Jan 10 2022
Planning Commission
c/o Kevin Jackson, City Planner
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Re: SB9 Implementation Planning Commission Meeting on January 10, 2022
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Dear Planning Commissioners,
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 SB9 has created a clear path to satisfying RHNA requirements and retaining the essential character of Piedmont. The choice is clear as by embracing SB9 the City can retain Piedmont’s rigorous Design Review for new housing.  Design Review importantly retains both essential aesthetic character and protects resident light and privacy.  By-Right ADUs afford no such protection.  Sadly the City is moving in a direction of allowing front lot zero setback mini-tower ADUs over existing garages and invasion of existing resident privacy if a new ADU is a mere 10 feet and 1 inch away which then allows window placement directly over and into existing living areas and bedrooms.
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     The City seems to be ignoring the potential of satisfying the Housing Element by not doing analysis that demonstrate what percentage of existing single-family zoned land parcels have the potential for increased redevelopment by adding duplexes. In reality SB9 has rezoned all single lots into higher density.  With a minimum of 800 sq ft residences allowed, the City can show that middle and moderate income housing mandates are satisfied.
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     Planning Commissioners can make a critical decision now to retain the inherent character of Piedmont and comply with our RHNA. I urge the PC to direct Staff to submit comments to HCD as to the significant additional potential that is a result of rezoning by SB9 and the ADU legislation. My layman’s reading of SB9 indicates there is nothing in the legislation that HCD [California Housing and Community Development Department] can cite to deny our ability to count the potential of many possible split parcels and increased housing numbers.
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Respectfully,
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Rich Schiller, Piedmont Resident
1.9.2022
Jan 4 2022

Special Planning Commission Agenda Monday, January 10, 2022 6:00 p.m. Via Teleconference

Regular Agenda

1. Presentation on the Piedmont Community Pool Project.

2. Presentation on Senate Bill 9 Related to Housing.

READ THE FULL AGENDA FOR PARTICIPATION DETAILS BY CLICKING BELOW:

January 2022 PC Agenda

Contact the Planning Department for additional information at:

510-420-3050

Dec 19 2021

Piedmont Gears Up for Densification – Lot Splits and Increased Housing Units in Single-family Zones Approved Singularly by the Piedmont Planning Staff.

The Piedmont City Council will consider fees to be charged for lot splits and housing developments of up to two units on Dec. 20. > AGENDA

SB 9 requires local jurisdictions, like Piedmont, to grant ministerial approval [Neighbors cannot voice opinions.] of housing developments of one to two units and urban lot splits for property within single-family zoning districts, such as Piedmont’s Zone A and Zone E.1  SB 9 also sets some minimum standards for housing development and lot split proposals, filed under SB 9 regulations.

Changes to Piedmont zoning requirements have yet to be finalized.

READ the full staff report by clicking below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18207580

COMMENTS MAY BE SENT TO THE CITY COUNCIL AT:

citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov.

Dec 19 2021

No watering of outdoor landscapes within 48 hours of rainfall.

As more significant rain is predicted leading up to the Christmas weekend, EBMUD’s drought rule for outdoor watering is in effect during and after rainfall.  

Dec 12 2021

Sustainability, Neighborhood Cohesion and Open Space Lose Out to Density?

Change is stressful, and major change in the neighborhoods of California is coming. Although the State is awash in surplus billions and could afford to plan a public/private new town developed to provide sustainable life for a population of up to a million.  Instead, the State chose to put the financial cost and construction responsibility on individual citizens.  Doubling or tripling the populations of built-out traditional neighborhoods has been tried and frequently resulted in slums.

California laws regarding splitting single-family lots and placing two or more housing units on existing single-family lots have stirred opposition by many California cities.  Workarounds are being creatively devised in these cities to halt dramatic changes to their neighborhoods and cities.

Some cities are limiting the height of structures, declaring areas historic, and limiting the square footage of Accessory Dwelling Units.  Other allowable workarounds are being developed by many California City Councils.

Unlike these other California cities Piedmont Planners and the Piedmont City Council have, to date, fully embraced the imminent changes to Piedmont neighborhoods and single-family residences by planning an increase to housing density throughout Piedmont in order to add 587 new housing units.

Further information is in the November 24, 2021 San Francisco Chronicle article linked below:

https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/California-cities-rush-to-limit-new-law-16647764.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headlines&utm_campaign=sfc_politicalpunch&sid=550b76a73b35d06a458cab0e

Dec 12 2021

Whatever Happened to Concern about Smog?

Piedmonters are familiar with the tales of neighbors unloading their old vehicles at prices greater than new car prices.  One overlooked and surprising benefit is the avoidance of smog testing.

Which  vehicles are exempt from smog testing?

“Gasoline-powered vehicles – a 1975 year model or older (This includes motorcycles and trailers.), Diesel-powered vehicles 1997 and older year model, OR with a Gross Vehicle Weight of more than 14,000 pounds.”

Some counties don’t require smog testing of any vehicles:

“The counties in California which do not require smog check are El Dorado, Riverside, Placer, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Sonoma.”

 

 

Dec 1 2021

Reports Circulated for COP 26 * Suggest  Drastic Life Style Changes to limit:  Airline travel, Video Gaming, Family size, Construction, Clothes Dryers

In preparing to host COP 26, the United Kingdom’s Climate researchers produced  reports to inform the world leaders meeting in Glasgow.  Quantifying the Potential for Climate Change Mitigation of Consumption Options by Ivanova et al provides sobering data on everyday carbon generation.

What Climate Actions by Individuals Make a Difference?

Smaller families and fewer airline flights would have the most significant impact on climate change that individuals could accomplish.  A family with one fewer child could reduce carbon emissions by up to 117.7 tons a year for a middle or upper middle income family living standard.  This is “by far the most significant action people could take at an individual (or rather, couple) level”.  Eliminating flights is the second most effective life style change for individuals concerned with Climate Change.  Flying SFO to Hong Kong represents 1.6 tons of carbon.  Converting from a meaty diet to a vegan diet saves .92 tons a year.  The California Energy Commission reported that video computer gaming in California consumed 4.1 terawatt-hours/year in 2016.  Presumably, in 2020-1 it  increased due to COVID 19 restrictions.

A middle or upper middle income family living standard child = 117.7 tons a year

Flying SFO to Hong Kong = 1.6 tons of carbon.

A meat diet compared with a vegan diet – .92 tons a year.

 

What Climate Actions Make Little Difference?

Are local and state governments fighting Climate Change  or introducing feel good Greenwashing* policies while doubling down on construction and automobile accommodations?

Reducing plastic items saves .02 tons a year and replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones saves .04 tons a year.  Such measures feel good, but don’t produce much benefit.  The New York Times June 29, 2021 reports, “…chucking a gas range that works won’t make much of a positive impact on the environment or most people’s health. … gas cooking doesn’t deserve as much climate-related ire as it has been getting lately, because it represents a tiny part of household energy use and carbon emissions. As of 2015, the most recent year with detailed data (PDF) from the US Energy Information Administration, gas stoves accounted for less than 3% of household natural gas use in the US. ”  Although Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan encourages replacing gas with electric stoves, houses that came on the market for the past few years have felt obligated to install new commercial type six burner gas stoves as an attractive sales feature.

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan does not ask residents, the public or staff to make any of the most significant lifestyle changes. 

Shifting from a fossil fuel engine car (including hybrids) to an all-electric car saves .47 tons a year, only about twice as much as foregoing use of a clothes dryer.  (Hanging clothes to dry rather than using a dryer saves .22 tons a year.)  Replacing gas stoves with electric may not yield the desired benefit.

According to the UN Environment Program, although building energy consumption from heating, cooling, powering equipment, heating water, has remained steady year-on-year, energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 9.95 gigatonnes in 2019,  largely due to a shift away from the direct use of coal and oil  towards electricity, which has a higher carbon content due to the high proportion of fossil fuels used in generation.

Greenwashing* has been a sales tool of some brands and investment funds, but also a feature of local climate policies.  The modest climate prescriptions in such plans can be more than offset by conflicting policies that allow or even promote demolition and construction.  Manufacture of steel (for cars, building construction, appliances) emits 7% of the world’s carbon according to the New York Times.  Nigel Topping, United Kingdom High-Level Climate Champion noted: ‘We urgently need to address carbon emissions from buildings and construction, which constitute almost 40% of global carbon emissions.”

*Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.

The October 31 New York Times pointed out the extent of ineffective global action in reaching the agreed goals.  “The global use of fossil fuels which has been on a steady march upward for 150 years, is projected to peak by the middle of this decade, assuming countries hew to the promises they’ve made under the Paris accords.”  In particular, coal generated electric energy has increased 21% in 2021 compared with 2020, when it  increased similarly over 2019 according to the US energy Information administration.  In Rome the G 20 gathering was unable to agree to reduce coal generated electricity.

Mandates on Individuals Are Preferable to Government Restraint

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference gathering in Glasgow got off to an unfortunate symbolic start with more than 400 private jets flying in the delegations. Five jets for the US Presidential delegation produced 2.5 million tons of Co2 and on the ground the Presidential motorcade numbered more than 85 vehicles.

Although 40 nations signed on to phase out coal, several leading economies (US, China, India and Australia) were conspicuous in their reluctance to sign on Reuters (“COP26 coal pledge falls short on support as emissions surge”) reports here.  The increasing demand for coal quadrupled the price this year.  Finally, after Greta Thunberg and other Climate activists belittled the  holdouts, two weeks of negotiation produced the compromise “phase down” coal and other fossil fuels.  This new term without a clear meaning, seemed even more ambiguous as the US and EU simultaneously urged OPEC Plus to increase production of fossil fuels.

Professing Climate Concern State and Local Government Actions Undermine Climate Action

California State laws prevent cities and towns from protecting their environments to support healthy climate lifestyles by enacting limits on the most egregious CO2 emitting activities.  The State even mandates increased accommodation of a proliferation of cars to the detriment of public transit as well as bicycle and pedestrian safety.

The State and Piedmont are reducing setbacks and backyards, eliminating natural options to air cooling and clothes dryers to the detriment of Climate Action.

 *United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty agreed in 1994. The 2021 meeting is the 26th meeting, which is why it’s called COP26.

Editors Note: Additional information on Green House Gases can be read at this link > https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions.

 

Dec 1 2021

View where the new Electrical Vehicle (EV) charging station will be on Magnolia Avenue near the Exedra at Main Park.

Scroll down on the link below to view EV maps and information for the December 1 Park Commission Meeting Agenda. 

Park Commission Agenda 12-1-2021 FINAL

 

Nov 29 2021

Pedestrian issues missing in the proposed Piedmont Safer Streets Plan. 

  • Where is the plan for better sidewalk maintenance?
  • Where is the plan for enforcement of Piedmont laws prohibiting vehicle parking on sidewalks? 
  • Where is the plan to restrict parking on dangerously narrow streets?

The plan appears to focus on money oriented capital projects and bicycles rather than general pedestrian safety.  Studies produced do not mention accidents caused by improperly maintained sidewalks.  The City inventoried all public paths in Piedmont (in other words, walkways other than sidewalks) to assess conditions and identify any needed repairs.  Sidewalk conditions throughout the City were not inventoried. 

“A secondary walking-related concern is gaps in sidewalk coverage and existing sidewalks in poor condition.” Plan

“Remove onstreet parking and fill in missing sidewalks in order to address concerns about pedestrians having to walk in the roadway.” Resident

The elaborate, costly, and studied final proposal for Safer Streets in Piedmont is to be considered by the City Council on Monday, December 6, 2021.  Agenda  here. 

COVID 19 brought out pedestrians and exercisers in numbers never seen before on Piedmont streets and sidewalks. A repeated complaint from readers was dangerous sidewalk conditions caused by years of damage from trees, water, vehicles, and old age.

Those attempting to walk on sidewalks around corners on narrow streets, frequently found cars and trucks parked on the sidewalk blocking their ability to stay on the sidewalk, particularly those pushing a baby carriage.  Police enforcement prohibiting parking vehicles on the sidewalk is generally absent in Piedmont.

The plan emphasizes vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians crossing or interfacing with Piedmont streets, while not mentioning the number of pedestrians falling or injured by sidewalk problems.

The City of Piedmont, which prides itself on otherwise excellent customer service, does not have an online form for the public to request repair and maintenance of streets and other public infrastructure.  The plan suggests the City should have an online repair request form. 

READ the full proposed FINAL DRAFT PLAN below:

https://p1cdn4static.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Planning%20Division/General%20Plan/PSS_final%20draft%20plan_Oct.%2028,%202021.pdf

Transportation Planning

December 6 City Council Hearing

for the Piedmont Safer Streets Plan

At the October 7, 2021 meeting, the Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee recommended City Council adoption of the Draft Piedmont Safer Streets Plan with four additional recommendations.
Pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines Section 15072, staff prepared an Initial Study for public review for the Safer Streets Plan. Having received no comments, staff is recommending that City Council adopt a Negative Declaration, based on the findings in the Initial Study.
On December 6, 2021, the City Council will consider adoption of a resolution to:
a) adopt the Piedmont Safer Streets Plan, and
b) adopt the Initial Study and Negative Declaration for the Piedmont Safer Streets Plan.
Following adoption of the Plan, implementation of the Plan’s recommendations, programs and policies will begin. City staff will continue to monitor existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure and traffic conditions in the City. The Final Draft Plan is available for public review. Agenda for the December 6, 2021 Council meeting will be posted here no later than Friday, December 3, 2021. Staff report for the Plan, detailing all steps taken by staff and role played by the PBAC, will be available for review here, no later than Friday, December 3, 2021.
Please send any comments or questions on the Plan to Associate Planner Gopika Nair at gnair@piedmont.ca.gov. For more information about the PSS Plan and staff reports, please visit:

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Email comments may be addressed to the City Council and sent to the City Clerk at jtulloch@piedmont.ca.gov

Nov 20 2021

Who is fighting to stop the State takeover of local land use planning?

California residents, including Piedmonters, are becoming more and more aware of the loss of control over local land use planning in their cities and neighborhoods. Public interest groups are forming to fight State takeover of local planning processes.

Developers are projected to be the monetary gainers of State control over housing and planning.

The continuing loss of local citizens’ ability to control development and feel confident of their community’s future is felt and shown in the number of homeowners deciding this is the time to leave California. 

To date, the Piedmont City Council has fully supported the Piedmont Regional Housing Need Assessments (RHNA) calling for an additional 587 housing units added in Piedmont.  Proposals call for the Piedmont Planning Department to ministerially take action on approvals without neighborhood input on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that meet certain criteria. Areas in Piedmont, including a park, are  being considered to be designated for multiple housing units. 

State legislation impacts Piedmont’s two “single family” residential zones differently.   Zone A where smaller parcels are typically found in “lower Piedmont,” there is a requirement of a 5 foot setback from side and rear property lines for habitable buildings.  Zone E (Estate), an elite zone where parcels are generally located in upper Piedmont,  require more space  around their homes for the greater 20 foot side and rear yard setbacks.   Roof overhangs are allowed into the setbacks further narrowing the distance between buildings.  Zone E has been questioned as illegally established as never having been established by voter action per the City Charter . 

The required number of RHNA housing units was assigned to Piedmont without consideration of the numerous substandard, narrow, and winding road ways impacting safety and emergency vehicles.   Deficient municipal open space, lack of local employment, and other local problems were also not factored into Piedmont’s 587 new housing unit assessment.

Various groups opposing State imposition of housing requirements are linked below for information.

 www.stopsacramento.org
https://www.livablecalifornia.org/livable-california-endorses-the-our-neighborhood-voices-initiative/