Oct 8 2020
“There are three good reasons to vote No on  Measure UU Pool Bonds.”
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I sincerely thought Piedmont learned a valuable lesson after the Hills Under-grounding debacle and the famous and equally outrageous Blair Park proposal that was thankfully averted due to its handful of determined and fiscally responsible citizens.
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Based on the estimates of a half baked design can be categorized as oversized, under-budgeted, and perhaps, can also be described as a trivial issue given the current needs of Piedmont to improve its police, fire and government buildings, combat climate change, improve roads and public transportation systems, etc., etc.
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Lastly, I hear the proponents claim it is cheap money so lets go ahead and spend it. There is no such thing as cheap money; money is only cheap when you spend others money and not yours.  Given the current use, money would be spent most wisely if the existing pool is renovated at a fraction of the proposed $19.5 million aquatics facility by competent people to continue to serve those who use the pool and perhaps limit its use only to the residents of Piedmont.
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PHS and private swim teams, middle and high school PE class, adaptive PE, the PHS water polo teams, adult fitness swimmers, and senior water aerobics do not need a new aquatics facility that costs $19.5 million, it needs a well maintained and managed functioning pool.
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Please reject Measure UU by voting No on UU.
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Sinan Sabuncuoglu
Architect and Piedmont Resident for over 35 years
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 7 2020

        It is long past time for Piedmont to rebuild our one and only community pool.

Current residents of Piedmont have benefitted from the generosity of prior residents who built, paid for, and in many cases donated our buildings, parks, playfields and of course, the pool.  Their generosity toward future generations has allowed us, as taxpayers, to focus our collective resources on our excellent public schools.

It is now our turn to step up to rebuild our failing infrastructure. The two measures on the ballot in November are about repairing and replacing what is broken. Measure UU will allow Piedmont to issue, for the first time ever, municipal bonds to rebuild the failing 56-year-old Piedmont Pool.  Municipal bonds are like a 30-year fixed-rate community mortgage, repaid through property tax assessments.  Measure TT will align the real property transfer tax – only paid when a home is bought or sold – to match those of Berkeley and Oakland, and use the funds to repair and maintain our city facilities and failing roads and sidewalks.

To us, six former Piedmont Mayors, the focus on long-term planning is a sign of pragmatic and strategic thinking.  The current City Council unanimously placed Measures UU and TT on the ballot because our failing infrastructure can’t wait.  Spending more to repair a crumbling pool facility makes no fiscal sense. Borrowing money at low interest rates to rebuild a necessary civic asset is the prudent decision.

Soon the City Council will be forced to make the decision that no one wants to make: to permanently close the Piedmont Pool. If Measure UU does not pass, Piedmont will then fail to provide a basic public amenity that every other city in Alameda County provides to its residents. Whether you swim or not, the lack of a municipal pool would be a profound loss for our community and our schools.

Please join us in supporting the future of Piedmont and voting yes on Measures UU and TT.

Dean Barbieri

Michael Bruck

John Chiang

Abe Friedman

Susan Hill

Valerie Matzger

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Oct 5 2020
WHAT ABOUT THOSE OTHER CAPITAL PROJECTS?
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Supporting Measure UU seems like a “mom and apple pie” decision, but according to the most recent Budget Advisory Committee report the City has an additional $52 Million in capital needs for which there is no plan. Importantly, the list includes seismic retrofitting of our police, fire and Veterans buildings.
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When people are asked why they choose to live in Piedmont, public safety services are high on the list.  It appears that the pool bonds are being proposed without reference to the larger context of all needed capital projects. Why has the pool been given the highest priority?  Why has there apparently not been a systematic prioritization among all capital needs?
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If the pool bonds are issued, will that minimize the City’s ability to obtain additional financing for these other important needs? Might the pool bonds make residents less likely to approve another bond?
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With Piedmont being among the most highly taxed of comparable cities, we cannot assume that Piedmont’s residents could afford still another bond or that the City could take on additional debt while retaining its credit rating.  The City’s Q and A’s on Measure UU makes no mention of this context.
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Kathleen Quenneville, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 5 2020

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont Board, composed of both Piedmonters and non-Piedmonters, voted to endorse Piedmont’s Measures TT and UU.  The Piedmont League, a non-partisan political organization, supported the measures without hearing from both proponents and opponents.  The League’s Board has sole authority on endorsing Piedmont ballot measures.  The League’s general membership is not involved in the endorsement of ballot measures.  

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The press release linked below was prepared by the Piedmont League of Women Voters on their Pros and Cons of Measures TT (Tax increase on property sales) and UU (Pool bonds for new municipal pools). 

Pros and Cons TT and UU 2020

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont.
Sep 29 2020

The following information from the City of Piedmont website was submitted by Measure UU Pool Bond supporters. 

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Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding Measure UU, which, if approved, would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to replace the Piedmont Community Pool.

1. The City proposes to issue $19.5 Million in bonds. What is the actual expected borrowing interest rate assuming the bond passes this year? 

Municipal bonds can be issued in stages as the funds are needed, and the applicable interest rate is determined at the time the bonds are issued.  As a frame of reference, the interest rate as of September 16, 2020 is 2.8%.

2. What is the City’s current total outstanding general obligation debt?

The City currently has no outstanding general obligation debt.

3. What is the term of the bond repayment?

Measure UU provides that the term of the bond repayment is 30 years with a fixed interest rate.

4. How long will the tax be imposed on properties, and will the amount of the tax ever decrease?

Measure UU, if adopted, would impose a tax on properties for 30 years.  In the event our property tax roll increases at 3.5% per year (10 year average is ~4.5%), the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value will drop from $0.26 (if all bonds are issued) to approximately $0.10 in thirty years. The total tax assessed would still be the same, but redistributed based on the individual property assessment.

5. How can a property owner ascertain the assessed value of property?

Each year, the Alameda County Assessor’s Office notifies all property owners of the property’s annual assessed value. This number can also be found on a property owner’s property tax bill. Residents can ascertain the assessed value of their home on the Alameda County Assessor’s web site

6. How does Measure UU impact the City’s General Fund?

Measure UU does not have an impact on the City’s General Fund.

7. What is the proposed concept for replacing the existing pool?

In the event Measure UU is adopted, the exact design of the pool facility will be finalized through a public process. The current proposed concept to replace the existing pool is the establishment of two pools: (1) a warmer, shallower recreation pool with areas for safe water play, swim lessons, therapeutic swim, and physical rehabilitation, and (2) a wider and deeper pool for recreation, physical education, water aerobics, water polo, swim team, and lap swimming.  Each pool would be larger than the current “medium” and “big” pools.

8. What are the estimated costs of the project compared to bond revenues and what steps will the City take to limit project costs to available bond revenues?

The measure would authorize the City to issue bonds with a principal value that does not exceed $19.5 million. In the event the City receives an AA+ bond rating, it is conceivable the bonds would be sold at a premium and Measure UU would provide revenues in excess of the face value of the bonds. The City determined that the $19.5 million figure was appropriate based on rough “hard cost” estimates as follows: $8 million for the two pools to replace the current “medium” and “big” pools, $3.5 million for site preparation, and $6 million for a building to house the pool equipment, restrooms, offices, and community space.  If necessary, the concept can be value-engineered during final design development to meet the budget parameters.

9. Can the City repair the existing pool?

The City has determined that repairing the existing pool is not a feasible option.  The City has been continuously repairing the existing pool since it took over operations in 2011. The repairs required to keep the facility safe and operational have become increasingly expensive every year, and the facility is now at the point where pool decks need to be removed in order to address structural issues. A renovation of the existing facility would require not only major structural repair and equipment replacement, but would also trigger significant site work required to meet current health, safety, and accessibility regulations.

10. What oversight is in place to ensure that the bond funds are used properly?

Measure UU provides that a bond oversight committee be appointed to make sure the bonds are issued and spent in accordance with the terms of Measure UU. As with any project, staff and the City Council will also work to ensure proper use of public funds. The project will also be subject to the City’s project risk management policy.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the City of Piedmont and Measure UU supporters.
Sep 24 2020

New Pool Can Serve All User Groups

We’ve known for 20 years or more that the beloved Piedmont pool was wearing out.

I first got involved in 2005, when my kids were small, by joining the board of the Piedmont Swim Club. The antiquated private nonprofit model, with a City-imposed restriction to Piedmont residents and cap on the number
of members, wasn’t a good fit for an obsolescent facility that needed a lot of capital investment.

Following the City takeover in 2011, a thorough and inclusive master planning process developed a practical and detailed master plan for a much larger new facility that can meet the needs of the entire Piedmont community as well as comply with current health, safety and accessibility codes.

Many different user groups use the pool – kids, families, swim lessons, teens and young adults, PHS and private swim teams, middle and high school PE class, adaptive PE, the PHS water polo teams, adult fitness swimmers, and senior water aerobics – and none of these activities can continue in Piedmont without a new aquatics facility. And because of its age and condition, continued repairs to the existing facility couldn’t address all the code issues, would likely involve unplanned closures, would not be cost-effective, and wouldn’t address the accessibility issues or the simple lack of water space for all the currently programmed activities.

The master planning process included an operational analysis by an expert aquatics consultant, which found that the new aquatic center can come close to covering its operating costs by accommodating many more users at the same time. The new aquatic center will have much more water space, including a large shallow area with zero depth entry for babies and smaller kids that’s connected to a “medium pool” area for older kids and lessons. A completely separate competitive pool with a moving bulkhead can accommodate lap swimming and team practice at the same time.

Piedmont needs to completely replace the pool, and Measure UU is the way to make that happen. Please join me in voting Yes on UU to build an aquatic center that will serve the community for another 50 years or more.

Tim Rood
City Councilmember

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 21 2020

The “facts” presented by the pro UU swim people aren’t all facts.

Like so many other things in Piedmont, we continually say it’s for the kids or it’s for our property tax values. This time the facts just don’t support that notion.

The numbers I am quoting were received from the City Administrator or the Arguments for UU.

1. The bond issue is for $19,500,000, but there are no bids. That is based upon estimates from 2010-12 inflated to today. It could cost significantly more and there is no source for additional funds.

2. UU estimates the cost per home of the bond issue at $0.75 per day ($274/year). That’s based upon an assessment of under $1 million. According to Redfin, the average price of a Piedmont home last month was $2,420,000! The tax on $2 million is around $540 per year or twice what is advertised by UU.

3. The City budget already subsidizes the pool for around $250,000 per year or $65 per home.

4. Approximately 35% of the pass users are non-Piedmont residents. Non-resident passes cost $100 more (only 11%) than resident passes but they won’t pay anything towards the bond issue.

5. Of the 65% of Piedmont users there are approximately 491 household passes for the pool. That is roughly 13% of the homes in Piedmont. The pass holders are very frequent users so it appears that very few residents actually use the pool but the ones that do, use it frequently. Should everyone pay for the benefit to a very small portion of the population who are avid swimmers?

6. Water aerobics accounted for only 45 passes (families or individuals) and water polo accounted for 51 passes (families or individuals) and we don’t know how many of those are non-Piedmont residents but certainly some are non-residents. Let’s assume that swim team and swim club accounts for another 10% of usage and that it is all Piedmont residents. That makes a total of 23% usage by Piedmont families.

If the pool was used by ½ of the residents, it would make sense for it to be publicly financed, but why should 100% of the families pay for a pool that is used by less than ¼ of the residents and is used by a significant % of non-residents?

VOTE NO ON UU.

Joe Hurwich, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 5 2020

On Tuesday, September 8, 2020, following the Labor Day weekend, the City Council will be updated by the staff on keeping the pool  closed at this time.  A staff report informs the public and Council that the condition of the Piedmont Municipal Pool is in disrepair, including a broken heater and other factors, making it inappropriate for the pool to be reopened at this time.  The City Council will consider the matter at the September 8 meeting. 

Read the staff report for the September 8th meeting:  >Pool 92020 Update

Piedmont Municipal Pool

Council Meeting, September 8, 6:00 PM,  Read how to watch and participate in the meeting by clicking the link below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf

Aug 24 2020

Piedmont voters will decide on November 3 two ballot measures taxing Piedmont properties.  Both measures were approved for the ballot and are supported by the Piedmont City Council.  There is official opposition to both ballot measures. The two measures will be located near the end of Piedmont ballots.

The arguments for and against the measures are linked below.

Each measure has an analysis by Piedmont’s attorney linked below.

Measure TT  increases the Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT) on the sale of Piedmont residences to fund general City purposes.

Measure UU is a bond to fund the reconstruction of the Piedmont Municipal Pool and build new associated facilities.

Questions on the ballot >  Notice of Election – Measures

Measure TT – Transfer Tax Increase on Real Property Sales

Measure UU – Pool Construction Bonds 

Aug 22 2020

Alameda County Issued Revised Shelter in Place Order – 

Piedmont to Consider Whether Pool Reopening is Practicable  – 

On Friday evening, August 21st, the Alameda County Health Official issued a revised Shelter in Place order, which, effective August 28th, allows the reopening of outdoor pools, permission for outdoor personal care services, and permission for outdoor tasting at wineries. A summary of the order is available on the County’s web site.

As this is the first guidance issued by Alameda County for the reopening of pools, the City will spend the next two weeks determining whether the conditions imposed by the order can be applied in a way that makes sense to reopen the Piedmont Community Pool. Staff had previously developed reopening frameworks based upon guidance from other health jurisdictions. The City understands the importance of the pool to the community and will examine whether reopening under the requirements imposed by the order is practicable. It is likely that a decision on whether to reopen the Piedmont Community Pool will be considered by the City Council at its meeting of September 8th. –

August 22, 2020 – Press Release

Contact: John O. Tulloch     (510) 420-3041     jtulloch@piedmont.ca.gov