Jan 16 2023

Hello City Council:

I’ve reviewed the staff report and draft RFP for the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan (MCSP) and submit the following comments and questions. Hopefully you can delve into them.

The MCSP is good planning, but clearly the RFP is being developed to expedite a City application for Measure A funds by 2024.  Perhaps for that reason, the RFP is short on explaining how the plan addresses important city policies.  Table 2 list these policies but the RFP states that these policies “may” be considered and only stipulates that the consultant team will demonstrate “professional experience and knowledge of the personnel general principles and background law applicable to specific plans, land development and affordable housing development requirements”.   There are important sustainability policies outlined in the General Plan and Climate Action Plan and the City should stipulate this a credential it seeks on the consultant team.  Does the team have a sustainability expert like our City does?  Traffic safety is another core credential that should be requested.

The staff report and RFP suggests that additional environmental review beyond the programmatic EIR will be conducted based on the impacts of the specific projects in the MCSP.  That makes sense but is predicated on a robust programmatic EIR which has yet to be released.  Without the programmatic EIR being public at this time, the generalities of that assessment may be used to gloss over specific impacts of the projects at a later date.  One way to alleviate this concern is to assure that the programmatic EIR will have a response to comments process as a project specific EIR does.  Staff should confirm this publicly.  Subsection m. in scope of services should clarify this point as well.

One important EIR consideration is whether an assessment of GHG emissions will be undertaken in the MCSP.   This assessment may occur in the “built out” programmatic EIR so this may not be a factor but without that document, who can say?   To resolve this question, staff should clarify whether these GHG emission calculations are being conducted as a part of the programmatic EIR.  According to state guidance, GHG emissions are to be part of a CEQA analysis: CEQA GHG.  However, based on certain criteria, affordable housing projects under 100 units are exempt from CEQA and staff should clarify this as well CEQA Housing. Indeed, staff should clarify whether CEQA is applicable to all the projects being considered in the MCSP, particularly the low-income housing projects.

The staff report and RFP do not clarify whether the relocation of the Corporation Yard will be studied as part of the MCSP.  The only possible reference to this is that “replacement” of the Corporation Yard be considered.  The City should clarify this in the RFP so as to provide consultants the widest latitude to develop creative proposals for the canyon.  Indeed, this latitude may provide for the subdivisions of parcels and development standards that are attractive to builders of housing at all income levels. As staff envisioned with civic center sites, the City could leverage better housing for the project if the Corporation Yard is moved to less desirable building site in the canyon.

Following are more specific comments/questions to the RFP:

The project timeline on page 5 of the staff report is particularly short on detail.  The City seems not to have identified the type of public process it intend to conduct. 

Under “Specific Plan for Success” there is no mention of field lighting as part of the recreational facilities to be developed.  Is it the intent of the City and this Council not to proceed with the installation of lights at Coaches Field?  There is some precedent for this.

The landscape plan makes no mention that it is to comply with the City’s municipal Bay Friendly Landscape Ordinance which has specific criteria for vegetation and water use.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 15 2023

Another Consultant is proposed to be hired at an unspecified cost to produce a Moraga Canyon specific plan.

The RFP does not set a price, but … [in 2019]  … the preparation of a specific plan cost an average of $544,237.”  according to ABAG.

On the Council Agenda, Tuesday, January 17, 2023 the City of Piedmont returns to the previously unexamined, controversial legal opinion of the Piedmont City Charter when the City Attorney dismissed the specific language within the Piedmont City Charter of requiring voter approval of proposed zoning changes. Agenda > >council-agenda 1.17.23

 This program requires an amendment to the City’s General Plan and the preparation of a specific plan to accommodate the density and create development standards for the unique site conditions. The required amendments would be reviewed by the City Attorney for conformance with the City Charter and other legal requirements. If it is determined that it is infeasible to develop this site during the planning process, the City will consider utilizing other City-owned properties as alternative sites (see Appendix B).

Funds generated by General Plan Maintenance fee instituted by the City on July 1, 2019 will provide significant funds for General Plan costs – plans and zoning changes. 

Currently, the fee is $0.013 x the construction cost valuation on building permits. The fee  generated $427,000 in FY 21-22 and the City expects a similar amount this fiscal year. The funds must be spent on updates and amendments to the General Plan and other auxiliary  documents (e.g., Climate Action Plan, Zoning Ordinance, Hazard Mitigation Plan, and a  specific plan). The City Council might consider increasing this fee to help cover the rising costs of land use planning.

READ the full staff report in the link below:

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Stay Informed about the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan

After the City adopts a 6th Cycle Housing Element, a key piece of the implementation process will be the creation of a Moraga Canyon Specific Plan. This initiative will study all City-owned land in Moraga Canyon with the goal of creating a detailed plan for how to maintain and improve existing amenities while also incorporating new housing in the area.

The City expects to issue an RFP in late January seeking professional services to lead this process. Stay informed by subscribing to our Moraga Canyon Specific Plan email list.

Jan 15 2023

Will the Council revert back to not recording, broadcasting, or archiving video recordings of certain public meetings?  The cost of transparency via video broadcasts has proven to be minimal given the City budget. On the council-agenda 1.17.23

The California Brown Act has been amended and provisions changed.

NEW REQUIREMENTS:

If members participate remotely using the just cause or emergency provisions, the following additional rules apply:

• The legislative body must provide a way for the public to remotely participate in the meeting and must provide notice of how to access the meeting and offer comments

• The public must also be permitted to attend the meeting in person

• The body cannot require public comments to be submitted before the meeting but rather must be allowed in real time.

• Remote members must participate through both visual and audio (i.e. cameras and microphones on)

• Before any action is taken, remote members must disclose whether any other people over 18 years old are present in the room at the remote location and the general nature of the member’s relationship with the individual

 

Editors’ Note:  The Piedmont Civic Association has long advocated maximum adherence to Brown Act applicable public meetings such as commissions, committees, and City Council.  The Piedmont City Charter prescribes these meetings are to keep minutes, which has not been adhered to for even critically important Council appointed committees such as the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee. 

The Public Safety Committee during the COVID protocols was newly recorded and live streamed.  Some meetings, the Annual City Budget Workshop and the interviewing of candidates for City Council, commission and committee appointments have historically not been recorded, broadcast, or archived leaving access to only those present at the meeting.

Transparency and accountability are important to the public and should be maximized by the City Council by improving the archiving of recordings, providing minutes, and live streaming of public meetings.

READ the staff report linked below:

Changes to Brown Act and Next Steps 1.17.23

League of California Cities – report > https://www.calcities.org/news/post/2022/12/15/brown-act-changes-are-coming-to-cities-in-2023.-here-is-what-to-expect

Jan 14 2023

Loss of 57 Parking Spaces offset by 45 Diagonal Slots and Reassigned Parking Spaces, Elimination of 2 Bus Stops, and One-Way Bonita Traffic –

On Tuesday, January 17th at 6:00pm the City Council will consider recommended Civic Center parking and circulation changes for the construction of the new Piedmont Pool Complex.  >council-current-agenda 1.17.23

See the staff report for diagrams of the proposed parking changes on Bonita Avenue, Vista Avenue, Hillside Avenue, Highland Avenue, removal of bus stops, etc. >  Staff Report 1.17.23 Changes to Parking and Traffic in the Civic Center Area to Accommodate Piedmont Community Pool Construction

These proposals are intended to mitigate the loss of 57 parking spaces in the area due to pool construction, including 20 “Permit A” spaces and 21 spaces reserved for City employees. The proposed changes would:

• Convert Bonita Avenue between Vista and Oakland Avenues to one-way traffic towards Oakland Avenue

• Convert existing parallel parking on Bonita Avenue between Vista and Oakland Avenues to diagonal parking, creating 10 new spaces

• Remove two bus stops on Highland Avenue near the Sheridan strip and add diagonal parking

Details of the proposal are available in the agenda materials:

• Full agenda report > Staff Repprt 1.17.23 Changes to Parking and Traffic in the Civic Center Area to Accommodate Piedmont Community Pool Construction

• Exhibits illustrating proposed changes

Give feedback on proposed changes

The City Council will consider this proposal at its next meeting: Tuesday, January 17th, 2023 6:00pm City Council Chambers, Piedmont City Hall (120 Vista Avenue) Agenda

Community members can provide feedback on the proposed changes in advance of the meeting by email or speak at the meeting virtually or in-person:

• Email: Send comments to citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

• Comment remotely: Join the meeting on Zoom at https://piedmont-cagov.zoom.us/j/86233381014

If approved, the new configuration would remain in place until pool construction is complete, which could happen as soon as summer 2024.

2023-01-13-proposed-changes-to-civic-center-parking-and-circulation

Parking 2023-01-13-proposed-changes-to-civic-center-parking-and-circulation

Staff Repprt 1.17.23 Changes to Parking and Traffic in the Civic Center Area to Accommodate Piedmont Community Pool Construction

Jan 14 2023

The City of Piedmont encourages residents to take steps to prepare for the ongoing storms:

  • Clear basement drains, gutters, and outdoor debris around your property
  • Check submersible pumps and sump pumps to make sure they are working
  • Have flashlights and spare batteries on hand in case of power outages

During the storms, use extra caution when driving and call to report issues:

  • Fallen trees, clogged drains, and other infrastructure damage: Call (510) 420-3050 during business hours (8:30am-5pm, M-F) or (510) 420-3000 after hours
  • Downed power lines: Call (510) 420-3000
  • Sparking or smoking power lines: Call 911

Dec 21 2022

Attached is a press release providing anticipated key dates for the City’s Housing Element update in January. Staff expect to bring Piedmont’s 6th Cycle Housing Element to the Planning Commission for review on January 12, 2023 and to the City Council for adoption on January 30, 2023.

Additionally, staff intend to issue an RFP in late January seeking professional services to lead the preparation of a Moraga Canyon Specific Plan. Once a consultant has been selected, the Specific Plan process is expected to take 18-24 months to complete. The City has created an email list community members can subscribe to for updates about the Specific Plan. Also attached is an informational poster about the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan that we shared with community members at the Housing Element Open House in November.

12.22 Poster+3+Moraga+Canyon+Specific+Plan+Study  Map

Morga 2022-12-20 Housing Element Update Key Dates in January Press Release

Dec 21 2022

City of Piedmont Fair Housing Bulletin

Housing Element Update: Key Dates in January

Planning & Building staff expect to bring the City’s proposed 6th Cycle Housing Element to City Council for adoption at a special meeting on January 30th, 2023.

Adoption of the Housing Element will mark the culmination of a public engagement process that began in Spring 2021, as well as the beginning of a new chapter as the City implements the policies and programs outlined in the Housing Element over the next three years.

Moraga Canyon Specific Plan

A key piece of the implementation process will be the creation of a Moraga Canyon Specific Plan.

This initiative will study all City-owned land in Moraga Canyon, including Blair Park, Coaches Field, Kennelly Skate Park, and the City’s Corporation Yard, with the end goal of creating a detailed plan for how to maintain and improve existing City facilities, open space, and recreational amenities in this area while also incorporating 132 units of housing, 60 of which would be available to lower income households.

Map of Moraga Canyon Specific Plan study area

The City expects to issue an RFP in late January seeking professional services to lead the preparation of the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan. Staff will bring the draft RFP to the City Council for authorization at the January 17th, 2023 meeting. Once a consultant has been selected, the Specific Plan process is expected to take 18-24 months to complete.

Robust public participation will be critical to a successful Specific Plan process. Throughout the process the City will conduct significant and ongoing public outreach, hold community meetings and workshops, and provide a variety of options for community members to weigh in and help shape the Specific Plan.

Community members can stay informed by subscribing to the City’s Moraga Canyon Specific Plan email list.

Important Dates and Next Steps ……………..

January will be a busy month for Housing Element followers. Key tentative dates include:

  • January 8, 2023: Comments due on Housing Element Initial Study-Negative Declaration
  • January 12, 2023: Planning Commission review of proposed Housing Element
  • January 17, 2023: City Council consideration of RFP seeking a consultant to develop the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan
  • January 30, 2023: Special Meeting of the City Council to consider adoption of the Housing Element
  • January 31, 2023: State deadline for cities to adopt a Housing Element or face penalties

The City submitted the Draft Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for review on November 18th, 2022.

After the City Council adopts the Housing Element, the City will have three years to implement a substantial number of the proposed programs and regulatory changes outlined in the document. This process involves additional environmental review, which is already underway – the City is currently in the process of preparing a programmatic EIR that studies the impacts of the new homes and residents that could come to Piedmont once implementation is complete.

A wealth of information about the Housing Element update process is available at PiedmontIsHome.org, the City’s online hub for the Housing Element update and housing policy. For questions about the Housing Element process, write to PiedmontIsHome@piedmont.ca.gov.

Do you have questions about the Piedmont Housing Element update? The City has produced short informational videos, which are posted to the City’s Youtube Channel and at Piedmontishome.org. Watch the videos by clicking here.

Sara Lillevand and Kevin Jackson

Subscribe to Piedmont Fair Housing News and Updates

Dec 15 2022

Adding 587 new housing units –

COMMENT PERIOD IS NOW OPEN UNTIL JANUARY 8, 2023 –

Piedmont officials in the notice below provide no mention of the City Charter requirement for voters to approve zoning changes permitting many of the 587 new housing units necessary for an updated Piedmont General Plan.  Zoning code changes are  required to incorporate the pending Housing Element into the General Plan. The City notes  the necessity of “changes to the land use categories” without mentioning the City Charter requirements.

Since the Housing Element was first considered and subsequently approved by the City Council for state consideration, residents have mentioned numerous concerns regarding the addition of the 587 new housing units.  NOW, until January 8, 2023 is the time to inform the City of Piedmont of any environmental or other concerns you may have.  See below for contact address. If you want your concern or interest to be part of the permanent record, note it in your communication and ask that a copy be sent to the Piedmont City Council.

kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov is noted as the primary contact.

Publicity in the PIEDMONT PLANNING DEPARTMENT NEWSLETTER ,,,,,,,,,12.8.2022

“Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), City staff recently completed an Initial Study for the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element, after receiving direction from the City Council and community feedback regarding the sites inventory in November 2022. The City’s environmental consultants had been waiting for a stable sites inventory to complete a project description and proceed with environmental review.

After conducting the Initial Study, staff determined that the Housing Element alone will have no adverse physical impacts on the environment because the Housing Element is a policy document, and additional implementation steps must be taken before any physical changes can occur. The City has issued a Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration, available here. The Initial Study is published to the City website here and Piedmontishome.org hereThe Initial Study is available in hard copy at Piedmont City Hall and the Montclair Branch Public Library, 1687 Mountain Boulevard, Oakland.

The Initial Study-Negative Declaration public comment period is from December 9, 2022, to January 8, 2023. Public comments can be made in writing to Kevin Jackson, Director of Planning & Building, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611, or via email to kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov

City staff and consultants are also in the process of preparing a programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR), pursuant to CEQA, for the General Plan amendments and changes to the City Code, that are envisioned in the Housing Element. The EIR will be released for public review before the General Plan amendments are adopted by the Piedmont City Council, and before the City prepares the draft changes to the City Code sections. General Plan amendments will include changes to the land use categories in the Piedmont General Plan’s Land Use Element to facilitate the development of 587 new housing units. The EIR will continue to provide the streamlining benefits that prompted the City in 2021 to consider a programmatic EIR. The EIR will study the full build-out of the growth allowed by the General Plan amendments and City Code changes.”

Dec 15 2022

Draft Housing Element

Submitted to State HCD

On November 15, 2022, the City Council authorized staff to finalize the draft sites inventory and submit the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). On November 18, 2022, City staff sent the Draft Housing Element to HCD for its 90-day review. The Draft Housing Element sent to HCD is posted to the homepages of the City website and Piedmontishome.org.

After each city submits a Draft Housing Element for review, HCD has up to 90 days to return comments with requested revisions. HCD has until February 16, 2023, to return comments on the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element.

The official State deadline for cities to adopt a compliant Housing Element is January 31, 2023. Working actively to minimize any period of non-compliance, Planning & Building staff are in regular communication with HCD reviewers. The City is optimistic that Piedmont’s Draft Housing Element will move through the review process swiftly.

Nov 29 2022

The Curative COVID-19 testing kiosk in the Community Hall parking lot will close permanently on Friday, December 2, 2022.

The kiosk has provided over 11,000 tests in Piedmont since opening in November 2021. Originally open only two days per week, the site expanded to Monday through Friday service in January 2022. Demand has waned in recent months, and Curative has cited low use numbers as the reason for the site’s closure.

“I’m proud that we’ve been able to provide this service to our community for over a year at no cost to the public,” said Fire Chief Dave Brannigan. “Bringing a test site to our civic center last winter – when testing lines stretched around the block throughout the region – gave Piedmont residents a critical tool to navigate last year’s Omicron surge. Since then, the site has supported thousands of community members as they resumed elements of pre-pandemic life, including return to offices, attending large events, and enjoying long-delayed travel plans.”

In contrast to when the site opened last year, COVID-19 tests are now widely available through many sources:

At-home tests: Home antigen tests are now easy to purchase at pharmacies and online. Additionally, the FDA has extended the expiration dates for many brands of home test kits, so tests you already have may still be good even if the printed expiration date has passed. Information on extended expiration dates is available on the FDA website.

Public testing locations: Use the California Department of Public Health interactive map and search tool at myturn.ca.gov/testing to find local testing options. This site provides information about community clinics sponsored by Alameda County Public Health as well as sites run by private testing providers. The tool allows you to filter results to display only free testing sites, or locations that offer both testing and treatment.

Your healthcare provider: Health care providers are required by law to provide testing when you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.

Health officials continue to advise getting tested before attending a gathering, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated or boosted to provide the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19.

Community members with general questions about COVID-19 can call the Alameda County Public Health community support line (510) 268-2101.

Those seeking medical guidance related to COVID-19 should contact their health care provider, or call the 24/7 California Medi-Nurse line at (877) 409-9052,  if uninsured.

2022-11-29 Piedmont COVID-19 Testing Kiosk to Close December 3rd ?