Aug 20 2021

Dear Editor,

It is obvious that the procedure for recalling a Governor is
flawed.  Instead of prescribing that the Lieutenant Governor ascend in the
case that a Governor can no longer serve us; the process for replacement is
a free-for-all.  Republicans have glommed onto this flaw with a
vengeance.   Please urge your state legislators to fix this destructive
feature; it’s a wrench in the gears of good government.

Meanwhile, please make sure to vote NO on the recall.  Don’t let
anti-democracy Republicans win with a minority of votes because the
majority didn’t vote.

Sincerely,
Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

Aug 20 2021

Ballots for the Tuesday, September 14 recall election have arrived in Piedmont households for all eligible voters.

The September 14, 2021, California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot will have two parts.

Every voter is asked to mark their  ballot YES or NO to the question, “Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?”

On the opposite side of the ballot, each voter, whether for or against the recall, can select from the 40+ names for a replacement of the Governor, IF he is recalled. Voters are not required to vote on a replacement.

 The Certified List of Candidates can be found on the state website at: https://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/statewide-elections/2021-recall/certified-list.pdf.  Write-in replacement candidates for the office of governor can also run in the California Gubernatorial Recall Election.  The Certified List of Write-in Candidates will be available on September 3, 2021.

If a majority of the votes on the recall question are “Yes,” Governor Newsom shall be removed from office and the replacement candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected for the remainder of the governor’s term of office (ending January 2, 2023).  If one-half or more of the votes on the recall question are “No,” Governor Newsom shall remain in office.

(Cal. Const., art. II, § 15(c); Elec. Code, §§ 11320, 11322)

After marking, sealing, and signing your ballot …

BALLOT DROP BOX: Piedmont has a Ballot Drop Box in Central Piedmont next to the Wells Fargo Bank and mail boxes, where voters can place their ballots. Drop Boxes will be operational until 8 pm on Election Day.  

OR

Mail your ballot.  No postage is needed.  Ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day, so vote early.   

Make your vote count by remembering to sign the back of your return envelope!

Aug 15 2021

Pool construction is anticipated to begin in December 2022 with the facility opening the summer of 2024.

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee Tuesday, August 17, 2021 2:30 p.m.

Bond structure recommendation to be considered at the meeting,

Those seeking information on the bond consideration need to contact the City Clerk at 510/420-3040, as no information has been distributed with the Agenda.  For details on participating  in the meeting, click the link below.

2021-08-17 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

Jul 31 2021

$691,230  plus $252,619 ($943,849) for housing consultants – 

Piedmont city staff recommends that the City Council approve a $252,619 Agreement  for services related to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the City’s 6th Housing Element Update covering the period 2023 through 2031.  The  Piedmont City Council, unlike numerous similar Bay Area cities, has acceded to the suggested new housing to be built in Piedmont.  City expenditures are being made now in an effort to expedite the construction of 587 new housing units.  Piedmont currently has approximately 4,000 housing units. 

The consultant recommended by staff for approval by the City Council is Rincon Consultants, Inc. (Rincon).  An Optional Task (see Exhibit A in the report) is a Study of Piedmont Sewer Capacity.

Read the report & agreement here.

On May 3, 2021, the City Council approved an earlier consultant agreement addressing the 587 new housing unit allocation in the amount of $691,230 with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. (LWC), to provide for professional services to update the Housing Element and prepare for the additional Piedmont housing units

The consultant agreement will be considered by the City Council on Monday, August 2.  Participation and timing details can be found on the City Council Agenda linked here.

Jul 31 2021

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 3:00 p.m. Via Teleconference –

Regular Agenda – 

1. Overview of Aquatics Bond Project

a. Review of Current Market Conditions

b. Recommended Bond Structure

c. Review of Bond Issuance Timetable

2. Consideration of a Recommendation to City Council on Whether to Pursue a Negotiated or a Competitive Method of Bond Sale Announcements,

Supporting staff reports were not distributed with the Agenda. 7/30/2021

Click link below for Agenda Schedule and Participation details:

2021-08-04 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

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