Jul 13 2020

Today, I pulled papers to file as a candidate for Piedmont City Council. I am running because I want to be part of the decision-making that makes Piedmont a truly special place to live.  We are a multi-generational community of neighbors.  We look out for each other. We feel responsible for each other. With every school parcel tax passed, we declare that the welfare of our children is the priority of our entire community.  And just as important, we respect and honor those who came before us, those who grounded us with community traditions and pride, those who planned and prepared and were stewards for next generations. 

I want to be part of the leadership that encourages large conversations where all stakeholders thoughtfully plan and manage limited resources for the benefit of Piedmont now and into the future. I want to support technology that makes city services more accessible. I want to support climate leadership that values technological innovation as well as encouraging individual responsibility. I want safe streets. I want to support a highly trained and visible police department. I want to support a highly trained and visible fire department. I will respect the economic investment and personal sacrifices people make to live in Piedmont when determining how funding is spent. I want Piedmont to be the place where our children want to raise their own families and where newcomers know they are welcomed and wanted.

Conna McCarthy

July 13, 2020

Jul 4 2020

PCA will attempt to keep voters informed as election season gets underway for the November 3, 2020 Election. 

It is known that some candidates are beginning their campaigns via the internet.  With social distancing remaining in place, this election will prove to be unique with no knocking on doors, block coffees, or hand shaking. 

Piedmont has never lacked for resident voters to step forward and seek election to the volunteer positions.  There are many details to running for public office requiring strict adherence to requirements. Candidates are advised to promptly contact the Piedmont City Clerk for details.

Piedmont voters who are interested in seeking election or reelection are getting busy for the election filing period beginning in July 13 and ending August 7.  

 Nomination Filing Period = July 13 – August 7, 2020

Suggested Deadline for Direct Arguments on Measures August 14, 2020

Suggested Deadline for Rebuttal Arguments on Measures August 21, 2020

Dates should be confirmed with City Clerk Tulloch at 510/420-3040.

Two seats on the City Council are up at the November 3 election.  Council member Jen Cavenaugh can seek another 4 year term.  Mayor Bob McBain having served 2 four year terms cannot seek re-election. Two seats will be filled at the election.

Two School Board members, Andrea Swenson and Sarah Pearson, will  have served 2 four year terms and cannot seek re-election.  The third School Board member, Cory Smegal, is eligible to be re-elected to another 4 year term.  Three seats on the Piedmont School Board will be filled at the election.

The City Council on July 6 will approve the protocols for Piedmont’s City Council and School Board Elections on the November General Election ballot.

Staff report: Approval of a Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

SECTION 7. There shall be no filing fee for candidates for office in the General Municipal Election.

SECTION 8. The candidates’ statements shall be limited to a maximum of 200 words.

SECTION 10. The nominations for the General Municipal Election shall open on July 13, 2020 and close no later than 5:00 pm on August 7, 2020, unless extended pursuant to Elections Code Section 10225.

ANSWER to the question of who is running?  It is not known for candidates have not publicly announced their candidacy.

Contact  City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Window looking out from inside the Piedmont City Hall Council Chambe


 Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

Jun 29 2020

Recreation projects should be separated from fire and police measures.

Because of COVID- 19, ballot measures in November will not allow for full community discussion of City projects and needs.

Letter sent to the Piedmont City Council:

Based on the survey results and the limitations to public participation brought on by the pandemic, November 2020 does not seem like an appropriate time to put these two initiatives on the ballot, especially the facilities matter.

Every indication suggests a second wave of the pandemic will occur in the fall and these questions should not be put before Piedmonters under constraint.   “Robust resident education will be needed” – that will be a very difficult undertaking during the pandemic and should not be rushed or forced.  The typical forums available for voter education like League of Women Voters, house parties, clubs – won’t be available or will see reduced participation.

And, if put on the ballot, can the public outreach activities staff had planned before the pandemic go forward – it gives the appearance of city staff campaigning for the ballot.  Council should do as it did with the public safety contracts – postpone these ballot questions until more normal conditions return. Two years from now has the added advantage that three council seats – a majority – will be up for election, allowing for the community to send a clear signal of whether it supports these initiatives.

The polling results indicate that well over 60% of Piedmonters consider facilities as excellent, good or average.  The City Administrator concluded that Piedmonters do not clearly understand their facility needs but is that true?  Piedmonters are familiar with the facilities they use and see – recreation and park facilities – and not with the ones they don’t – the police and fire buildings.  The polling results indicate that most Piedmonters like what they see and it’s really up to the city to explain why these facilities need replacement.  Piedmonters understand the maintenance issue with the pool – it has been studied and discussed for years.  The proposals for the pool, Linda Beach and Coaches are for replacement, not maintenance, and looked at this way, the results could indicate that residents do not want these replacements.  To determine if that is the case, it would be better to have the public safety facilities and recreation facilities presented as separate ballot initiatives.

Finally, at a Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) meeting I attended, the Assistant City Manager/City Clerk indicated that General Obligation bonds might require two votes under the City Charter. The BAFPC suggested a way to avoid two votes would be to establish a Community Facilities District (CFD). I think the staff report is inaccurate when it states the BAFPC “favored” CFD bonds, though it did support a parcel-based tax assessment compared to an ad valorem one:

“The Committee recommends pursuing a parcel-based tax assessment. This is preferable to an ad valorem tax given that the facilities to be funded include primarily (or potentially exclusively) essential public services buildings benefiting all Piedmont residents.”

I think it is inaccurate to conclude that the facilities to be funded are primarily “essential public services”.  While I’ve enjoyed the recreation facilities in Piedmont, it is clear that not all residents utilize these facilities, especially so over the next 30 years as Piedmont “ages in place”.  Police and Fire are, of course, essential, so again, consider placing the public safety facilities and recreation facilities on separate ballot initiatives.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of Piedmont City Council

Jun 26 2020

At a Special Piedmont City Council meeting on Monday, June 29, 7:30 p.m., the Council will consider placing tax measures on the November 2020 ballot.  Also, the Council will give direction to staff on continued operation of the Community Pool.

Agenda and instructions on participation: council-current-agenda (1) 6292020

  Continued Operation of the Piedmont Community Pool

“Two years have passed since it was acknowledged that the city had “reached the point in the life of the pool where strong consideration should be given to constructing a new facility that would better serve the community needs and require little to no annual subsidy. Alternatively, consideration should be given to transitioning out of aquatics programming as a City service.” In the intervening time, the facility, as well as its ability to recover costs, have further deteriorated. Given the hard financial realities both of the City’s aged aquatics facility and for overall Recreation Department revenues, it falls on this Council to determine whether it has become cost-prohibitive to continue to operate this aquatics facility.”

Consideration of tax measures for November ballot:Provide Direction to Staff on the Preparation of Ballot Measures for the November 2020 Ballot Regarding Financing of Facilities Maintenance, and Renovation_Replacement Needs

Jun 23 2020

Piedmont is the highest taxed of comparable Bay Area cities.

The City Council is considering a raise to the tax when a Piedmont home is sold.

The City Council is currently considering a proposal from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) to raise the real property transfer tax (RPTT) the tax buyers and sellers pay when buying a home in Piedmont.  The current rate is  $13/$1000* of the sales price and increases of 3, 3.5 and 7% are being considered.  The rationale given is to raise $850,000 annually to pay for facility maintenance.  Historically the RPTT has been $2.8M and revenue above that has been dedicated to facility maintenance. Over the past 10 years, RPTT has averaged $3.25M and with that excess, the Facility Maintenance Fund now stands at $5.8M.   An analysis of RPTT growth over the past 20 years shows a very consistent increase in revenue, the one outlier being the years 2008 to 2010 (Figure 1.)  Using the RPTT growth rate from the past 20 years shows that by 2030, RPTT revenue will be $4.5M.
Why this matters is that Council must choose a tax increase to put before the voters in November 2020, and should not raise taxes unless necessary.  An analysis by BAFPC shows that Piedmont is the highest taxed of comparable Bay Area cities (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/government/commissions___committees/budget_advisory___financial_planning_committee December 2019 report).
The City Finance Director estimates that the RPTT will be $2.2M next year and using that as a baseline justifies a 7% increase in order to raise the $850,000 for facility maintenance (Table 1).   If the preceding 10-year average of the RPTT is used, a 3% increase will rise enough for facility maintenance (400,000 + 805000 = $1.2M).  Assuming Piedmont home values continue to increase, no tax increase is needed – the steady increase in real estate values will raise more than enough for facility maintenance ($1,200,000)
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member 
*Updated: 6/25/2020
May 10 2020

Finally, a televised Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC)!

Most residents know little of this committee, but it is the source for all tax increases for the city.

BAFPC was recently directed by the City Council to develop funding proposals for major upgrades to city facilities. Three quick observations from the meeting on May 7, 2020:

– scenarios of $30, 45 and 70M bond initiatives are being studied

– apparently the community can live with “15 basis points” (0.15%) of bond indebtedness which translates to either the School District or City issuing $60M bond indebtedness every 5 years. The size of the city proposal could impinge on the District’s ability to issue bonds in 5 years. City staff will be reaching out to District officials to discuss this.

– Chair Bill Hosler offered a quick estimate – with  4,000 parcels in town, an equitable parcel tax of $1,000 per parcel for 10 years would raise $47M. I don’t recall if that was through issuance of bonds or just accumulated funds.

Hopefully, this Zoom meeting will be posted on the City website so residents can watch. Next BAFPC meeting is May 21 where a final recommendation to the City Council will likely be made.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Councilmember

Editors’ Note: Above is a  comment on the post “First Time Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Can Be Publicly Viewed from Home or Office.”


No recording of the BAFPC Zoom meeting was found on the city website. 

May 6 2020

Bond Measure on November 2020 Ballot ?

Community participation in setting priorities ?

The Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) has recently been charged by the Piedmont City Council with coming up with ways to fund Piedmont public projects. 

According to public comments, funding is possibly a bond measure for the November 3, 2020 Piedmont ballot.  The Council will need to make a decision on placing a bond measure on the November ballot no later than August. 

To date, there have been no public meetings or surveys to determine the list of desired projects which Piedmonters would favor. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent by the City Council on consultants and staff work proposing and planning special recreation projects.  Recreation projects have focused on a new Municipal Pool and Aquatic Center, Linda Beach Park play areas, and Coaches Field.  Other city facilities are also on a priority list. 

Very recently, 20th century Fire and Police facilities and readiness have been added to the Council list of possible projects needing funding sources. Public input has not been solicited on these projects. 

Infrastructure improvements to roadways, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and  undergrounding of overhead wires are not listed on the City Council priority list for funding.

Where is the money going to come from?

BAFPC to advise the City Council on funding sources.

For the first time, at-home citizens will be able to view and participate in the BAFPC deliberations and recommendations. Typically, the meetings have been held away from cameras with no minutes produced of the meetings.  The BAFPC Chair generally writes the Committee recommendations that are forwarded to the City Council. 

The Committee advises on tax levies, bond measures, financial planning, and budgetary matters. See items listed on the May 7, 2020 meeting agenda below.

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee Thursday, May 7, 2020 7:00 p.m. Via Teleconference

Members of the public can participate in the meeting by:

Computer or smart phone: Click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88058053315

Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 880-5805-3315

Full meeting agenda and participation details click below:

 2020-05-07 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee.

Back-up documentation and staff reports for the agenda have not been publicly disseminated. 

 Relevant prior staff report:

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects

Apr 29 2020

Two Council seats are on the November 2020 Piedmont ballot.

Piedmont will hold a City Council election on November 3, 2020 at the California General Election (Presidential Election).

Candidacy Preparation

Mayor Robert “Bob” McBain having served two terms on the City Council will be “termed out” according to the Piedmont City Charter, and he cannot remain on the City Council or seek re-election.  His retirement  leaves an entirely open seat for a new council member. 

An additional seat is also up at the 2020 election.  Council member Jennifer Cavenaugh will have served one four year term and is eligible to seek a second four year Council term on November 3.

Citizens of Piedmont interested in serving on the Piedmont City Council can consider their qualifications, support, and willingness to serve for a four year term on the Piedmont City Council.

Serving as a member of the City Council is a volunteer position without compensation.  Only authorized expenses and travel are provided for the council members. Time spent on city matters varies tremendously by council members.  The time expended may average between 5 to 40 hours per week depending on current issues and council member efforts.

Usually, there are 2 to 3 scheduled public meetings per month with outside meetings adding considerably to council member schedules.  Council members also field resident inquiries and comments. 

Campaign election committees generally form prior to or during the summer of an election year.  Public facilities, including City owned addresses and property, may not be used for campaign purposes.

Candidate filings will begin in Piedmont City Hall July 2020 and end in August.  For detailed and specific information on candidacy requirements and dates, contact:

City Clerk John Tulloch at 510/420-3040.

Piedmont City Charter:

ARTICLE VIII. Elections SECTION 8.01 GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS General Municipal elections for the election of officers and for such other purposes as the City Council may proscribe, shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even numbered years. (Charter Amendment 11/04/2014)

Editors’ Note:  PCA does not support or oppose candidates for public office or ballot measures. 

Apr 18 2020

Does COVID-19 change Piedmont’s priorities for spending?

Are Piedmonters interested in taxing themselves further for additional city expenditures?

Year after year, Piedmont taxpayers have generously approved bond measures for school facilities and parcel taxes for school and city operations.  Currently, there are no voter approved city bonds.

The Piedmont City Council’s long list of capital projects for new expenditures without sufficient funding include extensive new and revised recreation facilities, the municipal pool, playgrounds, etc.  Also on the list are improvements to City Hall, Police Department, Fire Department and other municipal facilities.  Not on the list for improvements are streets, sidewalks and undergrounding of utility wires.

Streets and Sidewalks:

During COVID-19 restrictions, many Piedmonters are walking or running on Piedmont’s streets and sidewalks to get exercise and recreate One cannot help but notice the many cracked, lifted, eroded, and dangerous sidewalks in the city.  Many streets have faulty pavement and have not been repaved in decades. Curbs and gutters on numerous streets have lacked care, thus leaving pools of water and uneven surfaces.

Most funding for Piedmont sidewalks and street resurfacing comes from outside sources.

The City of Piedmont is charged with and oversees the maintenance of the city’s streets and sidewalks.  The city owns Piedmont’s beautiful street trees and is responsible for damage caused by these trees to sidewalks and gutters. Property owners are not allowed to trim or remove street trees.  Changes by residents to sidewalks and gutters require city permits.

Street Infrastructure Maintenance & Replacement

“The City’s FY 2019-20 budget for street infrastructure maintenance and replacement is $1.4 million. Funding sources include Measure B, Measure BB, Measure F, and the Gas Tax, which also now includes funds from SB-1 that was recently approved by the state legislature. The majority of available funding is dedicated to street resurfacing and sidewalk repair work, with the balance dedicated to important sub-categories such as the implementation of projects prioritized by the approved Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan, and those related to the Complete Streets program.” Piedmont 2019-20 Budget

Undergrounding of Utility Wires:

Most areas in Piedmont do not utility wires placed underground, yet undergrounding of utilities has been deemed an important mechanism for providing safety during fires and earthquakes.  Undergrounding is also considered a highly desired aesthetic improvement to Piedmont.  No money is set aside in the Piedmont budget for undergrounding projects.

Consultant for City Selected Projects

Currently, the Council is looking toward a city bond measure to finance either partially or totally their long list of selected improvements or changes to city facilities including the Municipal Pool, Playfields, city facilities – police, fire departments, etc.  Streets, sidewalks and underground utilities are not on the city list.

An expenditure of $50,000 to hire a consultant related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects will be undertaken at the April 20, 2020, City Council meeting.  Public outreach would be part of the process.


Due to the COVID 19 Stay at Home order, the April 20 Council meeting will be a virtual meeting, and as such will only be available online.  Piedmonters can participate via the online connections as described on the agenda below:

4202020 council-current-agenda (1)

READ the staff report below to see the select list of projects identified and proposed process.

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects

Want to make a comment or suggestion to the City Council prior to the meeting?

Address your comments to the City Council as a whole:



Address your comments to individual councilmembers:


Mar 8 2020

CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) Review Committee –

Tuesday, March 10, 2020 – 7:00 p.m.

Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue, Piedmont

Open to public participation.

— Agenda for March 10 Meeting —

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. Review of Work Schedule for the CIP Review Committee for Fiscal Year 2020-2021

2. Presentation on Public Safety Facilities by the Fire Chief and Police Chief

3. Tour of Police Department and Fire Department Facilities 

Announcements, old business and consideration of future agenda item


CIP Review Committee

The CIP Review Committee makes recommendations to the City Council regarding the expenditure of the capital budget (construction, repair, or rehabilitation of city facilities).


  • Michael Henn
  • Susan Herrick
  • John Lenahan
  • Bobbe Stehr
  • Patty Siskind | Piedmont Beautification Foundation Representative
  • Jim Horner | Park Commission Representative
  • Conna McCarthy | Recreation Commission Representative

Council Liaison: Robert McBain | rmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov | (510) 420-3048

Staff Liaisons:

Chester Nakahara | cnakahara@piedmont.ca.gov | (510) 420-3061
Nancy Kent | nkent@piedmont.ca.gov | (510) 420-3064