Dec 1 2019

“Agenda Insight” to be presented before December 2, 2019 City Council meeting:

Item 3, the first item on tonight’s regular agenda, is the second reading of Ordinance 746 N.S. to renew the Municipal Services special Tax for 4 years effective July 1, 2021, and to place this before voters in a special election on March 3,2020, consolidated with the California Presidential Primary on that date….

Although most aspects of this renewal reflect no change, there is a word change that appears to have an impact. The wording of the present parcel tax says, “If in any fiscal year the City Council shall determine that municipal services INCLUDING but not limited to…” and then it names 9 services which must be included in general fund expenditures, with support from the parcel tax if other city income isn’t sufficient to cover them.

At the first reading of this ordinance, last meeting, that language was changed to, “municipal services which MAY INCLUDE but are not limited to..” and then lists the same 9 services. The staff report calls this a non-substantive change, but many people read it as a very substantive change because it gives Council the flexibility to remove any service from this list. The 9 services are police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works.

If the Council wants to put this on the March ballot, they must pass the second reading tonight because they are up against a deadline for submitting the final ballot language to the Registrar of Voters…..

Item 4 is consideration of a resolution approving procedural details for the Special Election of March 3… Of particular interest to voters, this item also sets the 75 word ballot question to read, “Shall Ordinance 746 N.S. which maintains essential police, fire, and paramedic services, prevents the reduction in maintenance of City parks, greenspaces and other public areas, and prevents the loss of recreational and other public services, by renewing the City of Piedmont’s expiring parcel tax for four years… be adopted?”

….Interestingly enough, this ballot language is almost the same language we voted on in 2016, so all 9 services were not mentioned last time around either. However, in both 2016 and 2020, it is the language of the resolution we are voting on, not the 75-word summary, and the language of the resolution has changed.

Ann Chandler, Piedmont Resident

Nov 29 2019

Proposed Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax has key language changes allowing elimination of services previously funded by the Piedmont parcel tax. Some have called the parcel tax proposal a “blank check.”

The Piedmont City Council in haste is expected at their, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, 7:30 p.m. meeting  to approve the second and final reading of Ord. 746N.S. which will place a renewal of the Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax, effective July 1, 2021, before the voters at a Special Municipal Election consolidated with the upcoming Presidential Primary Election on March 3, 2020. 

On November 18, 2019, the City Council approved a first reading of Ord. 746N.S.  At that meeting, the Council, according to the staff report, made what is called a “non-substantive” amendment to the language of Section 20B.2.on the first page of the ordinance.  Vice Mayor Teddy King objected to changing the existing language of the parcel tax proposal which states how the funds are to be spent. However, the rest of the Council and the City Attorney indicated the new language is not significantly different.

Apparently, the councilmembers and the City Attorney did not realize the language change no longer stipulates required uses of the parcel tax funds. For, the language changes from “including, but not limited to” to  “which MAY include, but are not limited to” were viewed by councilmembers as “essentially the same.”  

Voter concern has consequently arisen regarding the proposed new parcel tax language pointing to the change as considerable and  substantive in stating: “which may includeing,” rather than the current word “including.”

The newly proposed change to the parcel tax language would no longer require the Council to use the parcel tax money for the longstanding list of services and permits the Council to eliminate parcel tax funding for:

  • police and fire protection,
  • street maintenance,
  • building regulations,
  • library services,
  • recreation,
  • parks maintenance,
  • planning and public works
  • and similar services.

Some have stated the language change gives the Council a “blank check” by allowing the deletion of previously supported parcel tax funding for the named services.

The amended parcel tax language is indicated below in context. Deleted text is in strike through and new text is in italics.

“If in any fiscal year commencing on or after July 1, 2021, the City Council shall determine that municipal services, which may includeing, but are not limited to, police and fire protection, street maintenance, building regulations, library services, recreation, parks maintenance, planning and public works and similar services, are necessary for the public good, welfare and safety, and that the cost of making available such services will exceed the amount of funds generated through other revenue and income of the City for such services, then it may levy a special tax for such fiscal year on each parcel of real property within the City in a manner provided herein.”

READ the agenda HERE.

READ the three staff reports* on the tax proposal below:

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243381

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243385

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243387

*Editors Note: The newly revised  City of Piedmont website has become more difficult for Piedmonters to access information on specific agenda issues. Example, the subjects of the staff report no longer appear in the links. Only a file number is provided.

Nov 14 2019

PIEDMONT TAXES, TURKEY TROT, WIRELESS SITES –

  • Street Closures and City Staff Allocations for Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc.  See Map > HERE

  • Consideration of Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Applications and Exceptions filed by Crown Castle NG West LLC and SureSite for sites PHS01 to PHS08 and PHS10 to PHS18 (Applications #19-0188) and License for Use of City-Owned Streetlights and Determining that the Applications are Categorically Exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 1127 4. Two council members, King and Andersen, cannot vote on all sites.  City Administrator Lillevand cannot participate in all site discussions. Staff report  > HERE

  • Key features of the proposed WCF applications include:

    1. No underground equipment vaults, with fewer impacts to street trees
    1. Smaller, more compact radios and antennas
    1. No noise-generating equipment
    1. 10-inch diameter radome shrouds atop streetlight locations
    1. 14-inch diameter radome shrouds atop utility pole locations
    1. Trash receptacle equipment enclosure design (only at sites PHS01 and PHS03)
    1. Small side-mounted equipment enclosures on utility poles
    1. Encroachment permits for future maintenance work
    2. Radios 2203 and 8843, appropriately sized for the sites
    3. Power and communication cables concealed in 2-inch-wide risers
  • Introduction and First Reading of Ord. 746 N.S. – Renewal of the Municipal Services Special Tax Effective July 1, 2021 and Placing the Measure Before the Voters 0435, 0705, 1030.  March tax election is to be selected. Staff report > HERE.

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City of Piedmont City Council Agenda Monday, November 18, 2019 6:30 p.m. – Special & Regular Meeting City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA Closed Session The City Council will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue a. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION (Govt. Code 54956.9) Name of Case: Crown Castle NG West, LLC v. City of Piedmont .

 

The City Council will convene its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers Call to Order Pledge of Allegiance Consent Calendar 1. Approval of Council Meeting Minutes for 10/21/19 2. Approval of a Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc. 1000 Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. Special & Regular Session 3. Consideration of Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Applications and Exceptions filed by Crown Castle NG West LLC and SureSite for sites PHS01 to PHS08 and PHS10 to PHS18 (Applications #19-0188) and License for Use of City-Owned Streetlights and Determining that the Applications are Categorically Exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 1127 4. Introduction and First Reading of Ord. 746 N.S. – Renewal of the Municipal Services Special Tax Effective July 1, 2021 and Placing the Measure Before the Voters 0435, 0705, 1030

For more information, contact the City Clerk at 510/420-3040.

Nov 12 2019

Parcel tax measures G+H were on the November 5 ballot and passed with strong margins. We are grateful for the continued support this community has given to our schools.

We are especially grateful to G+H campaign chairs Hilary Cooper, Doug Ireland, and Christine Wente von Metzsch who graciously stepped in to lead the campaign. This win is a direct reflection of their tireless effort in setting the vision, rallying the volunteers, and filling in to work on the ground whenever necessary. They were wonderful ambassadors to talk up what is remarkable about our school district.

A successful campaign needs boots on the ground. Thank you to the myriad volunteers who heeded the call for help by showing up for phone banks, neighborhood walks, and other as needed duties.This campaign relied on hours and hours of volunteer time, and each week a cohort of G+H supporters gave their own talents and energy.

Another big thank you to Larry Tramutola, June Monach, and Christian Garcia for yet another Piedmont campaign to which they provided their expertise, common sense, wisdom, and energy. Our community is very lucky that Larry and June call Piedmont home, and we have benefitted many times over from their talents and support.

And last, but never least, thank you to the educators in our learning community, our teachers, staff, and administrators. They are dedicated to their vocation, skilled craftspeople who are on the front line every day to teach and nurture our children and build them into responsible citizens. They model what it means to be life-long learners in their willingness to learn new skills and share what they know. These measures passed because this community recognizes and appreciates their talents and energy.

To borrow from Mr. Rogers, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Thank you, Piedmont, for sharing in this responsibility!

PUSD Board of Education Sarah Pearson, Megan Pillsbury, Cory Smegal, Amal Smith, and Andrea Swenson

Nov 11 2019

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters corrected their  previously published information found on the County website.  Piedmont has 8,609 registered voters of which over 7,000 are permanent vote by mail voters.

The tally shows that 51.35% of Piedmont voters or 4,421 voted at the Special School Parcel Tax Election November 5, 2019 on  Measures G & H. On Measure G 4,394 Piedmonters cast a vote and on Measure H 4,410 votes were cast.

Total Piedmont Registration:8,609

Turnout

Percentage

Vote by Mail Reporting Ballots Cast

3,764

43.72 %

Election Day Reporting Ballots Cast

657

7.63 %

Total Ballots Cast

4,421

51.35 %

Measure G

YES                3,655             82.88%

NO                     755              17.12%

Measure H

YES               3,269              74.40%

NO                  1,125              25,60%

The number of spoiled or disqualified ballots, over votes and under votes has not been reported. The election will be formally certified soon. Voters approval of Measures G and H will not change.

 11/11/2019 

Nov 7 2019

I am so thrilled to report that the Piedmont Community passed both Measures G and H.

Your continued commitment to a robust public education is incredible! I want to thank the countless parent, staff, and student volunteers for all of their support and civic engagement over the past few months. It was encouraging to be a part of a community-wide conversation about our schools and how we support teaching and learning.

I fully recognize and am grateful for the commitment that families have made in our school system. I will continue to work closely with the Board of Education, teachers, staff, families, and students to ensure that Piedmont’s schools not only continue to provide excellence in education, but that we also continue to grow and improve in how we educate students.

Please join me in also thanking and acknowledging the election staff from the City of Piedmont. Their efforts ensured a smooth election day!

On behalf of all of the teachers, support staff, and administrators, thank you for your support and engagement with our incredible district.

Sincerely,

Randall Booker, Superintendent of Piedmont Unified School District

Nov 5 2019

Piedmont voters cast their votes on Measures G and H at the November 5, 2019 Special Election for the Piedmont Unified School District parcel taxes.  Both Measures G and H readily received the required 2/3 rds (66 2/3%) approval by those voting continuing the Piedmont tradition of strong local support for Piedmont schools. Approval for the measures was:

82.69% for Measure G  

74.34% for Measure H

Measure G is essentially a continuation of the existing parcel tax of $2,763 per year per parcel with a likely 2% increase each year over the eight year term of the measure.

Measure H is a new and additional flat tax based on the habitable space on each parcel in Piedmont taxed at 25 cents per square foot of improved habitable space on a parcel during the eight year term of the measure.

Community volunteers supporting the measures, primarily  parents of students, made an all out effort to personally contact each Piedmont voter, in addition to sending several glossy mailers to all voting households explaining the reasons to support the measures for the schools. Lawn signs for G & H were placed throughout the city. 

No opposition was officially filed against the measures, although opposition was explained through various media sources, including editorial disapproval by some regional newspapers emphasizing funding disparities with other school districts. 

Concern was also expressed over the demands placed on taxpayers, particularly seniors, and the fact that the parcel taxes under new federal tax laws were unlikely to be tax deductible. 

Voting results based on those voting:

 YES   3,416   82.69%    NO   715   17.31 %

H   YES   3,059  74.34%     NO  1,056  25.66%

There are 8,647 voters in Piedmont, of which 7,066 are permanent vote by mail voters, or 81.7 % of the Piedmont voters. Over 4,000 Piedmont voters cast their ballots on November 5, 2019 making the turnout by voters close to 50%.  A small number of provisional ballots are yet to be counted.  Updated 11/8/19

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UPDATE: NOVEMBER 8, 2019 – The following percentage of  Piedmont voters is incorrect, as reported by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. For no known reasons, the Registrar combined voters in Dublin with those in Piedmont, therefore disregard the following data.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Reported:

Total Voter Registration per Alameda County Registrar of Voters: 13,259 [Incorrect, as this reports Piedmont and Dublin voters. ]

      Turnout     Percentage

Vote by Mail Reporting Ballots Cast

      4,324

      32.61 %

Election Day Reporting Ballots Cast

          477

        3.60 %

Total Ballots Cast

      4,801

      36.21%

Nov 2 2019

The League Offers Arguments in Support of Ballot Measures G and H.

The League of Women Voters Piedmont has prepared a Pros and Cons for Piedmont voters regarding Measures G and H here.  After engaging in a discussion regarding Measures G and H, the Board voted to support these measures which align with the League’s policy to support a high level of education in the Piedmont Schools.

Measure G would continue financial support for District programs for students in Piedmont schools. The measure, with a new eight (8) year term, intends to provide the District and its taxpayers both stability and predictability in base parcel tax support. The proposed parcel tax will replace the local funding approved by the voters of the District on March 5, 2013, as Measure A, which will otherwise expire as of July 1, 2021. This Measure will provide continuing local revenue that cannot be taken by the State and will fund programs in math, science, technology, engineering, English, music, and arts, keep textbooks and instructional technology up to date, maintain smaller class sizes, and attract and retain qualified teachers (“Measure G Programs”).

Measure H would authorize the District to impose a special parcel tax with a rate of $0.25 per square foot of building improvements per year, to be levied against each taxable parcel of land located wholly or partially within the boundaries of the District. The Special Tax would have a term of eight (8) years, commencing on July 1, 2020, and ending on June 30, 2028, to be collected by the Alameda County Tax Collector, as applicable based on parcel location, at the same time, in the same manner, and subject to the same penalties as general property taxes collected by said tax collector.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the Piedmont League of Women Voters Board of Directors. Publicly noted Board members are President Nancy Beninati, Piedmont Resident, Vice President Lorrel Plimier, Oakland Resident, and Membership Chair Linda McClain, Oakland Resident.

PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.

Oct 28 2019

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to express my strong support for Measures G&H. As a realtor and a grandmother of children attending the Piedmont schools, I understand the importance of our Piedmont schools on many levels.

Every day, I work with families who want to buy homes in Piedmont because they know that our community offers a great education for their children. The strength of our schools directly affects the value of Piedmont homes.

I am proud to live in a community that values education, and I’m thrilled that my grandchildren attend the Piedmont schools. I know that they are receiving an outstanding education that includes small class sizes and access to art classes, libraries, current technology, and eventually AP classes and a range of electives. This breadth of programming exists because Piedmont has consistently passed school parcel taxes for over 30 years, helping to address the lack of state funding for education. In addition to preserving our educational program, we also need to support the teachers who work hard every day to teach our students. Measures G&H will allow us to preserve our educational programs and properly compensate Piedmont teachers.

All of the money raised by our school parcel taxes stays here in Piedmont. Even if you don’t have children who attend the Piedmont schools, Measures G&H are a wise investment because they help protect and improve our property values. The Piedmont schools have been the centerpiece of our community for decades. I encourage Piedmont residents to join me in voting Yes on Measures G&H in order to keep our schools strong.

Sincerely,

Anian Pettit Tunney, Piedmont Resident

Broker Associate , The Grubb Co.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 24 2019

We all benefit by increased real estate values substantially created by our excellent
Piedmont Schools. Normally larger homes increase in value more than smaller
homes. A single progressive Per Square Foot of Building Tax, a PSFBT, is the best
tax solution for each of us to fairly contribute to our schools based on property
value increases.

PSFBT is used in Alameda since 2011, Emeryville since 2007, Berkeley since 2010, and W. Contra Costa since 2004. Instead our School District has chosen to keep our large regressive flat tax and add a small progressive PSFBT.

March 2013 the School District replaced the existing tax that had “a variety of
progressivity to it” (Board President Raushenbush 12/12/2012) with a
regressive flat rate tax. This resulted in 76% of Piedmont taxpayers on parcels less
than 10,000 square feet (“sf”) paying 6% to 21% more. However 24% of
taxpayers, owners of large parcels, commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings
pay 7% to 80% less. Some large parcels over 20,000 sf go untaxed.

The District commissioned a survey of voter preference. Presented April 24 2019 to
the School Board, the Final Ballot Result compared a single progressive PSFBT that
generates 125% of current revenue to a regressive flat rate tax at 115% of
revenue. The Survey concluded that 73.4% of Piedmont voters definitely/likely will
vote for a 125% progressive PSFBT. The 115% flat rate tax received 62.1%
support. 66.7% is needed to pass.

Initially, I suggested a 115% progressive PSFBT which would likely poll above 74%
and I’m disappointed by the District unfairly comparing a progressive 125%
revenue tax to a regressive 115% tax. Despite this headwind the progressive tax
polled 11.3% higher. Rather than follow voter preference the District created a two
tax Special Election at a cost of $125,000 versus General Election cost of $35,000.
Additionally, as Piedmont taxes and bond obligations are already as expensive as
any in the State and proper funding is critical for Piedmont Schools, the School Tax
conversation should be revisited every four years.

So what is the tax cost to homeowners of a single progressive per square foot of
building tax (“PSFBT”) versus Measures G and H? Proponents state “Measure G will
cost all homeowners $2,763 per year. The cost to homeowners for Measure H will
be 25 cents per square foot of their home.” Measure H generates an additional 25%
in revenue so a single $1.25 per square foot of building tax will generate the same
total revenue as Measures G and H. While I advocated a 115% revenue increase, I
will compare the tax cost of a 125% progressive PSFBT to Measures G and H:

House SF
Tax G Existing
Tax H  +25%
   Total 125%
PSFBT 125%
       2,736
$2,736
$684
$3,420
$3,420
 
 
 
 
 
       2,400
$2,736
$600
$3,336
$3,000
       2,100
$2,736
$525
$3,261
$2,625
       1,800
$2,736
$450
$3,186
$2,250
       1,500
$2,736
$375
$3,111
$1,875
       3,000
$2,736
$750
$3,486
$3,750
       4,000
$2,736
$1,000
$3,736
$5,000
       5,000
$2,736
$1,250
$3,986
$6,250

 

If your home is smaller than 2,763 square feet you will pay less under a single
progressive tax. The median size home in Piedmont is about 2,400 square feet. I
estimate that under a single progressive PSFBT 63% of homeowners will pay less
than with Measures G & H. Mindful of an excessive cost to large homes, Alameda
uses a $7,999 cap and I suggested a $4,999 cap in Piedmont.

Likely you are among the 76% who paid more after 2012 and are in a home smaller
than 2,763 square feet. Additionally according to the District’s own data 73.4% of
residents support a single progressive PSFBT School Tax.

Proponents state: “If Measures G and H do not pass, up to 100 teacher positions will be eliminated.” This outcome would be awful and fortunately our current tax runs through June 2021 so there will be no revenue loss should G and H fail. There will be no teacher eliminations.

Vote NO on Measures G & H so the District will put before us our preferred
choice: a single progressive tax.

Rick Schiller
Piedmont taxpayer

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.