Jul 4 2021

Piedmont resident Jennifer Nixon loves to cook and try new things. She is also exploring more ways to be a “good climate citizen” and is “inspired by the Piedmont Climate Challenge and all the helpful ideas on the website.”

After watching an “induction cooking party” video with chef Rachelle Boucher, from BayREN & Kitchens to Life, she was curious to see if this new cooking method would change her style. So, last April, she became one of the first Piedmonters to borrow the single-burner, induction cooktop, offered for free by the City of Piedmont for a two week trial.

And how did she like it? “Everything I cooked —omelettes, sautés, pasta, polenta and soup — turned out well,” Jennifer says. “I also appreciated the City providing two pieces of induction cookware (a sauce pot and a fry pan) and a magnet to test my own cookware. Four of mine passed the test.

Induction cooking is very fast, which means you spend less time at the stove and use less energy. And I imagine less heat means having a cooler kitchen on hot days. I had a little learning curve with the temperature settings, and you have to get used to not ‘seeing’ how high the heat is, as with gas burners. But I believe it’s safer, since the cooktop is cool to the touch – only the pan heating the food gets hot, and there are no gas emissions. It’s also easy to keep clean.”

Before deciding to purchase an induction cooktop, Jennifer plans to do more research on the cost of a five-burner induction cooktop, which can run from $2,000 – $3,400, plus the cost of installing a 240V electric outlet, which is required for a five-burner cooktop. (Cost of a noninduction, electric range begins around $900.) Jennifer might also consider buying a one-or two-burner induction cooktop, which is far less expensive and uses a regular household plug.

As an incentive, BayRen offers a $300 rebate for purchase of a new induction cooktop. Regarding the required magnetized cookware (cast iron is fine), Jennifer notes that pans should have a flat bottom and concentric rings on the outer edge of the base. “The base of the pan must completely cover the burner,” she says. “And don’t use metal spoons to cook as they may pass on the current to your body.”

For more information on induction cooking and on borrowing Piedmont’s single-burner
induction cooktop, visit:
https://piedmont.ca.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=17510635

Marjorie Blackwell, Piedmont Resident

Jun 21 2021

– Need for more action, Climate Action Committee, net zero carbon Pool  –

City Council: The report on the 2019 Green House Gas (GHG) Inventory is alarming for two reasons. First there has been virtually no change in city’s GHG emissions from 2018 to 2019 which indicates the city is not making progress towards the reduction targets. Second, the inventory indicates the transition to renewable energy provided by EBCE will not provide sufficient GHG reduction for the city to meet those targets.

The report shows the only way for Piedmont to achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets is through reduction (and possibly elimination) of the use of natural gas and the transition to electric vehicles.

The report may lead some to suggest there has been progress in that the GHG contributions of the residential sector have been reduced as a percentage of Piedmont’s total GHG emissions (figure 2 from the GHG report). That change is based solely on the assumption that all electricity currently provided to Piedmont from EBCE is renewable.

The reductions assigned to in the residential and municipal facility sectors in the 2019 GHG report have yet to be achieved although it may be appropriate to account for them at this time. Doing so now means that the City will achieve no further GHG reductions through ECBE’s greening of the grid and will need to find reductions in other ways.

This is evident in Figure 17 (from Attachment A) – electricity emissions are now essentially zero while natural gas emissions have gone unchanged for 3 years now. EBCE renewable energy has produced a reduction of only 2000 MT.

There is much greater reduction to be achieved through natural gas. This “reduction” in the residential sector may also lead some to think we need to focus instead on transportation. While transportation is important, market forces are driving the adoption of EV’s and in fact the city can do very little to affect this change. Instead, the City needs to focus on reducing the community sector GHG emissions through more REACH Codes, incentives and bans on use of natural gas in new construction and residential additions. On this last point, the City is in an excellent position to lead by example for the community.

Adoption of EV’s in the municipal fleet would be a visible statement by the city on its commitment to reducing GHG. But a city action of even greater relevance would be the building of a net zero carbon pool. The current pool is the largest municipal user of natural gas in the city and the conceptual design for the new pool will at least double that usage.

During the upcoming public engagement on the pool design, the city should advocate for a ZNC pool and provide designs and cost estimates of a ZNC pool during the public process. It is a stated goal of CAP 2.0 for the City to have net zero carbon operations by 2050.

Finally, staff suggests Council consider the establishment of Climate Action Committee to provide technical advice to the City on implementing the CAP and to serve as a liaison to the community. Virtually every other Bay area municipality has done this. Given that the city’s GHG reduction has stalled, innovative ideas will need to be vetted and Piedmont as a wealth of energy expertise that can assist staff. And as we saw with the REACH codes, the community wants these new proposals from staff presented at public hearings and a Climate Action Committee would provide that venue. Give direction to staff to report back to Council with concepts for such a committee in the near term.

 

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 20 2021

IMPORTANT DECISION ON ADDITIONAL HOUSING BY PIEDMONT CITY COUNCIL JUNE 21.  

AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

The Piedmont City Council has for many months strongly and philosophically supported the ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments), allocation of 587 new housing units for Piedmont between 2023 -​2031.  The allocation is referred to as RHNA  (Regional Housing Needs Assessment). 

Moving ahead of the schedule, in May the Piedmont City Council approved $691,230 for Consulting Services with Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc.,to plan for acceptance of the 587 new housing units.   As Councilmember Cavanaugh opined, Piedmont should be preemptive and not wait until 2023 to start efforts to accommodate these new units.

While numerous cities have appealed their particular allocation of new housing units, the Piedmont City Council has been steadfast in planning for and accepting  587  new housing units.  By 2023 when the 587 new housing units are required to be in place, the current City Council members will no longer be in office.

To achieve this significant increase in housing units could require rezoning properties, adding more multiple housing areas, building housing in City parks and properties, dividing existing parcels into smaller parcels, condemnation of private property, reconfiguration of streets, adding new services, etc.

City Staff and Council unite against appealing required 587 additional housing units allocation.

July 9, 2021 deadline: the RHNA Appeal deadline, is fast approaching. 

The May 25, 2021 release of the suggested 2023 -​2031 RHNA allocations initiated the period in which a local jurisdiction or Housing and Community Development (HCD) can submit an appeal to ABAG requesting a change to any Bay Area jurisdiction’s allocation.  Piedmont  has no plans to appeal.  The City Council and staff intend to accept the 587 new housing units in Piedmont between 2023  and ​2031.

Key dates in the RHNA Appeal process are:

 May 25, 2021: official release of draft RHNA allocations.

 July 9, 2021: deadline for a jurisdiction or HCD to submit an appeal of a jurisdiction’s draft allocation.

 August 30, 2021: deadline for comments on appeals submitted.

 September and/or October 2021: ABAG conducts public hearings to consider appeals and comments received.

 October or November 2021: ABAG ratifies written final determination on each appeal and issues final RHNA allocations that adjust allocations as a result of any successful appeals.

 November or December 2021: ABAG Executive Board conducts public hearing to adopt Final RHNA Plan.

The ABAG website provides more information about the appeals process. The ABAG 2023-2031 RHNA Appeals Procedures includes details about the statutory requirements for the appeals process and how ABAG will conduct the public hearing to consider appeals. In the event an appeal is approved and a jurisdiction’s RHNA is lowered, the net difference in units are allocated proportionally to other jurisdictions across the region. Thus, a jurisdiction may see its RHNA increase as a result of other appeals (if they are successful).

STAFF RECOMMENDATION IS TO ACCEPT PIEDMONT’S 587 ADDITIONAL HOUSING UNITS or RHNA.

As noted in the Executive Summary, City staff recommends that no appeal of the RHNA should be filed and that the City accept the RHNA assigned to Piedmont. Although City staff raised concerns during the development of the RHNA methodology, these concerns do not form the legal basis to appeal Piedmont’s RHNA. As explained in this report, an appeal would only be considered on the three possible grounds per Government Code Section 65584.05. In staff’s assessment, the case for an appeal is unlikely to be meritorious, including because ABAG possesses fairly significant discretion in deciding appeals under the law. Staff’s assessment that an appeal would unlikely prevail are also based on the following considerations:

 the approved RHNA methodology is not related to a jurisdiction’s capacity to accommodate growth under its current zoning limits or City Charter;

 the approved RHNA methodology does not adjust a jurisdiction’s allocation based on natural hazards such as fire, flood, or landslides; Agenda Report Page 4 of 33

 the record for appeals filed in other regions, such as the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), shows that an appeal is likely to fail.

In the SCAG region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties, 49 jurisdictions appealed their much larger RHNA assignments. Of the 47 appeals that continued to hearing, only two were partially approved. In the SANDAG region (San Diego) Council of Governments, there were four appeals filed out of the 18 cities in the region. One appeal was partially granted and the other three appeals were denied; and

 the RHNAs for other jurisdictions throughout California, including the San Francisco Bay Area (in the ABAG region), are all significantly higher than in years past, and ABAG member jurisdictions are unlikely to be swayed by any arguments made by a jurisdiction’s officials to lower its RHNA and reallocate the units to other jurisdictions.

Piedmont’s Contract City Attorney, Michelle Kenyon, “concurs with staff’s assessment regarding the City’s likelihood of success in pursuing an appeal, given all of the aforementioned legal and practical factors and reasons outlined herein.”

Read the full staff report below:

Update on 2023-2031 Regional Housing Needs Allocation for the City of Piedmont and Possible Direction to Staff

Jun 20 2021

Given the City Council’s support for adding 587 new housing units in Piedmont, the Council formed a committee to make recommendations on  new housing units in Piedmont. 

On June 15, 2021, after reviewing the draft Guiding Principles and considering the public comments received, the Housing Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the following Guiding Principles for adoption by the City Council:

1. Support equitable distribution of affordable units across the City. A diversity of housing choices, including new affordable multi-family housing, new mixed-income multifamily housing, new residential mixed-use development, converted units, ADUs, and Junior ADUs, should be considered throughout the City’s neighborhoods, corridors, and zoning districts.

2. Promote and enhance community design and neighborhoods. Infill development should be compatible with the neighborhood context. Development and design standards should ensure that new construction enhances the area in terms of building scale, placement, and design; and is sensitive to impacts on the neighborhood, including impacts related to sunlight access, privacy, and roadway access. Each building must exhibit high-quality design and play a role in creating a better whole.

3. Remove barriers to development and access to housing through clear and objective standards. Development standards and procedures should guide development that is equitable and feasible and that lead applicants through procedures that are transparent and predictable.

4. Facilitate the development of new housing units through strategic partnerships between the City and the broader community. Partnerships to facilitate development include striving to reach community consensus for desired designs; and achieving community support for new incentives, standards, and tools to meet housing goals.

5. Social equity. Work with the Community to proactively facilitate greater social equity by considering City incentives and programs that will enable new homes and apartments for a range of income levels, creating opportunities for all persons regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, or financial ability.

The goal of the guiding principles is to guide the development of ADU programs and development of objective design standards for multi-family apartment buildings, as directed by the current 2015 Housing Element, recognizing that state regulations and social conditions today are different than those in effect in 2015. The Guiding Principles are not intended to be a broad mission statement guiding the far-reaching policy discussions that must occur as part of the next Housing Element Update.

READ THE STAFF REPORT for Council action on June 21, 2021.

2021-06-21 2015-2023 Housing Element Guiding Principles

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS: SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Jun 20 2021

On Monday, June 21, Piedmont City Council will receive a report from staff on the 2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Climate Action Plan 2.0 implementation status.

The City completes a greenhouse gas inventory annually and presents the results to the community. The inventory is a useful tool to measure the City’s progress towards its emission reduction goals. The 2018 Climate Action Plan 2.0 set emission goals for a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, both based on a baseline year of 2005.

The inventory helps City staff and community members keep track of progress and determine ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The inventory details both community emissions from households and businesses, as well as emissions stemming from city government activities and facilities.

The inventory Piedmont uses keeps track of emissions inside City boundaries, but does not include consumption and emissions outside of the City. For example, the inventory includes emissions coming from electricity that is used inside the City, but does not include emissions coming from flights that Piedmont residents take outside of the city.

While Piedmont is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita in the Bay Area, there are ways to reduce emissions.

The inventory and Climate Action Plan 2.0 provide further information on actionable measures to help reduce Piedmont’s greenhouse gas emission footprint.

On Monday, the City Council will also consider an agreement with East Bay Community Energy for the installation of two dual port electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on Bonita Avenue and parking restrictions for the four spaces served by the EV chargers.

The installation of direct current fast EV chargers to serve Piedmont residents, business owners, employees, students, and visitors will help the City meet the goals of the Piedmont Climate Action Plan 2.0.

INVENTORY: To learn more about the inventory, please read through the staff report published here (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=14120439), and attend the City Council meeting on Monday, June 21, 2021 at 6:00 pm.

CHARGING STATIONS: To learn more about the proposed EV charging stations, please read through the staff report published here: (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17786422)

VIEW THE MEETING: The meeting will be recorded and uploaded to the City website here (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=14122987) if you cannot attend the meeting live.

Staff report 621 Green House Emissions with map

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS – SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

Jun 20 2021

The Council is refreshing the prohibition of parking in red zones.  Maps are provided of the locations throughout the city.

READ the full staff report with maps showing locations.

No Parking Red Zones and Maps

June 21 – AGENDA DETAILS  – SCHEDULE AND PARTICIPATION

 

Jun 15 2021

The warmer it gets, the more we use air conditioning. The more we use air conditioning, the warmer it gets.  In 1990, there were only about 400 million air conditioning units in the world, mostly in the US, today there are over a billion.  Since 2000 every record for peak electricity use in New York City has occurred during a heatwave, as millions of people turn on their air conditioning units.

Some Piedmonters are concerned about their energy-wasting air conditioners, which pump heat outdoors, blasting their neighbors with hot air. As the City shrinks side setbacks, cross-ventilation becomes less available and less effective.  To avoid this costly contributor to their  environmental footprint, they wonder about experimenting with greener alternatives when temperatures rise this summer.

PG&E Advice on Cooling Your House in  Hot Weather :

Keep shades, drapes, and curtains drawn

Ventilate your attic.

Your attic can reach temperatures exceeding 140 degrees.

Plant shade trees.

Shading your house with trees can make a surprising difference. Deciduous trees planted on the east, south or west side of a house, the sunniest sides, can reduce your cooling load in hot summer months by up to 30%.

Planting shrubs next to your home can also help. Vines or trellises placed directly on a west wall can lower the wall’s surface temperature by as much as 40°, making it easier to keep your home cool inside. Ground covers and lawns can also help keep your home naturally cool. A lawn is 10-15° cooler than bare ground.

Install shade devices.

Shade screens and tints on windows and glass doors, as well as window and wall awnings, are very effective forms of passive cooling. Shading windows and walls on the sunny sides of your home can cut your cooling needs considerably.

Ventilate when it’s cool outside.

Opening windows when it’s cooler outside than inside can often cool your home down into the 60’s with simple ventilation. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.

Consider a whole-house fan.

Because some nights are cool, but have no breeze, you may benefit from using a whole-house fan to force cool air through your home.

If you use air conditioning:

Set it at 78°. You can cut your system’s operating costs by 20% or more simply by setting your thermostat higher. If everyone did this, the U.S. could save the equivalent of 190,000 barrels of oil per day.         Read all PG&E Advice

Air Conditioners Are not Green, Compromising Piedmont’s Stated Climate Action Goals

Window air conditioning units and through-wall sleeve air conditioning units typically leak large amounts of energy. Central air or ductless mini-split systems are significantly more efficient. In addition, their  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emit pollutants that put holes in the ozone. AC systems require enormous amounts of energy to operate.

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan and Goals do not require elimination of AC when an existing home is sold or even prohibit AC in new construction.  The townhomes developed on Linda Avenue were designed with cross ventilation for natural summer cooling.  However, the City insisted they be equipped for air conditioning instead.  Some older Piedmont homes have lost their access to natural cross-ventilation, as infill building has reduced air flow.

Shaded Public and Private Open Space Offers Natural Cooling

Piedmont loses open space every year as construction project gobble side setbacks and diminish backyards.  Preserving Piedmont’s remaining vacant land as private open space or public parkland not only would bolster quality of life, protect environmental assets and but offer citizens an alternative to energy draining air conditioning.  

Advice on Treatment Overheated Individuals

The combination of  overheating and dehydration reduces the body’s ability to cool itself.  Wired magazine recommends the Wilderness first responder treatment, “sip cool water, and nibble a salty snack.”

Jun 15 2021

An intense heat wave can require rotating power outages when increasing use of air conditioning causes electricity demand spikes.

Power traded on Friday for Monday jumped to $151 per megawatt hour (MWh) at Palo Verde in Arizona and $95 in SP-15 in Southern California. . . the highest since the February freeze.

California is the U.S. region most at risk of power shortages this summer because the state increasingly relies on intermittent energy sources like wind and solar,        Reuters reports.

If rotating outages are needed, PG&E will post information at this page to show the order in which PG&E will likely proceed, if ordered by CAISO to turn off power. Estimated restoration times are 2-3 hours after the outage actually starts. The situation remains dynamic and shutoff times may change.

Jun 10 2021

As Piedmont attempts to find housing locations to meet its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA ) of 587 new housing units within 1. 7 square miles in our built-out city, other Bay Area cities are being questionably assessed fewer housing units.

Atherton, certainly a fine city and one that adds significantly to the Bay Area, has over 4 square miles with a very low housing density of 7,168 high income people.  Yet, it is being assessed to provide only 298 new housing units, while Piedmont is being assessed to provide 587 new units.

For this cycle, the town [Atherton] is required to plan for the development of 298 new housing units. Some 74 would need to be very low-income housing, 43 low-income, 51 moderate-income and 130 for above moderate-income, according to the report.

Atherton is in the midst of Silicon Valley where housing demands have rapidly multiplied,  especially for hotel maids, restaurant dishwashers, gardeners, office cleaners, and other low income workers.  Why is their assessment less than Piedmont’s? This is merely one example of the questionable methodology being used when assessing and allocating housing units to various cities and communities.

Many cities, as Piedmont, have barriers to safe and appropriate increases to population including: open space, roadway widths and designs, infrastructure, limited public transit, fire safety issues, pandemic impacts, etc.  Yet, these factors appear not to have been considered when the Association of Bay Area Governments assigned allocations.

Cloverdale, CA’s population before the pandemic in 2019 was 8,754,  three-quarters the population of Piedmont.  It’s proposed RHNA for 2023 -2031 is only 278,  less than half the allocation to Piedmont despite Cloverdale’s available open space  (more than 3 sq miles compared with 1.7 sq miles).

The New York Times May 30, 2021 reported that 36,000 people moved out of San Francisco in the final quarter of 2020.  Many moved several hours away from the Bay Area, especially east to the Sacramento area or the Sierras or north to wine country or beyond. 

The LA Times wrote that Fresno is the hottest real estate market in the US, and rents are skyrocketing .   A new 255 unit rental development opened in 2020 and all units were taken within months, despite it’s high rents “one-bedrooms go for as much as $2,600 a month — a price rivaling those in Los Angeles beach communities.”  Since 2017, average rents in Fresno have increased nearly 39%, the fastest in California.   Read the Los Angeles Times article here

Fresno’s population is reported as 525,010 as of 2019.  In 2020 Fresno had 11 units of affordable multi-family rental housing constructed, falling 503 units short of its RHNA allocation.  An enormous shortfall in the current assigned housing production to be completed by next year.   Read Report here.

Piedmont resident Michael Henn points out that Oakland created an Area Specific Plan that “protects” Rockridge from high densities, despite its excellent walkability to  the BART station and major bus lines. 

May 27 2021

“In the last housing cycle, Piedmont was asked to plan for 60 new homes and the city fell short, issuing permits for just 37 units*. This cycle, the city is expected to plan for nearly 600 new homes.  …

In a staff report on future housing development, the Piedmont Planning Division  highlighted several ideas from residents about how to build more affordable housing, including placing it on land annexed from Oakland and subsidizing development of new units and purchasing apartments for teachers and first responders in the neighboring city.” SF Chronicle May 20, 2021

The May 20, 2021 SF Chronicle article contained several errors.  The 60 new housing units are the planning goal for the current cycle.  Piedmont is on track to exceed its effort to add 60 units by the deadline at the end of 2022.  The proposed 587 new housing units is the planning goal assigned for the cycle beginning in 2023 and ending 2031.

City staff reports “The 2020 annual progress report shows that the City of Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units anticipated by the RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Allocation] having issued building permits for the construction of approximately 73 new units out of a state-mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022.”

As a denser city, Piedmont will be seriously challenged in the future to plan for its uncontested 587 additional housing units RHNA.  The State considers that local governments play a vital role in developing affordable housing. In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income. 

Other cities having greater land availability than Piedmont have contested their allocation for increased housing units.  State laws allow for input on  draft RHNA based on individual cities conditions.

The Piedmont City Council has consistently voiced their desire to meet Piedmont’s draft allocation (587) and add the new housing units within Piedmont. 

The City Council has moved ahead on the 2023 planning process, hiring consultants, asking residents where they want to put 587 new units, and forming committees to pursue and influence Piedmonters in regard to the 587 new units.  Public hearings in Piedmont have yet to be held on the Piedmont opinions of the new housing expansion. 

Why is the Piedmont RHNA for the cycle beginning 2023 approximately 10 times larger than the current RHNA?

One contributing factor is the new “equity adjustment,” a formula was proposed that increases allocations of lower-income units for some jurisdictions identified as having racial and socioeconomic demographics that differ from the regional average. Five jurisdictions that met the formula were excluded.  These jurisdictions were excluded from the equity adjustment to avoid directing additional lower-income RHNA units to jurisdictions with racial demographics that are different than the rest of the region but that already have a high share of lower-income households.  [See tables beginning on page 31 of this report.]

Per the Piedmont City Charter, some of the potential methods of increasing Piedmont housing units will require voter approval to make zoning changes.