Jun 21 2019

Fencing in Lower Dracena Park Quarry will be increased.

DRACENA PARK QUARRY FENCING PROJECT June 25th to June 28th

The grassy circle in Lower Dracena Park, site of the old Dracena rock quarry, has had an ongoing issue with rocks sliding off the walls of the former quarry onto the encircling walkway. Although potentially dangerous, children frequently find climbing on the unstable rock sides adventurous. 

The potential for rock slides has been known since Dracena Park was originally developed decades ago from a pond, old quarry, and City storage facility. 

Park goers have long noticed strong fencing intermittently  installed around the quarry sides placed to keep rocks from falling on those enjoying the park.  Existing fencing has proven to be insufficient, as rocks often cascade below onto the perimeter walkway.

The new fencing is being installed in rock slide areas to  further protect park visitors and prevent children from climbing on the dangerous rock sides.

The City of Piedmont will install safety fencing within certain areas of the Dracena Park quarry area between Tuesday, June 25th and Friday, June 28th. During this work, the quarry area will be closed for public use between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and barricades and signage will be in place during this time. The Tot Lot and all other areas of the park will remain open to all users while the quarry area is closed.

As with all construction projects, there may be periods of time when there will be noise and dust created. Best management practices will be in place to minimize impacts to nearby residents and park users. The City will be reserving the needed parking spaces for the contractor at the end of Artuna Ave.

If you have questions regarding this project or have special circumstances that the City should be aware of, please contact Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara at (510) 420-3061 or via email at cnakahara@piedmont.ca.gov. Thank you for your cooperation.

Chester G. Nakahara Director of Public Works

Posted: June 21, 2019

Jun 18 2019

Based on a plan developed by Piedmont residents William Blackwell and Chuck Oraftik in 2009-2010, the City has been pursuing enlargement of Coaches Field on Moraga Avenue across from Blair Park that will allow use by baseball, soccer, and other field sports. 

To enlarge the playing surface the new plan calls for cutting into the hillside located adjacent to the Corporation Yard at Red Rock Road and Moraga Avenue, adding night lighting, and increasing the number of available parking spaces.

To view the staff report and the concept plan for Coaches Field produced by Callander & Associates, click below:

06/17/19 – Receipt of a Report Regarding the Concept Plan for the Coaches Field Expansion by Callander & Associates

With the acceptance of the design concept by the City Council, environmental work is being sought.  Click below to read the Request for Proposals.

06/17/19 – Consideration of the Issuance of a Request for Proposals for CEQA Services for the Coaches Field Renovation Project

Jun 18 2019

The City of Piedmont will celebrate its 54th annual Independence Day Parade this year on Thursday, July 4, starting at 11 a.m. at the corner of Highland Avenue and Park Way ending at Piedmont Main Park.

Each year the community is invited to participate at no cost with neighborhood floats and entries from various community organizations. The Piedmont parade is unique for the appearance of several bagpipe bands in keeping with the city’s Scottish traditions, and with a rich array of dozens of antique and classic cars.

A Grand Marshal historically leads the parade, which is less than eight blocks, ending just past Piedmont Park. A festive community picnic is held in Piedmont Park following the parade, with music provided by Pride and Joy on the main stage.

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Preceding the parade, a Piedmont tradition, the Pancake Breakfast will be held from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM in the Veterans’ Hall. Join your friends and neighbors for a hearty breakfast before the parade begins! Tickets are available at the door or can be purchased in advance. 

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If your neighborhood is planning on holding an Independence Day block party, click to download the 4th of July Street Closure Request Form, which is due to the City Clerk’s Office no later than 5:00PM on Friday, June 28th.

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Please Be Considerate with Parade Chairs!

As the 4th of July Parade is nearing and residents are beginning to scout out the best viewing spots for the parade, residents are asked to be considerate of each other when placing chairs for parade viewing on Highland Avenue.

Specifically, be considerate when placing chairs in front of homes and businesses. Don’t block access from the street to the sidewalk, so people getting out of cars to visit their neighbors and local businesses can do so without fear of falling. Keep people in mind who have mobility issues when deciding where to place chairs.

Placing chairs on the sidewalk next to Bus Stops is not allowed. It will block people who are trying to use AC Transit to get around and could block the handicapped lift.

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All are invited to the pancake breakfast, 54th Annual July 4th Parade, and the party in Piedmont Main Park!

Questions? Contact Piedmont Recreation Department at:

Cora Wood, Administrative Assistant

prd@piedmont.ca.gov

(510) 420-3070

Jun 18 2019

Goats For Fire Load Reduction

The City of Piedmont has retained the services of some highly trained, four legged grass-eaters to reduce the fire load on City property near Coaches Field, the skate park, and the Corporation Yard. They will begin work on June 15th.

Photo of Goats!

If you are in the area, please do not feed the goats, they are not pets and aren’t friendly. Also, please do not touch the fencing, it is electrified.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Piedmont Fire Department at (510)420‐3030.


May 16 2019

City Administrator Paul Benoit describes Piedmont’s financial state.

“Piedmont’s financial position, year over year, can be described as ‘STABLE’ at best.”

Maintaining stability requires significant discipline and focus and we have done a good job of it. In recent years we have been working hard to look beyond simply maintaining stable services, and have been exploring opportunities to meet the needs of the future and to improve both the quality and delivery of services. Piedmont is facing, and will continue to face, significant and costly challenges that will need to be addressed – and most are related to the condition of public facilities and infrastructure.

Relative to the City Budget and our ability to make needed investments, it is important to recognize that Piedmont’s General Fund is dominated by property-related taxes, which make up nearly 70% of total revenue. Property based taxes are fairly predictable, with the exception of the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

Because City revenue is derived primarily from property related taxes we are able to make long-term budget projections with a good degree of confidence; additionally, it limits our exposure to the risks associated with significant swings in revenue, such as those experienced by cities heavily reliant on sales taxes.

On the downside we have little ability to increase revenue to the City’s General Fund in any meaningful way — absent voter-approved increases in the rate of the Municipal Services Special Tax, also known as the Parcel Tax, or in the Transfer Tax.

For these reasons, we very purposely:

  •  focus on the delivery of basic services and core programs;
  •  budget carefully and conservatively; and
  •  work diligently to safeguard our financial position by mitigating, to the extent possible, the impact of rising expenses which the City has little control over – particularly CalPERS related benefit costs which constitute an unfunded liability of just over $25 million.

On this latter point, the Council has proactively established a program of pension cost-sharing with employees and has curtailed retiree medical benefits for new hires.  These two initiatives, taken together, slowed the growth rate of our Underfunded Liabilities and will save the City millions of dollars in benefit-related expenses over the years to come.

Another significant action to buffer the effects of rising pension costs was the establishment of a Pension Rate Stabilization Fund, also known as a Section 115 Irrevocable Trust Fund, with the Public Agency Retirement Services – or PARS.

To date, the City Council has approved a total transfer of $2.75 million to PARS from the General Fund. One key benefit of this initiative is that funds deposited with PARS may achieve higher earnings due to less restrictive investment policies than apply to City funds invested in Local Agency Investment Fund.

As a result of the CalPERS decision to reduce the planned rate of return (Discount Rate), the City’s annual pension contributions are projected to increase from the current $2.2 million (7.5% of City revenue) to $5.5 million (13.3 % of City revenue) by 2029. This equates to a cost increase of approximately 132%, while City revenue over this same 10 year period is estimated to increase by only 35%.

As soon as 2023, and potentially continuing through 2031, the increase in mandatory pension contributions is projected to result in General Fund expenses exceeding revenue. When we face these net-negative revenue years, the City will be in a position to stabilize the General Fund by drawing down on its PARS account to pay pension costs.

Overall, prior City Councils and the current Council, working together with staff, have applied wisdom in managing the City’s limited financial resources. Piedmont now has a modest Reserve of just under $5 million, which represents 17% of our operating budget. Absent a catastrophic event, that amount should be of significant help in responding to an emergency or addressing unforeseen circumstances.

While there are no established policies to guide what constitutes “reasonable”, the reserve for the City of Piedmont is restricted by the City Charter to no more than 25% of the Operating Budget.

To put our City’s reserve in perspective, at the end of last fiscal year Emeryville, with a population similar to Piedmont’s, maintained a reserve of $30.3 million, which equates to approximately 76% of their General Fund; Albany’s was $8.8 million, which is 45% of their General Fund; Berkeley had a reserve of $84 million or 55% of their General Fund; and Oakland’s was approximately $150 million or 24% of their General Fund.

In addition to maintaining a modest reserve, the City has been making consistent, long-needed transfers to the Facilities Maintenance and Equipment Replacement Funds, and has also made much needed investments in our IT Systems, with a goal of bringing our use of technology into the modern era.

At the start of this Fiscal Year the Equipment Replacement Fund is projected to have a balance of $2.75 million – which, assuming we continue to make the planned annual transfers from the General Fund, should be sufficient to address the schedule for equipment replacement into the future.

The Facilities Maintenance Fund is projected to have a balance at the start of the year of only $4.8 million. This amount is far short of what is required to address accessibility, life-safety, life- cycle, and efficiency issues of our city’s facilities and property.

Piedmont’s facilities, like so many of the homes in Piedmont, are old and expensive to maintain. While aesthetically pleasing, most of our facilities are in need of significant repair and renovation.

On the whole, our community facilities and infrastructure have been kept largely functional, but it is time to devote the attention and investment necessary to meet community needs, let alone current safety or accessibility standards.

  •  Miles of sidewalks and pathways are in poor condition, and our City Engineer has estimated that we could spend on the order of $11 million on sidewalk and trail repair alone.
  •  To keep the Pavement Condition Index of our streets from deteriorating will require an estimated annual paving expenditure of approximately $1.5 million – up from the current $1 million – and this is assuming a competitive bid environment. As you know, the Engineer’s estimate for the repaving of Magnolia Avenue was $1.3 million. The sole bid submitted was for $1.7 million. So, the estimated $1.5 million required to maintain the condition of our streets could actually have increased to $2 million or more.
  •  The Veterans Hall and Recreation Building are virtually in the same condition and configuration as when they were originally built 50 to 100 years ago. Bringing them to where they should be would require an estimated investment of $6 to 7 million.
  •  The Community Pool cannot remain open much longer without substantial investment. While short-term fixes may postpone the eventual closing, safety issues are significant and the pool is losing an estimated 1 million gallons of water per year via unidentified leaks. Based on the recently completed Aquatics Master Plan, the cost of a modern and safe facility that meets community needs is estimated at between $12 million and $15 million.

Our beloved City Hall has significant needs rarely seen by the public. Low, open ceilings with exposed wires, water intrusion during storms, fire safety and accessibility issues are just a few of the problems.

At times, I hear comments asserting that the City does not have the space needed to support our programs. The fact is we have the “space”. We just need to make the investment needed to address the efficiency, functionality and accessibility issues that limit program opportunities as well as use by staff, the very young, and seniors.

The bottom line fact is that many of our facilities and amenities are inefficient, have significant condition issues limiting usage, and are not where they should be relative to life, safety, and accessibility standards – let alone to where they should be for a community like Piedmont.

Like the School District’s initiatives to invest in modernizing the Elementary Schools and High School to meet 21st Century needs, it is time to apply a similar focus to improving our City facilities and infrastructure.

In recent years, under the leadership of the City Council and with the support of city staff, there has been the political and organizational will to take a fresh and realistic look at our facilities and systems and to make the initial investment needed to develop a clear understanding of the issues and the opportunities for improvement.

While we have been doing the work necessary to develop that understanding—- the reality is that the City’s financial position, in the best of times, will only support an incremental approach to completing the work that needs to be done.

Unfortunately, for many facilities, an incremental approach will not get us to where we need to be.

To summarize:

Maintaining the current condition of our street paving, addressing unsafe sidewalks and pathways, and implementing priority pedestrian and bicycle safety projects will cost an estimated $23 million.

Factoring in the Recreation Building and the basement of City Hall adds up to $7 million. To address the pool and Veterans Hall, add another $17 million. Linda Beach Park improvements are estimated to cost $7 million. Improving Coaches Field could cost up to $4 million. All together these projects total $58 million.

Looking to the future, barring a natural disaster, bringing our facilities and civic infrastructure into the 21st century will be the City’s biggest challenge and greatest opportunity for the betterment of the Piedmont community.

With attention and investment our facilities can continue to serve the community for another 100 years. Doing what has to be done will take time, focus, persistence, vision and leadership. To our good fortune, we have all the right people in place, with the right mix of vision and talent, to meet these challenges.

Paul Benoit, Piedmont City Administrator

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 12 2019

On Saturday, May 18, at 10:00 a.m., the Public Works Department will host a walk on Magnolia Avenue to discuss the 47 liquidambar trees which are slated to be removed as a part of the 2018 Pavement Project.

The walk will begin at 10:00 am at the intersection of Hillside and Magnolia Avenues and will move down the length of the street. Neighbors and interested residents are invited to attend and join in conversation with city staff, the City Engineer, and the independent arborist who evaluated the trees.

When approving the 2018 Pavement Project, the City Council directed staff to, “…work with neighbors on Magnolia Avenue who are impacted by street tree removal to consider whether engineering and/or other accommodations can be made to preserve additional trees on this street.” This walk-through is being conducted to provide neighbors with an opportunity to share their feedback, which will be reviewed by staff and the City Engineer.

Below is a plan that identifies the trees reviewed in the arborist report and the trees proposed to be removed. 


For further information, contact Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara at 420-3061 or via email at cnakahara@piedmont.ca.gov.

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READ the detailed staff and Arborist report on tree removal for Magnolia Avenue by clicking below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/publicworks/docs/2019-05-01-magnolia-tree-report.pdf

May 12 2019

Recreation Commission Meeting Agenda Wednesday, May 15, 2019 7:30 p.m.

Open to the public and broadcast live.

City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

  1. Approval of Minutes – April 25, 2019
  2. Chair’s Report
  3. Director’s Report
  4. Report from Subcommittee on Skateboarding and Scootering
  5. Update on PMS PE Court Renovation Project
  6. Update on Recreation Center Tennis Court Renovations and PRFO Fundraising
  7. Update on Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee (CIP)
  8. Update on City Website
  9. Betty C. Howard Award – June 4th 6:30pm

READ THE AGENDA, SUBCOMMITTEE REPORT, AND  PRIOR MEETING DRAFT MINUTES > May 2019 Recreation Commission Packet

May 10 2019

CIP Recommendations: Yes to improvements for Piedmont Middle School courts for pickleball usage, license plate readers at all Piedmont entrances, drinking fountain in Piedmont Main Park for dogs and people – No to Blair Park and Witter Field improvements. 

The CIP Review Committee recommendations will be discussed as part of the Piedmont Proposed FY 19-20 Budget Presentation and Workshop Saturday, May 11,  9 am Piedmont Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

CIP Review Committee recommendations with respect to the 9 new 2019-20 resident proposals can be summarized as follows:

The following 3 proposals can move forward with City Council support:

-Renovation of PMS Hard-courts
-Installation of ALPRs at Piedmont Entrances
-Installation of a drinking fountain (for humans and dogs) in Piedmont Park

The following 3 proposals are recommended as meritorious but requiring additional study from public safety and/or public works:

-Two related Wildwood Gardens proposals
-Development of a landscape triangle at Blair and Calvert Court

The following 3 proposals are determined to need direction from City Council:

 – Blair Park proposals for donated fencing and parking improvements

 – Two related Witter Field proposals

READ the agenda below for the Council Budget Work Session when the Council will consider all CIP proposals and department budgets:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/agendas/2019-05-11_special.pdf

READ the full CIP Review Report for 2019 below:

CIPreviewreport 2019

Minutes, broadcasts, and recordings were not made of any of the CIP Review meetings.  Staff reports were not publicized. 

Recordings and broadcast will not be made of the Saturday, May 11, 2019 Council Budget Workshop held at 403 Highland Avenue in the Emergency Operations Center of the Piedmont Police Department.  The public is welcome to attend and participate.

 

READ the full staff 2019-20 Budget recommendations including fees, permits, salaries, benefits, use of City property, tax rates, personnel, etc. – http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/finance/budget/19-20/19-20_budget.shtml

Apr 28 2019

The Piedmont Park Commission will meet on Wednesday, May 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and on the City’s website.

Park Commission Agenda for May 1:

  1. Approval of Park Commission Minutes for April 3, 2019
  2. Receipt of a Report on Magnolia Avenue Tree Assessment
  3. Update on Lower Grand Avenue Triangle and Median Landscape Improvements
  4. Consideration of New Trash, Recycle, and Green Waste Containers for Outdoor Public Spaces
  5. Update on Hall Fenway Spring Plantings
  6. Update on Arbor Day 2019
  7. Monthly Maintenance Report: Park, Open Space, and Street Tree Update for the Month of April, 2019

READ the full agenda, minutes, and reports below:

FINAL-Park Commission Agenda-May 1, 2019

Apr 19 2019

At the April 3, 2019 Piedmont Park Commission meeting­, Nancy Scott from the Piedmont Garden Club and Chairperson of their Civic Projects program, presented Mayor Bob McBain and Park Commission Chairperson Betsy Goodman with a generous donation of $5,000 to be used towards installing new light strings in the courtyard of the Piedmont Community Hall in Main Park.

Nancy Scott, Mayor Bob McBain, and Park Commission Chairperson Betsy Goodman

The City is in the process of upgrading the electrical controls for the exterior pole lights at the Community Hall. When Phase 1 of the lighting improvements is completed, the City will start Phase 2 and will be  working with lighting consultant Thomas Skradski of Lumen Works and the Electrical Contractor, Mark Schulkamp of Mark W. Schulkamp Electric Co. to design and install new light strings that will be suspended from the four pole lights in the courtyard. The pole lights will be designed to accommodate the new string lights. Once the new string lights are installed, the courtyard illumination will offer an option with the new, festive string lights.

The Piedmont Garden Club on April 18tharranged for members and friends to deadhead the hundreds of daffodils in Blair Park.

From left to right: Sharon Hom, Mary Wood, Sandy Hagglund and Nancy Scott.

The Piedmont Garden Club https://www.piedmontgardenclub.org/  has a long history of contributing their time and generous donations to the City of Piedmont.

Double click on photos to enlarge.