Nov 20 2017

On November 13, 2017, I attended the Piedmont Planning Commission which meets on the second Monday of each month. On this particular date, the purpose was to discuss the laws regarding marijuana use in Piedmont, as well as to discuss plans for various homes in Piedmont.

The first big issue discussed regarded marijuana regulations in Piedmont. Kevin Jackson, Planning Director, led the discussion. Jackson expressed his desire to minimize recreational and medical use of marijuana and cannabis products in Piedmont. In an effort to maintain Piedmont’s control over the distribution and agricultural growing of the product, Jackson suggested regulations.

Jackson proposed that cannabis products could not be delivered between 9 AM and 7 PM. He also recommended that “marked cars”–automobiles that display that they are cannabis delivery vehicles– be required for deliveries of cannabis.

After Jackson finished speaking, Commissioner Susan Ode added her agreement with these regulations. She also mentioned that other forms of distribution, such as drone delivery, should be addressed in order to limit potential loopholes. The Commissioners discussed and voted, ratifying Jackson’s ordinance to regulate the time and method of delivery of cannabis.  The Commission’s recommendation on the ordinance will be sent to the City Council for their consideration.

The second large issue revolved around a review of a design for a home at 47 Fairview Avenue. The owner of the home, Elliot Brown, wished to increase the height of the home so that his family could have a home better suited for their growing children; he stated that a raised house would also create a stronger “indoor to outdoor flow.”

Eric Behrens, Planning Commissioner, expressed his lack of support for the project due to Piedmont’s desire to maintain the old architecture.

Brown’s neighbor, Dale Turner, offered his thoughts on why he is against the project. Turner mentioned his concern for the height of the home, as the new design would compromise the privacy and take natural sunlight from his residence. In addition, Turner was worried about having the value of his home decrease because of having this large home near the property line.

The last neighbor to add his thoughts was Rick Schiller. Schiller had similar thoughts as Turner, mentioning how the added story of Brown’s home could be invasive to the privacy of the neighbors. He also added that if this project were to be accepted, an undesired precedent would be set that could potentially allow passage of future proposals that would adversely affect neighbors. As an alternative, Schiller suggested that Brown look into expanding his home horizontally or downwards.

The proposal was denied by the Planning Commission.

My personal opinion is that the Planning Commision correctly denied the plan. This plan would potentially invade neighbors’ privacy as well as decrease the value of the nearby homes. There should be a way for Brown to expand the size of his home without obstructing his neighbors light and privacy.

I spoke out during the meeting at the very beginning. I suggested that a sign of some sort should be placed near a road next to my street, Prospect Avenue, to help decrease the danger of cars speeding at a place of poor visibility. The street is so steep that it is nearly impossible to see up or down it when driving. The Planning Commissioners said that they would think about the suggestion and thanked me for my contribution.

I interviewed Dale Turner. A transcript of the interview is below.

Why are you here? What difficulties and problems brought you here? What did you learn? What is your reaction to the meeting?

“I am here to oppose the plans for the remodel of the home at 47 Fairview Avenue because of the design including increasing the mass of the home to such a degree that it would decrease privacy and light in my home. I learned that prior to proposing a remodel, an individual should attempt to inform and get the approval of the neighbors so that the plan will have a higher chance of being accepted. I am satisfied with the decision of the Planning Commission.”

What next step will you take to get your particular concern addressed?

“There is not a next step for me to take, but my neighbor will be responsible for coming up with a new plan that will be accepted by me and the rest of the neighbors.”

by Will Richmond, Piedmont High School Senior

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On November 13th, 2017, I attended the Piedmont Planning Commission meeting at City Hall, which meets on the second Monday of each month. The purpose of the meeting was to cover the proposed revisions of Proposition 64, which legalizes the adult use of recreational marijuana, and discuss proposed housing in Piedmont.

The Planning Commission’s first major issue pertained to the marijuana regulations. Kevin Jackson, Planning Director, expressed concern for the fate of Piedmont as a result of Proposition 64.  Jackson fears that Piedmont’s reputation as a safe community will be tainted as a result of marijuana legalization. Since cannabis would ultimately become more prevalent in Piedmont, Jackson is concerned that children in the community would be more likely to take in the second hand smoke. In order for Piedmont to regulate the distribution of the product, Jackson proposed that cannabis products not be sold between 9AM and 7PM. To better inform Piedmont residents, Jackson believes that cannabis delivery vehicles should be required to be marked clearly so one can be aware where cannabis is being delivered.Additionally, Jackson stated that a person should not be able to have more than seven cannabis plants in the home.

Edwin Wang, a Piedmont High School student in attendance, suggested that the Commission replace the word “marijuana” with “cannabis,” since cannabis is a broader term that covers more products. After discussion, Jackson’s proposals were ratified.

I agree with Kevin Jackson’s argument, because I believe it would be in our town’s best interest to do everything it can to reduce the prevalence of cannabis. Proposition 64 will harm our community, because some minors will be able to pass as 18, which will result in the distribution to middle and high school kids. Reducing the availability of cannabis is the right decision, if Piedmont truly cares about the investments in children’s futures.

The other major issue addressed was the proposed design of 47 Fairview Avenue. Elliot Brown, the homeowner, spoke about his plan to create a home to meet the needs of his family by adding another story to the home. Mr. Brown would like to increase the height of his home because he wants to move rooms away from the kitchen due to food scents.

A member of the Planning Commission, Eric K. Behrens, expressed his unwillingness to support the design due to the Piedmont tradition of preserving original architectural heritage. The architect, Bill Holland, had a compelling argument for increasing the height of the home since the front of the house is uninhabitable due to its low 6’8’’ ceilings.

A neighbor of Elliot Brown, Michelle Turner, was easily able to counter this argument because the proposed design would allow the neighbors to see directly into their third story. This would affect the Turner’s house because the window curtains would always need to be shut for privacy, and when not closed the light from Mr. Brown’s window would reflect back into their home.

After hearing both sides of the argument, Commissioner Susan Ode along with the other Commissioners rejected the proposed design due to its inconsistency with Piedmont patterns and disturbance to the neighbors.

I interviewed Dale Turner, husband of Michelle Turner.

Why are you here? What difficulties and problems brought you here? What did you learn? What is your reaction?

  • “I am here to oppose the application of plans for the neighbor’s remodel. The design mass caused a privacy issue and blocked light. I learned that anybody should inform neighbors of plans before bringing it to the City for approval. My reaction from tonight is that I am satisfied with the decisions of the Planning Commission.”

What is your name?

  • “Dale Turner.”

What is the next step you will take to get your concern addressed?

  • “It is not up to me, the neighbors are responsible for coming up with a new plan that would be approved by the neighbors.”

I spoke and advised that the City should place a stop sign at the bottom of my street at the corner of Crest and Hampton Avenues. This should be a high priority because taking an unprotected left up Crest is extremely dangerous as a driver cannot see oncoming traffic, since it is at the top of a hill. Therefore, in order to turn left onto my street, drivers must essentially guess whether it is an appropriate time to turn. Once I stated my case, the Commission thanked me and I sat down.

by Max Bekes, Piedmont High School Senior

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On Monday, November 13th, the City of Piedmont Planning Commission held a meeting in Piedmont City Hall from 5PM to approximately 7PM.

The meeting began with the standard call to order, leading into a review of the items on the agenda before the Public Forum, in which people may introduce items not on the agenda in order to address the Planning Commission directly. After two Piedmont High School students proposed stop signs in different intersections, which the Planning Commission planned to pass on to the Public Works Department, the meeting’s regular agenda proceeded.

The first item on the agenda was the “consideration of an ordinance revising the land use regulations in the City Code Chapter 17 relating to cannabis” in order to address recent state legislation.

California had recently passed new laws regarding cannabis and the City of Piedmont planned to change the terms used in its ordinances to match the terminology used in state legislation.

A Piedmont High School student spoke on the issue, expressing concern that cannabis was essentially a euphemism for marijuana and requesting that it remain noted in the ordinance that cannabis is the same as marijuana, the Planning Commission responded noting that the only difference between the two was one being a broader term encompassing other forms of cannabis rather than just marijuana to be smoked.

Five other items were on the agenda in which various permits were to be reviewed, each had their own issues and some had neighbors, residents, and architects speak on the behalf of proposals. The applications for permits were regarding construction of various changes to homes including variances, designs and fences.

Oftentimes, the issues of privacy was a major concern, as when one neighbor raises the height of their home, they may block the amount of sunlight on another home and possibly give a direct view into rooms such as master bedrooms and bathrooms. Another potential issue in the approval of a permit was the definition of an uninhabitable space versus a habitable space and how it may have been possible to modify one into the other quite easily.

During one of the considerations, the designers were attempting to make it quite clear that a space was supposed to be made habitable.  However, the Planning Commission noted the ease in which one might change one from the other, changing the home in a drastic way that would be a problem for the Commission.

One such petition included a homeowner who could not make the meeting, and so, on their behalf, only those they had hired spoke.

In an interview of Bill Holland and John Hardgrove following another application in which their request for a permit was denied, they stated their careers oftentimes included presenting such applications to cities in order to do work. Although their application had been denied, they expressed their motivation to continue working and pointed out the homeowner’s willingness to talk to their neighbors, prior to presenting a new application.

When the meeting concluded, many stayed around after the meeting to discuss their next course of action, as well as many homeowners talking to their neighbors about their concerns about the changes to homes. Hopefully, these homes will, in a safe and unobtrusive way, successfully get their desired remodeling and make Piedmont a better, and safer, place for the community to thrive.

by Edwin Wang, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Nov 19 2017

The City Council will convene a Special Meeting in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue, which will begin in open session at 5:45 p.m., Monday, November 20, 2017.

  1. At 5:45 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, Interview of Candidates for the Recreation Commission Vacancy to be Followed by Possible Appointment to the Posted Vacancy (Interviews and appointment consideration are open to the public.)
  2.  At 7:00 p.m. Closed Session in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue for CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATORS (Govt. Code §54957.6) Agency Designated Representative(s): Janae Novotny  (This item is not open to the public.)  All Represented Labor Groups: (Piedmont Firefighters Assn; Piedmont Police Officers Assn; SEIU Local 1021 (General and Public Works Units). Unrepresented Employees: City Administrator; City Clerk; Finance Director; Confidential Employees; Public Works Director; Professional, Technical & Supervisory Employees; Planning Director Parks & Project Manager; Building Official; Police Chief; Police Captain; Police Support Services Commander; Fire Chief; Fire Captains; Recreation Director; Recreation/Childcare Employees)

At 7:30 p.m. – Regular City Council Meeting, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

 AGENDA :  November 20, 2017 < Click for Special & Regular Meeting Agenda – Items are open for public input.

To read the staff reports, click on the underlined reports below:

Private Underground Utility Districts’ Bond Refinancing – 

11/20/17 – 2nd Reading of Ordinance 736 N.S., Authorizing a Refinancing of Limited Obligation Bonds Related to Undergrounding Assessment Districts

Mosquito Abatement District Appointment

Nov 19 2017

Piedmont Climate Action Plan Meeting – Students provide input! 

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, I attended a Piedmont Climate Action Plan meeting at the community hall, led by the Piedmont Climate Action Task Force.  This meeting was to discuss the second Piedmont Climate Action Plan.

Presenters, included City Council members and representatives from clean energy companies, spoke in detail about what Climate Action Plan #2 and the intent to reduce Piedmont’s fossil fuel emissions by 40% by 2030. Additionally, Piedmont’s progress towards this goal was reported, as positive.  The continuation of a multitude of methods to reach goals were presented. Methods included reducing transportation emissions through carpooling and converting housing and transportation systems into clean energy (“electrifying”).

“Putting Action Into Climate Action” was a large topic discussed during the meeting. Many speakers emphasized cultural change in Piedmont, and encouraging members to make changes in their behavior in order to reduce the town’s emissions. One speaker mentioned the option of walking to the bus stop every morning instead of driving, even though it requires 15 more minutes, and how choosing this would make a large difference.

Audience members were also allowed to participate, but minimally for the sake of time. It was apparent that attendees wished for more discussion time, as people occasionally talked over each other in expressing their opinions. I also noticed that some attendees felt somewhat defensive when learning of staggering, embarrassing statistics.

When a graph was presented of Piedmont’s electricity use, it was revealed that our town uses three times the amount of natural gas as the average PG&E customer, and that our carbon footprint is twice the size of Oakland’s. Many audience members picked apart the graph and questioned the source, bringing up the fact that statistics like these are easy to pose on Piedmont because of our average income.

Though it may be true that Piedmont is stereotyped into being excessive because of wealth, I interpreted these responses to be defensive. It is true that not all Piedmonters are excessive in their gas and electricity use, but I do believe that all Piedmonters must at least check themselves in their environmental habits. Defensive attitudes like these will keep people from even checking to see if the stereotype of being excessive is at least a little bit true. It takes extreme statistics and statements like these to make people really question themselves, and if people do so, many will realize that they can cut down on transportation or energy use.

At the end of the presentations, audience members were sorted into discussion groups with Climate Action Plan Task Force Committee members. I was put into a group with two other students and three adults. We discussed matters such as where used water ends up, how to make drastic changes in lifestyles we are used to, and how the schools have been taking up green education.

I interviewed one of the adults, Jen Cavenaugh, about her attendance at the meeting. She is a City Council member, and a PHS parent. Cavenaugh was at the meeting because as a City Council member, she wanted to gauge the community feedback on the Climate Action Plan. She kept mentioning the importance of community involvement, otherwise it would only be “worth what’s on pen and paper.” In other words, all the planning at the multiple meetings would mean nothing, if the community was not completely enthusiastic for the plan. It pleased me to hear her say that at the meeting she realized how “thoughtful and engaged” Piedmont students are.  She was hopeful in the fact that “students can change families.”  According to Cavenaugh, the next step to getting the community involved is organizing events such as a community-wide competition that could be block by block, or an education campaign.

I agree with Cavenaugh about the importance of community involvement, because members of Piedmont are very capable and outspoken when passionate. If the community became as passionate as the people at the meeting, a massive difference would be made

Unfortunately, because of limited time at the meeting, I did not have the opportunity to speak to the whole group. However, in my discussion group at the end, I mentioned my opinion of how environmental classes should be required at Piedmont and Millennium High Schools, as they are at the Middle School. I believe this is one of the best ways to make a change.

My personal experience with an environmental class is important to mention: I took AP Environmental Science (APES) last year and came out with a new lens through which to see the world. Because of my new deep understanding of how the environment works with a multitude of topics, I realized the amount of fixing that needs to be done on this planet. I am now inspired to stand up for the environment in as many ways as possible– even if it is a small gesture. For example, I learned about the impact of air pollution on disastrous weather, and it inspires me to make a change in my lifestyle: to replace at least one car ride a week with a walk, and to eat less beef.

Furthermore, I studied trees in APES: how to identify them by their subtle characteristics and Latin name. Though tree identification seems like a small, useless skill, it has opened my mind to see the beauty of the world, and it makes me more passionate to save and take care of it. I realize that only the students who choose to take APES as their elective have the opportunity to open their mind up like me. If all students took APES, we would have an entire student body with that mentality, and we could change the world by storm.

I am glad that I attended this meeting, not only because I learned that many members of Piedmont are quite active in climate change, but also because my fervor for making a change in the world was replenished. It was mentioned that methods of achieving Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan 2 will not be presented to the City Council until December or January. I hope to be there when it is presented so I can show my support.

by Kay Sibal, Piedmont High School Senior

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    On November 7th, the Piedmont Climate Action Task Force Committee held a meeting at the Piedmont Community Hall. The meeting’s purpose was to inform community members of Piedmont’s proposed, new Climate Action Plan and future endeavors regarding green initiatives in the community.

    Since the beginning of 2017, the Climate Action Task Force Committee has scheduled monthly meetings for ideas on how to reduce Piedmont’s carbon emissions. The main product of the meetings is the Climate Action Plan 2.0. It’s a revamped version of a past climate initiative proposing ambitious changes. The plan boasts a projected 20% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2040 and an 80% reduction by 2050. The committee’s membership is comprised of community members, scientific heads of industry, and devoted climate activists.

The Committee and participants have created unique solutions toward Piedmont’s emission trend.

    The presentation began with Mr. Christopher Jones, a UC Berkeley research associate and the Cool Climate Networks Program Director, presenting Piedmont’s footprint in recent years. Jones presented the majority of information on Piedmont’s footprint. He showed how energy consumption’s been broken up and where the most wasteful are. Jones introduced the Cool California Challenge, “a competition between California cities to reduce household carbon footprints” and a few people were genuinely receptive to it. During the presentation a man asked, whether Jones’s data was specific to Piedmont or if it was modeled and if so how. Jones stopped his presentation to answer, explaining how the numbers were modeled after similar cities in size, wealth, and tendency to Piedmont and that he could say with some certainty that the numbers are quite fitting. The majority of community members holding doubt, were satisfied with this response. As well as Jones’s presentation, a few other Climate Action Committee members spoke.

    Ms. Margaret Ovenden, Ms. Sarah Moe, and City Council member Tim Rood, all spoke on the issue as well, and shed additional light on various parts. Ms. Ovenden spoke more specifically about how Piedmont is heading towards electricity. She explained how, in time, all of our energy will come from electricity because it’s the most sustainable source. Many times, she reiterated the term “electrification.”

   Then, Council member Rood spoke about the current East Bay Community Energy plan set to go into action over the next few years. He explained how implementation would work seamlessly and potentially save Piedmont residents some money. He outlined specifically the 75% green plan as well as the 100% green plan and the implications of both. Rood added how the city would  buy the energy initially from plants and citizens would then buy it back from the city at a cheaper price, effectively removing PG&E from the equation.

    Finally, Ms. Sarah Moe spoke about specific appliances that would dramatically impact electricity usage in the home. She enlightened the participants on types of heaters, how they work, and which are most sustainable and efficient for the home. The presentation ended around 8:30 p.m. with time for each attending member to find their way into a small group.

    Mr. Cody Harrison, a member of the staff, spoke briefly with me afterward about his feeling on the meeting. First, he gave me his background working with Americorps and explaining his civic passion after completing college. The conversation progressed through his motivation to become sustainable. As for the meeting, he said, “of all things, I am proud to see the EBCE transition being received really well, and having so many people turn out to see it.”  Harrison is confident about the future of the plan and Piedmont’s trend in carbon emissions taking an overall decline.

by John Jogopulos, Piedmont High School Senior

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On Tuesday November 7th, the Climate Action Plan Task Force hosted a workshop at Piedmont Community Hall. The Climate Action Plan Task Force has met monthly since March to advise staff and Piedmont citizens about improvements and updates to Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). Piedmont’s CAP was completed in 2010 and has goals all the way through 2020. The CAP consists of measures that Piedmont residents, business owners, and schools can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Piedmont.

The meeting started off with Sarah Isabel Moe introducing what will be discussed such as updates to Piedmont’s CAP. One of the main updates was that Piedmont residents will be automatically switched from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to the East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

After the introduction, Chris Jones of University of California, Berkeley gave a presentation about the sources Piedmont’s Carbon Dioxide emissions compared to that of the United States and Oakland. Jones presented this information through graphs found on coolcalifornia.org. In the United States, motor fuel is the biggest source of CO2 and electricity production comes second. In Piedmont, vehicle emissions are the biggest source of CO2, but air travel comes in at second. Jones explained that Piedmont has a smaller carbon footprint than the national average when it comes to electricity because many Piedmont houses have little heating and no cooling along with utilizing solar panels.

After showing graphs, Jones proceeded with showing a color coded map of the Bay Area; the redder the color, the larger carbon footprint. Unfortunately, Piedmont was a big, red dot. To reduce Piedmont’s carbon footprint, Jones suggested that residents replace their cars with electric ones, use solar heat pumps to decrease natural gas emissions, focus on local services, and reduce meat and dairy consumption.

Shortly after Jones’s presentation, Council member Tim Rood spoke about Piedmont’s upcoming switch from PG&E to EBCE. EBCE is an electricity company that will buy electricity on the market and will sell it to Piedmont. Rood explained how the consumer still will have many choices with EBCE and will spend the same amount of money as they did for PG&E. In fact, EBCE might be cheaper than PG&E. In addition to all of this, adopting EBCE in Piedmont homes will reduce Piedmont’s greenhouse gases. In 2018, all Piedmont residents will be automatically enrolled for EBCE, but may opt out and stay with PG&E. This automatic enrollment will make it more likely for people to stay with EBCE since it will be more work to opt out of it.

Sarah Isabel Moe came up to speak one more time about what residents can do in their own homes to reduce their carbon footprint. The presentation started off with a picture of a triangle with four terms: reduce demand, electrify, increase resilience, and 100% renewable. Piedmont has some of the oldest homes, which calls for renovations for becoming more green.

Moe emphasized the importance and benefits of installing heat pumps. Heat pumps basically take heat or cold out of the air and can work both as a heater or as an air conditioning unit. Installing heat pumps will be cheap in the long run and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moe also talked about how residents should think about installing solar rooftops. If every Piedmont house had a solar rooftop, it would be very beneficial to the environment and greatly reduce Piedmont’s carbon footprint. She also suggested that people switch to using electric cars if they haven’t already, since motor fuel is the greatest source of CO2 in the United States and Piedmont.

The presentations brought a lot of questions and comments, but only three people were allowed to speak. The first was a man who was concerned with Piedmont’s electrification. He asked that since electrifying is going to use about 2.5 times as much electricity, where is it going to come from? Jones answered that along with using more electricity, Piedmont should invest in more storage and build resiliency.

The second person to speak up was a Piedmont High School student who asked what teenagers can do since they don’t have much influence on their parents. The response was that there should be a formal engagement program where teens and adults can discuss how to be more environmentally conscious and that teens should push their parents to help the environment.

Lastly, another PHS student made a short speech about how there should be more green education in high school and students should be encouraged to walk to school instead of drive because she knows people who drive to school when they are completely able to walk. Her speech resulted in applause and nods of approval.

After the presentations and questions, everyone was broken up into groups to discuss what else residents can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Our discussion facilitator worked on how to use less water and talked about how it takes energy to move water up to Piedmont since Piedmont’s water comes from below. People input ideas on how to use less water like saving the cold water that comes from the shower when waiting for it to warm up.

We also discussed how the school should have more mandatory classes and electives so students can become more aware of global warming and the environment. My classmates and I also brought up how the high school should have more environmental clubs such as a vegan club. Someone else suggested that people should plant more native plants and that there should be a law banning the use of sprinklers during a drought since Piedmont seems to have a problem with that.

It was great to be an active citizen and hear and discuss ideas on how to make Piedmont a more environmentally conscious city.

Afterwards, I was able to interview Pam Hirtzer, a resident of Piedmont. Hirtzer has gone to many Climate Action meetings in the past and is part of CCL. She has been interested in climate change for fifteen years. To help the environment, Hirtzer is planning on buying an electric vehicle to replace her gas powered car. Before the meeting, Hirtzer didn’t know anything about the future switch from PG&E to EBCE, but said she thinks “it’s a great idea”.

Attending this meeting was very enlightening because, like Hirtzer, I didn’t know anything about the new environmental plans for Piedmont. I think what the Task Force is planning is going to be very beneficial to the environment and will definitely reduce Piedmont’s carbon footprint.

However, there are more things Piedmont residents should be doing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. I think that since air travel is a large source of CO2 in Piedmont, people should be more aware of how damaging frequent traveling can be to the environment. I’m not saying that people should limit their traveling, but that they should know the harmful effects of it and maybe plan a trip somewhere reachable by car since the West Coast has so many great vacation spots. I also think that Piedmont has a big sprinkler problem and that there should be some type of law implemented to limit how people use sprinklers.

by Brina Bodnar, Piedmont High School Senior

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    I attended the Climate Action Plan (CAP) Task Force meeting on November 7th from 7:30 to 9:10 p.m. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Piedmont Climate Action Plan 2.0, which outlines what steps need to be taken in order to meet the goal of 80% less emissions than 2005 by 2050.

    At the meeting, we also reviewed what improvements and changes have already been made, and what more can be done. The CAP Committee meets much more frequently by themselves than they do with the public. This public forum/informational meeting was to receive feedback from citizens, and answer questions about what the CAP will mean for lifestyle in Piedmont.

    One of the main topics of discussion was Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to the Bay Area, and the country. Piedmont, being a largely residential, wealthy community, had staggeringly higher emissions from transportation and energy than many other cities in the Bay Area and the country.

   Piedmont is doing well at composting and recycling compared to the rest of the United States, but the recycling of paper and food waste does not offset the emissions from transportation and energy. Piedmont has a huge emission from transportation because many families own more than one car, and many individuals drive to work or school. The energy emissions are so high because houses have heating and cooling systems, as well as cooking and cleaning appliances, and lights to power.

    A large portion of the meeting went to discussing solutions to clean energy, and energy conservation. Sarah Moe, a Senior Consultant in the Sustainability Buildings and Communities sector of DNV-GL, discussed alternatives to in-home heating, and more sustainable ways to heat and cool a home, like a heat pump. A heat pump uses the air already in your home and pushes warm air out, keeping cool air inside during the summer, and keeps warm air in and pushes cool air out in the winter.

   Another way Piedmonters can conserve energy, is to find better ways to store it. In a place like the Bay Area, where our days are relatively sunny year round, by harnessing solar energy and storing it for cloudy days or cloudy months, homes could begin to completely power their houses from their solar panels alone, as well as sell their energy back to energy companies like PG&E, who could get the clean energy to more homes.

    Many of the older folk who were in the audience were concerned with cost and labor of installation of these new environmentally friendly technologies, and a few students asked questions about how they could make a difference, not being homeowners, and having little control over the energy sources and consumption in their home.

   One student, Hanna Hohener, raised the issue of many Piedmont and Millennium High schoolers driving to school. I have always walked to school, until my dad moved to lower Piedmont, but I still walk everyday when I am at my mom’s house. It is a little ridiculous that high school students who have walked their entire life decide that once they get their license, they are too cool to walk. There are environmental and health benefits to walking more, and Piedmont is so small that there should definitely be more initiatives to get more upperclassmen to walk to school. I think as far as sustainable energy in the home, this is something that could greatly reduce Piedmont’s and the country’s carbon footprint. Though shutting off the water when brushing your teeth, or biking instead of driving to work have an impact on an individual’s carbon footprint, by making a home be powered by entirely clean energy, the unseen byproducts of emissions in drilling for coal, refining oil, and unclean energy are eliminated.

    At the end of the meeting, I interviewed Councilwoman Jen Cavenaugh. She was at the meeting because “this is one of the City initiatives we have going on right now … and the most important element of that is community engagement.” We discussed how without community action, the Climate Action Plan is “only worth the paper it’s printed on.” Cavenaugh commented that she was very pleased to see so many high school students present and engaged, especially in the small group discussions.

    The meeting broke up into groups of about 10 participants and we got to discuss solutions and other ways for Piedmont to strive for sustainability. Councilwoman Cavenaugh said, “She would have loved a lot more detail,” because issues of changing habits and lifestyle are very complicated, and it is hard to pinpoint solutions for such complex issues. She sees the next step as a “deep dive in community engagement” whether that by educating people, or creating an incentive for individuals to be motivated to go green.

    There was no opportunity for community members to speak in the official meeting, but as we broke out into smaller groups,  I got to voice my opinions to some fellow students as well as community members, who I did not know.

    Here is what I would have said if there were a speaking portion of the meeting. I wish I had been in a group with fewer students, because it felt like somewhat of an echo chamber talking to my peers about issues we had already discussed in APES (Advanced Placement Environmental Science).   Many students were APES students like myself. I would have loved to hear more opinions from adult community members.

What I would have said:

    Hello, my name is Ko Narter, and I am a senior at Piedmont High School. Students make up a huge portion of Piedmont residents, so by starting at the schools, we can greatly reduce the town’s carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways to do this, is to stop selling plastic water bottles at food service. I have seen students purchase two bottles in one day, and this practice is ridiculous as well. If a student is going to purchase a water bottle, there should be more encouragement to have them keep that water bottle for the day, and fill it up. We now have water bottle filling stations in multiple locations on campus, which makes it easy for kids who bring a water bottle to school everyday, like myself, to access drinking water and bring it back to class. If students really protest over not being able to buy water bottles, we could start a reusable water bottle return system where kids take bottles for the day and then return them to be washed, or just sell reusable water bottles at food service, which would sort of force students to have to bring reusable water bottles to school, if they want water in class. This is a fast and easy way we can minimize the school’s and the town’s carbon footprint.

by Ko Narter, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Nov 14 2017

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, the City of Piedmont Planning Department and the Climate Action Plan Task Force held a community meeting in the Piedmont Community Hall from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

At the meeting, speakers discussed Piedmont’s new Climate Action Plan, including the reasons it will be introduced and how it will change the city. These speakers included Climate Action Task Force members, a program director at a UC Berkeley research energy lab, an East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) board member, and others. Attendees asked these speakers questions, and at the end of the meeting, attendees got into small groups for discussion.

According to the first speaker, a member of the Climate Action Task Force, Margaret Ovenden, Piedmont’s first Climate Action Plan was adopted in 2010, with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15% below the 2005 levels by 2020. Piedmont has met this goal.

The new plan, Climate Action Plan 2.0 as Ovenden calls it, is specially tailored to Piedmont’s needs, hoping to have the city meet the new California goals. The Task Force has been meeting since March to create the plan, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below the 2005 levels by 2030, and 80% below the 2005 levels by 2050.

The Climate Action Task Force expects to act on November 28 to recommend to the Piedmont City Council an adoption of the draft plan The Task Force will present a final draft of the plan to the City Council in mid December. After having the public review the plan, it will again be presented to the City Council for final adoption in January 2018.

Several attendees of the Nov. 7 meeting asked questions concerning when the public could see and comment on the plan. When I interviewed Ovenden after the meeting, she explained the importance of hearing the public’s opinions.

“I’d like to condense [the plan] and get it out to the community more,” Ovenden said. “It is really important for people to understand it, especially as we are heading more towards electrification. We will be bringing [the plan] out for public comment, encouraging people to comment.”

Another new development discussed at the meeting was East Bay Community Energy (EBCE). Board member of EBCE and City Council member Tim Rood said that Piedmont will soon switch to get their electricity from renewable sources. EBCE will allow public agencies to purchase electricity for residents and business, providing an alternative to the usual investor owned utilities.

All Piedmont residents will be switched over to the new energy plan hopefully by the spring of 2018, Rood said. Residents will be provided with three options, with the cost of one option being almost identical to the PG&E program.

Another speaker, Chris Jones, who is a program director at a research energy lab at UC Berkeley, presented data from Piedmont. The data taken from 2015 showed that Piedmont’s main greenhouse gas emission sectors include home energy, buildings, and transportation.

Piedmont’s average carbon footprint is higher than the typical global household. For example, Oakland residents have a footprint about half the size of Piedmont residents, according to data Jones presented from PG&E. In Piedmont, Jones said the highest greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, due to high amounts of air travel. However, Piedmont’s electricity emissions are below the global average, since some residents can afford solar panels.

Jones said that ways to reduce Piedmont’s emissions include electrifying homes, reducing transportation, getting goods from local sources, and eating less meat.

Jones’s suggestions caused me to ask a question at the end of the meeting. Many of the suggestions outlined in the plan are geared towards adult homeowners, so I asked what teenager students can do to reduce emissions. The speakers responded that students should stop driving to school. Considering how small Piedmont is, it is very easy to walk from place to place, so I agree that this is a good option for students.

One speaker, Sarah Moe, said that teenagers can influence their parents, by discussing these issues with them, pushing them to change. I agree with this response, since in discussions with my parents, I can persuade them towards becoming greener.

Piedmont’s plan, Ovenden said, is truly a community plan that requires residents to take initiative. Unlike other cities, Piedmont lacks major industry and commercial areas, so the greenhouse emissions are primarily from residents themselves. “[The task force] just realized that this plan would not be successful unless we got the community more involved,” Ovenden said. “Even though we are not quite done with the plan, we wanted to start sharing the main points and directions that this is going to be heading.”

Moe discussed the importance of shifting cultural norms in Piedmont in regards to climate change. When implementing the plan, she hopes that by working together, it will create safer, more resilient neighborhoods, boost neighborliness and social cohesion, and preserve the future for Piedmont’s children.

In the small discussions at the end of the meeting, my group talked about how important it is for the community to understand how to implement the plan in their lives. We also discussed the importance of people globally understanding climate change, which is best implemented through education. I brought up the issue of the lack of uniform education on human caused climate change. My group agreed that the best way to make steps towards all communities having climate action plans is through education.

 I am glad that I attended the climate change meeting since it opened my eyes to the ways Piedmont works towards becoming greener. All community members should attend these Climate Action meetings so they can understand how the City’s changes will affect them. For this plan, Ovenden said that it will take time to be fully implemented, so residents have time to learn about it. People can join the mailing list to hear about more meetings in the future.

“The state of the climate is so desperate,” Ovenden said in the interview. “It is very, very serious, and it is kind of shocking that the majority of the people aren’t getting it. We have an opportunity still to change things, to not have such terrible effects of climate change.”

by Margo Rosenbaum, Piedmont High School Senior

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On November 7th, a Climate Action Committee Meeting was held at the Piedmont Community Hall. The meeting was open to the public and was organized by the Climate Action Task Force with the goal to educate residents on Climate Action Plan 2.0 and its schedule for ratification.

Climate Action meetings have been occurring monthly since March of this year. The Climate Action Plan 2.0 is Piedmont’s framework to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2040.  This plan ¨2.0¨ is customized to the emission patterns of Piedmont, which are entirely unique from any other city in the Bay Area.

Task Force member Margaret Ovenden voiced that because Piedmont is almost entirely residential, the plan is very tailored to empowering the community as a whole to change its habits. The draft plan is in line with California’s goal of reaching an 80% emissions reduction by 2050. Tentative dates were set for the plan’s review by the city government, the public comment period, revision period and the hopeful ratification. The Task Force hopes the plan would be in effect by 2018.

The first speakers capitalized on the benefits of acting now and identified the community’s main sources of emissions. An analyst, Christopher Jones, from Cool Climate Network provided data showing that Piedmont’s leading emissions source is from transportation with air travel being a factor significantly higher than in other cities. The analyst clarified that the data wasn’t actual data collected from the City of Piedmont directly but were estimates created from other American cities that receive similar incomes. This upset some audience members who asked how achievable benchmarks could be created for Piedmont with information that is not about the city’s emissions specifically. Jones claimed he understood the concern, but the data was a good starting point. Jones applauded the city’s popular use of solar energy, but revealed our emission levels were far greater than our much larger neighbor, Oakland.

Many solutions were discussed from carbon offsets to counter the air travel discrepancy, heat pumps to utilize our strength in solar power, and an upcoming opportunity for residents to get up to 100% renewable energy with East Bay Community Energy. East Bay Community Energy is a service that would be selected by default for all Piedmont residents starting in 2018. There are multiple options with varying percentages of renewable energy. EBCE is predicted to be less expensive than PG&E services and more eco-friendly with PG&E being only 30% renewable. EBCE allows an entire city to purchase energy from a renewable source, rather than have a private company, like PG&E, be a middleman allowing residents little choice in where their power comes from.

Pam Hirtzer, a resident of Piedmont for over twenty years, was adamant about EBCE and claimed she would get it immediately. Hirtzer stated she has been interested in climate action for 10-15 years and shared that just days ago she had tried to purchase an electric car; however, it was too expensive. Looking for other ways to invest in green energy, she attended the meeting. She expressed excitement about the Climate Action Plan 2.0 and was eager to see it in full when it is released for public comment in late December.

The meeting concluded with a workshop in which the attendees got into groups and shared ideas about how to make Piedmont a more environmentally-friendly and climate-conscious city. Residents young and old spoke with Task Force members on ways they wished their schools, homes, and business could be more eco-friendly. Ending the meeting in a hopeful dialogue, I mentioned that environmental education should not be an elective but should be ingrained in the curriculum. Piedmont Middle School maintains a ¨Green Team¨ class for all students but that requirement does not continue to the High School.  I have faith that it soon will.

by Claire deVroede, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Nov 13 2017

Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan and problems with the wireless communication installation – 

The Piedmont Park Commission met on November 1, 2017 and the major issues were “Approval of Park Commission Minutes for September 6, 2017 and October 4, 2017,” “Consideration of a Recommendation to City Council regarding Proposed Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Installation in Piedmont Park across from 314 Wildwood Avenue,” “Update on the Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan,” “Update and Discussion on a Heritage Tree Program for Trees in Piedmont Parks and Open Spaces by Park Commissioner Jim Horner,” “Monthly Maintenance Report: Park, Open Space and Street Tree Update for the Month of October.”

I stayed for three hours, but I was only there for the first two subjects and a couple minutes of the third subjects.

Eileen Ruby and a few other members of the Commission were upset and confused with Planning Director Kevin Jackson’s opening statement, because they had just been given information at 10 a.m. that morning and asked to decide on it that night. The first topic discussed was anger and confusion expressed by the Commission at the late notice and demands of Kevin Jackson’s new agreement on a wireless communication facility located on City property.

The second topic was heavily discussed for the majority of  time I was there. Basically, there are wireless communications towers trying to be put around Piedmont, but they haven’t been meeting City regulations.

Laura Mazel, a long time Piedmont resident who lives on Wildwood Avenue spoke up to argue against the tower being put up outside the entrance to the dog park near Witter Field. She argued that there was research showing that the radiation coming from the towers would harm wildlife, especially the ancient redwood trees. She also expressed concern about the narrowness of the street and if trucks would be on the street doing work on the tower that would create a problem for drivers.

A former physicist from Berkeley also expressed a lot of concern with the damage the radiation can do. He cited multiple studies and said that flies and bees also can be destroyed by the radiation, soil is affected negatively as well, and birds would have to move nests.

I agree with Laura Mazel and the physicist in that these wireless communication towers are not necessary and they do more harm than good.

The Commission after long discussions and a great amount of staff input hesitantly and with concern made a recommendation to the City Council to approve the communication site while adding new conditions to any approval.

Moving onto the third topic, the City is developing a new Master Plan for the Beach Playfield that involves fixing up the bathrooms and drinking fountains, as well as making the tennis courts full sized. An informational meeting about Beach Playfield will include both parents and kids.

My classmate Jessica Xiong spoke and said it was a good idea to have both adults and children in the meeting because kids are going to be the ones primarily using the field.

I spoke as well and reflected on my younger years as one of the kids playing t-ball and soccer on Beach Field. I remembered how gross the bathrooms by the Field are and let them know that the kids would definitely appreciate a renovation there. I think the plan is a good idea, because it will let kids play and exercise, which is extremely important.

I interviewed Patty Dunlop, a member of the Park Commission. The difficulties she encountered were trying to figure out if the plans for the cell towers were “in harmony with the City Code.” She has learned about the government elements of the cell towers and protocols (making complicated motions), and the delegation of responsibility between the Park Commission and the City Council. The next step concerning her is paying more attention to applications coming forward for additional cell towers/cell antennas, because she thinks they will be coming.

The Park Commission of Piedmont California meets monthly on the first Wednesday at 5:30. They make recommendations to the City Council about the beautification of public parks and the street tree improvement program.

By Emmett Reed, Piedmont High School Senior

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    On Wednesday November 1, 2017, I attended the Park Commission meeting at Piedmont City Hall. The Park Commission meets monthly, on the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. The Park Commission meets to discuss issues relating to the public parks of the city and manage the street-tree improvement program, and make recommendations to the City Council relating to these topics.

I attended the meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and during that interval, the Park Commission discussed two major topics. The first topic discussed was on behalf of a design plan made for a light post and wireless communication installation “in Piedmont Park across from 314 Wildwood Avenue.” The second topic, which I was only able to stay for the beginning of, was regarding an update of the developing Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan.

To start off the meeting, Kevin Jackson, Piedmont Planning Director, discussed the proposed plans for a lamp post. Crown Castle, the applicant, is a telecommunications contract service based in San Jose.

Jackson wanted the Park Commission to recommend the design and placement of the proposed lamp post, which is proposed to be located in Piedmont Park across from 314 Wildwood Avenue. He revealed that the initial plans were denied due to the fact that it was not consistent in the design of the lamp post and city planning. If the city doesn’t take action by a certain date, the plan will be deemed approved.

Eileen Ruby, a member of the Commission, inquired about the lightpost and its practicality, suggesting that the light post should be in a position to illuminate a pathway or add something of significance in the Park, rather than just a small patch of greenery.

I absolutely agree with Eileen Ruby on this particular topic. It seems like it would be a waste to use these resources and money on a purely decorative utility. The light post should be both practical and nice to look at.

The color of the light post was also discussed by Jim Horner, member of the Commission.

I believe that, in order to fit in with the “look” of Piedmont, it should be dark green or black in order to blend in with the foliage.

Ruby also questioned if the plans were different than those that were originally planned to be discussed, to which Jackson responded that they are in fact new plans from that morning at 10:00 a.m. Jackson reminded that the Park Commission makes the recommendations, and City Council takes action.

Pierce MacDonald Powell, a representative for Crown Castle, told those present that the light fixture is to be decorative, and listed specific conditions that the plans must meet in order for the light post to be approved and built. For example, light pollution and the sound of the light post was a major concern.

Betsy Goodman and Patty Dunlap, both members of the Commission, asked about sound from the installation, what the requirements are, and how to meet them.

Then, a few members of the audience went up to the podium to speak on this issue. Sharon, who was there on behalf of the light post, commented that the reason for the last minute design was due to new options proposed. Their new proposal was based on the lumieres at ‘Ole Miss.

Chairperson Jamie Totsubo shared that she finds this news very frustrating as they spent so much time on the planning already. Commissioner Betsy Goodman shared her concern about the location of the vault, because it is located at a handicap area of the park in the plans. She also requested that the deadline of the Commission’s recommendations be moved to a later date due to the last minute plans.

Sharon from the audience responded that it is very unlikely that this would happen. Then, another member from the audience shared his opinion for the energy vault. He believes it should be above ground, such as a mailbox design, in order to cut the issue of the sound.

Commissioner Jim Horner asked the man about the mailbox design, and if it completely gets rid of the noise issue. The response was yes; it does so because the design will make it allow the heat to be removed.

Peter Harvey, another audience member, spoke on behalf of the environmental impacts of these new installations, sharing previous data that the microwaves produced negatively impact flora and fauna surrounding it. Additionally, he noted the microwaves have affected both the behavior and development of animals.

I agree that this is an issue that must be considered when drafting any new installation plans. Since Piedmont prides itself on its beauty, the City must keep in mind the impact their plans will have on the beauty and wellbeing of the City’s natural surroundings.

Laura Menzel stepped to the podium and stated that she does not want cell phone towers located on Wildwood Avenue, as the road is already very tight and she does not want the beauty of nature around it to be diminished.

The Commission’s consensus was that the vault must be moved to a different location.

City Planner MacDonald proceeded to reiterate the Commission’s recommendations from the notes she made during the discussion. The Commission moved that the light should illuminate the path, have a single arm, be similar to the design of the lights on Oakland Avenue Bridge, be relocated outside of the pedestrian path, and be a dark color. The vote was unanimous on the first motion.

The second motion, to consider communication equipment at an alternative location, and be concealed was not unanimous, but it still passed.

After a short intermission, the meeting moved to the next topic, Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan. Nancy Kent, the Commission Staff Liaison, shared the developing plan and stated that it is fairly new. They have ideas to redo the bathrooms at the Field as well as hold a Public Forum with both children and adults to learn about their opinions and suggestions on what to do.

The Commission asked if anyone from the audience would like to speak on behalf of the Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan. At this time, I went up to the podium to share my thoughts on this particular topic. I commended them on their plan to hold a public forum, because kids are going to be the ones primarily using the field, so having both them and their parents along with other adults participate and give input in the plans is very essential. I also pushed for the remodeling of the bathrooms, as they are barely used since they are not in great condition. Additionally, I also shared that I think they should install more water fountains on the field, as it is used for sports and recreation.

Fellow classmate Emmett Reed went up to the podium and spoke about the Field, and how he agreed with me on the topic of the water fountains and bathrooms. He also shares that he believes having such a place for kids to play is beneficial. After the audience statements, I left the meeting.

During the intermission, I interviewed Betsy Goodman, the Vice Chair of the Piedmont Park Commission. She stated that she was interested in ” the hearing of Resolution PHS 09, which had to do with a telephone antennae, light fixture, and vault at the 314 Wildwood location.”  She noted that since the vault was located in the handicap ramp, the Commission had to come up with an alternative location. There were also sound issues regarding the vault which needed to be resolved. Goodman shared that in this meeting, she learned about the procedural work with the City Council, and how they need to “effectively make recommendations and motions and findings…through a long process to get there.” Goodman revealed that this meeting was a “complicated process” that they must consider in order to meet the requirements of the City and to be able to make the “best recommendation.” Goodman stated that the Commission must always try to do what they believe is “fair and necessary” for the community. In order to get their next concern addressed, Goodman and the Commission will hold further discussions with the City staff to ensure that they have a clear understanding for taking the next steps when making recommendations.

by Jessica Xiong, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Nov 7 2017
The workshop will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, from 7:30 – 9:00 pm, at the Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue.
The residential/transportation sector is the largest contributor to Piedmont’s Green House Gas (GHG) so the city is developing it’s next Climate Action Plan with policies that will affect land use, transportation and home construction.  
The meeting is a workshop to provide background on the Plan and obtain input so there will be a lot of back and forth with speakers and the audience
 
And there are special presentations in that regard – Chris Jones of UCB will give a brief presentation on Piedmont’s carbon footprint – this analysis was published in Science and provides new insight into residential GHG sources in Piedmont.  And Council member Tim Rood will provide an update on East Bay Community Energy – this is an energy cooperative that Piedmont joined last year that will give residents the choice to go 100% green in their home energy use.  
 
The workshop  is a great opportunity to learn more about GHG reduction steps you can take in your community.  And to provide ideas for the Climate Action Plan – for residents who want to see the city do more, now is the time to provide comment on the new Plan.
Garrett Keating, Former Councilmember
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City of Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan Presentation and Community Workshop

On November 7th, the City of Piedmont Planning Department and the Climate Action Plan Task Force will host a community workshop. The workshop will include a presentation of Piedmont’s draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) update, presentations on Piedmont’s carbon footprint, focus group discussions, and information on how Piedmont residents can act as agents of local climate change prevention and mitigation.

The Climate Action Plan Taskforce has met monthly since March to advise staff regarding updates and improvements to Piedmont’s CAP, which was completed in 2010 with goals through 2020. The revised and updated CAP consists of measures that Piedmont residents, business owners, the municipal government and the public and private schools can take to bring Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emissions in line with State emissions reduction targets. The updated plan incorporates current best practices, includes a new section dedicated to climate adaptation and an increased focus on community engagement, since the majority of Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emissions are generated by residential buildings and private vehicles.

Minutes and other materials for previous Climate Action Plan Taskforce meetings are posted on the City website at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/committees/captf.shtml

The final draft of the Plan is expected to be provided to City Council in December of 2017 as an initial step towards the Plan’s adoption in early 2018.

For more information about the CAP or to be added to the project’s email list, please contact Assistant Planner Mira Hahn at mhahn@piedmont.ca.gov or (510) 420-3054.

Nov 6 2017

Input is sought.

The Planning Commission will be considering revisions to land use regulations related to cannabis provided in Division 17.48 of the City Code at their regularly scheduled meeting on November 13, 2017. The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to make a recommendation that will be considered by the City Council, which is the decision-making body. The City Council is expected to consider the Commission’s recommendation and conduct a first reading of the proposed ordinance on December 4, 2017.

 Documents on the City Website

The agenda for the November 13, 2017 Planning Commission meeting and the staff report to the Commission are available on the City’s website at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us. Current land use regulations related to cannabis are provided in Division 17.48 of the City Code.

“AGENDA ITEM 3. CONSIDERATION OF AN ORDINANCE REVISING THE LAND USE REGULATIONS IN CITY CODE CHAPTER 17 RELATED TO CANNABIS The Commission will hold a hearing to consider an ordinance to revise City Code Chapter 17 regarding the land use regulations related to cannabis. The proposed revisions are in response to Proposition 64, which legalizes and regulates the adult use of non-medical marijuana (recreational marijuana) in California and Senate Bill 94, known as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”), which consolidated state laws regarding medical marijuana and adult-use marijuana and introduced more uniform terminology, replacing “marijuana” with “cannabis” and “nonmedical” to “adult-use.” The Commission may take action to make a recommendation of adoption to the City Council. The proposed ordinance is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to the CEQA Guidelines, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Chapter 3, sections: 15060(c)(2) (the activity will not result in a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment); 15060(c)(3) (the activity is not a project as defined in Section 15378); and 15061(b)(3), because the activity is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Furthermore, this action is not subject to CEQA pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 26055 (h).”

From the staff report to the Commission:

“PROPOSED REVISIONS TO CITY CODE: It is in the City’s best interest to maintain local control over all cannabis land uses to the fullest extent allowed by law. Although, the City Code currently prohibits all cannabis businesses, it will better serve the public and minimize the potential for confusion regarding the City’s policies by providing updated Code provisions regarding the scope of prohibited conduct and of permissible private cultivation that are consistent with State law. Findings H through Q in the proposed ordinance (Attachment A pages 5-10) list a number of findings that cannabis related activities allowed under MAUCRSA would cause adverse impacts on the public health, safety, and welfare in Piedmont.”

Public Engagement

The opportunity for public input is available throughout this process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the regular meetings at which the Planning Commission and City Council will consider this item.

Questions about the project and requests to receive email notification of activities related to Zoning Code revisions should be directed to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov or (510) 420-3039. Written comments to the Planning Commission on this matter may be submitted care of kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov or by mail to 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

Members of the Piedmont Planning Commission

Roster

Council Liaison: Jennifer Cavenaugh – (510) 428-1442
Eric Behrens
Aradhana Jajodia
Jonathan Levine
Susan Ode
Tom Ramsey
Clark Thiel (Alternate)

 

Nov 5 2017

Wireless Communication Facilities –

On October second, Piedmont City Council had a meeting discussing the installation of wireless communication facilities. The Piedmont City Council meets every two weeks to discuss issues in Piedmont. This particular meeting was mainly devoted to discussing the wireless communications facilities to be installed.

The meeting started with all members of the Council speaking about the issue of wireless communication. They discussed the Telecommunication Act which decides the safe height for the towers, which emit radio fields. They also introduced all seven of the wireless communication facilities locations in Piedmont.

The Council then opened the discussion to the audience. Crown Castle, the company installing the wireless towers, spoke first. They mainly pointed out the benefits of the towers: Increasing the signal strength on cell phones throughout Piedmont and the ability to call 911 anywhere in Piedmont.

The residents of Piedmont then voiced their concerns on the issue of wireless communication facilities. The two main points brought up by the residents were the towers bringing down property values, and the health issues of the towers.

One resident presented a survey from the National Realtors Association saying people are twenty percent less likely to buy a house in front of or across from a cell tower. She also said that the price of her home is likely to decrease twenty percent because of the cell tower.

One of the health issues brought to the attention of the Council was the radiation given off by these towers. These towers have an EMF, electromotive force, of about five to thirteen feet which could cause radiation poisoning. This is a major health concern for people that live close to these towers. Another speaker said the towers cause leukemia and cancer in children and adults.

After listening to the speakers at the meeting, I would have to agree with their concerns. I believe the wireless communication facilities are not needed in the city of Piedmont and the many negatives outweigh the positives for the city. These towers do not seem to be a necessity for all Piedmont families and residents.

Interview:

After the meeting was over I interviewed John Randall. Mr. Randall has been a Piedmont resident for over 20 years. He was at the meeting to listen to the issues about the wireless communication facilities. His main concern was about the health issues the towers bring. He told me, “Some of the health issues are respiratory issues, radiation poisoning, increased chromosome aberrations, cause of cancer in children and adults, and other detrimental illnesses.”

Randall learned about where the towers are being placed around Piedmont, and he will continue to come to meetings to talk about what he thinks is right in the city of Piedmont. He is not afraid to voice his opinion to the City Council of Piedmont.

From what I have observed during the meeting, many people at the meeting agree with Mr. Randall’s position that cell towers are dangerous to have in Piedmont due to health concerns.

by Julian Turner, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Nov 1 2017

City of Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan Presentation and Community Workshop – Agenda is below.

On November 7th, the City of Piedmont Planning Department and the Climate Action Plan Task Force will host a community workshop. The workshop will include a presentation of Piedmont’s draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) update, presentations on Piedmont’s carbon footprint, focus group discussions, and information on how Piedmont residents can act as agents of local climate change prevention and mitigation.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, from 7:30 – 9:00 pm, at the Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue. 

The Climate Action Plan Taskforce has met monthly since March to advise staff regarding updates and improvements to Piedmont’s CAP, which was completed in 2010 with goals through 2020. The revised and updated CAP consists of measures that Piedmont residents, business owners, the municipal government and the public and private schools can take to bring Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emissions in
line with State emissions reduction targets. The updated plan incorporates current best practices, includes a new section dedicated to climate adaptation and an increased focus on community engagement, since the majority of Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emissions are generated by residential buildings and private vehicles.

Minutes and other materials for previous Climate Action Plan Taskforce meetings are posted on the City website at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/committees/captf.shtml

The final draft of the Plan is expected to be provided to City Council in December of 2017 as an initial step towards the Plan’s adoption in early 2018.

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“All community members are encouraged to attend Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) Workshop. As a primarily residential community, we will only reach California greenhouse gas emission reduction targets if residents take action to reduce their transportation, home energy and other carbon emissions. Since March, a Taskforce of residents and City staff has been drafting a new CAP for Piedmont. The workshop will highlight new consumption-based measures and the potential for Piedmonters to be getting up 100% of their electricity from renewable sources through the newly-formed East Bay Community Energy. Together, we can be agents of local climate change prevention and mitigation.”                    Margaret Ovenden, Member of Piedmont Climate Action Plan Taskforce

Come learn about Piedmont’s new Climate Action Plan and the central role that residents must play if Piedmont is going to reach California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.*

Speakers & Agenda:

  • Overview of Piedmont’s New Climate Action Plan — Taskforce Members and Staff

  • A Consumption-Based Model of Piedmont’s Carbon Footprint: Comparison with Other East Bay Cities — Chris Jones, Program Director, CoolClimate Network, UC Berkeley

  • Introducing East Bay Community Energy: Options for Up to 100% of Our Electricity to Come from Renewable Sources, Starting in 2018 — Tim Rood, Piedmont City Council

  • Putting the ACTION into Climate Action: Lessons from Other Communities — Sarah Moe, Senior Consultant, DNV-GL

  • Q&A

  • Small Group Discussion: What are the most challenging greenhouse gas reduction measures for your family to implement? How can Piedmonters support each other as we take action together?

Hosted by: City of Piedmont Climate Action Plan Taskforce

For more info: Mira Hahn, Assistant Planner, mhahn@piedmont.ca.gov or Cody Ericksen, CivicSpark Climate Fellow, cericksen@piedmont.ca.gov or Margaret Ovenden, Task Force’s Outreach Sub-committee movenden452@gmail.com

* The large majority of emissions in Piedmont come from residences and residents’ transportation activities. Businesses, the City and the School District play a smaller role.

For more information about the CAP or to be added to the project’s email list, please contact Assistant Planner Mira Hahn at mhahn@piedmont.ca.gov or (510) 420-3054.

Cody Ericksen, CivicSpark Climate Fellow, City of Piedmont, CA    (510) 420-3085 – cericksen@piedmont.ca.gov

Nov 1 2017

High School student interest in Piedmont Climate Action Plan – 

      In the Climate Action Task Force meeting, we, students, talked a lot about how we can change the cities in the Bay Area for the better. Many of the student speakers in the meeting talked about transportation expenses and recycling better in the park.  Since there is nothing in the park but a big trashcan that the students throw everything in, it would be nice to have recycling, compost, trash, etc.

    For about half of the meeting, one of the presenters talked about light bulb/ light efficiency in many cities ranging from Alameda to southern California.. With 100% renewable energy being a great possibility in the next couple of years, people are on board! From the diagrams and graphs shown, it tends to be a great idea both money and environmentally wise.

     I then asked a question to the people running the meeting about Solar Panels, and if and when is it possible for them to be in the school. Like many people in Piedmont, I have seen tons of panels on people’s houses, which would save them a lot of money each year. The sun is free! We should use it to our advantages!

    Everyone talked and contributed in the meeting, some more than others. It was a very effective meeting. There are about 8-10 more meetings before they will have this issue all figured out (going into February). It was brought up how there is too much water usage in the school with the showers, however there is storage in the showers in both the Middle School and High School. I don’t know how they got that information, maybe due to the sprinkler leaks or with the sink in the bathrooms that are accidentally left on. When it rains, Witter Field tends to be flooded with water, so they are going to try to find a drainer to fix and clean so this won’t happen as often (one of many problems that they are facing in years to come).

Interview Questions:

Name: Cody Ericson ( New graduate from UCLA but excited to start working for the City!)

Q: Why are you here?

A:  ¨I’m a part of a Americorp program called Civic Spark that links up new graduates, young professionals with local governments that help them with suitable issues. And so this is part of the Climate Action Plan passing City Council; we have to get input from the community.¨

Q: What difficulties and problems brought you here?

A: ¨Climate change is a huge issue obviously, and so local governments are in a interesting position, because they can test out new innovative ideas that can’t really be tested out on a federal scale. Cities can do  innovate thing that can be used as a model for the world for other cities in America, so I think there is  a lot of opportunity in local government.   I wanted to try finding climate change issues at a local stage.¨

Q: What did you learn?

A: ¨It takes a lot of patience and work to get this issue across to the public and get people on board, so it might take awhile until we get this plan officially approved.¨

Q: What was your reaction of the meeting?

A: “I thought it was very productive.  It was great to see that a lot of people in the community are involved in this Task Force to help a Climate Action Plan pass. It was great to see everyone have a lot of influence.  It’s great to see that people care.¨

Q: What next step will you take to get this particular concern addressed?

A: ¨To get this concern addressed, we are going to take all the imput that we had today, and try to incorporate as much as we can from the public, We are holding a focused community outreach workshop on November 7th, as we talked about, and yeah, hopefully just to keep the public involved throughout the process, I think is very important. So yes, hopefully it’s an effective workshop on the 7th.¨

by Kyle Deutsche, Piedmont High School Senior  

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.