Dec 2 2019

Dec. 2, 2019

Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch
re: Dec 2 Parcel Tax Agenda Item
Dear Mayor McBain and Council,
         The Parcel Tax is commonly understood and accepted by Piedmont taxpayers to be for essential City services as follows: police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works. Your proposed language change allows the parcel tax to be used for any purpose and not limited to the traditional nine essential City services.  I object to this and ask that the original tax language passed by voters in 2016 be continued.
         The reality is that virtually all Piedmont residents will not read the full text of the tax and then compare it to the 75 word ballot question for discrepancies.  Residents mostly rely on the ballot question and Proponent material.  If the Council elects to retain the altered wording that allows the parcel tax to be not limited to essential City Services, the ballot question must clearly state that the parcel tax is no longer limited to essential City services as is commonly understood.
Sincerely,
 Rick Schiller
 Piedmont Resident and Property Owner
Dec 1 2019

“Agenda Insight” to be presented before December 2, 2019 City Council meeting:

Item 3, the first item on tonight’s regular agenda, is the second reading of Ordinance 746 N.S. to renew the Municipal Services special Tax for 4 years effective July 1, 2021, and to place this before voters in a special election on March 3,2020, consolidated with the California Presidential Primary on that date….

Although most aspects of this renewal reflect no change, there is a word change that appears to have an impact. The wording of the present parcel tax says, “If in any fiscal year the City Council shall determine that municipal services INCLUDING but not limited to…” and then it names 9 services which must be included in general fund expenditures, with support from the parcel tax if other city income isn’t sufficient to cover them.

At the first reading of this ordinance, last meeting, that language was changed to, “municipal services which MAY INCLUDE but are not limited to..” and then lists the same 9 services. The staff report calls this a non-substantive change, but many people read it as a very substantive change because it gives Council the flexibility to remove any service from this list. The 9 services are police, fire, street maintenance, building regulations, library, recreation, parks maintenance, planning, and public works.

If the Council wants to put this on the March ballot, they must pass the second reading tonight because they are up against a deadline for submitting the final ballot language to the Registrar of Voters…..

Item 4 is consideration of a resolution approving procedural details for the Special Election of March 3… Of particular interest to voters, this item also sets the 75 word ballot question to read, “Shall Ordinance 746 N.S. which maintains essential police, fire, and paramedic services, prevents the reduction in maintenance of City parks, greenspaces and other public areas, and prevents the loss of recreational and other public services, by renewing the City of Piedmont’s expiring parcel tax for four years… be adopted?”

….Interestingly enough, this ballot language is almost the same language we voted on in 2016, so all 9 services were not mentioned last time around either. However, in both 2016 and 2020, it is the language of the resolution we are voting on, not the 75-word summary, and the language of the resolution has changed.

Ann Chandler, Piedmont Resident

Nov 29 2019

Proposed Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax has key language changes allowing elimination of services previously funded by the Piedmont parcel tax. Some have called the parcel tax proposal a “blank check.”

The Piedmont City Council in haste is expected at their, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, 7:30 p.m. meeting  to approve the second and final reading of Ord. 746N.S. which will place a renewal of the Municipal Services Special Parcel Tax, effective July 1, 2021, before the voters at a Special Municipal Election consolidated with the upcoming Presidential Primary Election on March 3, 2020. 

On November 18, 2019, the City Council approved a first reading of Ord. 746N.S.  At that meeting, the Council, according to the staff report, made what is called a “non-substantive” amendment to the language of Section 20B.2.on the first page of the ordinance.  Vice Mayor Teddy King objected to changing the existing language of the parcel tax proposal which states how the funds are to be spent. However, the rest of the Council and the City Attorney indicated the new language is not significantly different.

Apparently, the councilmembers and the City Attorney did not realize the language change no longer stipulates required uses of the parcel tax funds. For, the language changes from “including, but not limited to” to  “which MAY include, but are not limited to” were viewed by councilmembers as “essentially the same.”  

Voter concern has consequently arisen regarding the proposed new parcel tax language pointing to the change as considerable and  substantive in stating: “which may includeing,” rather than the current word “including.”

The newly proposed change to the parcel tax language would no longer require the Council to use the parcel tax money for the longstanding list of services and permits the Council to eliminate parcel tax funding for:

  • police and fire protection,
  • street maintenance,
  • building regulations,
  • library services,
  • recreation,
  • parks maintenance,
  • planning and public works
  • and similar services.

Some have stated the language change gives the Council a “blank check” by allowing the deletion of previously supported parcel tax funding for the named services.

The amended parcel tax language is indicated below in context. Deleted text is in strike through and new text is in italics.

“If in any fiscal year commencing on or after July 1, 2021, the City Council shall determine that municipal services, which may includeing, but are not limited to, police and fire protection, street maintenance, building regulations, library services, recreation, parks maintenance, planning and public works and similar services, are necessary for the public good, welfare and safety, and that the cost of making available such services will exceed the amount of funds generated through other revenue and income of the City for such services, then it may levy a special tax for such fiscal year on each parcel of real property within the City in a manner provided herein.”

READ the agenda HERE.

READ the three staff reports* on the tax proposal below:

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243381

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243385

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=16243387

*Editors Note: The newly revised  City of Piedmont website has become more difficult for Piedmonters to access information on specific agenda issues. Example, the subjects of the staff report no longer appear in the links. Only a file number is provided.

Nov 19 2019

The November 18, 2019, Council meeting went on for hours as numerous residents appealed to the Council to reject the proposed wireless sites.  At the beginning of the meeting, speakers were surprised by Mayor Robert McBain’s declaration limiting speakers to 2 minutes rather than the standard 3 minutes forcing last minute rewrites of prepared statements. 

Opponents noted serious health concerns, destruction of views, harm to Piedmont  aesthetics, loss in property values, lack of demonstrated need for the proposed sites, improper surveys, need to wait for court resolution of pending lawsuits relevant to Piedmont, and incomplete application information. 

Although pleas and great concerns were expressed by neighbors living near the Crown Castle proposed wireless installations sites, the Council unanimously approved all the proposed sites while adding new conditions for their approval.

A potential ongoing lawsuit with Crown Castle weighed heavily on Council members decision who saw better ways to spend Piedmont funds than legally challenging the large corporation.  Some Council members extensively questioned the proposals and were concerned by the many communications the Council received opposing the sites.

Led by Piedmont’s contract attorneys and the Piedmont Planning staff,  the Council was convinced to approve the sites based on compliance with Piedmont laws, despite the Planning Commission’s vote recommending denial of the proposals.

Since the sites are essentially  governed by the Federal Communication Commission, state laws, and are a part of the public utility system, the Council feared the next proposal could be less advantageous than the current proposal.

The Council predicted that numerous future proposals are virtually guaranteed with 50 sites in other areas of Piedmont. Driving the installation of the wireless communication systems, is the notion that landline communications will soon be replaced by cellular service, even though during emergencies landlines have been essential.

After three years of debate and discussion, the disappointed opponents left the Council Chambers indicating they did not feel that the City Council was standing up for Piedmont’s greater good.

Nov 14 2019

PIEDMONT TAXES, TURKEY TROT, WIRELESS SITES –

  • Street Closures and City Staff Allocations for Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc.  See Map > HERE

  • Consideration of Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Applications and Exceptions filed by Crown Castle NG West LLC and SureSite for sites PHS01 to PHS08 and PHS10 to PHS18 (Applications #19-0188) and License for Use of City-Owned Streetlights and Determining that the Applications are Categorically Exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 1127 4. Two council members, King and Andersen, cannot vote on all sites.  City Administrator Lillevand cannot participate in all site discussions. Staff report  > HERE

  • Key features of the proposed WCF applications include:

    1. No underground equipment vaults, with fewer impacts to street trees
    1. Smaller, more compact radios and antennas
    1. No noise-generating equipment
    1. 10-inch diameter radome shrouds atop streetlight locations
    1. 14-inch diameter radome shrouds atop utility pole locations
    1. Trash receptacle equipment enclosure design (only at sites PHS01 and PHS03)
    1. Small side-mounted equipment enclosures on utility poles
    1. Encroachment permits for future maintenance work
    2. Radios 2203 and 8843, appropriately sized for the sites
    3. Power and communication cables concealed in 2-inch-wide risers
  • Introduction and First Reading of Ord. 746 N.S. – Renewal of the Municipal Services Special Tax Effective July 1, 2021 and Placing the Measure Before the Voters 0435, 0705, 1030.  March tax election is to be selected. Staff report > HERE.

~~~~~~~~

City of Piedmont City Council Agenda Monday, November 18, 2019 6:30 p.m. – Special & Regular Meeting City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA Closed Session The City Council will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue a. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION (Govt. Code 54956.9) Name of Case: Crown Castle NG West, LLC v. City of Piedmont .

 

The City Council will convene its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers Call to Order Pledge of Allegiance Consent Calendar 1. Approval of Council Meeting Minutes for 10/21/19 2. Approval of a Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc. 1000 Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. Special & Regular Session 3. Consideration of Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Applications and Exceptions filed by Crown Castle NG West LLC and SureSite for sites PHS01 to PHS08 and PHS10 to PHS18 (Applications #19-0188) and License for Use of City-Owned Streetlights and Determining that the Applications are Categorically Exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 1127 4. Introduction and First Reading of Ord. 746 N.S. – Renewal of the Municipal Services Special Tax Effective July 1, 2021 and Placing the Measure Before the Voters 0435, 0705, 1030

For more information, contact the City Clerk at 510/420-3040.

Oct 29 2019

ADVISORY: PG&E cancelled its planned Public Safety Power Shutoff for Piedmont. At this point, PG&E indicated that it has no additional PSPS events planned for Alameda County in the near term. Water pumping problems will no longer be potentially affecting Piedmont.

PG&E informs the City that all customers affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoff in Piedmont have been restored. If your power is still out, please contact PG&E at (800) 743-5000.  10/30/19

______________________________Updated 10/30/19

 

Oct 25 2019

City Event to Showcase Piedmont Climate Challenge with “Ice on Fire” Film Screening

           “Ice on Fire,” an inspiring and stunning new documentary on climate change, will be featured at a free, city-wide event Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, to showcase the Piedmont Climate Challenge.  The event, to be held at the Piedmont Community Hall from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., is co-sponsored by the city of Piedmont, Piedmont Connect, and the Piedmont League of Women Voters.

The Piedmont Climate Challenge is a six-month, friendly competition launched in October to encourage Piedmont residents to take actions to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Challenge website,  

www.piedmontclimatechallenge.org,

 illustrates dozens of ways to reduce GHG at home, from simple and easy changes such as walking more and switching to LED lightbulbs, to more complex measures such as installing solar panels or a heat pump.

Piedmont residents are demonstrating strong interest in reducing their carbon footprint. Since the launch of the Challenge at Harvest Festival, nearly 100 residents have already signed up and are earning points for their teams, neighborhoods and community groups by taking climate action at home.

The Nov. 7 event is designed for participants to drop in for any part of the program that suits their schedule:

6 to 7 p.m.:  Delicious food for purchase from The Helping Food Truck and free refreshments;  time to mingle and learn about the Challenge.

7 p.m. Brief introductions by Piedmont Mayor Bob McBain, Connect Chair Susan Miller-Davis, and City staff;

7:10 to 8 p.m.:  Screening of the first half of “Ice on Fire,” produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

8 to 8:30 p.m.: More time for refreshments, mingling. and learning about the Challenge.

To attend the event, please register at piedmontclimatechallenge.splashthat.com or simply stop by!

City staff, as well as friends and neighbors who are serving as Climate Challenge “Ambassadors” will be on hand to talk about the Challenge, demo the website, and help residents sign up.

Piedmont has set a long-term goal to reduce the city’s overall greenhouse gases (GHG) by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.  Since 80% of the city’s GHG emissions come from households — primarily transportation and home energy use — residents are crucial in reaching the goal.  The city’s short-term goal for the six-month Climate Challenge is to reduce GHG emissions by 1 million lbs., which can be achieved if 200 Piedmont households each reduce their GHG by 5,000 lbs.

Piedmont Connect Ambassadors include Sally Baack, Jonathan Becker, Liz Behrens,  Marj Blackwell , Moira Chapman,  Kara Christenson,  Jeff Dorman,  Debi Fitzgerrell ,  Claudia Harrison, Garrett Keating,  Judy Kelly, Ronna Kelly, Hugh Louch,  Samantha Miller,  Susan Miller-Davis, Margaret Ovenden,  Jina Saikia,  Julia Walsh, and Tom Webster.

Click announcement to enlarge.

Oct 23 2019

“I hope we have the civic wisdom to evaluate and plan for the infrastructure changes necessary to accommodate the additional population ADUs [Accessory Dwelling Units] will generate over time; and also to guard against those who would exploit the issue to circumvent the principles articulated in our General Plan and Design Guidelines.”

First, the sour grapes: at its October 21, 2019 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to overturn a denial of design permit by the Piedmont Planning Commission. A rare event. The decision was, in my opinion, based solely on political expediency centering on “ADUs” – an important civic consideration – that was a never part of the consideration by the Planning Commission and sets a problematic precedent for future residential development in our city.

Without relitigating the details of that decision, I’ll point out that seven separate Planning Commissioners- most leaders in their fields of architecture, design and the like, and Piedmont residents, voted against these similar designs on three occasions over a three year period of time- neighborhood opposition has been consistent throughout the process. For the reversal of the Commission’s decision, standing before the Council were: two Planning Commission nonresident Staff members,who opined on design elements and related matters outside their purview and not burdened by any evident qualifications, the applicant, one non-profit advocacy organization, and three non-neighbor character witnesses.

The advent of ADUs as a civic issue in our State and Piedmont is a legitimate one. I’m not sure there’s a housing crisis so much as an affordable housing crisis, but that’s almost beside the point- the fact is it’s political catnip today and not going away tomorrow. I hope we have the civic wisdom to evaluate and plan for the infrastructure changes necessary to accommodate the additional population those ADUs will generate over time; and also to guard against those who would exploit the issue to circumvent the principles articulated in our General Plan and Design Guidelines.

Philip Stein, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 19 2019

The Piedmont City Council will meet on Monday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. The meeting will be broadcast live on the City website and Cable Channel 27.  Recordings of the meetings are available on the City website.

Ceremonial Items

Presentation of Proclamation Regarding Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Presentation of Proclamation Regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Regular Agenda

  1. Approval of Council Meeting Minutes for 09/03/19 and 09/16/19
  2. PUBLIC HEARING Regarding an Appeal of the Planning Commission’s Decision to Deny an Application for a Design Review Permit for an Accessory Structure at 89 Maxwelton Road (Read staff report)   Staff recommends that the Council overrule the Planning Commission’s denial of a design review permit for a new accessory unit.
  3. Consideration of a Resolution Authorizing the City Administrator to Sign an Agreement with East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for Cost Sharing Associated with Pavement Restoration on Sunnyside, Olive, and Oakland Avenues   (Read staff report.)  The City’s maximum share includes the base amount of $152,251, as well as a contingency amount of an additional 10% to cover any potential unanticipated overruns, bringing the total maximum amount to $167,476.  The paving is in connection with the pipeline replacement project.  EBMUD is scheduled to begin this project on 10/21/19 at 7am on Sunnyside, Oakland and Olive Ave.
Oct 12 2019

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the Piedmont Planning Commission, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, will consider applications for Wireless Communication Facilities permits submitted by Crown Castle NG West LLC and Suresite Development, each application with project number #19-0188. The Commission will consider applications for sites 10 to 18.

Click on map for enlargement.

For the addresses, map, and details of all of the Crown Castle applications, click the link below:

>PCA 2019-10-11 Crown Castle Hearing Notice