May 7 2019

Residents and property owners are not aware of  what is being changed – added or removed – in the newly proposed Design Guidelines for Piedmont.

Most Piedmonters are not aware of changes impacting all Piedmonters to be made for buildings and landscaping through Design Guidelines currently under consideration by the Piedmont Planning Commission and soon by the Piedmont City Council.  Concern has been expressed that there is no executive summary provided covering the numerous pages of the proposed Design Guidelines for easy understanding by the public of the changes. 

In November 2018 the City asked those who have filed Design Review applications during the previous two years to answer questions via an electronic survey.  The questions were answered by 103 homeowners, 44 architects, 23 contractors, and 27 other persons with 88 percent indicating their project had been approved.

The following is an excerpt from a staff report presented to the Planning Commission demonstrating that neighbors and neighborhoods impacted by changes to buildings, homes, apartments, and commercial sites were not consulted during the process.  Proponents of projects, architects, certain property owners, and contractors were invited to provide feedback. The meetings formulating the proposals were for selected individuals “stakeholders,” and closed to the public. 

From the Planning Department staff report: 

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

The City consulted with a range of stakeholders as part of the Design Guidelines update. In September 2018, staff and the consulting team interviewed Gail Lombardy of the Piedmont Historical Society to discuss the effectiveness of the existing Guidelines in preserving the character of Piedmont’s older homes.

On September 25, 2018, the City facilitated a discussion of the existing Design Guidelines and Design Review process with five local architects. Feedback from these meetings was incorporated into the Draft Guidelines. An informational item on the Design Guidelines, including an opportunity for public comment, was presented to the Planning Commission on September 10, 2018.

In late November 2018, the City emailed a letter with a link to an electronic survey to about 700 Piedmont households (roughly 18 percent of the city). A number of local architects and contractors also received the letter.

The survey was not made public. 

Recipients included all households who had filed an application for Design Review between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. There were 162 surveys completed, equivalent to a response rate of 23 percent.

Survey respondents included 103 homeowners, 44 architects, 23 contractors, and 27 persons answering “more than one of the above” or “other.” About 88 percent indicated their project had been approved, including 27 percent with “minor” changes and 6 percent with “major” changes. Some 62 percent of the respondents indicated their projects were now completed, 20 percent had projects under construction, and 18 percent did not build the project or answered “other.”

Key findings of the survey were as follows:

 Respondents had generally positive experiences with City staff during Design Review. 48 percent described their experience as “excellent” and 35 percent described their experience as “good.” Only 8 percent reported their experience to be “poor.”

 76 percent of the respondents indicated they consulted the Design Guidelines as part of the Design Review process. Of this total, 31 percent found the Guidelines to be “extremely clear” and 54 percent found them to be “somewhat clear.”

 Only 7 percent of the respondents felt that the design suggestions provided by staff were “not constructive.”

 More than two thirds of the respondents rated their Design Review experience with the Planning Commission as “good” or “excellent.” About 13 percent rated their experience as “poor.” About 31 percent of the respondents felt their project had been improved as a result of the Design Review process.

 Respondents were asked to rate a series of design factors on a 4 point interval scale (not a concern, slight concern, moderate concern, major concern). The factors identified as being the greatest concerns were preserving views, preserving the historic character of Piedmont homes, homes that appeared too large for the lot, and preserving side and rear yard privacy. The factors identified as being less of a concern were retaining walls, fences and walls in front yards, and the siting and design of carports.

 About 35 percent of the respondents felt the City’s Design Review requirements were “too strict,” while only one percent felt they were “not strict enough.” Just over 50 percent of the respondents felt the requirements were “about right.”

Consideration of Design Guidelines by Planning Commission is on Monday, May 13th, 5 pm Planning Commission meeting at City Hall.  The meeting will be broadcast on Cable Channel 27 and from the City of Piedmont website under videos/ Planning Commission.

READ the staff information below >

 http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/design-guidelines-update/

 

May 7 2019

Planning Commission to Consider Design Guidelines Update
Monday, May 13, 2019 – Discussion and Recommendation

RECOMMENDATION TO ADOPT DRAFT UPDATED DESIGN GUIDELINES

Receipt of a draft update of the City of Piedmont Design Guidelines, an informational report from the City’s consultant regarding the draft update, and a recommendation from staff that the Commission recommend the City Council approve the Guidelines. This agenda item is continued from the Commission’s meeting on April 8, 2019, and includes an opportunity for public comment and Commissioner discussion.

City Press Release Contact: Kevin Jackson, Planning Director

Planning Commission to Consider Design Guidelines Update Monday, May 13, 2019 – Discussion and Recommendation

At its meeting on May 13th, the Planning Commission will consider updates to the city’s Design Guidelines, which provide a framework for actions of staff and the Planning Commission in making decisions regarding Planning Applications from residents. The draft Design Guidelines were introduced at the April 8th meeting, during which staff answered questions, the public provided feedback, the Planning Commission discussed the proposal and then voted to continue its discussion to its net regular meeting scheduled for May 13th. During this meeting, the Commission will take additional testimony from the public, continue its discussion, and consider a recommendation to the City Council.

Background

This project to update and reformat the City of Piedmont Design Guidelines is the fifth and final phase of policy updates undertaken in response to the adoption of the General Plan in 2009 and the Housing Element in 2011. The first four phases were related to revisions of City Code Chapter 17 (the Zoning Ordinance) and were completed between 2012 and 2017. Specifically, Action 28.E in the Design and Preservation Element of the 2009 General Plan calls for the City’s Design Guidelines to be updated.

Draft updated Design Guidelines

In addition to updating and reformatting the guidelines for single-family residential construction, the draft update includes new guidelines for multi-family residential construction, commercial and mixed-use construction commercial signage, and landscaping. A chapter that include design guidelines for wireless communication facilities will be added at a future date. In addition to the link above to the electronic copy of the draft Guidelines, print copies are available for viewing at Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

The draft Design Guidelines are available online at

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/design-guidelines-update/

printed copies are available for viewing at the Public Works counter in City Hall.

City Council to Consider Adoption

The Planning Commission’s recommendation concerning the draft Design Guidelines will be forwarded to the City Council for its consideration, as it is the decision making body for this matter. The date of Council consideration will be publicized well in advance of the meeting.

Public Engagement

Public comment is invited throughout the process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to read the draft Design Guidelines and staff report, and attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 13, 2019 in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

Written comments and requests to receive email notification of activities related to the Design Guidelines update should be sent to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov. Comments on paper can also be submitted by hand or by mail to the Piedmont Planning Commission, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

Apr 29 2019

Landscaping and Buildings

Piedmont Planning Commission Meeting, Monday, May 13th – 5:00 p.m.  City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue

The meeting will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and from the City’s website under videos/ Planning Commission.

Updating and reformatting the guidelines for single-family residential construction, new guidelines for multi-family residential construction, commercial and mixed-use construction commercial signage, and landscaping are being considered.

At its meetings on May 13th, the Planning Commission will consider updates to the city’s Design Guidelines, which provide a framework for actions of staff and the Planning Commission in making decisions regarding Planning Applications from residents.  At the May 13th meeting, the Commission will take testimony from the public, continue its discussion, and consider a recommendation to the City Council.

Background

This project to update and reformat the City of Piedmont Design Guidelines is the fifth and final phase of policy updates undertaken in response to the adoption of the General Plan in 2009 and the Housing Element in 2011. The first four phases were related to revisions of City Code Chapter 17 (the Zoning Ordinance) and were completed between 2012 and 2017. Specifically, Action 28.E in the Design and Preservation Element of the 2009 General Plan calls for the City’s Design Guidelines to be updated.

Draft updated Design Guidelines

In addition to updating and reformatting the guidelines for single-family residential construction, the draft update includes new guidelines for multi-family residential construction, commercial and mixed-use construction commercial signage, and landscaping.

A chapter that includes design guidelines for wireless communication facilities will be added at a future date. In addition to the links below to the electronic copy of the draft Guidelines, print copies are available for viewing at Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

Draft City of Piedmont Design Guidelines, dated March 2019.

This document is comprised of seven chapters, plus a table of contents and glossary. Copies of each section may be downloaded at the links below:

April 8, 2019 Planning Commission Meeting

Related Documents

City Council to Consider Adoption

The Planning Commission’s recommendation concerning the draft Design Guidelines will be forwarded to the City Council for its consideration, as it is the decision making body for this matter. The date of Council consideration will be publicized well in advance of the meeting.

Public Engagement

Public comment is invited throughout the process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to read the draft Design Guidelines and staff report, and attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Monday, May 13, 2019 in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. Written comments and requests to receive email notification of activities related to the Design Guidelines update should be sent to Planning Director Kevin Jackson at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov. Comments on paper can also be submitted by hand or by mail to the Piedmont Planning Commission or City Council at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

READ the full agenda here > May 2019 Planning comAgenda

Apr 28 2019

Thursday, May 9th is the 25th annual Bike to Work Day in the Bay Area! Join your fellow Piedmonters in riding to work!

This year, there will be two energizer stations in Piedmont. The first, sponsored by Piedmont Connect, will be located in the Ace Hardware parking lot at 1221 Grand Avenue, and will be open from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.

The second, sponsored by the City of Piedmont, will be located in the Community Hall parking lot at 711 Highland Avenue and will also be open from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Please stop by either energizer station to get treats, bicycling information, and other materials. For more information on Bike to Work Day, please visit: https://bikeeastbay.org/events/bike-work…

For more information on the City’s energizer station, please contact Steven Lizzarago at (510) 420-3050 or slizzarago@piedmont.ca.gov

Apr 19 2019

At the April 3, 2019 Piedmont Park Commission meeting­, Nancy Scott from the Piedmont Garden Club and Chairperson of their Civic Projects program, presented Mayor Bob McBain and Park Commission Chairperson Betsy Goodman with a generous donation of $5,000 to be used towards installing new light strings in the courtyard of the Piedmont Community Hall in Main Park.

Nancy Scott, Mayor Bob McBain, and Park Commission Chairperson Betsy Goodman

The City is in the process of upgrading the electrical controls for the exterior pole lights at the Community Hall. When Phase 1 of the lighting improvements is completed, the City will start Phase 2 and will be  working with lighting consultant Thomas Skradski of Lumen Works and the Electrical Contractor, Mark Schulkamp of Mark W. Schulkamp Electric Co. to design and install new light strings that will be suspended from the four pole lights in the courtyard. The pole lights will be designed to accommodate the new string lights. Once the new string lights are installed, the courtyard illumination will offer an option with the new, festive string lights.

The Piedmont Garden Club on April 18tharranged for members and friends to deadhead the hundreds of daffodils in Blair Park.

From left to right: Sharon Hom, Mary Wood, Sandy Hagglund and Nancy Scott.

The Piedmont Garden Club https://www.piedmontgardenclub.org/  has a long history of contributing their time and generous donations to the City of Piedmont.

Double click on photos to enlarge.

Apr 16 2019

Tasting a Sustainable Future: Piedmont Climate Action Fair & Reception –

Donated food to taste plus information !

On Wednesday, April 24th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the City of Piedmont and Piedmont Connect will host “Tasting a Sustainable Future: Piedmont Climate Action Fair & Reception” at the Piedmont Community Hall.

Consumption is a large portion of emissions that are emitted in Piedmont. It is hard to measure and to monitor as emissions stemming from consumption are based on individuals’ choices. The April 24th event will showcase different sectors of consumption: transportation, food, water, home energy, clothes, and waste.

Residents who come to the event will have the opportunity to learn how to purchase more sustainably, reduce their food waste, conserve water, travel greener, and electrify their homes. Information at the event will be provided by representatives of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and StopWaste. Members of Piedmont’s community and City staff will also be sharing resources and information.

Attendees will have a chance to meet Piedmont chef Paul Arenstam of Summer Kitchen and San Francisco chef Nick Balla of Bar Tartine, who will serve sustainable snacks from Balla’s new Smokebread project. They will also be able to try Patagonia Provision’s new Long Root Wit beer made with the climate-friendly grain, kernza.

Residents interested in attending may register through Eventbrite at

>https://tastinasustainablefuture.eventbrite.com.

Registration will close once the event reaches capacity. The City appreciates your understanding.

For more information about this workshop or to be added to the climate action email list, please contact Assistant Planner Mira Hahn at mhahn@piedmont.ca.gov or Climate Fellow Brooke Edell at bedell@piedmont.ca.gov, or by calling (510) 420-3050.

Apr 14 2019

Reducing Traffic Speed on Oakland Avenue, Magnolia, and Fairview Avenues with Bulb-Outs, bright flashing Beacons, Bioswales and relocated Crosswalks.

The city consultant, Coastland, prepared preliminary designs for proposed bulb-outs and other changes at several intersections on Oakland Avenue plus other streets.  The consultants will discuss their concepts at the Piedmont City Council meeting on Monday evening, April 15, 2019, in City Hall, 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and from the City website under videos/City Council.  See links to staff reports showing locations and photos at the end of this article.

Before proceeding to the final designs and construction documents, the City wants to ensure that the Council and the community have full awareness of the proposed improvements and have an opportunity to have any questions or concerns addressed.

Oakland Ave. at El Cerrito Ave. This is a fully developed, 4 corner bulb out design that will achieve the following: •shorten the pedestrian crossing distances on Oakland Ave. and El Cerrito Ave., •bring the pedestrian access points into greater visibility

  • include hard-wired, double sided, bright rapid flashing beacons (brighter than the current beacons) at each corner with user activated buttons •include all new pedestrian ramps for each direction on each corner•refreshed street paint at the intersection Similar to the previously constructed bulb outs on Linda Ave.,

Staff is proposing to next install landscape improvements wherever possible in place of impervious concrete. In addition to the improved aesthetics, these landscaped areas will be planned as bio-swales wherever possible to capture and slow down the storm drainage on Oakland Ave. (See staff report Exhibit B for a photograph of the existing intersection and Exhibit C for the proposed improvements.)

Oakland Ave. at Jerome Ave. While very similar in features to the Oakland Ave. at El Cerrito Ave. bulb outs, the Jerome Ave improvements will have a slightly different configuration due to the intersection geometry.

Grand Ave. at Fairview Ave. In the Piedmont Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP), this intersection was identified as No. 8 in the High Priority Projects. The basic issues related to this intersection are that it is a very wide crossing for pedestrians, and motorists traveling northbound on Grand Ave. and wanting to turn slightly right to proceed up Fairview Ave. are difficult for pedestrians to see. See staff report Exhibit C for photographs of the existing intersection. Furthermore, because of the ease of this slight right turn and the uphill nature of Fairview Ave., there is a tendency to accelerate through the intersection. The configuration was driven by creating traffic calming and increase pedestrian safety, but also preserving the existing street parking. Thus, the use of street paint still allows parking in front of 1250 Grand Ave., which fronts on Fairview Ave. See staff report Exhibit D for the proposed configuration of improvements.

Oakland Ave. at Greenbank Ave. This intersection was not identified on the PBMP, but is, due to its configuration and topography, problematic for the local residents and pedestrians. The basic issues related to this intersection are similar to those described at Grand Ave. at Fairview Ave. These include compromised visibility for both pedestrians and motorists, downhill grades creating increased speeds, and the existing geometry of the intersection fostering unsafe conditions. See staff report Exhibit E for photographs of the existing conditions at this intersection. The driveway to 1203 Oakland Ave. will cross over a portion of this bulb out, but the nature of this installation will maintain access to this driveway. (See staff report Exhibit D for the proposed configuration of improvements.)

Magnolia Ave. at Nova Drive Previously identified in the PBMP as No. 17 in the High Priority Projects, this intersection poses issues for pedestrians, especially when walking on the northern side of the street (left side going uphill). Along Magnolia Ave. at the intersection with Nova Drive, the throat of the intersection is extremely wide. See attached Exhibit F for a photograph of the existing intersection. Since the 2018 Paving Project includes this portion of Magnolia Ave, Staff wants to take the opportunity to implement the recommendations of PBMP and install logical measures to create traffic calming and a safer environment for pedestrians. The proposal is to create an island refuge with street paint, lane delineators, and signage. This would be connected to the existing sidewalks with new crosswalks of considerably shorter length. Besides creating an island refuge for pedestrians, this will visually narrow the westbound lane of Magnolia Ave. which should promote slower speeds.

Read staff reports by clicking below:

04/15/19 – Receipt of Report on Preliminary Design of Traffic Calming Measures at the Intersections of Oakland and El Cerrito Avenues and Oakland and Jerome Avenues 

04/15/19 – Receipt of a Report on Proposed Traffic Calming Measures at the Intersections of Fairview & Grand Avenues, Greenbank & Oakland Avenues, as well as Magnolia Avenue & Nova Drive

 

Apr 10 2019

For the first time since 2011, the entire state of California has been noted as drought free on the U.S. Drought Monitor map released March 21, 2019.  The drought status analysis is produced jointly by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the US Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and updated each Thursday.  It is calculated through the analysis of satellite- and model-based observations of conditions that influence drought with a 1-kilometer spatial resolution.  [Visit the National Drought Mitigation Center here.]

Berkeley Environmental Advisory Commissioner Michael Goldhaber encouraged maintaining water conservation habits, but noted that personal water consumption is dwarfed by agricultural and industrial consumption.

Apr 9 2019

City announces:

On Wednesday April 10th, upper Dracena Park will be reopened after emergency tree removal operations that began in late February. The entirety of the path running from Artuna Avenue to Park Way will be reopened. A small section of path which runs parallel to Park Way is still under construction. Until that area can be regraded and the new path installed, temporary fencing will remain around that small section of the path until weather conditions allow for installation to be completed.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Parks & Project Manager Nancy Kent at (510) 420-3064 or via email at nkent@piedmont.ca.gov.

Apr 9 2019

Piedmont Arbor Day 2019

The community is invited for information, music and refreshments.

Thursday, April 11th – 5:00 – 7:00 PM 
Piedmont Community Hall

The City of Piedmont and the Park Commission cordially invite the community to the 2019 Arbor Day Celebration which will be held on Thursday, April 11th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Piedmont Community Hall in Main Park.

This year’s keynote speaker will be will be Piedmont’s new Fire Chief, Bret Black, who will discuss forest management and fire safety. Park Commissioner Jim Horner will be announcing this year’s Heritage Tree nominations and, along with Mayor McBain, will be discussing the unique characteristics of these trees and their historical significance in our urban forest.

Representatives from Republic Services, East Bay Community Energy, and Piedmont Evergreen will be available to answer residents’ questions about their programs and services.

The Piedmont High School Jazz band will provide musical entertainment and light refreshments will be served.