Oct 13 2020

How did the Community Pool reach the current cost and condition YES on UU campaign hopes to cure?  

The YES campaign for UU recalls, “the Piedmont Pool has been an integral part of our community, serving children, adults of all ages, and our local schools.”  That was true through the decades it was run by the Piedmont Swim Club, which funded, built, maintained, and managed it at no cost to taxpayers.

The Piedmont Swim Club heavily subsidized the Swim Team for their use of the pool and gave the School District free pool use.  When the City took it over, much changed as the operation proved more challenging than anticipated.  In May 2013, months after the City began running the pool, the City informed the School District at the last minute that they could not use the pool that year.   

The YES on UU campaign is concerned that the pools cost the City $1,000 per day prior to the closure by Alameda County COVID-19 mandate.  They write “the current pool is failing, leaking thousands of gallons of water every day.”  For 46 years the Swim Club paid all pool expenses, including initial construction, capital improvements, major and routine maintenance,  After the City ended that relationship in order to manage the pool itself, PCA received and published the explanation of the situation that is republished below.

HISTORY: Residents assert Post’s pool facts are wrong – January 11, 2012

The Piedmont Post’s January 11, 2012 article, “Rood’s tenure as final swim club president,” gets almost all key facts regarding the negotiations between the city and the swim club wrong.  From the beginning, the club agreed to pay all pool expenses, including major maintenance and capital improvements, as it had for 46 years.  In return, it simply asked that the terms of the existing lease be continued.

We have spent 40 years negotiating complex deals, both as an executive (Bill Drum) and as an attorney and mediator (Jon Sakol).  Neither Tim Rood nor anyone else negotiated anything in public.  That is different from keeping the people you represent apprised of the status of negotiations, which the club’s board had a fiduciary duty to do to its members, who were demanding to know what was going on.  Tim Rood’s August letter and the posting of each side’s proposals was available only to those members.  At the time, the only proposal the club had received from the city left all financial obligations blank, and the club had been told there were other things the city might want to talk about, but not what.  That was still the status at the beginning of October, when Jon Sakol began working on the negotiations for the club.

The only “ultimatum” the board gave the city was that it needed an answer by the end of December, so that it would have adequate time for a massive membership drive to restore its financial viability if the lease were renewed, and the city would have adequate time for the transition, if it were not.  We twice extended that deadline because Jon Sakol believed that the City and the club had essentially reached an agreement.

In January, however, the new city attorney substantially rewrote the lease, imposing new financial obligations on the club: that the city would have the sole discretion to deny the club the use of the money the club had set aside for major maintenance and capital improvements it was contractually obligated to make and keep that money itself; that the city could unilaterally have any work performed and send the club the bill; and that the club purchase hazmat insurance (which no other pool has and the city has not bought).  When the club did not agree to those terms (which were not in the rent-free lease the city gave the new arts center three months later), it was a member of the city council, at its February 7 meeting, who said “we’re out of time.”  (The only council member who sat down with the club to understand its financial projections supported the lease.)

Bill Drum

Jon Sakol

Editors’ note: Jon Sakol has endorsed UU.  Bill Drum has passed away.  
Oct 13 2020
The existing pool is badly decayed and rehabilitation does not make economic sense. An enhanced pool complex in the Civic Center is historically appropriate. With the passage of UU and the new tennis courts already in place, there will be a comprehensive revitalization of the City Center.
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For Measure UU, the City is correctly using a progressive tax structure with a General Obligation Bond rather than creating a costly and regressive tax structure of a Community Finance District bond (also known as a Mello-Roos District).  Should Measure UU fail, we will likely see a much larger bond measure before us, as  a Mello-Roos District, with a lengthy list of expensive capital improvements.
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For retired Piedmont seniors on fixed incomes, UU is a progressive bond measure based on ad valorem value and is the fairest taxation levy.
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The pool is the largest user of natural gas in town and Greenhouse Gas; saving elements should be used with the new pool. Especially for seniors, the prior day use fee was grossly excessive and a modest cost structure for seniors should be implemented.
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While I did not use the Piedmont pool, I support the passage of Measure UU. On balance, the passage of UU is best for Piedmont.
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Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 12 2020

While support signs for UU are seen throughout Piedmont – letters mailed, opinions voiced, editorials, questions and comments opposing and supporting Measure UU continue.  For approval of the $19.5 million in 30 year bonds, 2/3rds of those voting on the pool bonds must vote yes. 

YES -Pool proponents have stated Piedmont needs a working, non-leaking municipal pool, and it is timely and cost-effective to issue the bonds to allow the designing and building of two enlarged pools and Aquatic Facilities.  Pools were costing the City $1,000 per day prior to the closure by Alameda County COVID-19 mandate.  Proponents note the new pool facility will be used by the schools, swim teams, Recreation Department, and the general public. The added operating costs of the Facility are projected to be covered by an increase in community-at-large usage. 

NO – City records show tens of millions of dollars in outstanding City financial obligations, and opponents state the City should first fund current obligations and needed Police and Fire facilities before a yet-to-be-designed expensive multi-pool Aquatic Facility.  A lack of prioritization of City needs, increased congestion next to schools, higher taxes, poor economic timing,  environmental impacts, financial money-pit, mis-management, oversized costs, and Covid -19  are noted as negatives.

Voters are encouraged to read and consider available official information linked below.

Official Measure UU – Pool Construction Bonds information

*The “City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure UU” is provided by Piedmont’s contract City Attorney.

Measure UU is found near the end of Piedmont voters ballots.

Oct 12 2020

 Endorser Forum:  Pool Bonds, Measure UU:  Wednesday, October 14, 6:00 – 6:30 p.m.

This forum will be on YouTube. The City of Piedmont is legally not allowed to use public resources for political purposes. Prior to the forum, the Piedmont League of Women Voters endorsed  Measure UU.

>Submit Questions Now

Join the League of Women Voters of Piedmont for a virtual Election Forum featuring proponents and opponents of City of Piedmont Ballot Measure UU. Measure UU authorizes the city to issue bonds to reconstruct the Piedmont Community Pool. Each side will be given two minutes to present an opening statement, followed by a question and answer session where each side will have one minute to answer each question. Submit your questions concerning Measure UU now or during the event.

  • When: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 6pm to 6:30pm
  • Where: Livestream on the LWVP YouTube channel
  • Who: Official Representatives in favor of and opposed to Ballot Measure UU

You may submit questions during the livestream by using the YouTube comments or anytime prior to or during the event by completing the anonymous form below or sending an email to lwvpiedmont@gmail.com.

For more information about Measure UU, review LWVP Pros & Cons.

Oct 9 2020

When I think about Piedmont, the iconic image that comes to mind is the center of town – the 4 schools, the tennis courts, Piedmont Park and City Hall.  And, in the middle – the pool. We live in a really beautiful place and the pool is a vital part.

This picture fades when you foresee the pool drained and the site pad-locked. Further, it is difficult to imagine it replaced by anything else. I can’t see, and don’t want, it “developed” for alternative (commercial) purposes. That’s not Piedmont. What belongs there is a pool. This is where our kids learn to swim. This is where my parents took me to learn to swim. Why would we take that away from our community and future residents? A cost/benefit analysis falls woefully short of responding to that question. Nobody applies that logic to the other amenities.

We rightfully take pride in our city. We should be a community that does not require a “fiscal” conclusion to support inherently valuable projects. We have parks, fields and courts for our citizens and students to pursue their athletic interests. Swimmers and water polo players deserve the same. Make no mistake, the pool augments the quintessential Piedmont “selling point” – the Schools.

Should UU fail, Piedmont High School and it’s swimming and water polo teams will be without a pool. Would some families opt for private schools that have pools? Seems likely. Replacing the pool is a great opportunity. The proposed plan ties the pool and the tennis courts together and creates a modern and attractive recreational facility. This is more than a replacement – it’s an improvement.

Think about recent projects. Does anyone regret remodeling Hampton Field? Do we wish we hadn’t spent the money to replace Havens? Of course not. All things have a lifespan whether we are talking about civic amenities or personal property. Well, the pool’s life has ended and it is our responsibility to get it replaced.

Those that oppose Measure UU because they ‘don’t use the pool’ or ‘don’t like how it will be funded’ should consider the risks of shuttering the pool. How does creating a blight improve our city? Whatever the objection, in the long-run this project enhances Piedmont, which benefits us all. Because Piedmont’s a community and not just an address, we owe it to the past and future to get this done.

Please vote ‘YES’ on UU.

Chris Hart, Current President Piedmont High School Boosters, Prior President Piedmont Baseball Softball Foundation

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 8 2020

Every voter in Piedmont should have received their ballot and Alameda County Voter Information Guide in the mail.

Although many voters are marking their ballots, the Alameda County Voter Information Guide has not been delivered.  The Guide contains Piedmont candidate statements and Piedmont ballot measure arguments.  

A  Piedmont press release stated: Sample Ballot / Voter Information Pamphlet

“The Alameda County Registrar of Voters began mailing Sample Ballot / Voter Information Pamphlets to registered voters on Thursday, September 24th. You can also view your personalized Voter Information Guide on the  Registrar of Voters My Voter Profilepage. If you have not received your sample ballot by October 16th, please contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office at (510) 272-6933.”

Voted ballots may be returned in a U.S. Postal Box or deposited in the Alameda County BALLOT BOX located in central Piedmont at the corner of HIGHLAND WAY and HIGHLAND AVENUES next to the Wells Fargo Bank.  POSTAGE IS NOT REQUIRED ON BALLOT ENVELOPES.

Because of issues related to mailed ballots, voters are encouraged to vote their ballots early to assure timely delivery to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

For your ballot to be counted, you must sign your ballot envelope. Every voters signature is carefully checked by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

++++++ VOTER GUIDE INFORMATION ++++++

Piedmont’s Ballot Measures TT (Transfer Tax Increase)  and UU (Pool Bonds) are found on the very last page of the ballot. Links to official information on Measures UU and TT are below.

Measure TT – Transfer Tax Increase on Real Property Sales

Measure UU – Pool Construction Bonds 

Official information on candidates for City Council and School Board are linked below.  Click on the candidate name to read their statement.

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https://piedmont.ca.gov/services___departments/city_clerk/elections/november_3_2020_general_municipal_election/2020_candidate_list

If you have questions or concerns regarding voting, contact Piedmont City Clerk John Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

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.