Aug 28 2022

Bring us all together instead of pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.

I sense growing anxiety in the community over the decisions being made of where to accommodate 587 units of new housing.

What would greatly reduce this anxiety, in my opinion, would be to have details of the suggested plans along with their locations, ie, how many stories will there be? what will the buildings look like on the outside?  will they be duplexes, attached condos, high rise apartments buildings?

Yet another way to reduce this anxiety would be to understand that for Piedmont to reach its goals, a compromise needs to be found so that the distribution of new housing will be borne by the whole community not one neighborhood. 

If our goal is to help solve the housing crises, let us be equitable with each other as well as those that need affordable housing.  Please find a mediator to bring us all together instead of pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.

Karen P Harley, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Aug 26 2022

The following questions were posed to the Piedmont Planning Department regarding the proposed Housing Element:

1. Is the relocation of the Corporation Yard to Blair Park being considered as part of the Moraga Canyon Site Assessment?
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2. The 102 presentation projected 82 units for the Corporation Yard.  Does that assume the Corporation Yard is relocated to Blair Park? If not, can you identify the acreage that is available for housing in the Corporation Yard and how the estimate of 82 units for the Corporation Yard (50+32) was determined?  
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3. The City Administrator discussed the income levels required for new residents to be eligible for low income housing.  The City Administrator presented income data for city/PUSD employees, citing the number of employees that fall into the 4 categories between $69,000 and $150,000. She concluded that 80% of city/PUSD employees are considered low income.  The income eligibility levels are based on the income for a family of 4.  Did the city administrator’s presentation account for this – are the employee numbers she presented for employees with families of 4 (or more) or were those incomes for individual employees?
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4.  The Planning Director presented a new total for ADU of 142 and a new income distribution of 84/42/16 = 142. He attributed this new distribution to guidance from HCD and ABAG.  Can I obtain a copy of that guidance from the two agencies or can you direct me to a s source for it?
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Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member
Aug 24 2022

Article 34 of the state Constitution prohibits the development of a low-income affordable housing project with state or local public financing or assistance unless and until a majority of the voters of the jurisdiction has approved it.

Article 34 of the California Constitution requiring voter approval of proposed development has not been presented to Piedmonters as an important voter law regarding the proposed Housing Element plan.

According to the rule of law, voters have rights regarding zoning and use changes as proposed in the Housing Element.  Workarounds to stop Piedmont citizens from voting defeats the Piedmont rule of law and City Charter.

California Article 34 reinforces the role of Piedmont voters spelled out in the Piedmont City Charter fulfilling the rule of law in Piedmont and throughout the state. 

The council enthusiasm for swift adoption of the new Housing Element did not include a citizen vote in the schedule, ignoring Piedmont ordinances, the Piedmont City Charter and the state Constitution impeding Piedmont voters from voting on the significant zoning changes proposed.  

The Piedmont City Council has a right and responsibility by Piedmont and California laws to devise housing and development proposals in the Piedmont General Plan, including the Housing Element.  The City Council will ask the state to approve the Housing Element plans.  However, most importantly, if the state approves Piedmont’s Housing Element and the Housing Element requires zoning changes and reclassifications per Piedmont laws, as the current Housing Element proposal does, then the zoning changes per Piedmont laws must be approved by Piedmont voters prior to implementation. 

Various workarounds have been presented regarding zoning to avoid seeking approval of Piedmont voters at a general or special election.

If Piedmont voters reject the City Council zoning changes, then the City Council must, according to Piedmont laws, change the Housing Element to adhere to Piedmont laws by gaining Piedmont voter approval of zoning changes. 

In Los Gatos, a ballot measure has been qualified for the ballot to amend their City Council’s approved General Plan and place the matter before voters.  Piedmont has the assumed protection of Piedmont and state laws requiring approval of proposed zoning changes, if the City Council adheres to City and state laws. 

Does the Piedmont City Council trust voters to act on proposed zoning changes per the Piedmont City Charter, Piedmont Zoning Ordinances, and Article 34 of the state Constitution?

Where is an official written legal opinion regarding voter rights on the Piedmont proposed zoning changes and the Housing Element indicating compliance with the Piedmont City Charter, Piedmont Zoning Ordinances, and Article 34 of the state Constitution ?

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READ CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 34 > https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=CONS&division=&title=&part=&chapter=&article=XXXIV

Aug 17 2022

The City of Piedmont is presenting another informational event for Piedmonters on matters related to the Housing Element.  A social time in the City Hall Courtyard will follow the presentation to give attendees “a chance to meet with City staff and gain additional clarity on the Draft Housing Element.”

Presentation information has not been provided by the City.

On Thursday, August 18th at 5:00 p.m., the City of Piedmont will host a “Housing Element 102” Information Session.

Community members are invited to attend in person, virtually on Zoom (https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/82234103859), or on KCOM-TV, the City’s Government Access television station (Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T Channel 99). The information session, which will be held in the City Council Chambers, will be followed by an open house in the City Hall Courtyard.

This session, which follows up on the Housing Element 101 session, hosted by the City on September 29, 2021, which can be viewed at https://piedmont.granicus.com/player/clip/2413, is intended as an informational opportunity to provide clarity on salient pieces of a complex process and will focus on four main topics:

  • Housing Element and the Regional Housing Needs Allocation Basics
  • Overview of the Draft Housing Element Sites Inventory
  • Recap of the Direction the City Council Provided to Staff at its August 1, 2022 Meeting
  • Update on the Status of Piedmont’s Housing Element Process, Next Steps and Timeline to Certification

The open house will be a chance to meet with City staff and gain additional clarity on the Draft Housing Element.

Community members are encouraged to view the City’s Housing Element Basics YouTube playlist, which consists of a series of short videos about the Housing Element process.

Comprehensive and detailed information about the Housing Element process is available on https://piedmontishome.org and https://piedmont.ca.gov. Please contact Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald at piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov with questions or comments.

Aug 16 2022

New legal advice upends the rule of law in Piedmont regarding voters’ rights per the Piedmont City Charter and City Ordinances.

The Piedmont City Charter and City Ordinances require the City Council to propose the Housing Element, and Piedmont voters to approve the zoning changes –  sizes, use, and classifications.

According to Piedmont City Attorney within the proposed Housing Element, all Piedmont single-family zoning can be changed to high density multi-family zoning without Piedmont voter approval.  This current legal advice desecrates the rule of law in Piedmont regarding voters’ rights per the Piedmont City Charter and City Ordinances. Copied below.

Piedmont’s City Charter has protected Piedmont for nearly a century against intrusive commercialism, factories, high density housing, etc. by focusing on single-family residential zoning.  The Charter is clear. Placing multi-family dwellings/high density housing into single-family zoning, which is all of Piedmont, without voter approval is against Piedmont’s laws.

The single-family zoning classification in Piedmont is separate and distinct from Piedmont’s multi-family zoning classification. Classification determines the use and density allowed within a zone.  Multi-family classification is for multi-family use.  Single-family classification is for single-family use.  Commingling Piedmont multi-family classification zones and single-family classification breaches the City Charter and Piedmont Ordinances. 

Without voter approval, the Housing Element proposes the multi-family zone density will be increased to high density multi-family development and changing the single-family use classification as found in all zones to be changed to multi-family use. 

Piedmont zones are classified as: commercial, public, multi-family, and single-family.   All zones are specified as permitting single-family dwellings.  Unrecognized, Single-family classifications/use found in each zone cannot be interchangeable or described as proposed as multi-family zoning. 

The Housing Element proposes to allow high density multi-family classification to replace Single-family classification in zones used for commercial and public zones based on the false premise that single-family zoning allows higher density multi-family use without voter approval.  

Currently in Piedmont, all properties are zoned and classified for single-family dwellings. The State of California legislated a transformation of the Single-family classification to allow three (3) dwelling units:  a primary residence, an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), and a Junior ADU built within the confines of the primary residence.  Essentially, the State outlawed the single family housing unit per parcel limitation.  Consequentially, the high density multi-family dwelling units proposed for Piedmont’s Housing Element will need the approval of voters to change the classification of single-family residential to multi-family residential.  The proposal jumps the number from 3 dwelling units to a proposed 40-100 units per parcel without voter approval, ignoring Piedmont laws. 

The City Council will need to propose a Housing Element that will gain approval of Piedmont voters or be faced with revisions to gain Piedmont voter approval.  

Piedmont’s City Attorney Michelle Kenyon has advised and stated that single-family zoning classification allows multi-family zoning including high density multi-family development by ignoring the City Charter language. Further Kenyon stated that voters do not control density in Piedmont. This advice destroys voter rights and rule of law making the Piedmont proposed Housing Element counter to the City Charter.

The intent and language of the City Charter describes single-family zoning and classification as “the only use on such property shall be a single-family dwelling. ”  The new legal advice provided to the City Council fails to recognize voter requirements compliant with the Charter. 

Voter approval for zoning changes have been placed on a ballot many times in Piedmont per the City Charter .

At the August 1, 2022, City Council meeting City attorney Kenyon asked Planning Director Kevin Jackson about how the city had implemented the City Charter in regard to voters’ rights.  Jackson provided two examples, which excluded voters, both of which were based on Kenyon’s or her law firms prior advice allowing multi-family residential use to supplant single-family use without voter approval.  

The Council was not informed by Kenyon or the Planning Director regarding a plethora of prior documented legal advice requiring compliance with the City Charter and for ballot measures to be put before Piedmont voters regarding zoning changes.  Significant prior legal advice can be found in the City’s archives countering City Attorney Kenyon’s advice, and requiring Piedmont voters right to control and approve zoning per the City Charter.

According to the Charter and City ordinances, the City Council is to propose plans for development of Piedmont, however these plans must comply with voter approval per the Piedmont City Charter regarding changes, such as as going from single-family use to high density multi-family use.

The state has anticipated zoning changes to accommodate Housing Element zoning changes to add the large increases in housing, for Piedmont it is 587 housing units, a 15% housing increase.  The state provides a specific amount of time 1-3 years to implement zoning changes outlined in an approved Housing Element.  To date, the state has not eliminated city Charters’ voter approval of zoning changes.

See Piedmont’s zoning map be clicking below:

  https://cdn5-hosted.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Planning%20Division/Zoning/Zoning%20Map%20-%202021-12-01.pdf?v=9uGc6RDmS

Piedmont City Charter ARTICLE IX. General Provision

SECTION 9.02 ZONING SYSTEM The City of Piedmont is primarily a residential city, and the City Council shall have power to establish a zoning system within the City as may in its judgement be most beneficial. The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election. No zone shall be reduced or enlarged and no zones reclassified unless a majority of the voters voting upon the same shall vote in favor thereof; provided that any property which is zoned for uses other than or in addition to a single-family dwelling may be voluntarily rezoned by the owners thereof filing a written document executed by all of the owners thereof under penalty of perjury stating that the only use on such property shall be a single-family dwelling, and such rezoning shall not require a vote of the electors as set forth above.

City of Piedmont Ordinance :

Sections: 17.02.010

Title; City Charter 17.02.010 Title; Intent; City Charter.

A. Title. This chapter 17, Planning and Land Use, is also known as the zoning ordinance.

B. Intent. The City of Piedmont consists primarily of unique single-family residences set among mature trees and other vegetation. The residents wish to:

1. preserve the architectural heritage and beauty of the city’s homes, the mature vegetation, the tranquility and privacy that now exist, and significant views;

2. reduce on-street parking and traffic in the neighborhood streets and facilitate pedestrian and bicycle activity;

3. avoid overcrowding and its detrimental effects on city schools and other services and facilities;

4. preserve the city’s historical heritage;

5. preserve the existing stock of small homes and otherwise allow for a variety of housing types for all income levels, including single-family and multi-family dwellings;

6. ensure excellence of architectural design, and compliance with the Piedmont Design Guidelines;

7. allow retail, office, and service commercial uses that primarily serve city residents; and

8. promote property improvements without sacrificing the goals already mentioned.

These zoning regulations are designed to implement these purposes.

C. City Charter. The city’s zoning ordinance is also subject to the City Charter, particularly Section 9.01, General Plan, Section 9.02, Zoning System, and Section 9.04, General Laws Applicable.

Those sections read as follows:

Section 9.01 General Plan. The City Council shall adopt, and may from time to time, modify a general plan setting forth policies to govern the development of the City. Such plan may cover the entire City and all of its functions and services or may consist of a Planning & Land Use combination of plans governing specific functions and services or specific geographic areas which together cover the entire City and all of its functions and services. The plan shall also serve as a guide to Council action concerning such City planning matters as land use, development regulations and capital improvements.

Section 9.02 Zoning system. The City of Piedmont is primarily a residential city, and the City Council shall have the power to establish a zoning system within the City as may in its judgment be most beneficial. The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election. No zone shall be reduced or enlarged and no zones reclassified unless a majority of the voters voting upon the same shall vote in favor thereof; provided that any property which is zoned for uses other than or in addition to a single-family dwelling maybe voluntarily rezoned by the owners thereof filing a written document executed by all of the owners thereof under penalty of perjury stating that the only use on such property shall be a singlefamily dwelling, and such rezoning shall not require a vote of the electors as set forth above.

Section 9.04 General laws applicable. All general laws of the State applicable to municipal corporations, now or hereafter enacted, and which are not in conflict with the provisions of this Charter or with ordinances hereafter enacted, shall be applicable to the City. The City Council may adopt and enforce ordinances that, in relation to municipal affairs, shall control as against the general laws of the State.

In this subsection C, Section 9.02, the prohibition not to reduce, enlarge, or reclassify a zone without a vote is understood to mean the city may not change the zone boundaries, or change (reclassify) a property from one zone to another. [ Classification is the use. Zone names connote the useage, as commercial, public, multi-family, and single-family.]

 

Aug 13 2022

City of Piedmont Housing Element Event

You are invited to a Housing Element 102 information session on Thursday, August 18th at 5:00 p.m. Please attend in person, virtually on Zoom (https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/82234103859), or on KCOM-TV, the City’s Government Access television station (Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T Channel 99).

The Housing Element 102 information session, to be held in the City Council Chambers, will be followed by a Housing open house in the City Hall Courtyard. This session, which follows the Housing Element 101 session, hosted by the City on September 29, 2021, (available online on the City website at https://piedmont.granicus.com/player/clip/2413), is an opportunity to provide clarity on salient pieces of a complex process.

Family coloring together photo.

The Housing Element 102 information session will focus on four main topics:

  • Housing Element and the Regional Housing Needs Allocation basics
  • Overview of the Draft Housing Element sites inventory
  • Recap of the direction the City Council provided to staff at its August 1, 2022 meeting
  • Update on the status of Piedmont’s Housing Element process, next steps, and timeline to HCD certification

The Housing open house, being held directly after the close of the information session, will be a chance to meet with City staff and gain additional clarity on the Draft Housing Element. Before the information session, Community members are encouraged to view the City’s Housing Element Basics YouTube playlist, which consists of a series of short videos about the Housing Element process.

Comprehensive and detailed information about the Housing Element process is available on https://piedmontishome.org and https://piedmont.ca.gov.

Your ideas and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged. Public comment on the Draft Housing Element can be made in writing via mail to Draft Housing Element, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611, and emailed to:

piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov.

Jul 31 2022

The proposed changes to our city’s core, including building housing on the tennis courts, the grassy strip on Highland Avenue and the relocation of the fire department, would be a travesty and would forever change the character of Piedmont. While understanding the need to respond to the legislature’s mandate, the community would be ill-served by these proposals.

I agree with the observation that moving the fire department to the outskirts of the city would be a detriment to public safety. Additionally, the residents of housing built in Blair Park would not be any more isolated than the residents of Maxwelton Road, Abbott Way, Echo Lane, and Nellie Avenue, and traffic safety concerns would be alleviated by a traffic signal. Rezoning on Grand Avenue to accommodate multi-family housing is logical. The infrastructure already exists, and it would be situated on the only existing street in the city that could accommodate the additional traffic, particularly if restored to four lanes.

The proposal to alter the city center, which has the endorsement of individuals who are not city residents, specifically staff and the outside consultants, is insensitive. Moving the tennis courts away from the high school would be a detriment to the high school and raise its own safety issues. When I attended Piedmont High, PE included swimming and tennis at facilities across the street from the school. The school had varsity and JV men’s and women’s tennis teams. When my daughters attended PHS, the school fielded these teams as well. Is that no longer the case? How is moving these facilities away from the school a positive thing?

We are not Woodside, whose residents are seeking to avoid the construction of housing by prioritizing the needs of mountain lions. Our 1.7 square miles of land already developed. The legislature’s mandate of 587 new housing units amounts to a 15% increase in households. (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/piedmontcitycalifornia/INC110220.)

The only discussion regarding the impact that a 15% increase in student population will have on the schools is this observation in Appendix 6 of the 6th Cycle Housing Element, published in April 2022, which acknowledged the “limited capacity of the schools” to accommodate the anticipated increase in its population due to the proposed housing plan.

Census data belies the claim that school enrollment has declined due to a reduction in children residing in the community. Fully 26.4% of Piedmont residents are under the age of 18. (Id.) Without a deeper dive into the numbers, this would suggest that there are 165 children per academic year which far exceeds that of the current high school per class population. The decline school population has more to do with quality which I found to be disappointing when my children attended the high school when compared to my experience thirty years earlier during a time when the city was far more economically diverse than it is now, so diverse that the girls were required to wear uniforms to mitigate the effects of economic disparity in the student population.

The plan also acknowledges EBMUD constraints pertaining to water and sewage but proposes no solution. I did not see any discussion regarding the impact of that a 15% in households will have on other city services, such as police and fire, in the report. I’m in favor of providing subsidized housing for school and city service employees but not at the expense of the city center.

Perhaps there is a solution that include a reasonable response to the legislative mandate which would include additional units without a major disruption to the city center. The Census Bureau reports that Oakland lost 5,526 residents in 2021 from the previous year. (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/oaklandcitycalifornia.)

There is also a significant amount of unused and underutilized land in Oakland. Perhaps the needs of everyone would be better served by entering into a cap and trade type arrangement with the City of Oakland where the construction of new units would be subsidized in part by Piedmont taxpayers. This is not a nimby proposal; it is a pragmatic proposal intended to ensure that the character of the city center is maintained, and the people needing affordable housing get what they need.

Anne Cobbledick Gritzer

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jul 31 2022

The PCA article and Mr. Keating seem correct: the City Charter requires a ballot measure before a property zone can be “classified or reclassified.” (Piedmont City Charter, section 9.02). This rule is codified at Piedmont Municipal Code section 17.02.010 (C), which states that city zoning ordinances are “subject to the City Charter” (including section 9.02). At the end of Section 17.020.010 (C), the rule also states that Piedmont cannot “change the zone boundaries, or change (reclassify) a property from one zone to another” without a vote.

But this reclassification is exactly what the draft Housing Element (“HE”) seeks to do. Section IV.A.1.F of the HE (page 38) says that the City will allow multi-family housing (e.g., Zone C & D) on Zone B public lands. Currently, Zone B prohibits such construction. But the HE says the City plans to make zoning changes “within 3 years of Housing Element adoption” to allow this. If re-zoning requires a ballot measure, how can the City promise it to HCD? This zone “re-classification” position is hardly a solid one for the City. Can we honestly believe the HCD will miss this?

A similar situation happened to the City of Davis. The Davis HE called for re-zoning “within 3 years” to allow for developing open space and agricultural lands. But Davis has a rule (Measure J) which required a vote to do that. Sound familiar? In January 2022, the HCD rejected the Davis HE plan, in part, because the re-zoning plan was speculative due to vote requirement.

Our City Attorney and the housing consultants have all made their position abundantly clear: no vote is needed since building multi-family housing on city lands is not a “reclassification” (stated at 6/20/22 City Council meeting). Are those conclusions, and the plan to build out our city center and parks, really best for the City of Piedmont?

Mike McConathy, Piedmont Resident

Link to PCA article with comments following article:

Piedmont City Council Rejects Voter Control Over Zoning Reclassifications

Jul 30 2022

Rezoning without prior voter approval, perpetually eliminating scarce park land, leaving unaddressed safety issues, building garages to 24 feet high on the property line, tearing-down historic civic buildings, arbitrarily making site choices for the Piedmont Housing Element……

Will Piedmonters participate?

During traditional vacation time on August 1, 2022, the Piedmont City Council will once more attempt   to find where the required 587 new housing units will be built in Piedmont.

Council member Jennifer Long, after listening to speaker after speaker at the June 20, 2022, Council meeting declare their lack of information on the Housing Element (HE), she without Council objection  asked that all Piedmonters be informed about the Housing Element (HE) proposal in a flyer to explain the proposal and allow for community engagement. As a result of Long’s request, every Piedmont household was sent a postcard announcing the date of HE Council consideration minus a summary or impacts.   Readers are referred on the postcard to a complex Piedmont website “Piedmont is Home”, which  has been widely criticised for having no executive summary or ready access to impact information.

Approximately one million city dollars have been spent attempting to influence Piedmonters of the advisability of zoning changes using online puzzles, banners and remote meetings. Commenters have noted this ill advised attempt by the City to convince Piedmonters of unacceptable choices promoted by consultants, a select committee, city attorney, city staff, and commission has produced modess HE changes to proposals based on public input and concerns and have been met by refusing the City Charter requirement of voter approval to make zoning use changes.

“Piedmont is Home,” the name of the city’s influence campaign insensing  some neighboring communities feeling the slogan is elite, exclusionary, and insensitive at a time when Piedmont has attempted to be more inclusive in governmental actions.

The HE is close to 400 pages long and has within its pages rezoning without prior voter approval, perpetually eliminating scarce park property, leaving unaddressed safety issues, building garages to 24 feet high on the property line, tearing-down historic civic buildings, arbitrarily making site choices, and more.

Residents have circulated a petition readily garnering approximately 800 signatures:  

https://chng.it/RFyKwTrVRK

City notice:

Staff report for August 1 City Council meeting including many comments made to the city below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18776050

Agenda and participation information:

https://cdn5-hosted.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf?v=6bbkCn2D3

Jul 30 2022

I have lived in Piedmont 46 years. I have seen a lot of change, but nothing like what Sacramento is now forcing on communities around the state because they know better than us about how we should live our lives..

The City Charter should not be changed by a Bureaucratic decision. I believe the City’s leaders should honor the Charter and let the citizens decide this. It is painful to watch our elected leaders trying to circumvent the very citizens who elected them and paying for “outside counsel” opinions to justify it. I predict there will be expensive litigation and the only people who will benefit from this litigation — no matter how it comes out — will be the lawyers — not the citizens of Piedmont.

This is a “State’s Rights” issue on the State level. Do local communities have the right to decide the nature of their community or does Sacramento have the power to force their current fad down people’s throats by threatening economic sanctions because “they know better?” Maybe people in small communities who don’t like the heavy hand of big brother should stop paying their State income taxes and give the money directly to their local government to make up for the money Sacramento is threatening to withhold. Would the immediate loss of revenue and the cost and optics of Sacramento prosecuting hundreds of thousands of California citizens for not paying their taxes get anybody’s attention in Sacramento? I really wish I knew the answer to that question.

The population of California is headed for 40 million and we are running out of water and the State is burning — losing housing actually. So we really have a “population crisis.” But the fad in Sacramento among our progressive majority is that we have a “housing crisis” and the solution is to create more housing so the population can keep increasing. No plans to build more reservoirs or other sources of water except for the multi-billion dollar plan to transfer water from the North to the South which does nothing to increase overall water supply and merely allows the population to increase in an area where there is not enough water to naturally support that increase and prevent growth in the areas where the water is naturally located.

So Sacramento’s current fad envisioned by Scott Weiner from San Francisco, is to force ADUs on all communities or to allow people to tear down their house and build a fourplex almost anywhere — basically first steps to turn residential communities into little Manhattan’s. I’m not aware of any analysis that has been done to evaluate the ADU idea, but the typical ADU is very small and I very seriously doubt that most ADUs in small communities like Piedmont will be low cost rentals. My anecdotal observation is that only people who can afford it are building them and they are not going to be low cost rentals to complete strangers who are going to be living in the middle of their back yard. They will be used for in-laws or nannies or some other purpose. Tearing down a house and building a fourplex in Piedmont generally does not work out financially, so our Planning Department is so desperate for ADUs, building an ADU is an excellent way to get approval for anything else you want to do to your property. If I wanted to tear down my classic craftsman house and build a fourplex, I could probably get approval to put a miniature oil refinery in my back yard. (Note to Planning Department: I’m just joking.)

And so, to please Sacramento, Piedmont’s leaders want to change parks and tennis courts and pubic buildings, valuable amenities in any community, into apartment buildings. I think this is regressive for local communities.

I believe our City leaders and Planning Department should let the citizens decide and not work so hard to circumvent them and, if they decide to disagree with Sacramento, to support their citizens — not fight them. If the citizens of Piedmont vote to approve these changes, I will disagree with them, but I will accept the result because I believe in the concept of Democracy.

James Penrod, Piedmont Resident

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