Sep 22 2022

Questions on the proposed Housing Element were posed by Garrett Keating followed by Answers from the City Planning Department, plus Interpretations.

  1. Is the relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park being considered as part of the Moraga Canyon Site Assessment?

Answer:  City staff considered the broader policy issue of identifying City parkland in the Housing Element sites inventory, starting on page 157 of the Draft Housing Element. Ultimately, staff recommended a Draft Housing Element that did not include parkland in the sites inventory as a primary site. Blair Park was identified as a possible “alternative site” in the text description of the sites inventory. Dracena Park and all City parks were considered for housing sites during the development of the sites inventory in the Draft Housing Element.  On August 1, 2022, the City Council directed staff to include Blair Park in the sites inventory as a primary site as part of a proposed Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study in order to consider all of the interrelated changes that may be necessary to locate housing in Moraga Canyon and improve City facilities at the same time.

The Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study will start with a request for proposals (RFP) or request for qualifications (RFQ). The RFP or RFQ will include a project description for the types of land uses and changes to be considered.

  1. The Housing Element 102 presentation projected 82 units for the Corporation Yard.  Does that assume the Corporation Yard is relocated to Blair Park? If not, can you tell me the acreage that is available for housing in the Corporation Yard and how you arrived at 82 units for the Corporation Yard (50+32)?

Answer: Here is some background about the corporation yard site for the purposes of the Housing Element sites inventory. The corporation yard, alone, is approximately 13.6 acres. It is an approximate number because this land is also steeply sloping in some areas, and it has existing uses and facilities. Of the 13.6 acres, 3.7 acres are expected to yield 132 housing units. 100 of the 132 would be multifamily residential units at approximately 50 dwelling units per acre.  Please see Figure B-1 from the Draft Housing Element below.

On August 1, the City Council directed staff to re-distribute the housing units identified for sites in the civic center area. It is possible that some of the housing units (mainly moderate and above moderate housing units) could be added to the corporation yard site and a new Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study. These units would appear, if necessary, in the next iteration of the Draft Housing Element sites inventory this fall. Also on August 1, the City Council directed staff to include Blair Park in the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study area.

Interpretation:  relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park is currently not being considered in the identification of housing sites in the Housing Element.  The map shows that the Corporation Yard is to be maintained and staff does not indicate that they are considering it for housing.

  1. The City Administrator discussed the income levels required for new residents to be eligible for low-income housing.  The City Administrator presented income data for city/PUSD employees, citing the number of employees that fall into the 4 categories between $69,000 and $150,000. I believe she concluded that 80% of city/PUSD employees are considered low-income.  Is that correct?  The income eligibility levels are based on the income for a family of 4.  Did the city administrator’s presentation account for this – are the employee numbers she presented for employees with families of 4 (or more) or were those incomes for individuals?

Answer: To follow up the email I sent on Monday, I confirmed that the income categories described on slide 10 of the presentation on August 18, 2022, were based on a family of 4 people and that the City and PUSD employees’ incomes were evaluated against this baseline family income. The analysis did not base the employees’ income categories on the size of their actual families.

Interpretation Using individual income levels of city/PUSD employees to characterize those employees’ eligibility for different low-income family housing overstates their eligibility.

  1. The Planning Director presented a new total for ADUs of 142 and a new income distribution of 84/42/16 = 142. He attributed this new distribution to guidance from HCD and ABAG.  Can I obtain a copy of that guidance from the two agencies or can you direct me to a s source for it? 

Answer: Click on the following link to review the ADU projected income levels from ABAG guidance from June 2022: https://abag.ca.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2022-06/ADUs-Projections-Memo_final.pdf

Interpretation These new ADU allocations help Piedmont in that they count towards the city’s low-income unit target, lessening the need for low-income units elsewhere.  It should be noted the City has very little control over the actual rental or monthly rent of these units.

 Would moving the Corporation Yard to Blair Park make that side of Moraga Avenue more eligible for development.

“It is our understanding that a number of these facilities have significant capital deficiencies and that they are likely to require substantial renovation and/or replacement at some point in the near future. Because these sites are in strategic locations, it will be possible for the City to engage with the private sector to establish partnerships that would lead to the redevelopment of these facilities along with the identified housing programs.  These sites have value that the City can potentially leverage to attract private partners and to move forward on the basis of a public-private partnership that meets the community’s needs for improved facilities, along with the provision of additional housing.” From the City FAQ about Civic sites:

Both sides of Moraga Avenue can accommodate housing but on which side does the City have more leverage to improve facilities and add housing?  Working with developers, the City can certainly add low income housing to Blair Park but there are no facilities on that side of Moraga to improve, with the exception of the park.  The Corporation Yard offers multiple upgrade options. The City intends to expand Coaches Field to a 150 x 300 multi-purpose field and major reconfiguration of the space is needed.  The Corporation Yard itself is outdated – would a developer contribute to its relocation to eastern Blair Park for the right to develop the site?  The Moraga Canyon Specific Plan needs to include this analysis to achieve the best return to the community on the public land that will be converted to housing.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author and the City of Piedmont Planning Department.

READ PROPOSED  HOUSING ELEMENT :>  LWC_Piedmont_HEU_PRD_040822-compiledfix

Sep 19 2022

Bridget Harris, candidate for the Piedmont City Council, voices, “The City Council should carefully consider applying the “Walkable Oriented Development” (“WOD”) approach to all possible locations and present the results to the community for approval before submitting any proposal for the 6th Cycle Housing Element.”

As the City of Piedmont addresses potential locations for additional housing to meet the 6th Cycle Housing Element, the following criteria should be considered:
1.      Maintain the culture and character of the City;
2.      Maintain traffic safety and security in the City;
3.      Minimize the loss of park land and open space;
4.      Offer locations that maximize the efficiency of construction and living.

A study by the American Enterprise Institute suggests that these criteria can best be met by “Walkable Oriented Development” (“WOD”).  This approach focuses development in areas within a ten minute walk of services and infrastructure. WOD focuses on the placement of multi-unit housing close to existing supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants and public transportation.  It allows an increase in density while minimizing the need for the construction of additional infrastructure. WOD also makes it easier and less expensive for low income owners/renters to access necessary services thereby reducing traffic impact .

Piedmont doesn’t have a WOD location in the center of the City nor does it have a WOD area along Moraga Avenue.  It doesn’t make sense to force expensive and inefficient high density development in these locations.  However, Grand Avenue and Park Boulevard could become WOD areas with significantly less expense and disruption to the existing community.  The City Council should carefully consider applying the WOD approach to all possible locations and present the results to the community for approval before submitting any proposal for the 6th Cycle Housing Element. 
https://www.aei.org/wod/

Bridget Harris, Seaview Avenue

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 15 2022

There are 6 candidates seeking election to 3 seats on the Piedmont City Council. Voters can vote for up to 3 of the candidates. The election is on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The candidates are shown below in alphabetical order with their ballot statements copied beside their photographs.

Betsy Andersen

Betsy Smegal Andersen

City Council Member

My education and qualifications are: My priorities on the Piedmont City Council have been community health and safety, financial stability, and strong city-school relations. During my time on Council, we have renovated Hampton Park and the Corey Reich Tennis Center, invested $3.75M for future pension needs, facilitated in-town COVID-19 testing, allocated funds to modernize police and fire dispatch, and maintained a balanced budget. Currently, we are rebuilding the city-owned Piedmont Community Pool, thanks to voter-approved Measure UU. As a lifelong resident, I appreciate the challenges and opportunities as we develop strategies to meet our climate action goals, address the state housing crisis, and replace aging infrastructure. Prior to serving on Council, I volunteered on the Public Safety Committee to promote emergency preparedness and chaired the Recreation Commission with a focus on improving recreational facilities and opportunities for all ages. I attended Piedmont public schools, majored in Public Policy at Duke, earned my law degree from UCLA, and practiced law for nearly two decades. My husband, Robert, and I raised our daughters here, Jane (PHS ’18) and Ellie (PHS ’21). If re-elected, I will continue to listen thoughtfully to all voices as we work together to strengthen the community we call home

Sonny Bostrom-Flemming

 

Nancy “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming

My education and qualifications are: Once upon a time there was a chubby little rich boy who lived in a mansion. He was driven in a limousine to school where he faced name calling, shoving, pinching. His mother sang, taught him piano & knitted him sweaters. He earned two doctorates. One music, one in theology, trained as a Presbyterian minister, married, had two children, four grandchildren, & millions of stepchildren. You might be one of them. His name was Fred Rogers and he lives in your heart. He never forgot the pain he experienced when he was helpless as we all have been or will be. His sweater is at the Smithsonian. My name is Sunny. I ran before. I promoted cameras at Piedmont’s entrances that keep your family & pets safer. My father taught me to swim when I was six months old. When I went to Katrina to help I realized that African-Americans are at a great & deadly disadvantage as far as swimming education is concerned. We can start a program to promote water safety for all children in America, saving thousands of lives. The issues before us are among the most important in our histor

Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long

Appointed City Council Member

My education and qualifications are: I am running for City Council to serve our beautiful community and maintain its greatness as it grows and evolves. With an impending pool build, critical infrastructure repair (and or replacement) and housing development, Piedmont is poised to be a city with the future in mind. In these unprecedented times, our city needs leaders who understand the interests of our citizens to maintain its excellent schools and outstanding public services such as the police and fire department. My perspective as a current member of the council and my direct engagement with the Piedmont community allow me to get to the essence of what is needed to create and maintain a safe, inclusive, and fiscally-sound community. My experience as a current city council member, attorney and life coach provide me with a solid foundation to tackle the matters that lie ahead for Piedmont. Through my work in various community organizations and with my connections to a variety of community members from sports teams to schools, I have a deep understanding of what makes Piedmont the outstanding community we all love and how to make it evolve into a city we will continue to be proud of in the future.

Bridget Harris

Bridget McInerney Harris

Estate Planning Attorney

My  education and qualifications are: I seek election to the City Council to serve the community with a strong commitment to public safety, fiscal discipline, realistic growth and common sense. I believe we can improve our community’s engagement regarding the increased housing requirement imposed by California by introducing more public forums and clear accessible diagrams of what is being discussed and debated. Importantly, I would advocate that all residents should vote before any park or city land is used for multi-family units within the city of Piedmont. Another top priority is public safety with additional support for the police and fire departments; improving both facilities and funding. I would be honored to put my knowledge, work ethic, and love for Piedmont to work as your City Council member. I earned my B.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, my JD from Gonzaga University, and my Taxation LLM from Georgetown University. I have practiced tax law locally for more than 40 years. We have resided in Piedmont since 1986, raising our four children here. I serve on the Executive Boards of the Piedmont Boy Scouts and Order of Malta Clinic in Oakland, a provider of free medical care to uninsured patients in our community.

Tom Ramsey

Tom Ramsey

Architect

My education and qualifications are: Piedmont’s a great town. 25 years ago, my family moved here for the public schools, and now that our daughters graduated PHS, we stayed for the friendships, location, and services delivered by the city. I value safe neighborhoods, and I expect fiscal responsibility. Our town does have work to do. We have a pool to build as construction costs increase. We have public facilities with deferred maintenance issues. We have the difficult task of navigating the state mandates for housing density in a small town already built out and full of beautiful historic homes and civic buildings. I’m an architect, a problem solver and for over 30 years I’ve been building and leading diverse teams around the Bay Area. I’ll leverage my professional experience and my seven years on the planning commission to continue to accommodate growth while preserving Piedmont’s physical character. I’ve served on committees: Seismic Advisory, Design Guidelines, Measure A1 and I’ve worked with Piedmont’s youth through Scouting’s Community Service Crew for over a decade. I’m confident that when our town is fully engaged and works together, we can successfully resolve the issues in front of us; that’s what makes Piedmont a great town. vote4tomramsey.com

Jeanne Solnordal

Jeanne Solnordal

Broker

My education and qualifications are: I am running for the City Council to bring a much-needed perspective and balance to our beautiful city. Many voices are underrepresented, especially those residents who oppose the plan to add 587 units of affordable housing to Piedmont at a cost of around $850,000 per unit. I am well-educated, having earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 1994 after working for the IRS for 18 years. In 1994 I obtained a Broker’s license and established a property management company which I still run. My legal (landlord/tenant) and tax accounting experience will be very helpful to Piedmont going forward. I will work to prioritize the city’s needs and will be fiscally responsible with your hard earned taxpayer dollars. My family has lived in Piedmont since 2002 and our children attended Piedmont schools. I served as a Girl Scout leader, President of Millennium Parents Club, a school volunteer, and assisted in organizing the Spring Flings and Harvest Festival. Currently, I am serving on the Public Safety Committee. Piedmont is a unique and desirable place to live. Let’s keep it that way.

The League of Women Voters Piedmont is holding a virtual City Council Candidates’ Forum:

When: Thursday, September 22, 2022 @ 7:30 pm
Where: online via Zoom and YouTube

Register to receive a link to join the live Zoom webinar. This event will also be live-streamed on YouTube and the recording will be available there for future viewing.

Register

Editors’ Note: The League of Women Voters and the Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) are separate community organizations. PCA does not support or oppose candidates for public office.  All candidates and the community are invited to submit information about candidates, including endorser lists to the link on left side of this page.

Sep 7 2022

Piedmonters have called for clearer explanations on what is proposed in the Housing Element.  Helpful explanations would include:

  • Specific diagrams of any new and safer roads near schools and in the Morago Canyon Area where housing is proposed, including cost projections for road improvements.
  • The state is looking for zoning changes to increase housing density. How is Piedmont proposing to comply with the City Charter and Piedmont voters rights on zoning changes increasing density?
  • High density housing in Piedmont is being proposed to a height of 6 stories.  This height is greater than existing buildings in Piedmont.  How does this not change the character of the city and stay in  compliance with Piedmont ordinances and design review standards?
  • Currently, a small number of dwelling units are in the Moraga Canyon area. How will services be provided including: transit, pedestrian access, monitoring of low-income and affordable rents, public safety access, etc. –  for the hundreds of new dwelling units proposed? How will the additional workload and costs be covered ?
  • The Housing Element once adopted by the City and the Department of Housing and Community Development becomes a “property use right. “ On city and private property, what are city and voter controls over development and costs after the Housing Element has been adopted by the City Council?
  • The City is not required to build the housing.  However, the use of City land is essential to meeting the large numbers of dwelling units required of the HE.  What right does the City have to participate in leasing, selling, or assisting in the use of public lands per the State Constitution Article 34 and the City Charter without voter approval of the zoning use changes?
  • Commercial developers paired with government money await the opportunity to build in Piedmont as supported locally by influencers in and outside of Piedmont.   What is the schedule to provide  Piedmont voters with their right to vote on the HE zoning changes prior to final adoption?
  • Outreach efforts by Piedmont have been clouded and confused by partial information and changes to the proposed HE.  Why isn’t or wasn’t a mailed survey sent to every residence in Piedmont to learn of voters concerns and interests?
  • What are the requirements for building high density dwelling units in Piedmont, including: height limits, density, street configurations, utilities, public safety, trees, transit, parks, sewers, water, landslides, fire protection, parking, lighting, open space, etc. ?
Aug 28 2022

Bring us all together instead of pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.

I sense growing anxiety in the community over the decisions being made of where to accommodate 587 units of new housing.

What would greatly reduce this anxiety, in my opinion, would be to have details of the suggested plans along with their locations, ie, how many stories will there be? what will the buildings look like on the outside?  will they be duplexes, attached condos, high rise apartments buildings?

Yet another way to reduce this anxiety would be to understand that for Piedmont to reach its goals, a compromise needs to be found so that the distribution of new housing will be borne by the whole community not one neighborhood. 

If our goal is to help solve the housing crises, let us be equitable with each other as well as those that need affordable housing.  Please find a mediator to bring us all together instead of pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.

Karen P Harley, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Aug 26 2022

The following questions were posed to the Piedmont Planning Department regarding the proposed Housing Element:

1. Is the relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park being considered as part of the Moraga Canyon Site Assessment?
.
2. The 102 presentation projected 82 units for the Corporation Yard.  Does that assume the Corporation Yard is relocated to Blair Park? If not, can you identify the acreage that is available for housing in the Corporation Yard and how the estimate of 82 units for the Corporation Yard (50+32) was determined?  
.
3. The City Administrator discussed the income levels required for new residents to be eligible for low income housing.  The City Administrator presented income data for city/PUSD employees, citing the number of employees that fall into the 4 categories between $69,000 and $150,000. She concluded that 80% of city/PUSD employees are considered low income.  The income eligibility levels are based on the income for a family of 4.  Did the city administrator’s presentation account for this – are the employee numbers she presented for employees with families of 4 (or more) or were those incomes for individual employees?
.
4.  The Planning Director presented a new total for ADU of 142 and a new income distribution of 84/42/16 = 142. He attributed this new distribution to guidance from HCD and ABAG.  Can I obtain a copy of that guidance from the two agencies or can you direct me to a s source for it?
.
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member
Aug 17 2022

The City of Piedmont is presenting another informational event for Piedmonters on matters related to the Housing Element.  A social time in the City Hall Courtyard will follow the presentation to give attendees “a chance to meet with City staff and gain additional clarity on the Draft Housing Element.”

Presentation information has not been provided by the City.

On Thursday, August 18th at 5:00 p.m., the City of Piedmont will host a “Housing Element 102” Information Session.

Community members are invited to attend in person, virtually on Zoom (https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/82234103859), or on KCOM-TV, the City’s Government Access television station (Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T Channel 99). The information session, which will be held in the City Council Chambers, will be followed by an open house in the City Hall Courtyard.

This session, which follows up on the Housing Element 101 session, hosted by the City on September 29, 2021, which can be viewed at https://piedmont.granicus.com/player/clip/2413, is intended as an informational opportunity to provide clarity on salient pieces of a complex process and will focus on four main topics:

  • Housing Element and the Regional Housing Needs Allocation Basics
  • Overview of the Draft Housing Element Sites Inventory
  • Recap of the Direction the City Council Provided to Staff at its August 1, 2022 Meeting
  • Update on the Status of Piedmont’s Housing Element Process, Next Steps and Timeline to Certification

The open house will be a chance to meet with City staff and gain additional clarity on the Draft Housing Element.

Community members are encouraged to view the City’s Housing Element Basics YouTube playlist, which consists of a series of short videos about the Housing Element process.

Comprehensive and detailed information about the Housing Element process is available on https://piedmontishome.org and https://piedmont.ca.gov. Please contact Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald at piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov with questions or comments.

Jul 31 2022

The proposed changes to our city’s core, including building housing on the tennis courts, the grassy strip on Highland Avenue and the relocation of the fire department, would be a travesty and would forever change the character of Piedmont. While understanding the need to respond to the legislature’s mandate, the community would be ill-served by these proposals.

I agree with the observation that moving the fire department to the outskirts of the city would be a detriment to public safety. Additionally, the residents of housing built in Blair Park would not be any more isolated than the residents of Maxwelton Road, Abbott Way, Echo Lane, and Nellie Avenue, and traffic safety concerns would be alleviated by a traffic signal. Rezoning on Grand Avenue to accommodate multi-family housing is logical. The infrastructure already exists, and it would be situated on the only existing street in the city that could accommodate the additional traffic, particularly if restored to four lanes.

The proposal to alter the city center, which has the endorsement of individuals who are not city residents, specifically staff and the outside consultants, is insensitive. Moving the tennis courts away from the high school would be a detriment to the high school and raise its own safety issues. When I attended Piedmont High, PE included swimming and tennis at facilities across the street from the school. The school had varsity and JV men’s and women’s tennis teams. When my daughters attended PHS, the school fielded these teams as well. Is that no longer the case? How is moving these facilities away from the school a positive thing?

We are not Woodside, whose residents are seeking to avoid the construction of housing by prioritizing the needs of mountain lions. Our 1.7 square miles of land already developed. The legislature’s mandate of 587 new housing units amounts to a 15% increase in households. (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/piedmontcitycalifornia/INC110220.)

The only discussion regarding the impact that a 15% increase in student population will have on the schools is this observation in Appendix 6 of the 6th Cycle Housing Element, published in April 2022, which acknowledged the “limited capacity of the schools” to accommodate the anticipated increase in its population due to the proposed housing plan.

Census data belies the claim that school enrollment has declined due to a reduction in children residing in the community. Fully 26.4% of Piedmont residents are under the age of 18. (Id.) Without a deeper dive into the numbers, this would suggest that there are 165 children per academic year which far exceeds that of the current high school per class population. The decline school population has more to do with quality which I found to be disappointing when my children attended the high school when compared to my experience thirty years earlier during a time when the city was far more economically diverse than it is now, so diverse that the girls were required to wear uniforms to mitigate the effects of economic disparity in the student population.

The plan also acknowledges EBMUD constraints pertaining to water and sewage but proposes no solution. I did not see any discussion regarding the impact of that a 15% in households will have on other city services, such as police and fire, in the report. I’m in favor of providing subsidized housing for school and city service employees but not at the expense of the city center.

Perhaps there is a solution that include a reasonable response to the legislative mandate which would include additional units without a major disruption to the city center. The Census Bureau reports that Oakland lost 5,526 residents in 2021 from the previous year. (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/oaklandcitycalifornia.)

There is also a significant amount of unused and underutilized land in Oakland. Perhaps the needs of everyone would be better served by entering into a cap and trade type arrangement with the City of Oakland where the construction of new units would be subsidized in part by Piedmont taxpayers. This is not a nimby proposal; it is a pragmatic proposal intended to ensure that the character of the city center is maintained, and the people needing affordable housing get what they need.

Anne Cobbledick Gritzer

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jul 30 2022

Rezoning without prior voter approval, perpetually eliminating scarce park land, leaving unaddressed safety issues, building garages to 24 feet high on the property line, tearing-down historic civic buildings, arbitrarily making site choices for the Piedmont Housing Element……

Will Piedmonters participate?

During traditional vacation time on August 1, 2022, the Piedmont City Council will once more attempt   to find where the required 587 new housing units will be built in Piedmont.

Council member Jennifer Long, after listening to speaker after speaker at the June 20, 2022, Council meeting declare their lack of information on the Housing Element (HE), she without Council objection  asked that all Piedmonters be informed about the Housing Element (HE) proposal in a flyer to explain the proposal and allow for community engagement. As a result of Long’s request, every Piedmont household was sent a postcard announcing the date of HE Council consideration minus a summary or impacts.   Readers are referred on the postcard to a complex Piedmont website “Piedmont is Home”, which  has been widely criticised for having no executive summary or ready access to impact information.

Approximately one million city dollars have been spent attempting to influence Piedmonters of the advisability of zoning changes using online puzzles, banners and remote meetings. Commenters have noted this ill advised attempt by the City to convince Piedmonters of unacceptable choices promoted by consultants, a select committee, city attorney, city staff, and commission has produced modess HE changes to proposals based on public input and concerns and have been met by refusing the City Charter requirement of voter approval to make zoning use changes.

“Piedmont is Home,” the name of the city’s influence campaign insensing  some neighboring communities feeling the slogan is elite, exclusionary, and insensitive at a time when Piedmont has attempted to be more inclusive in governmental actions.

The HE is close to 400 pages long and has within its pages rezoning without prior voter approval, perpetually eliminating scarce park property, leaving unaddressed safety issues, building garages to 24 feet high on the property line, tearing-down historic civic buildings, arbitrarily making site choices, and more.

Residents have circulated a petition readily garnering approximately 800 signatures:  

https://chng.it/RFyKwTrVRK

City notice:

Staff report for August 1 City Council meeting including many comments made to the city below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18776050

Agenda and participation information:

https://cdn5-hosted.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf?v=6bbkCn2D3

Jul 30 2022

Piedmont’s zoning system is being corrupted.

Interchanging single-family zoning and multiple-family zoning is impossible under the Piedmont City Charter.  Piedmont has a zone specifically for multiple-family dwellings, yet under the City Attorney’s interpretation of the City Charter,  all zones are multiple-family zones corrupting Piedmont’s zoning system controlled by voters.

In the staff report for the August 1, 2022  Council meeting regarding adding 587 housing units, the City’s interpretation denies the actual and complete language in the City Charter.  The full wording of the Zoning System in the Piedmont City Charter describes the use of the 5 zones. 

There is a specific zone for multiple housing and there is another zone for multiple housing use.  Single-family zoning is allowed in all Piedmont zones. Single-family dwelling use under state law permits a house, an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) and an additional unit within the confines of the main house making 3 housing units possible within Piedmont single-family zoned parcels.

Interchanging single-family zoning and multiple-family zoning is impossible under the City Charter. 

 Since all Piedmont zones allow single-family dwellings,  permitting multiple family dwellings on all Piedmont parcels corrupts Piedmont’s City Charter and the ability of voter to control zoning in Piedmont.

The City’s incorrect statement is copied below:

“Therefore, a vote of the electorate would not be required since, under Section 9.02 of the Charter, and its historical interpretation by the City Attorney, changes to the density within each zone do not require a vote of the electorate.”

Are all parcels going to be changed in size to allow the multiple housing proposal of the HE plan?  This eliminates voter control in this work-around plan to remove voter approval as stated in the City Charter.

The City’s interpretation of the Charter relies on several missteps made by City Officials regarding zoning, none of which have the pervasive and overwhelming impact of the proposed HE  changing zoning uses without allowing Piedmont voters in densifying Piedmont with multiple-family proposals in zones.

The City minimally owes it to Piedmont voters to research City records for not only the intent of the City Charter, but the actual words as copied below.

City Charter ARTICLE IX. General Provision

SECTION 9.02 ZONING SYSTEM The City of Piedmont is primarily a residential city, and the City Council shall have power to establish a zoning system within the City as may in its judgement be most beneficial. The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election. No zone shall be reduced or enlarged and no zones reclassified unless a majority of the voters voting upon the same shall vote in favor thereof; provided that any property which is zoned for uses other than or in addition to a single-family dwelling may be voluntarily rezoned by the owners thereof filing a written document executed by all of the owners thereof under penalty of perjury stating that the only use on such property shall be a single-family dwelling, and such rezoning shall not require a vote of the electors as set forth above.  

City Staff report for August 1, 2022 states:

“6) Questions Regarding the City Charter Questions have come up regarding Section 9.02 of the City Charter, and whether increasing densities or adding another residential use category within existing zones would require a vote of the electorate.

Agenda Report Page 9

“The City’s Charter provides that “[t]he Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election.” (City Charter, Section 9.02.) A vote of the electorate is thus required when changing a zone’s boundary or changing the zone of a property from one zone to another zone, but not to change densities for already allowed uses. Therefore, a vote of the electorate would not be required since, under Section 9.02 of the Charter, and its historical interpretation by the City Attorney, changes to the density within each zone do not require a vote of the electorate.

As noted in the City statement above, the use described by the zoning is totally omitted with the argument that density can be added to any zone without voter approval making all zones multi-family zoned.

The issue is one of great import as Piedmont voters are excluded from this monumental decision.

The City Council will consider this Charter issue on August 1. 2022.  Three of the City Council members are licensed members of the California Bar Association, Andersen, Long, and McCarthy.