Jul 5 2018

On the afternoon of June 19, 2018,  a City Council/School Board Liaison meeting was held.  Members of the School Board, City Council, and their staff members met at the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Administrative Offices on Magnolia Avenue to discuss various issues, which included: upcoming summer facilities projects, H1 Bond projects, solid waste management education, recreational renovations, and school safety.

Present at the meeting were School representatives: Board Vice President, Amal Smith, Board Member, Andrea Swenson, Superintendent Randall Booker, Director of Facilities, Pete Palmer, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Cheryl Wozniak. Representatives from the City were Mayor Bob McBain and City Administrator Paul Benoit.

The meeting began with Booker introducing the agenda and starting off the conversation with updates on the H1 Bond measure and the issue of the various District Summer facilities projects.  These projects include climate control renovations to elementary school facilities and the rebuilding of the 30’s complex at Piedmont High School for the high school’s new STEAM building, with construction beginning in June of 2019 as part of the H1 Bond measure.

During the April 2019 Spring break, the real projects begin removing the Alan Harvey Theater and drainage work on Witter Field.

“We’re starting these summer renovations at Havens Elementary, where five classrooms on the top floor can reach as high as 90 degrees while teachers are instructing students,” said Palmer. “The new climate control systems we will be installing are some of the most efficient units available on the market.”

Palmer explained that the same climate control systems would be installed in certain classrooms at Beach and Wildwood Elementary schools that are also at risk for reaching high temperatures.

“These new highly efficient systems will allow us to cut energy costs, which means putting more money right back into schools and facilities,” said Booker.

The High School’s new STEAM building will have 7 new classrooms, expanding the capacity of the school’s computer lab facilities. Booker stressed the importance of adding these new classrooms and computer facilities because 50 students had to be turned away from the school’s computer program during the previous school year due to insufficient class space.

“It’s great that we have so many students interested in computer science; however; right now we just don’t have the space.  With these new facilities, we will be able to accommodate everyone,” said Booker.

Booker noted the School District was exploring options to install a new computer system that would cut down on the purchasing of expensive Computer Processing Units (CPU) by allowing as few as one control CPU unit to feed many students’ computer monitors without the need for them to have their own CPU unit.

Palmer related a break in the waterline under Wildwood Schoolmates, requiring a temporary waterline and the closing down of El Cerrito Avenue, as well as P.E Hill, in order to fix the break.

Witter Field will be closed during the installation of new LED field lights, which would be more directive, project less light on neighbors, and be better for player safety visibility. Palmer stated the installation should go quickly unless the current light structures are revealed to have rusted bolts or fixtures, in which case they would need to be cut and repaired during renovation.

Booker discussed the High School Master Plan beginning construction in March 1, 2019, when the closure, salvage and abatement of the Alan Harvey Theater will occur,  along with the closure and drainage renovation of Witter Field.

An inspector from Division of State Architects (DSA) will come to survey the Witter Field area and check its Americans with Disability Act  (ADA)  compliance.  Witter Field has areas of concern, such as the Wildwood steps leading down to the field, which are not ADA compliant, according to Booker.

A passing inspection regarding the ADA and approval from the state are necessary prior to construction, as clarified by Vice President Amal Smith.

City Administrator Paul Benoit addressed the issue of solid waste management.

“We only received one bidder for Piedmont’s solid waste contract. Waste Management as a firm did not want to do backyard service, and Piedmont doesn’t want to give up backyard service. We’ll be continuing to work with Republic Services as our contractor,” said Benoit.

In addition to the City’s new contract with Republic, Abbe and Associates, a green education and waste management consultant, will aid the community, including the schools, in environmental awareness and sustainable living.

When Vice President Smith raised questions as to expectations with Abbe, Benoit replied that the consulting firm’s community-wide involvement will be collaborative with no set expectations or requirements.

Mayor Bob McBain stated that Abbe would work in situations managing waste from City events like the Harvest Festival and everything Abbe does should be constructive leading to reduced waste and proper disposal.

“It’s not gonna work, if it is a burden to everyone,” McBain said.

There are pending renovations and resurfacing of several tennis courts.   Linda Beach Tennis courts are desired by Pickleball players. Pickleball is a hybrid game of tennis and ping pong. The Piedmont Pickleball Association rents the Linda Beach courts on certain weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon for $12 an hour according to Benoit, and will continue to do so until school begins on August 13th.

Mayor McBain stated there is the possibility for the City and the Piedmont Pickleball Association to work together in order to resurface the Middle School courts to be used for the sport when not in use by the schools.

Benoit introduced the topic of School Safety which he stated was a big topic.  While School Safety was talked about at the staff level, thus far it had not received extensive discussion at the Council level. School Safety has risen in salience as the national climate around school shootings has intensified at an alarming rate.   There are uncertainties on how to move forward with this initiative in Piedmont, according to Benoit.

Superintendent Booker brought up the implementation of onsite security personnel in Piedmont schools.

“From experience and time spent with Albany High School, I found the presence of a police officer on campus an extremely effective and beneficial resource,” said Booker.

Booker went on to explain that the presence of a security person on campus at the High School, such as one on-duty soft uniform officer from the Piedmont Police Department, would be helpful. These resource officers in soft uniform, meaning they are wearing uniform pants and Piedmont Police Department polo shirts instead of a full patrol uniform, would receive very specific and intensive training to acclimate them to a campus environment. The resource officer would carry the same equipment that other police officers do on their belts, including a firearm.

“I would consider myself a strong advocate for the resource officer as a solution to school safety, as in my experience they are incredibly effective at communicating safety,” said Booker.

The resource officer would report to the Piedmont Chief of Police and the hope is that the officer costs would be paid half by the City and half by the School District.

McBain emphasized the need for the City to find the money for the resource officer and introduce the idea to the community.

Benoit informed the attendees that the City is actively recruiting for a new Fire Chief.

Report by Joe Creason, Journalism Intern

Jun 10 2018

Flawed process for changing the Piedmont City Charter has produced new issues and unknown rationale.  Concerns have focused on such proposals as: Unlimited reserve funds, changes to management of employees, elimination of Council bimonthly meetings, elimination of posted notices, and questionable designations of City officers. – 

The following letter was sent to the Piedmont City Council –

TO: City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov
RE: Comments Regarding Proposed Changes to City Charter June 3, 2018

Dear City Council:

I am writing to oppose the proposal to amend the City Charter, for two reasons: 1) process, and 2) substance.

PROCESS

I respectfully submit that the process is flawed and should be revisited. Here are some thoughts in that connection:

First, what is the problem we are trying to solve? Although the June 4, 2018 Staff Report states that the City Council has been discussing changes to the Charter since June 2017, it does not contain reasons for the proposed changes. Without a “statement of the problem,” how does the Council know what changes need to be made? And if we make changes to solve undefined problems, might the proposed changes create unintended consequences?

Second, what are the pros and cons of the proposed solutions to the problem? The Staff Report does not provide pros and cons, or alternative solutions to address perceived problems with the current Charter.

Third, shouldn’t workshops be held to determine the level of public support for the changes before they are submitted to Piedmont citizens for a vote? Deciding to put the Charter changes on the ballot without adequate public input is a backwards process.

SUBSTANCE

In addition to having serious concerns with the process the Council is following in this regard, I also have some substantive issues and questions:

Section 2.03. Because the Staff Report does not indicate what problem this “out of office” change attempts to solve, it’s not clear that this change is needed. If there is indeed a problem to be solved, and there’s public support for such change, a corresponding change should be made in Section 7.02 concerning the School Board.

Section 2.07 would delete the current requirement that the Council meet at least twice a month, and instead would only require that the Council meet “regularly.” This is totally inadequate. While I can understand that a twice monthly meeting requirement might be out of step with what is currently considered good governance and might make it difficult for some otherwise qualified candidates to serve on the Council, this change goes too far and could allow meetings only every other month, or quarterly. At a minimum, this section should provide for regular monthly meetings.

Section 2.08 states how the Mayor is selected. Should we consider having the Mayor be elected by the voters, as in many other communities?

Section 2.12(D) would eliminate the requirement to post ordinances on bulletin boards, in favor of using the City website. To ensure that citizens know they should look on the website for ordinances, I suggest that the City also be required to post a notice describing the ordinance (if not including the entire ordinance) in one or more newspapers of general circulation.

Article III’s changes are problematic. First, I’m not sure it is a good idea to give the City Administrator so much power without Piedmont having a citizen-elected Mayor to partner with the City Administrator. If public input indicates support for giving the City Administrator the power to manage and dismiss all City officers, but having the Council keep the authority to eliminate or consolidate these officer positions, then this Article should be overhauled completely (for instance, deleting from the Charter the listing of City officers, since if the Charter states that the City “shall” have certain officers, it’s unclear that the Council could eliminate such positions without an amendment to the Charter).

Section 4.03 proposes to eliminate the 25% ceiling on the General Fund Reserve. This proposal is outrageous. Piedmont’s taxes are much higher than those in comparable cities. Many (those on fixed incomes, or young couples, for instance) struggle to afford the current rates. While keeping adequate reserves is important, there’s been no case made by Staff or the Council that the City needs more than 25% in reserves. The cap should stay.

Section 4.10 governs franchises. It’s unclear what this section is intended to cover. Is this a section that should be considered for updating or deletion?

Section 4.11 proposes to eliminate the requirement that all public projects be competitively bid. This is unacceptable. A requirement to competitively bid ensures that public funds are spent wisely. Competitive bidding should be the rule, and deleting this language opens the door to wasting public funds.

Article V. If the Charter is being examined fully, the Council might consider whether most of the provisions of Article V belong in the Charter, or could instead be moved to an ordinance. While the updating of Section 5.02 is admirable, the law keeps changing. To eliminate the need to constantly update the Charter, it might be easier to simply say that the City will not discriminate on any prohibited basis.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Quenneville, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
Jun 2 2018

Piedmont City Council to Consider Proposed Charter Changes June 4, 2018, 7:30 p.m. City Hall:

If the City Administrator’s requests to change the City Charter are approved, the City Council could take a back seat in Piedmont’s governance.

Piedmont City Administrator Paul Benoit proposed eliminating the long-time appointment power of the City Council in the City Charter. 

The City Council has always appointed and hired key administrative positions – Police Chief, Fire Chief, City Clerk, Finance Director, Public Works Director, etc. However, the Council told Benoit on April 30, 2018 they wanted to retain the Council’s hiring authority per the City Charter.  Yet Benoit apparently convinced the Council that he, the City Administrator, should be the sole individual authorized to fire or terminate key managers, taking authority away from the Council in an unusual change to Council authority.

Readers will find the administrative changes repeatedly diminish the authority of the Council forfeiting their authority to the City Administrator.

The form of government proposed by Benoit is usually termed a City Manager form of government joined by a strong mayor, which Piedmont does not elect.  Oakland has a City Manager form of government as does Alameda and Astoria, Oregon, where Benoit was employed for many years prior to coming to Piedmont. Each of these cities have a separately elected Mayor.  Piedmont’s mayor is elected from within the Council  by the five Council members. 

Many are familiar with Oakland struggles, but perhaps less familiar with Alameda’s recent troubles when the Council terminated their City Manager over a hiring situation. Piedmont has not had such disruption and the City Council has worked collaboratively when selecting officers such as the Fire Chief, Police Chief, and others.  It has been stated that it is better to have 5 members of the Council selecting  the City officers rather than one unelected person – the City Administrator – making the selections and terminations.

Despite pleas for an independent committee to study and evaluate proposed changes to the Piedmont City Charter, none was formed by the City Council.  The Administration driven proposals have moved forward following a Council Study Session.  

This PCA article points out some of the critical issues, but as with any City Charter the devil is in the details, of which there are many.  The Council, apparently, will be presenting forums after they decide what should be placed on a Piedmont  November 2018 election ballot to seek required ratification

~~~~~~~~~~~

Below are various changes noted by City staff as substantive.  Readers will note in the full draft linked below there are many other important issues.

   The pros and cons of the changes have not been presented by staff.

Important administrative changes of the Charter were listed last in the staff report linked below. The order has been changed here. 

  • ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROVERSY: Council would hire top managers, but could not fire them. In Article 3 – Administration – Council directed staff to clarify sections in this article to make clear that the City Council appoints Department Heads, but that they will be directed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Administrator.
  • The Council acted against the recommendation of the City Administrator and decided to retain their long held ability to select and appoint (hire) Department Heads per the current Charter requirement appointments for Department Heads, while letting the City Administrator be the only individual who fire the Department heads.
  •   ISSUE: The Council relinquishment of their ability to also terminate (fire) Department Heads –  the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, City Clerk, etc. presents potential new problems for the City Council authority.
  • New positions have been added to the list of permanent City of Piedmont positions.  The number of  Department Head employeeswill be permanently placed in the City Charter potentially making it more difficult to consolidate or eliminate positions. 
  •  ADMINISTRATIVE AND POLITICAL;  NO LIMIT ON AMOUNT OF RESERVE FUNDS. In Section 4.03, the limit on the General Fund Reserve of 25% is proposed for removal. In addition, an aspirational minimum for the General Fund Reserve of 15% of the General Fund operating budget is inserted.
  • Elimination of the amount of money the City can place in reserve, while continuing to tax property owners has been one of  the more noticed proposed changes to the City Charter.  The original goal of limiting reserves was to control taxation without a purpose. In recent years, the Council and Administration has circumvented the limitation by building up reserves in numerous specials funds presenting a bountiful amount of money stored by the millions for special purposes.   The change appears arbitrary. 
  • ADMINISTRATIVE AND POLITICAL: BIDDING and PURCHASING:  In Section 4.11, bidding requirements are changed to remove a low threshold for costly formal bidding requirements, rather leaving it to the Council to set the thresholds for formal bidding by ordinance.
  • Many City service providers are currently not obtained through a formal bidding process. Regardless of cost to the City, old friends, contractors,  and work companions often continue for years without ever going through a formal procurement process.  Some suggest Piedmont has not always performed due diligence with the millions of dollars spent for outside services and have suggested stronger language rather than more relaxed requirements. Piedmont adopted a stronger procurement, liability and project policy led by the League of Women Voters of Piedmont.  There has been no comment on the impact of the proposed Charter change to the policy. 
  •  
  •  The proposed amendments also modernize the prohibition against employment discrimination to include all classes protected under U.S. and state law. (Section 5.02)  This makes Piedmont Charter language compliant with U.S. and state law without impacting Piedmont’s current compliant practices.
  • The provision for filling vacancies on the Board of Education is changed to match the proposed amendments for the City Council, as described above for Section 2.05 (c). Staff consulted with the Piedmont Unified School District which agreed that this amendment, along with one other technical amendment to Article 7 should be included in the proposed amendments. There is no validation provide for the Board of Education position on the Charter change. 

POLITICAL: LIMITING SERVICE BY FORMER COUNCIL MEMBERS.  The proposal would increase the period of time during which a former Councilmember is ineligible to run for office from 4 to 8 years after leaving office.

 Only two Council members have in the past 3 decades attempted to be re-elected following 4 years of ineligibility.  One former Councilmember was not re-elected, another was elected, but recently resigned over a scandal.  A local newspaper’s publicity for those two candidates influenced the election more than the candidates’ efforts.

POLITICAL: HOW LONG SHOULD THE COUNCIL HAVE TO FILL A COUNCIL VACANCY.   An amendment to the provision for filling of vacancies on the City Council would be extended to allow the Council 60 days rather than just 30 days to fill a vacancy.

 Recent history has proven the Council has been able to readily fill numerous Council vacancies within the allotted 30 day time period. The intention of the Charter was to expeditiously fill a vacancy for a full Council composition of 5 members rather than unnecessarily remain at 4 or fewer members. 

  • CONTROVERSIAL: WHEN TO HOLD COUNCIL MEETINGS A requirement that the Council hold two regular meetings per month is eliminated. The proposed language would require the City Council to hold meetings on a regular basis.

    Change could be arbitrary. 

    Residents often plan their public participation schedules around knowing when the Council will meet  – the first and third Mondays of each month. With recent changes to the Zoning Code, not knowing when the Council will next meet to consider a matter opens up conflicting issues. From high school students to public participants, having regularly scheduled meetings, a standard for most cities,  is beneficial.  If three (the required amount) Council members cannot attend a regularly scheduled  meeting, then the meeting would fall to the next day or week. Going on the City Council is known to require certain meetings per month thus allowing the Council and public set dates for planning purposes. Scheduling of matters can be crucial to the consideration of many issues and the orderly functioning of government.  Reducing the frequency of Council meetings puts them at a disadvantage in providing the leadership the citizenry expects of their elected officials.

Amendments are also proposed to a number of other sections of the Charter to remove stated outdated provisions and modernize language. Click to read a marked up version of the Charter containing each of the proposed Charter amendments.

READ the full STAFF REPORT > HERE.

Citizens are invited and encouraged to comment at this meeting. Written comments may be submitted to the City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or by US Mail to City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA  94611. All comments submitted will become part of the public record.

The meeting will be televised live on KCOM-TV, Channel 27, the City’s government TV station and will be available through streaming video on the City’s web site www.ci.piedmont.ca.us.

For further information, contact Assistant City Administrator/ City Clerk John O. Tulloch via email at cityclerk@piedmont.ca.gov or via phone at (510) 420-3040.

May 29 2018

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Safety Committee will on May 31, Thursday, at 5:30 pm.  This meeting is open to the public in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The agenda includes updates on

  • Get Ready, Piedmont Guides and Checklist
  • School Liaison Activities and Campus Safety Preparedness
  • Crime Prevention/Community Outreach
  • Neighborhood Meetings
  • Year End Crime Report
  • Boy Scouts and Map Your Neighborhood Project
  • Public Safety Cameras

Discussion of

  • Public Safety Committee page on City Website 
  • Public Safety Open House

Draft Minutes of March meeting below:

Public Safety 2018-03-29 DRAFT

 

May 23 2018

PUBLIC NOTICE –

CITY COUNCIL TO CONSIDER A RESOLUTION DECLARING PIEDMONT A SANCTUARY CITY

At its regular meeting on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall, the Piedmont City Council will consider a resolution declaring the City of Piedmont as a sanctuary city and affirming Piedmont’s long-standing practice of providing service regardless of immigration status.

The City Council has taken several actions over the past two years to quell the fear and anxiety felt by the community resulting from possible changes to federal immigration laws and enforcement policies. On November 21, 2016, the City Council and the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education jointly committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and civil community through City and District policies, programming, and leadership. On March 6, 2017, the City Council affirmed the action of the Alameda County Mayor’s Conference which had passed a resolution 1) Condemning violence and hate speech; 2) Expressing solidarity with all those targeted for their ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability, or nationality; and 3) Expressing support of immigrants and refugees. In taking this action, the City Council unanimously stated its support for the recitals and declarations made in that resolution.

SB 54, the California Values Act, which was signed into law by the Governor on October 15, 2017, prohibits law enforcement from acting as agents of federal immigration authorities. Since 2014, the policies and procedures of the Piedmont Police Department have prohibited police officers from contacting, detaining, or arresting someone based solely on the suspicion that an individual is an undocumented immigrant.

The Council is considering this action after receiving requests from residents to do so at several City Council meetings.

The text of the draft resolution is below and also available on the City’s web site at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us

Public comment is invited and encouraged at this meeting. Written comments may be submitted to the Piedmont City Council at > citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or by US Mail to City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

All comments submitted will become part of the public record.

The meeting will be televised live on KCOM-TV, Channel 27, the City’s government TV station and will be available through streaming video on the City’s web site > www.ci.piedmont.ca.us.

For further information, contact City Administrator Paul Benoit via email at > pbenoit@piedmont.ca.gov or via phone at (510) 420-3040.

  Posted: May 23, 2018

The Resolution to be considered by the Council:

RESOLUTION _______
A RESOLUTION DECLARING THE CITY OF PIEDMONT AS A SANCTUARY CITY

WHEREAS, the City of Piedmont is a community that celebrates diversity and prides itself on being a place which welcomes persons and families of all backgrounds and nationalities; and

WHEREAS, the City of Piedmont is committed to recognizing the dignity and civil rights of all of its community members, including the right of all community members to live, work, and study in a city that does not subject them to prejudicial treatment or discrimination; and

WHEREAS, members and friends of immigrant communities across the country, including members of our community, may be experiencing fear or anxiety resulting from potential changes to federal immigration laws and enforcement policies; and

WHEREAS, on November 21, 2016, the City Council and the Board of Education jointly committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and civil community through City and District policies, programming, and leadership; and

WHEREAS, on March 6, 2017, the City Council affirmed the action of the Alameda County Mayors’ Conference in passing Resolution 01-17, entitled, “A RESOLUTION OF THE ALAMEDA COUNTY MAYORS’ CONFERENCE CONDEMNING VIOLENCE AND HATE SPEECH, EXPRESSING SOLIDARITY WITH ALL THOSE TARGETED FOR THEIR ETHNICITY, RACE, RELIGION, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER, ABILITY OR NATIONAL ORIGIN AND IN SUPPORT OF IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES” and unanimously stated its support for the recitals and declarations made in the resolution; and

WHEREAS, on October 5, 2017, the Governor signed Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, which prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from acting as agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, instead reaffirming their focus on community policing; and

WHEREAS, since 2014, the Piedmont Police Department’s policies and procedures have prohibited police officers from contacting, detaining, or arresting someone based solely on the suspicion that an individual is an undocumented immigrant; and

WHEREAS, the Piedmont Police Department affirms that the enforcement of immigration violations by local police erodes and damages the public trust that is so vital to maintaining public safety for all; and

WHEREAS, the City Council desires to continue to demonstrate its commitment to all of our community members by declaring that the City of Piedmont is a Sanctuary City;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Piedmont does hereby resolve as follows:

SECTION 1. The City of Piedmont hereby reaffirms its ongoing commitment to protect the rights of all people in our community by declaring that the City of Piedmont is a Sanctuary City.

SECTION 2. City employees will serve all residents, and city services will be accessible to all residents regardless of immigration status.

SECTION 3. The City of Piedmont recommits to pursuit of a policy agenda that affirms civil and human rights, promotes civic engagement, and ensures that those targeted on the basis of race, religion or immigration status can turn to government without fear of recrimination; and we reaffirm the value of a diverse society, the beauty of a community composed of myriad cultures, and the right of every person to live freely and without fear and discrimination in our community.

SECTION 4. City of Piedmont officials, employees and agents shall not inquire into the immigration or citizenship status of an individual, except where the inquiry relates to a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law.

SECTION 5. The City of Piedmont will continue to uphold the prohibitions placed upon it regarding information sharing with federal immigration authorities by SB 54.

SECTION 6. The City of Piedmont strongly condemns any and all statements that promote or provoke hate, xenophobia, intolerance or racism against any person or persons.

SECTION 7. The City of Piedmont understands and accepts its obligation to comply with federal law. Nothing in City of Piedmont policies is intended to violate 8 U.S. C. Section 1373 and 8 U.S. C. Section 1644.

SECTION 8. The City of Piedmont will continue to review its policies to ensure that they reflect Piedmont’s status as a Sanctuary City, as well as compliance with the United States and California Constitutions, and the mandates of federal and state law. Such review may include the possibility of revision to other City policies such that they comply with the spirit and intent of this Resolution.

[END OF RESOLUTION]

May 18 2018

Dear Piedmont Community,

Today, we received news about another horrific shooting in our public schools, this time at Santa Fe High School, just outside of Houston, Texas. Our hearts and our thoughts go out to the victims and their families. 

Now, more than ever, our students, staff, and community need special legislation and immediate action from our state and nation’s elected leaders to help keep our schools safe. On March 14th, the PUSD Board of Education unanimously passed Resolution 12-2017-18 School Safety and Gun Violence.

This resolution calls upon the United States Congress and all state legislators to prioritize the protection of students and school system employees by passing legislation that:

  • More effectively regulates access to firearms in the interest of public safety by establishing universal background checks to purchase a firearm, reenacting the federal ban on the sale and possession of military-style assault weapons, banning large capacity ammunition magazines, and enacting gun violence restraining order laws and

  • Advances and funds mental health supports.

  • Invest in wraparound services to prevent bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence in our schools and

  • Provide funding for programs and staff such as counselors, nurses and psychologists,that support students’ mental, physical and emotional health.

  • Reduces the risk and severity of gun violence on school campuses; and

  • Declares gun violence a public health crisis and removes all barriers to funding public-health research on firearms-related issues, including repealing the prohibition against data collection and research on gun violence by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

In the spirit of collective action, I urge you to join me in contacting our elected representatives to implement a legislative solution that supports the safety of all.

United States Senate

Senator Dianne Feinstein – Email
Senator Kamala Harris – Email

United States Congress, California
District 9

Congresswoman Barbara Lee – Email

 California State Senate, District 9

Senator Nancy Skinner – Email

 California State Assembly, District 15

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond – Email

Media coverage of today’s tragedy will prompt questions and concerns from your students, and we want to provide resources that may help during these difficult conversations. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, high-profile acts of violence in schools can confuse and frighten students who may feel they, their friends or their loved ones are in danger. They will look to adults for guidance about how to react, and adults can help by talking with them about their fears.

For help with these conversations, please visit this online resource: “Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers.” This printable handout is available in 10 languages. We also encourage you to talk with your school’s teachers, counselors, support staff, or administrators if you need support or see any signs of distress or concerning behavior.

The safety and well-being of our students and staff here in Piedmont is our top priority. While school shootings are rare, we do have to prepare for the possibility.  We will continue to partner with the Piedmont Police Department and provide training in our schools to educate staff and students in responding to an active shooter or other internal threat.

Finally, it’s important to remind your students that if they “see something, say something.” Research shows warning signs occur in more than 80% of violent incidents. Our high school Speak Up! and middle school See Something, Say Something Scots online reporting tool allows students, parents, educators and community members to report concerns anonymously. Keeping our students, staff and schools safe is the responsibility of everyone in our community. 

Please keep the families affected by today’s school shooting in your thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,

Randall Booker, Superintendent Piedmont Unified School District

May 17 2018

PRESS RELEASE: BURGLARY SUSPECTS ARRESTED

On May 15, 2018, at approximately 2:24 p.m., two suspects were spotted, by an alert postal carrier, removing items from the front of a residence located on the 1500 block of Grand Avenue in Piedmont. The witness provided valuable identifying information to the police dispatcher who in turn provided that same information, including a license plate, to Piedmont Police and additional surrounding police agencies.

Piedmont officers immediately responded to the scene and confirmed a burglary had occurred. An alert Oakland Police Officer, who heard the crime broadcast, located the suspect vehicle parked on 45th Street in Oakland. The Officer then noticed the described suspects exiting the vehicle and walking toward a residence.

The Officer made contact with the two suspects and requested additional help. Piedmont and Oakland officers responded to assist and secure the scene. The burglary suspects were arrested and one additional resident of the house was arrested for delaying the investigation.

A search warrant was obtained for the vehicle and residence and all of the stolen items were found. Numerous other suspicious items were located in the residence and a follow-up investigation is being conducted by the Oakland Police Department to determine if additional criminal activity has been occurring at that location.

The suspects are being charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Both suspects had prior arrests for burglary throughout Alameda County.

Anyone with information and/or inquiries related to this case is asked to please contact Captain Chris Monahan at (510) 420-3012.

 

May 15 2018

Piedmonters were once more reminded of our closest earthquake fault, the Hayward Fault. On Monday, May 14, 2018, at 7:18 p.m.  a quake measuring 3.5 on the Richter Scale shook Piedmont. Click HERE for more information on the quake.

AC Alert Program for all Piedmonters.

In Alameda County, there is an AC Alert Emergency Notification System, available to all Piedmonters, providing information on emergencies and incidents as they happen. This system allows the City to contact thousands of Piedmont residents in seconds so you can find out about an emergency right away.

 Sign up – it only takes about a minute to enroll! <Click

How Does It Work?

The process begins when the City of Piedmont issues a message about a potential safety hazard or concern. Next, “AC Alert” sends a message through your primary contact path. If you don’t confirm receipt of the message, the system will try to reach your second contact path and continues trying to reach you until you confirm receipt.

The success of this service relies on YOUHaving your latest contact information is the only way to ensure that the City can contact you in an emergency. Sign up – it only takes about a minute to enroll! <click

Piedmont Respects Your Privacy!!

“The City of Piedmont will never share or distribute your personal information, unless required to do so by law. Additionally, we will never use your information for any purpose other than to send emergency notifications or information pertaining to Piedmont.”


If you are interested in organizing, hosting, or attending a neighborhood safety meeting, go the the Public Safety Committee’s page and enter your information. You will be contacted by a member of the committee who will give you information on setting up a meeting. You can also contact:

Chief of Police Jeremy Bowers – jbowers@piedmont.ca.gov – (W) 420-3010
Fire Chief (W) 420-3030

May 9 2018

I am writing to express my support for Nancy O’Malley in June’s District Attorney election.  

Nancy is the first woman to be elected as District Attorney of our county, and has served in this position for the past ten years.  She has worked as an attorney in the office for nearly 30 years.

During her career, Nancy has committed herself to keeping our communities safe and to serving victims of crime.  As District Attorney, Nancy has become a leader in the fight to end human trafficking and to clear the backlog of rape kits in order to bring justice to victims of sexual assault.  

Under her leadership, the DA’s Office has increased efforts to protect our environment and has strong units to combat domestic violence, elder abuse and consumer fraud.  

Alameda County is fortunate to have a strong, dedicated and compassionate District Attorney. Please join Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, the Sierra Club, Congressman Eric Swalwell, and me in supporting Nancy O’Malley, and please remember to vote on June 5!

Sincerely, Teresa Drenick, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 5 2018

 City Council agenda Monday, May 7, 2018, 7:30 p.m. Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont. The meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast on Channel 27 and from the City website under videos. 

Staff reports for the May 7th meeting are below:

05/07/18 – 2nd Reading of Ord. 742 N.S. Amending Chapter 17 – Planning and Land Use of the City Code Regarding Short Term Rentals and Approval of a Resolution Settings Fines and Fees for Short Term Rentals

  1. Both hosted (rooms within a home) and non-hosted (the entire home) short-term rentals are permitted.

  2. In order to operate a short-term rental, a resident must seek and gain City approval for a permit to do so. The resident who has gained a permit from the City to operate a short-term rental is referred to henceforth as a short-term rental permittee.

  • The application is reviewed and acted upon by the Director of Planning or the Director’s designee.
  • The permit is valid for up to one year, until December 31 of the year issued, and may be renewed annually by means of a renewal application.
  1. A short-term rental permit application and renewal applications shall be subject to a fee established by the City Council.
  2. The dwelling unit being used as a short-term rental, whether hosted or non-hosted, must be the primary residence of the permittee.
  3. The short-term rental must be rented for a minimum of two consecutive nights and may not be rented more than 60 days in a calendar year.
  4. A short-term rental permit applicant who is a tenant must gain the consent of the property owner to use the dwelling unit as a short-term rental.
  5. The following dwelling units are prohibited from being used as a short-term rental:
  • Accessory dwelling units, both permitted and unintended; and
  • Multi-family dwelling units (i.e. apartments).
  1. The permittee is required to do the following:
  • Pay an annual business license tax under City Code chapter 10.
  • Maintain general liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 during the term of the short-term rental permit.
  • Provide his or her contact information to the city, and update any change before renting the property.
  • Provide the dwelling or rooms serving as a short-term rental a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher, and adequate egress.
  • Provide the short-term guest both electronically before the stay and in print during the stay the following information:

o   The short-term rental permittee’s contact information;

o   A diagram of exits, fire extinguisher locations, and fire and police contact numbers;

o   The city’s noise regulations (sections 12.8 – 12.12);

o   The city’s smoking ordinance (chapter 12, article II); and

o   The city’s garbage and recycling guidelines.

  1. Short-term rentals may not be rented for commercial purposes other than for dwelling, sleeping or lodging.
  1. Enforcement includes the ability of the City Council to establish fines by resolution.

05/07/18 – 2nd Reading of Ord. 743 N.S. Making Technical Corrections to Chapter 17 – Planning and Land Use

Parking space size and specifications

Requiring 12 inches between the side of a parking space and the nearest wall or similar obstruction so that drivers and passengers have adequate room to maneuver into and out of a car parked in a garage or carport.

Sign Design Review Permit

Reinstituting a design review permit and design standards specific to signs on private nonresidential properties.

Parking requirements related to Accessory Dwelling Units

Making Piedmont’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance consistent with state laws by deleting the prohibition of replacement parking spaces within the 20-foot street yard setback. The City may require replacement parking for the primary dwelling when a garage or carport is demolished for or converted to an Accessory Dwelling Unit.

The scheduling of City Council hearings after a Planning Commission recommendation

Allowing for expeditious processing and thorough preparation in response to appeals, appeals are to be scheduled at least 45 days after the filing of an appeal but all other matters are to be scheduled for the next available regular City Council meeting.

The definition of Floor Area

Clarifying what areas within a building’s envelope are considered floor area and would be subject to the floor area ratio limits so that new additions to buildings do not circumvent the City’s regulatory goals of limiting the bulk of a house in relation to the size of the lot and encouraging development within the existing envelope.

05/07/18 – Receipt of a Report on the Timeline for the November 6, 2018 General Municipal Election

05/07/18 – Approval of a Resolution to be Presented to Volunteers at the Annual Volunteer Reception for 2018    May 15, 2018.

05/07/18 – Receipt of the FY 2016-2017 Audited Financial Statements

05/07/18 – Receipt of a Report on the 35% Conceptual Design for the Linda Beach Master Plan and Possible Direction to Staff

05/07/18 – Update on the Service Options Offered by East Bay Community Energy

05/07/18 – Receipt of the Police Department Quarterly Report for the 1st Quarter of 2018

05/07/18 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 744 N.S. Amending Chapter 9 (Garbage) of the City Code to Conform to the New Collection Services Agreement

05/07/18 – Consideration of Agreements with Pacific General Engineering in the Amount of $35,660 and Mark W. Shulkamp Electric Company in the Amount of $52,340 for Installation of New Street Lighting on the Oakland Avenue Bridge

05/07/18 – Consideration of the Third Amendment to the Employment Agreement between the City of Piedmont and Paul Benoit