Jan 16 2021

The Piedmont City Council will be asked to approve $106,000 to hire Paul Benoit, former Piedmont City Administrator, to Serve as Special Assistant to current City Administrator Sara Lillevand on Pools Construction.

Measure UU was the first successful capital bond measure in the City’s history. The $19.5 million bond was approved by 68.5% of Piedmont voters on November 3, 2020.  Measure UU bond funds will be used to Pay Benoit the $106,000 maximum annual cost of the proposed employment agreement.

Benoit  served as Piedmont’s City Administrator from 2014-2019 leading the process to develop the Aquatics Master Plan Conceptual Design, which was accepted by the City Council in 2016.  As a California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) beneficiary retiree, he will be subject to certain restrictions in order to avoid putting his retirement pension in jeopardy.  The City must enroll and report the hours worked to CalPERS through the system currently used to report payroll.  His initial tasks will include leading the efforts to hire project management services as well as the architectural design team.

Staff report:  Consideration of the Appointment of Paul Benoit as a Retired Annuitant to Provide Special Assistance to the City Administrator with Measure UU Projects and Approval an Employment Agreement

READ THE AGENDA HERE.

Jan 16 2021

From the City of Piedmont – 

I am writing today to inform you that Piedmont City Council will receive an informational update on public engagement efforts related to the proposed amendments –Reach Codes– to the state’s Building Standards Code on TUESDAY, January 19th. This will include a presentation of the results of a random-sample survey conducted in November and December 2020, which evaluated residents’ opinions about the draft Reach Codes.

TUESDAY, JAN. 19, AGENDA AND PARTICIPATION INFORMATION HERE.

Unless otherwise directed by the Council, staff intends to bring forward the second reading of the Reach Codes at the February 1st City Council meeting.

To learn more about the proposed Reach Codes, see the “background” section below, or follow the link in the “more information” section. The goal of these amendments is to reduce building natural gas use in accordance with Climate Action Plan goals and to create opportunities for residents to save energy and money.

The TUESDAY, January 19, 2021 City Council meeting agenda is posted on the City website at www.piedmont.ca.gov. Members of the public are encouraged to participate by submitting comments and attending the Council meeting. Comments regarding the proposed code amendments may be sent to the City Council via email to: citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.

To send comments via U.S. Mail, please use the following address: Piedmont City Council c/o City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611. The City Council meeting, including this issue, will be televised on KCOM-TV, Channel 27, and the City’s government access TV station.

If you have questions about the proposed ordinances and policy, please contact Planning & Building Director Kevin Jackson by email at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov. Any correspondence sent to the City will be considered a public record.

Best regards,

Alyssa Dykman

Sustainability Program Manager

Reach Codes Background:

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 calls for the community to reduce its in-territory emissions 80% between 2005 and 2050; much of this reduction must come from reduced natural gas use in buildings – by insulating homes better, and by switching out gas appliances for electric appliances powered by renewable energy.

Over the past year, City staff has been developing proposed local amendments to the California Building Standards Code—Reach Codes—that will help the community make progress towards these goals, while creating opportunities for residents to save energy and money. City staff has done extensive public outreach, including public outreach meetings, public opinion surveys, and the development of a frequently asked question (FAQ) page, to ensure the developed proposals are best tailored to Piedmont’s needs. The resulting recommended amendments are as follows:

  • Newly constructed low-rise residential buildings, including new detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), must use all electric building appliances.
  • Projects proposing an entire new upper level on a low-rise residential building, or that increase a low-rise residential building’s total roof area by 30% or more, are required to install solar panels on their roof.
  • A renovation project on a low-rise residential building that costs $25,000 or more, will require the applicant to choose one item from a list of energy efficient insulation or heating system electrification improvements to include in the renovation. A renovation project on a low-rise residential building that costs $100,000 or more will require the applicant to choose two items.
  • An application for an electrical panel upgrade must include capacity in the panel to accommodate future electrification of all appliances in the residence.
  • An application for a kitchen or laundry area renovation must include electrical outlets for future appliance installation.
  • At point of listing for sale of a property, a report from a Home Energy Audit or Home Energy Score (homeowner’s choice) must be provided to potential buyers and submitted to the City – unless the residential building was constructed in the past 10 years.

For more information, see:

Dec 21 2020

A Spare the Air alert went into effect for the Bay Area on Monday, December 21. Wood burning outdoors as well as indoors is banned for 24 hours  the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) announced in a tweet.

Violators are subject to $500 Fine

First time violators will be issued an NOV (Notice of Violation) but will have an opportunity to take the Air District’s Wood Smoke Awareness Written Test in lieu of paying a fine. Those who are found in violation a second time are issued a NOV citation and are subject to a $500 fine. Repeat violators who subsequently continue to burn in violation of the regulation will face increasing financial penalties.

BAAQMD reminds residents:

During the winter, smoke from residential wood burning is the leading cause of air pollution in the Bay Area. Small particles and toxic chemicals from wood smoke can cause serious health problems, especially in children, older adults, and those with heart or respiratory problems.

When wood and other solid fuels are burned, the smoke emitted contains fine particulate air pollution (also known as PM2.5 and these tiny particles (about 1/70th the width of a human hair) can pass deep into the lungs and cause serious health effects to the public. High levels of fine particulates can result in difficulty breathing, aggravate asthma and even cause premature death for people with heart or lung disease. Winter weather conditions can trap wood smoke close to the ground concentrating the air pollution to unhealthy levels. When these conditions occur, wood smoke is the largest portion (approximately 39%) of the wintertime fine particulate matter in the Bay Area.

THE BAN APPLIES TO PELLET STOVES, EPA CERTIFIED STOVES AND FIREPLACE INSERTS

While they burn more cleanly, these wood-burning devices still emit fine particulate air pollution and when the wintertime air pollution reaches unhealthy levels, any burning contributes to excessive air pollution. Therefore, in order to protect the public health of Bay Area residents, the Air District must reduce fine particulate air pollution by banning burning in all types of wood-burning devices on these days.

Check Piedmont air quality here.

 

Dec 14 2020

City Reminds Residents to Take Down Election Campaign Signs

The City of Piedmont is reminding residents of the City’s Sign Regulations, which specify the number of signs that can be displayed, and the maximum allowable sizes for signs.

The reminder follows the extremely high level of participation in recent elections, which was exemplified by the variety and quantity of signs placed in yards throughout the city. Now that Election Day has come and gone, the City would like to raise awareness of Piedmont’s limitations on sign displays. The intent is to ensure that all residents are aware of and comply with the City’s sign regulations now that the campaign season has come to a close.

The City regulates all signs on residential properties. In compliance with court decisions, these rules do not regulate signs on the basis of content. The full text of the sign regulations is in City Code Division 17.36.  The current effort is mainly concerned with signs posted in yards, in windows, and on walls of residential properties. The rules regarding such signs are found in City Code section 17.36.040 and summarized below.

No person may display a sign on a residential parcel unless the sign conforms to the following requirements:

Temporary freestanding noncommercial signs:
Number:  Maximum of 2
Size:  Maximum of 4 square feet per sign
Height:  Maximum (including frame) is 4 feet
Location:  Street yard of a residential parcel, but not in the public right-of-way
Lighting:  No illumination

Noncommercial window signs:
Number:  Maximum of 2
Size:  Maximum of 4 square feet per sign
Location:  Street yard-facing windows

Campaign Signs:
Residents have the right to post campaign signs on their property. Campaign signs placed on residential parcels shall comply with the same size, height, location, and lighting restrictions applicable to noncommercial signs placed on residential parcels. Any person who posts a campaign sign on private property shall remove the campaign sign within ten days after the day of the election to which it pertains.

A Noncommercial sign means a sign that does not contain a commercial message.

Piedmonters take pride in our community and this awareness drive is meant to gain voluntary compliance with the City’s sign regulations as part of that community spirit. Community members with questions are welcome to contact Planning & Building Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov or (510) 420-3050.

Dec 14 2020

Keep the plumber away! Stop flushing wipes and other inappropriate items down your toilet. 

Residents flushing wipes in their toilets are suddenly finding significant clogs and expensive repair costs.

Help Piedmont’s sewer system, EBMUD purification systems, and your own sewer system by disposing of wipes in the trash and not in toilets.  Only toilet paper and bodily waste should go in a toilet. Kleenex, facial tissues, baby wipes, condoms, diapers, and sanitary products should not be placed in a toilet.

Click below to read previously published article linked below:

Do Not Flush Wipes: Flushable Wipes Threaten EBMUD Sewer System

Dec 6 2020
To make our streets safer for everyone, the City is preparing the Piedmont Safer Streets Plan. This new plan will update the City’s original Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (2014), while including an additional focus on broader traffic safety.

This month and next, there are three special opportunities to give us your input on needs and concerns regarding walking, biking and traffic safety:

  • Community workshop (on Zoom), on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at 6 pm. Save the date for a lively discussion. The details will be posted on the link as the date approaches.  Zoom link –
  • https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81375581911
  • Online survey. Anyone who responds will be eligible to win one of three $50 gift cards for Mulberry’s Market. The survey will close on Sunday, December 20, 2020.
  • Pinnable map. Pin your comments on our map–and get another chance to win a Mulberry’s Market gift card. The map will also close on Sunday, December 20, 2020.

2014 Plan > http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Projects/Pedestrian%20and%20Bicycle%20Master%20Plan/final_PBMP_2014-11-03.pdf

For questions about Piedmont Safer Streets, contact Gopika Nair (City staff liaison), at SaferStreets@Piedmont.ca.gov or at (510) 420-3054.

1292020Community Workshop Invite

Nov 10 2020

Piedmont pedestrians raise safety issues when walking for exercise and recreation.

Sidewalk blocked by vehicle parking violation.

 

Walking is a simple healthful exercise especially recommended during the COVID – 19 pandemic.  Not only medically beneficial, but a stress reliever for those reacting to cabin fever.  Regrettably, in Piedmont there are safety challenges to pedestrians.  While the City has prohibited parking vehicles on sidewalks, the police rarely enforce the prohibition.  Seniors, toddlers, baby carriages, wheelchair bound, all are too often forced into competition with vehicular traffic in the streets.  As rainy season approaches, this will be an increasingly dangerous situation for the many health walkers trying to use Piedmont sidewalks on a daily basis.

Attractive crosswalk painted patterns (see illustration below) improve street appearance while providing additional protection to pedestrians crossing busy intersections.

Piedmont women in particular choose walking as their daily exercise under the current constrained conditions since bicycling and swimming do not build bone density, a prime consideration.

Cyclists are prone to weak bones. Read more here.

“A cohort of female Olympic swimmers had lower bone mineral density measurements at all sites when compared with non-aquatic elite athletes, suggesting that weight-bearing or strength activities out of water could be incorporated into training to improve bone health, according to findings published in Bone.”   Healio News July 09, 2019  Read more here   Bone Journal articles here

Piedmont walkers are also keenly aware of hazardous sidewalks with cracks and upliftings.  It has been noted that in certain areas of Piedmont sidewalk corrections have never occurred.  Walkers are often forced into the street to find a level walking surface creating a danger for vehicles and themselves.  Piedmont streets are on a comprehensive pavement management schedule.  No such program is known for Piedmont sidewalks.

It has been suggested that vehicles should be allowed to park on only one side of narrow streets to allow pedestrians, vehicles, and bicycles safe passage.

Photos showing common vehicle violations.

Attractive pedestrian crosswalk pattern more visible to cars.

Nov 9 2020

Meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2020

Regular Agenda:

1. Presentation of Planning Context Report for Piedmont Safer Streets (PSS) Project

2. Discussion of Community Engagement Workshop Format and Content

3. Discussion of Publicizing the Public Engagement Activities for PSS Project

4. Presentation of Proposed Improvements to the Intersection of Grand Avenue and Lower Grand Avenue and Installation of Other Bicycle Features on Grand Avenue

Prior minutes are not on the agenda.

For instructions on how to participate in this remote teleconferenced meeting, click the link below.

PBAC Agenda 2020-11-12

Documents to be considered:

#1 – PSS_planning context report_admin draft

#4 – Grand Lower Grand Striping Exhibit

Oct 25 2020

Power Shutoff Expected to Affect EBMUD Critical Facilities

Sunday – Tuesday, October 25 – 27

Regardless of whether your house loses power, your use of water affects available water in case of East Bay Hills fire during this PSPS. Residents are advised to store two gallons of water for each member of their household. 

EBMUD has topped off reservoirs and has backup generators in place to provide power to critical facilities in the event of a PG&E power shutoff. EBMUD asks that customers in areas served by affected reservoirs reduce water use indoors and turn off outdoor irrigation to conserve water in our local reservoir tanks to leave as much water in the reservoirs as possible for firefighting.

  • Minimize water use during a PG&E Power event to leave as much water in the reservoirs as possible for firefighting.
  • Shut off irrigation.
  • Reduce indoor water use.

EBMUD will make information available as the situation develops.

For updates follow EBMUD @ebmud on Twitter, Nextdoor, and Facebook

For PG&E PSPS check pge.com/psps

PG&E shutoffs begin Sunday 10am with the majority between 3 and 9pm as conditions are monitored.

Power should be restored Monday night through Tuesday night.

~~~~~~~

East Bay Regional Parks closed all Sunday and Monday: Anthony Chabot Regional Park, Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area, Lake Chabot Regional Park, Leona Canyon Open Space Regional Preserve, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Roberts Regional Recreation Area, Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Tilden Regional Park and Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.

Oct 14 2020

Rick Schiller is right to raise the tax burden of Measure UU, not because of its structure but because of its substantive increase in taxes on recent and new families coming to Piedmont who already pay an inordinately higher share thanks to Prop 13.

Simply put, the longer you’ve lived in Piedmont, the less you’ll contribute to the pool. Second (my kids) and third generation Piedmonters moving back home will pay bond assessments based on assessed property values well less than $1M, while recent and new families are assessed at $2.5M and above. This is no way to fund a community pool.

The pool will triple GHG emissions and that’s with energy efficient elements.  Instead of the proposed design that uses natural gas, the pool should be all electric, using the latest technology to generate on-site power needs. Mountainview is building an all electric pool and aquatic complex at the cost of approximately $20M. Downsizing the current Piedmont design could achieve this and maybe make room for a Pickleball court in the comprehensive Civic Center.

The operational analysis for the pool is predicated on a 5% fee increase so the day use fee will likely increase.

The city considered including the pool and public safety buildings in an essential services bond measure that could be funded with a parcel tax.  Pools may not be essential services but a parcel tax would be a much more equitable way to pay for the pool. If an ad valorem assessment is the only way, then I’d support an exclusion for first generation owners with the proviso that once the property transferred within a family it would be assessed at the average Piedmont home value.

Piedmont can build a new pool without passing the tax and GHG burdens on to future generations.

Reject UU and have the city come back with a sustainable design and equitable tax structure. 

Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.