Aug 6 2020

Piedmont Police Announcement:

We are proud to announce that this week we have added seven Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras to our fleet. ALPR software is a technology that uses cameras to automatically read license plate characters. The cameras capture license plate information and transmit plate data to a database, which can run a check for stolen vehicles, Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts, missing persons and wanted people.

The data is used for legitimate law enforcement purposes with a right to know and need to know reason, which is highly protected.

We are committed to keeping Piedmont safe for everyone by capitalizing on evolving technology and always striving to be more effective in our ability to protect our community.

Piedmont Police Department News Release

Aug 2 2020

All Piedmont properties are potentially impacted.

A first reading of a newly proposed ordinance for vegetation controls for all Piedmont properties will be considered Monday, August 3, 2020, 6:00 p.m., by the Piedmont City Council.

The proposed fire code ordinance broadens requirements to include all of Piedmont, rather than specifically identified high fire hazard areas.  California state law requires property owners in high fire hazard, wildland-urban border areas to maintain a 30 feet of open space cleared of vegetable fuel surrounding their homes, barns, garages and other structures. 

The vast majority of Piedmont dwellings do not have a 30 foot open space perimeter between their homes, so it is not possible to have 30 feet of defensible space as specified in the ordinance. The City policy of allowing reductions in distances between neighboring structures presents a fire safety threat unaddressed in the ordinance.

Piedmont’s Park Commission, Planning Commission, and Public Safety Committee have not been presented as advisors with the ordinance prior to the Council consideration. Landscaping, planting choices, and safety are regularly agendized by the commissions and committee. 

“The City’s recommendations were developed with extensive research by staff including consultation with the State Fire Marshal’s Office as well as CalFIRE Planning and Land-use personnel. The specific elements of the Fuel Reduction and Vegetation Management standards were developed from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the California Fire Code, and extensive review of policies and practices from other regional jurisdictions as noted in Attachment B.” City Administrator report linked below

Items included in the proposed new ordinance:

a. Cut down, remove, or reduce any hazardous vegetation or combustible material. Hazardous vegetation or combustible materials include, but are not limited to weeds, grass, vines, leaves, brush, diseased or dead trees, combustible growth, debris, or rubbish capable of being ignited and endangering property.

b. Maintain a defensible space of at least 30 feet from the perimeter of each building or structure located on a parcel. The size of the defensible space area may be increased or decreased by the fire code official based on site-specific analysis of local conditions, which include, but are not limited to, considerations of: the size of the property, whether the property is located on a steep slope, whether property located in an exposed windswept location, the fire risk that the vegetation surrounding the property poses, the proximity of adjacent structures and risk to such adjacent structures, and whether the vegetation surrounding the property is regularly maintained or pruned. A responsible person is not required to manage vegetation located beyond the property line of the subject parcel.

c. Maintain any space that is within 3 feet from a roadway clear of any flammable vegetation, and maintain a 15-foot vertical clearance, free of vegetation, above roadways including streets, driveways and rights-of-way.

d. Remove or trim any vegetation that is deemed by the Fire Marshal to impede emergency vehicle access.

e. Remove all portions of trees within 10 feet of functioning chimneys or stovepipe outlets.

f. Maintain the roof and gutters free of leaves, needles, or other dead/dying wood.

g. Remove brush and tree limbs that are within six feet of the ground from mature trees.

h. Remove flammable vegetation and limbs from trees that may pose a fire and/or safety hazard to the home or property.

i. Install a spark arrestor on functioning chimneys or stovepipe outlets.

2. Vacant parcels. For any vacant parcel in the city, each responsible person for such parcel shall ensure that vegetation on the parcel is maintained in accordance with the requirements below. Each responsible person shall: Attachment A Agenda Report

a. For parcels with an acreage that is 0.5 acres or less, the responsible person shall clear the entire lot of flammable vegetation and maintain it to a height of 6 inches or less.

b. For parcels with an acreage that is greater than 0.5 acres, clear the area that is one hundred feet along the perimeter of the property line of flammable vegetation and maintain such vegetation to a height of 6 inches or less. A responsible person is not required to manage vegetation located beyond the property line.

c. Maintain any space that is within 3 feet from a roadway clear of any flammable vegetation, and maintain a 15 foot vertical clearance, free of vegetation above roadways including streets, driveways and rights-of-way.

d. Remove flammable vegetation and limbs from trees that may pose a fire and/or safety hazard from the property.

e. Remove brush and tree limbs that are within six feet of the ground from mature trees.

3. Penalties. Violations of this section shall be subject to penalties. Penalty amount may be established by resolution of the City Council. If penalty amounts have not been established by resolution of the City Council, violations of this section shall be punishable by fine in the amounts specified in Government Code section 51185.

8.14.060 Definitions. In this division:

Defensible Space means the area adjacent to a structure or dwelling where wildfire prevention or protection practices are implemented to provide defense from an approaching wildfire or to minimize the spread of a structure fire to wildlands or surrounding areas, as provided in Government Code section 51177(a).

Flammable vegetation means: (1) vegetation, brush, or grasses, which is dry, dead, or dying and which is over six inches in height; or (2) vegetation which has a high resin or sap content including but not limited to Arborvitae, California Bay, Cedar, Cypress, Douglas Fir, Eucalyptus, Fir, Juniper, Palm, Pine, Spruce, Yew, California buckwheat, California sagebrush, Chamise or greasewood, Laurel sumac, Manzanita, Pampas grass, Rosemary, Scotch broom, Spanish Broom, Sugar bush, and Toyon and which is over six inches in height.

Responsible person means any natural person or a corporate entity that is the owner, occupant, lessor, lessee, manager, licensee, or other person having physical or legal control over a structure or parcel of land.

READ > Designating Very High Fire Severity Zones and Adding Additional Fuel Reduction and Vegetation Management Requirements to the City Code 

Oakland’s approach.

Oakland homes adjacent to the East Bay Regional Parklands are instructed to:

30 feet of Lean, Clean and Green

  • Remove all dead plants, grass, weeds and overgrown brush.
  • Clean leaves, needles, and debris from roofs and rain gutters.
  • Keep tree branches 10 feet away from chimney, roof and other trees.
  • Move firewood and fuel tanks 30 feet from house.
  • Remove all items from under deck. Do not use this space for storage.
  • Fire harden your home. Install fine wire mesh over roof, eave and foundation vents.

Piedmont does not border on East Bay Regional Parklands.  Oakland provides an exception for specimens of trees, ornamental shrubbery, and ornamental ground cover even on the Wildlife-Urban border.

City of Oakland Section 4907 Defensible Space – Amend Section 4907 as follows:

Add: 4907.2 Defensible Space. Persons owning, leasing, controlling, operating or maintaining buildings or structures in, upon or adjoining the Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area and persons owning, leasing or controlling land adjacent to such buildings or structures, shall:

Maintain an effective 30-foot defensible space by removing and clearing away flammable vegetation and combustible growth from structures.

Exception: Single specimens of trees, ornamental shrubbery or similar plants used as ground covers, provided that they do not form a means of rapidly transmitting fire from the native growth to any structure.

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READ the proposed Piedmont ordinance below:

Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 755 N.S. Designating Very High Fire Severity Zones and Adding Additional Fuel Reduction and Vegetation Management Requirements to the City Code
AGENDA https://piedmont.ca.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf
Jul 21 2020

What is a Safe Social Distance?  Where did the 6 foot Rule Originate?

A Journal of the American Medical Association article by a particle fluid dynamicist at the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology suggests unmasked people might do well to stay more than 27 feet apart (8.2 meters) to avoid infecting one another.  It finds “wearing of appropriate personal protection equipment is vitally important for health care workers caring for patients who may be infected, even if they are farther than 6 feet away from a patient.”  See American Medical Association article here.

The World Health Organization recommends three-feet is wide enough social distancing based on the 1930s practice in treating tuberculosis.  But in 2003 it was found that SARS infections were communicated between people six feet apart—not three.  See December 2003 New England Journal of Medicine article here.

All of these distance reports focused on droplets, which fall.  However, the much smaller aerosols linger and move through the air as they are evaporating.

The Alameda County Public Health Officer ordered face coverings be worn at all times in public, if you are or are likely to be within 30 feet of another person outside of your household:

A person does not need to wear a Face Covering when outdoors alone or with a member of their Social Bubble and they have a Face Covering visible and immediately ready to cover the nose and mouth (such as hanging around their neck) and nobody else (other member of their own Social Bubble) is outdoors within 30 feet (10 yards) of them. It is recommended that people from the same household or living unit wear a Face Covering when outside, even if others are not nearby, any time others may appear without much notice.

Read the Alameda County Public Health Officer order on face coverings here.

On June 18, 2020  California’s Governor Newsom declared Californians must wear face masks in public under State coronavirus order.  A few days later the Governor threatened to withhold $2.5 billion in the upcoming budget from local governments if they don’t enforce the state’s orders on wearing masks, testing and other measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Jul 4 2020

From late May through July 2, 2020 Piedmont’s Confirmed Positive Covid 19 Test Results remained at a total of 13.  On July 3 an additional reported case brought the total to 14.  Some joggers, bikers, skateboarders, dog walkers, and others are still out and about in Piedmont without face coverings despite the Governor’s threat to withhold State funds from Cities that do not enforce masks/face coverings.

Our neighbor Oakland’s total has continued to grow, reaching  2,587 Confirmed Positive Covid 19 Test Results as of July 3.

The Coronavirus Tracker of the Bay Area reports daily the latest Positive tests.  Follow the numbers daily here.

Jun 30 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 29 2020

Recreation projects should be separated from fire and police measures.

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

Letter sent to the Piedmont City Council:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garrett Keating, Former Member of Piedmont City Council

Jun 21 2020

New Models for Social Justice: Police Reform Q&A, Part I” with Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Nancy Beninati.

 Speakers will discuss potential policy changes in law enforcement to ensure fairness, justice and more constructive outcomes for our society as a whole. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, a national conversation is underway about police department reform.  Many questions have been raised about:  use of force, racial profiling, police training, defunding or eliminating police in schools, the role of police in nonviolent situations, racial injustice and social inequity, and  the role of our own community in the national conversation.

The talk will be on Zoom from 4-5 pm on Tuesday June 30.  The event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters Piedmont.  Speakers will present from 4:00 – 4:35 followed by Q & A moderated by Lorrel Plimier, newly elected President of LWVP. Participants may submit questions through the Zoom chat feature, Facebook, or email to lwvpiedmont@gmail.org.

For more information, visit www.lwvpiedmont.org. Event participation is limited to 100 individuals.

This Community Conversation is free and open to the public.

The League of Women Voters Piedmont  Speaker Series  will include Part II on this topic with another pair of featured speakers this summer. Other topics which will be covered in Series this summer include “Food Insecurity in Alameda County During COVID-19” and  “How to Understand Polls and Polling Literacy”.

___________

Prior to his appointment as Chief of Police for the City of Piedmont in November of 2016, Chief Jeremy Bowers came to the Piedmont Police Department in September of 2014 as a Captain where he served as the Operations Commander.  Prior to joining the PPD, Chief Bowers was a member of the San Jose Police Department where he served for eighteen years and worked a wide-array of assignments during his time as an officer, sergeant and lieutenant. 

Chief Bowers was awarded the Mover of Mountains Award in Public Safety & Community Bridge Building by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley and was instrumental in the formation and operation of the Chief’s Community Advisory Board while in San Jose.  Chief Bowers received his undergraduate degree in the Administration of Justice from San Jose State University and Master’s degree in Criminology, Law & Society from the University of California, Irvine.  Chief Bowers is happily married to his wife Patricia Bowers, a sergeant with the Santa Clara Police Department, and both are the proud parents of three children. 

_____     

Nancy A. Beninati is a Supervising Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice where she has worked for the past 20 years.  She has represented numerous state agencies that engage in law enforcement, including the California Highway Patrol, Office of the Inspector General, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Ms. Beninati supervised the creation of the regulations implementing the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, and has overseen the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board which, to date, has published three annual reports regarding racial and identity profiling in California. In addition, she is responsible for managing multiple police practices investigations and collaborative reform initiatives with local law enforcement on behalf of the Attorney General including the current matters involving the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Bakersfield Police Department, San Francisco Police Department and Vallejo Police Department. She has lived in Piedmont for 14 years, and is the immediate past-president of the League of Women Voters Piedmont.

 

Jun 18 2020

Alameda County Revises Shelter in Place Order, Loosening Restriction on Business

Face Coverings Remain Required

The Alameda County Public Health Officer has issued a revised order today, opening up more types of business, places of worship, and outdoor spaces in the county.

Highlights of this revised order include loosening restrictions on religious and cultural ceremonies; outdoor dining; indoor and outdoor retail; and permission to open dog parks, each are subject to stringent health and safety requirements. The order also requires that people exercising their first amendment rights (during protests or demonstrations) to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing of 6 feet at all times.

Alameda County face covering order remains in effect.

The order mandates that face coverings be worn at all times in public, if you are or are likely to be within 30 feet of another person outside of your household. 30 feet is roughly the length of 2 cars. There is NO EXEMPTION for persons engaged in exercise. The face covering does not have to be worn the whole time exercising, but it must be carried and then put on when within 30 feet of other people.

Dog off-leash changes to be announced Friday, June 19.

The City of Piedmont will closely examine this revised order and will announce a timeline for opening our off- leash areas by the close of business on Friday, June 19.

Click to read the revised order and the order summary.  Links are within the press release.> 2020-06-12 County Issues Revised COVID-19 Shelter In Place Order

Jun 13 2020

For at least the second time in weeks, Piedmonters gathered to demonstrate in support of Black Lives Matter.  On Friday, June 12, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. a large group of Piedmonters congregated at the corner of Wildwood Avenue and Highland Avenue to march to Piedmont Main Park and listen to speakers.  

The Police Department issued a Traffic Alert:

We expect some roadways to be temporarily shut down as pedestrians gather and move through the area. We are asking vehicles to slow down, take alternate routes or avoid the area if possible.

Affected roadways: Highland Ave, Wildwood Ave, Magnolia Ave, Hillside Ave, Vista Ave, and Bonita Ave. Thank you and be safe out there!

Police cars escorted the demonstrators who filled the streets. 

Upon reaching Piedmont Main Park, children in the youthful crowd were told to remember their time supporting Black Lives Matter.  Speakers related their concerns and interest in making changes.  

Jun 10 2020

Face Covering Required Outdoors while Walking, Running, Biking, etc within 30 Feet of People from Other Households

From the Piedmont Police Department:

Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Eric Pan has issued a new Face Covering Order. The new Face Covering Order went into effect on June 8, 2020 and supersedes the prior Order. Face coverings must now be worn at all times by all members of the public, including outdoors while engaged in physical activities (walking, running, biking, etc.) and within 30 feet of people outside of their household.

“A face covering helps prevent transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19.” said Dr. Pan. “Everyone should wear a face covering anytime they are outside the home and around other people. This helps decrease the exposure for all of us and is one of the few tools we have that will allow us to decrease risk as we gradually allow for more activities outside the home.”

By ensuring that people generally wear Face Coverings when in public, the County is better able to continue to open businesses and resume activities in a safer manner to the benefit of all.

One of the strongest protections we, as a society, can implement as we continue to interact more in person is to increase our use of Face Coverings. Substantial scientific evidence shows that when combined with physical distancing and other health and safety practices like handwashing and regular disinfection of surfaces, wearing Face Coverings permits additional activities to be resumed in the safest possible way.

Face Covering Exemptions:

Those people with a written exemption from a medical professional due to a medical condition, health concern or disability, or anyone who has trouble breathing are not required to wear a face covering.

Children aged 12 and younger are not required to wear a face covering, and any child two years old or younger should not wear a face covering.

The Order does not apply if a person is only with members of their own household and does not expect to come into contact with a member of the public. A person engaged in walking, hiking, bicycling, running, and other physical activities is not required to wear a face covering during the entire duration of their activity, but that person must carry a face covering that is easy to access so they can wear it once they are within 30 feet of other people.

For a copy of the new Face Covering Order please use the following link:
http://acphd.org/media/584316/alameda-co…