to improve existing infrastructure.

We will remain resolute in our pledge as City leaders to embrace differing backgrounds, lived experiences, and beliefs, and look for opportunities to express our shared values for diversity, and inclusivity.

Piedmonters, continue to support your elected council members by sharing your ideas, and volunteering your talents. Ask questions. Challenge us to be better and join us in doing better.

But right now, as the pandemic has suspended our lives,  take care of each other. Look out for your neighbors. Practice patience and forgiveness. Each of us is bearing a burden that pushes us to find new levels of resiliency.

Stay Safe. Stay healthy. Know that your Piedmont leadership is looking out for you.

Thank you.

Councilmember Conna McCarthy

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.