Jul 26 2020

Interested in running for the School Board or the City Council?

It’s Time to File!

On November 3, 2020 Piedmont voters will support or reject the $19 million Municipal Pool Bond Measure, increase the Real Property Transfer Tax when selling their homes,  and choose the future City Council and School Board.

Piedmont voters who are interested in seeking election or reelection to public office on the City Council or School Board must file their candidacy documents by August 7.  City Clerk John Tulloch must be contacted to learn specifically what documents must be completed.  Contact # 510/420-3040

 Nomination Filing Period ends August 7, 2020

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Real Property Transfer Tax Increase and Pool Bond Measure for New Aquatics Center

Piedmonters wanting to file an argument for or against the Real Property Transfer Tax Increase or the Municipal Aquatics Center bond measure must meet the deadlines by contacting the City Clerk. 

Contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040 for updated information, dates, and specific qualifications to file an argument for or against the ballot measures.

Deadline for Direct Arguments on Measures – August 14, 2020 ?

 Deadline for Rebuttal Arguments on Measures – August 21, 2020 ?

Two seats on the City Council  will be elected on November 3.   Mayor Robert McBain having served two 4 year terms is not eligible to seek re-election.   Council member Jen Cavenaugh has taken out papers for another 4 year term.  Conna McCarthy has filed her City Council candidacy papers. Connie Herrick and  N.”Sunny” Rhodes Bostrom-Fleming have taken out candidate papers.

Three positions on the School Board will be chosen. Two School Board members, Andrea Swenson and Sarah Pearson, will  have served two 4 year terms and are not eligible to seek re-election. A third School Board member, Cory Smegal, is eligible to be re-elected to another 4 year term.  Those who have taken out papers as of this date for the School Board are: Veronica Anderson, Hilary Cooper, Jason Kelley, Hari Titan, Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak, and N. “Sunny” Rhodes Bostrom-Fleming.

Sunny Bostrom-Fleming, who has taken out papers for both the School Board and the City Council, will only be allowed to file papers for one of the positions.

For the most updated information on candidates, click below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=16885057

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Staff report: Approval of a Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

SECTION 7. There shall be no filing fee for candidates for office in the General Municipal Election.

SECTION 8. The candidates’ statements shall be limited to a maximum of 200 words.

SECTION 10. The nominations for the General Municipal Election are open and close no later than 5:00 pm on August 7, 2020, unless extended pursuant to Elections Code Section 10225.

For all election related questions, contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Jun 30 2020

At a Special City Council meeting on June 29, the Council listened intently for hours to staff reports and numerous swimmers about the closed Pool operation and maintenance needs. Opinions varied: close the pool and let Piedmonters know how important an updated pool is, close the pool and put in commercial businesses to increase sales tax, repair the pool and let swimmers continue to use the pool, etc.

COVID-19 has made pool use complicated, but the Recreation Staff has devised ways to make limited use of the pool if allowed to reopened under County approvals.

An ongoing long term issue has been water leaking from the pool.  The solution was indicated as a new pool.

The Council by consensus directed the City Staff to return, as soon as possible, with further information on costs and options for reopening the pool, even if on an interim basis.

Jun 30 2020

Council Seeks Ways for Both Real Property Transfer Tax and General Obligation Bond on November Ballot.

At the Special Council meeting on June 29, 2020, the Council met a complicated set of financing options to deliberate.   After several hours of considering the pool closure and alternatives, a lawyer, financial advisor, Director of Finance, City Administrator and the Council attempted to provide a way of financing improvements to City facilities.

The Community Pool was considered primarily for a bond measure, however many roadblocks arose on the timing and advisability.  The cost for a new Aquatic Center has been roughly estimated up to twenty million dollars.

Some wanted public safety needs to be on the ballot separately from the recreation facility improvements, while others wanted all desirables together on the ballot.

Complex financing mechanisms were suggested from Certificates of Participation to lease back of City facilities. Problems with a bond measure preparation and timing appeared to be disappointing news for the Council, most of whom seemed unfamiliar with the various financing mechanisms.

It was noted that Piedmont would receive a AA+ rating for bonds, as “the City does not hold any debt.”  No mention was made of the money currently borrowed from the State to finance Piedmont’s sewer rehabilitation projects.

The Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT) increase was discussed and is likely to be approved for the ballot.  Council members noted the RPTT  is levied only at the time a property is sold bringing them to believe the one time expense would be acceptable to voters.

A poll was professionally conducted to determine if voters would likely approve the taxes, and the poll showed passage would be difficult to pass at the 66 2/3 rds level.

Facing a tight August deadline for putting any tax measures on the November ballot, the Council will consider the measures at upcoming meetings.

Jun 29 2020

Recreation projects should be separated from fire and police measures.

Because of COVID- 19, ballot measures in November will not allow for full community discussion of City projects and needs.

Letter sent to the Piedmont City Council:

Based on the survey results and the limitations to public participation brought on by the pandemic, November 2020 does not seem like an appropriate time to put these two initiatives on the ballot, especially the facilities matter.

Every indication suggests a second wave of the pandemic will occur in the fall and these questions should not be put before Piedmonters under constraint.   “Robust resident education will be needed” – that will be a very difficult undertaking during the pandemic and should not be rushed or forced.  The typical forums available for voter education like League of Women Voters, house parties, clubs – won’t be available or will see reduced participation.

And, if put on the ballot, can the public outreach activities staff had planned before the pandemic go forward – it gives the appearance of city staff campaigning for the ballot.  Council should do as it did with the public safety contracts – postpone these ballot questions until more normal conditions return. Two years from now has the added advantage that three council seats – a majority – will be up for election, allowing for the community to send a clear signal of whether it supports these initiatives.

The polling results indicate that well over 60% of Piedmonters consider facilities as excellent, good or average.  The City Administrator concluded that Piedmonters do not clearly understand their facility needs but is that true?  Piedmonters are familiar with the facilities they use and see – recreation and park facilities – and not with the ones they don’t – the police and fire buildings.  The polling results indicate that most Piedmonters like what they see and it’s really up to the city to explain why these facilities need replacement.  Piedmonters understand the maintenance issue with the pool – it has been studied and discussed for years.  The proposals for the pool, Linda Beach and Coaches are for replacement, not maintenance, and looked at this way, the results could indicate that residents do not want these replacements.  To determine if that is the case, it would be better to have the public safety facilities and recreation facilities presented as separate ballot initiatives.

Finally, at a Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) meeting I attended, the Assistant City Manager/City Clerk indicated that General Obligation bonds might require two votes under the City Charter. The BAFPC suggested a way to avoid two votes would be to establish a Community Facilities District (CFD). I think the staff report is inaccurate when it states the BAFPC “favored” CFD bonds, though it did support a parcel-based tax assessment compared to an ad valorem one:

“The Committee recommends pursuing a parcel-based tax assessment. This is preferable to an ad valorem tax given that the facilities to be funded include primarily (or potentially exclusively) essential public services buildings benefiting all Piedmont residents.”

I think it is inaccurate to conclude that the facilities to be funded are primarily “essential public services”.  While I’ve enjoyed the recreation facilities in Piedmont, it is clear that not all residents utilize these facilities, especially so over the next 30 years as Piedmont “ages in place”.  Police and Fire are, of course, essential, so again, consider placing the public safety facilities and recreation facilities on separate ballot initiatives.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of Piedmont City Council

Jun 27 2020

The Community Pool was operated for decades at no cost to the City by the Piedmont Swim Club, a non-profit organization.  It was used by the community, Swim  Club members, the Piedmont Recreation Department, Piedmont schools, and the Piedmont Swim Team.  The Piedmont Unified School District teams were incorporated into the lease of  the pool starting in 1998.  The Piedmont Swim Team, (separate from the School District), submitted a letter supporting continued operation and funding by the Piedmont Swim Club.

In 2010, the Piedmont Swim Club wanted to continue to operate and pay the expenses for the pool; however, in a closed, private meeting, the City Council decided not to renew the $1 lease with the Club and the City assumed the full expense of operating and maintaining the pool.

At the June 29, 2020 Special Meeting, the Piedmont City Council will consider ceasing the pool operation. Discontinued pool operations will likely be coupled with any tax increases on a November 2020 ballot measure.  The cost of a new “Aquatic Center” has been roughly estimated to cost $15,000,000. 

The following article was published on this site by the Piedmont Civic Association on Aug 14, 2010. _____________

Piedmont Swim Club Pools Open but Lease Still in Limbo

Aug 14, 2010

The Swim Club’s lease expires on June 30, 2011.  At that time, unless a new lease has been signed, the facility will revert to the City.   It would then be up to the City to either shutter it or find the funds to operate it.  Without a lease, the Swim Club would be forced to dissolve.  The Swim Club Board is actively negotiating with the City for a new long-term lease.   According to Tim Rood,  Swim Club President:

“In 2008, we successfully negotiated a 3-year extension that removed the requirement for the Swim Club to pay a minimum cash rent, saving the members $114,000 over the three years.   Following a meeting to discuss lease terms with the City Manager and City Attorney, on March 30, 2010, we sent the City a proposal for a 15-year lease, offering to continue to maintain the facility and provide the same, mostly unpaid use by the Piedmont Swim Team, the schools and the Recreation Department – estimated at over $70,000 at prevailing facility rental rates.”

After working on it in closed session, the City returned a mark-up of the lease proposal on May 7.  Rood reports the City indicated that it wants to require the

Swim Club:
– to pay rent, but not how much;
– to contribute to a capital improvement fund, but not in what amount;
– to turn over any funds remaining upon expiration of the lease to the City (which conflicts with Club by-laws);
– to submit to periodic review and arbitration of the longstanding use arrangements during the term of the lease;
– to purchase additional liability coverage and earthquake insurance at considerable expense and questionable benefit.

The City Council further stated that “there are some other items that the Council may want to propose changes on, but they want to think them over further.”

The Council also asked the Recreation Commission to review the use arrangements that have been in effect since 1998.  The Commission recommended to keep school use more or less at current levels and not to add the additional school aquatic programs that the School District had requested.  The Piedmont Swim Team has previously submitted a letter of support for a new Swim Club lease.

In response, the Swim Club Board began preparing long-term financial projections and estimates of the value of the community use provided, obtaining quotes on the additional insurance coverage the City requested, and researching facility rental costs and recreational/lap swimming costs at competing facilities.

In 2006, a consultant studied the option of converting to a City operated pool and determined it would have required annual subsidies from the City’s general fund of $127,000 to $327,000 in excess of revenues from pool operation.  Considering the City’s recent budget deficit situation, the Swim Club Board expects to resolve the contract, avoiding this new expense to the City. Source: October 3, 2006 City Minutes, Consultant’s Report, and Staff Report)  [2020 NOTE: City reports no longer available.]

A significant change from previous leases is found in 9(c) of the Swim Club’s proposed lease, which opens the Swim Club to 130 non-Piedmont residents, expanding possible membership total to 650 from the current approximate 500.

The recent closure required by Alameda County Department of Environmental Health for non-compliance with California State Law AB1020 at the height of summer added to the ongoing stress on the Swim Club membership and the City. Read more about closures.

For additional information on this issue, Mr. Rood recommends a recent article by Linda Davis of the Piedmonter summarizing the complexities of the pool closure and lease negotiations.”

City Administrator Sara Lillevand states in her 2020-2021 Budget overview:

“We are nearing a decision point regarding the future of the Community Pool. The present facility is more than 50 years old and no longer meets the needs of the community. Given its age and the lack of substantial investment over its life, the pool has become increasingly costly to maintain. We completed a comprehensive condition assessment of the entire facility and associated operating systems in 2018. The report indicated an investment of approximately $350,000 will be required to keep the aquatic facility safe and operational in its current form for the next 3-5 years, and an additional minimum investment of approximately $1.5 million to extend its life up to ten years. These renovation and repair costs are in addition to the rising subsidy required to operate the pool. For 2020-21 we are budgeting a decrease in revenue due to poor trends and an increase in operating costs of $120,000. Overall, we are projecting an operating loss of $368,000. In order to maintain a reasonable reserve of approximately $66,000 in the Aquatics Fund, we propose a subsidy transfer from the “General Fund of $300,000, which is $50,000 higher than last year.” May 6, 2020

On Monday, June 29, 2020, 7:30 p.m., at a Special Meeting of the Piedmont City Council, the Council will consider whether or not to discontinue use of the Community Pool because of ongoing maintenance and expense issues.

Links for participation and information are below: 

PCA council-current-agenda (1) 6292020 < Agenda

PCA Continued Operation of the Piedmont Community Pool < Staff Report

Budget Overview – 

Jun 26 2020

At a Special Piedmont City Council meeting on Monday, June 29, 7:30 p.m., the Council will consider placing tax measures on the November 2020 ballot.  Also, the Council will give direction to staff on continued operation of the Community Pool.

Agenda and instructions on participation: council-current-agenda (1) 6292020

  Continued Operation of the Piedmont Community Pool

“Two years have passed since it was acknowledged that the city had “reached the point in the life of the pool where strong consideration should be given to constructing a new facility that would better serve the community needs and require little to no annual subsidy. Alternatively, consideration should be given to transitioning out of aquatics programming as a City service.” In the intervening time, the facility, as well as its ability to recover costs, have further deteriorated. Given the hard financial realities both of the City’s aged aquatics facility and for overall Recreation Department revenues, it falls on this Council to determine whether it has become cost-prohibitive to continue to operate this aquatics facility.”

Consideration of tax measures for November ballot:Provide Direction to Staff on the Preparation of Ballot Measures for the November 2020 Ballot Regarding Financing of Facilities Maintenance, and Renovation_Replacement Needs

May 17 2020

READ the City Council COVID -19 EMERGENCY ORDER Confirmation of Emergency Order #2020-01

May 6 2020

Bond Measure on November 2020 Ballot ?

Community participation in setting priorities ?

The Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) has recently been charged by the Piedmont City Council with coming up with ways to fund Piedmont public projects. 

According to public comments, funding is possibly a bond measure for the November 3, 2020 Piedmont ballot.  The Council will need to make a decision on placing a bond measure on the November ballot no later than August. 

To date, there have been no public meetings or surveys to determine the list of desired projects which Piedmonters would favor. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent by the City Council on consultants and staff work proposing and planning special recreation projects.  Recreation projects have focused on a new Municipal Pool and Aquatic Center, Linda Beach Park play areas, and Coaches Field.  Other city facilities are also on a priority list. 

Very recently, 20th century Fire and Police facilities and readiness have been added to the Council list of possible projects needing funding sources. Public input has not been solicited on these projects. 

Infrastructure improvements to roadways, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and  undergrounding of overhead wires are not listed on the City Council priority list for funding.

Where is the money going to come from?

BAFPC to advise the City Council on funding sources.

For the first time, at-home citizens will be able to view and participate in the BAFPC deliberations and recommendations. Typically, the meetings have been held away from cameras with no minutes produced of the meetings.  The BAFPC Chair generally writes the Committee recommendations that are forwarded to the City Council. 

The Committee advises on tax levies, bond measures, financial planning, and budgetary matters. See items listed on the May 7, 2020 meeting agenda below.

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee Thursday, May 7, 2020 7:00 p.m. Via Teleconference

Members of the public can participate in the meeting by:

Computer or smart phone: Click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88058053315

Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 880-5805-3315

Full meeting agenda and participation details click below:

 2020-05-07 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee.

Back-up documentation and staff reports for the agenda have not been publicly disseminated. 

 Relevant prior staff report:

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects

Apr 18 2020

Does COVID-19 change Piedmont’s priorities for spending?

Are Piedmonters interested in taxing themselves further for additional city expenditures?

Year after year, Piedmont taxpayers have generously approved bond measures for school facilities and parcel taxes for school and city operations.  Currently, there are no voter approved city bonds.

The Piedmont City Council’s long list of capital projects for new expenditures without sufficient funding include extensive new and revised recreation facilities, the municipal pool, playgrounds, etc.  Also on the list are improvements to City Hall, Police Department, Fire Department and other municipal facilities.  Not on the list for improvements are streets, sidewalks and undergrounding of utility wires.

Streets and Sidewalks:

During COVID-19 restrictions, many Piedmonters are walking or running on Piedmont’s streets and sidewalks to get exercise and recreate One cannot help but notice the many cracked, lifted, eroded, and dangerous sidewalks in the city.  Many streets have faulty pavement and have not been repaved in decades. Curbs and gutters on numerous streets have lacked care, thus leaving pools of water and uneven surfaces.

Most funding for Piedmont sidewalks and street resurfacing comes from outside sources.

The City of Piedmont is charged with and oversees the maintenance of the city’s streets and sidewalks.  The city owns Piedmont’s beautiful street trees and is responsible for damage caused by these trees to sidewalks and gutters. Property owners are not allowed to trim or remove street trees.  Changes by residents to sidewalks and gutters require city permits.

Street Infrastructure Maintenance & Replacement

“The City’s FY 2019-20 budget for street infrastructure maintenance and replacement is $1.4 million. Funding sources include Measure B, Measure BB, Measure F, and the Gas Tax, which also now includes funds from SB-1 that was recently approved by the state legislature. The majority of available funding is dedicated to street resurfacing and sidewalk repair work, with the balance dedicated to important sub-categories such as the implementation of projects prioritized by the approved Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan, and those related to the Complete Streets program.” Piedmont 2019-20 Budget

Undergrounding of Utility Wires:

Most areas in Piedmont do not utility wires placed underground, yet undergrounding of utilities has been deemed an important mechanism for providing safety during fires and earthquakes.  Undergrounding is also considered a highly desired aesthetic improvement to Piedmont.  No money is set aside in the Piedmont budget for undergrounding projects.

Consultant for City Selected Projects

Currently, the Council is looking toward a city bond measure to finance either partially or totally their long list of selected improvements or changes to city facilities including the Municipal Pool, Playfields, city facilities – police, fire departments, etc.  Streets, sidewalks and underground utilities are not on the city list.

An expenditure of $50,000 to hire a consultant related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects will be undertaken at the April 20, 2020, City Council meeting.  Public outreach would be part of the process.

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Due to the COVID 19 Stay at Home order, the April 20 Council meeting will be a virtual meeting, and as such will only be available online.  Piedmonters can participate via the online connections as described on the agenda below:

4202020 council-current-agenda (1)

READ the staff report below to see the select list of projects identified and proposed process.

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects

Want to make a comment or suggestion to the City Council prior to the meeting?

Address your comments to the City Council as a whole:

cityclerk@piedmont.ca.gov

OR

Address your comments to individual councilmembers:

http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=15698089

Apr 6 2020

April 6, 2020 report to the Piedmont City Council on the COVID-19 impacts to the city.

Report on the Impacts of the COVID 19 Emergency on the City of Piedmont