Nov 5 2018

Funding in the amount of $548,333 is coming from the State of California in a program termed “Citizens’ Option” to Piedmont’s Police Department.

There have been no noticed meetings regarding a “Citizens’ Option” public hearing to learn from Piedmonters how they want the $548,333 to be used. It was on the November 5th City Council agenda.

The staff report states in part:

In FY 2018/19, the Piedmont Police Department expects to receive $140,000 from the COPS grant into the SLESA. In addition, funds in the amount of $408,333 are being carried forward from prior years resulting in total funds available of $548,333. Such funds will need to be spent or encumbered by June 20, 2019. 

FISCAL IMPACT:  The funds must be spent or encumbered by June 30, 2019. There are no matching requirements for this grant, and no direct impact on City resources for the fiscal years associated with the action in this staff report. This plan may be adjusted in the future and by no means represents Council approval for non-routine, large-scale procurements such as the license plate readers. Future purchases will be made in accordance with the City’s adopted procurement policies and, prior to any such purchase, staff will provide Council with a full report and detailed request of any proposed procurements that exist within the spending plan.

City Administrator Benoit’s Recommendation at the November 5 Council meeting:

Adopt a resolution accepting the 2018/19 California Citizens Option for Public Safety (COPS) grant in the amount of $140,000 as allocated in the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Account (SLESA) for the Piedmont Police Department and approve the spending plan to purchase items supporting frontline law enforcement services. 

Read the full staff report including the spending plan by clicking below.

For more information on COPS grants go to >

Nov 4 2018

The following Letter to the Editor of The Piedmont Post was sent to the Post, but was not published in the Post.  It is published here for PCA readers.

VOTE NO on CC – Unacceptable City Charter changes.

CC  – the “hire, but can’t fire” proposal –  would unacceptably change Piedmont’s successful government by prohibiting the City Council from acting to retain or terminate their chosen Department Heads – Fire Chief, Police Chief, Finance Director, Recreation Director, etc. 

Piedmonters should not enact this law. It promises problems found in other cities where councils have lost their authority and ability to act.  A new government layer will separate Piedmonters from Council authority. 

Only one person, the unelected City Administrator, would be allowed by Charter to evaluate, direct, retain and terminate Council-hired  key employees -Police, Fire, Finance, Recreation, etc.  

Piedmont’s current Charter works and is coveted by others. 

With 22 years in elected office – Mayor, Council Member, Planning Commissioner, AC Transit President and Director, I have reviewed the Charter proposals and found proposals not in the best interest of keeping Piedmont a great place to live. 

The Charter merits updating, but NOT as proposed by Measure CC.  

Keep Piedmont’s Council strong. Await appropriate Charter change proposals.

VOTE NO on CC at the end of your ballot. 

Alice Creason,

Former: Piedmont Mayor, Council Member, Planning Commissioner, AC Transit President, Director, Piedmont Beautification Foundation Trustee

Oct 26 2018
Who do Piedmonters want to control retention and dismissal of the Piedmont Police Chief, Fire Chief, Finance Director, Recreation Director – elected City Council or the appointed City Administrator?

The City Charter currently states the elected 5 member City Council has the hiring, retention, and dismissal control over the top employee positions – Fire Chief, Police Chief, Finance Director, Recreation Director, etc.

Measure CC  takes authority and control from the elected Council regarding Department Heads and gives authority and control to the unelected City Administrator.

Measure CC forbids the City Council by Charter from continuing to determine if their Fire Chief, Police Chief, Finance Director, Recreation Director, etc. should remain in their positions.  The City Administrator will be the only person in Piedmont able to retain or dismiss the key-employees the City Council recruited and hired.

MEASURE  CC asks, “Shall the measure amending the Charter of the City of Piedmont to clarify the duties and reporting structure for officers and employees of the City be adopted?”

Voters will decide whether to keep the City Charter as written or change it by voting Yes or No on Measure CC. The choice is as follows:

  • Keep the City Charter, as is, with City Council controlling  = Vote NO

  • Change the City Charter placing City Administrator in control = Vote YES


Oct 25 2018

On October 15, 2018, I attended the Piedmont City Council’s bi monthly meeting. The meeting started with concerned citizens voicing their opinions on recent crime occurring on Trestle Glen Road and then focused on the Piedmont Recreation Department’s (PRD) plan for renovations on the Piedmont Community Pool.

A number of Piedmont residents who live on or near Trestle Glen spoke about a large increase in crime in the area. They cited a number of stolen license plates, armed robberies, and speeding cars that have led to the residents feeling unsafe. One resident, Reed Jiang, spoke about his experience a few months ago. He said he was outside his house playing with his three year old son when a car pulled up to them. A man exited the car and pulled a gun on Mr. Jiang, demanding everything he had or else he would hurt Mr. Jiang’s son. Mr. Jiang gave the man his wallet, with the gun still pointed at him and his son.

This was just one story of a number that were brought in front of the councilmembers calling for increased police involvement in the neighborhood. They mentioned a lack of police accountability in the area, and stated that they did not feel like they were treated as Piedmont citizens.

The next topic was a plan to increase and replace existing license plate scanners on the borders of Piedmont. Police Chief Jeremy Bowers explained plans to install better sensors and clarified to the councilmembers the criteria that the Piedmont Police Department uses when looking at the data recorded by the License Plate Readers. I voiced my opinion on this issue, asking about how these license plate readers could be used to help prevent other types of crimes to protect citizens like the ones on Trestle Glen. I also mentioned that License Plate Readers had helped police officers find and return my family’s car that was stolen a few years ago.

After this, the conversation shifted to the main topic of the meeting: the pool renovation plans. Recreation Department Director Sara Lillevand introduced the plan and proposed a bond measure to fund the project, citing the push from the community and the long overdue fixes the pool needs.

Next, Rich Young, who was commissioned by Piedmont Recreation Department  (PRD) to inspect the pool in order to give them a detailed report on all the necessary renovations,  highlighted that many of the features of the pool and surrounding areas did not meet city, state, or federal codes and that the pool would likely not last more than a few more years in its current condition. He stated that the total cost for all the renovations and steps to bring the pool up to code would be around $244,000.

Following his presentation, more citizens spoke out on the issue, all of whom were in support of the renovations. Each person had their own story of how the pool positively impacted their lives, but at the center of each of their arguments, was that the pool had great community value. They said the pool is a place that brings people together, and that the city government should do everything possible to maintain it.

Following the meeting, I interviewed Piedmont resident Vince Saunders, who attended to support the proposed pool improvements. He has two sons who play on both the water polo and swimming teams for Piedmont High School (PHS), and hopes the community can realize the positive impact the pool has on the City of Piedmont. He said the next step is to continue to raise awareness that the pool is an important issue and gain support for the proposed bond measure.

There was only one citizen who disagreed with the proposed plan.  Gary Fanger, a former contractor who designed over 100 swimming pools, said he believed that Mr. Young’s proposed plan was excessive and many of his estimates and suggestions were not needed. He also made a suggestion that along with some renovations to the current medium and large pools, the wading pool and parking lot to the south of the main area could be replaced with a full eight lane pool. He said this would be less disruptive and destructive to the community and surrounding area.

by Owen Levinson, Piedmont High School Senior

Sep 29 2018

Monday, October 1 Council meeting will begin with a Closed Session for conferences with Legal Counsel regarding litigation.  The existing litigation is Jordan Thobe vs City of Piedmont et al.  In addition, there are two anticipated litigation cases – Initiation of litigation pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(d)(4): (Two Cases)

The regular agenda includes the Consent Calendar starting at 7:30 p.m :

10/01/18 – Approval of the Biennial Update of the City’s Conflict of Interest Code (City Council Policy #24)  

This item includes statements required by the Piedmont Planning Commissioners, Police and Fire Pension Board members , but without explanation does not include the Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee members.

10/01/18 -Authorization for the City Administrator to Sign Three Documents Related to the East Bay Sewer Collection Systems Agencies 

Regular Agenda:

10/01/18 – Consideration of a Resolution in Support of East Bay Regional Parks District Measure FF 

10/01/18 -Consideration of a Report on Traffic and Safety Conditions on Oakland Avenue 

Consideration of directing Staff and Coastland Engineers to prepare a proposal for professional engineering services to develop the required designs and construction documents for the crosswalk enhancements at Oakland Ave. & El Cerrito Ave, and Oakland Ave & Jerome Ave.

10/01/18 – Consideration of the Award of the 2018 Street Traffic Striping Project to Chrisp & Company in the Amount of $276,414.95, Determining the Project to be Exempt from CEQA, and Setting an Overall Project Budget of $336,386.40

The Council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27, and from the City website under videos.  For additional information contact the City at 510/420-3040.
Sep 27 2018

Streets Briefly Closed and Several homes Evacuated Thursday Morning

A fake pipe bomb in the backpack of Pablo Jesus Guardado, 36, Oakland, was “rendered safe” by the Alameda County Bomb Squad.  Also found in the backpack was an unloaded gun and two switchblade knives according to Piedmont Capt. Chris Monahan.


“Police investigating a report of a suspicious person in the area of Wildwood and Winsor avenues about 8:30 a.m. detained Guardado in the 1100 block of Warfield Avenue. …  Streets in the area were shut down and some homes evacuated while the bomb squad did its work.

< Owner of the backpack

Authorities said that “out of an abundance of caution,” Wildwood Elementary School, 301 Wildwood Ave., a few blocks away, was placed on a shelter-in-place status.”  East Bay Times

Piedmont Police Press Release:

On September 27, 2018, at approximately 8:30 a.m., Piedmont Police responded to a report of a suspicious person in the area of Wildwood Avenue at Winsor Avenue in Piedmont. Officers located the individual, detained him and located an unloaded firearm, two switchblade knives and what appeared to be an explosive device. The individual was taken into custody without further incident.

Officers cordoned off the area and immediately began evacuating nearby residences. Wildwood Elementary School was directed to shelter-in-place.

The Piedmont Police Department requested the assistance of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad. Bomb Squad technicians responded to the scene, examined the device and were able to render it safe. Although the device was made to appear to look as an explosive device it was found to not contain any explosive material. Residents and Wildwood School staff were notified of the resolution of the event and that it was safe to return to their homes and routine school activity.

Participating Piedmonters were notified about the issue.  To sign-up for future notifications follow the instructions below:

AC Alert Emergency Notifications

Your safety is our top concern – that’s why Piedmont wants to make sure you know about emergencies and incidents as they happen.

The City of Piedmont will use “AC Alert” powered by Everbridge to make sure you know about issues that may affect your safety. This system allows the City to contact thousands of residents in seconds so you can find out about an emergency right away.

Receive important messages from city officials via email, phone, and much more!

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 we can contact you in an emergency. Please sign up – it only takes about a minute to enroll!

Thank you in advance for you cooperation and participation in this important program!

The City of 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.


Sep 25 2018

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Safety Committee will on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. This meeting is open to the public.  It will not be broadcast.

The agenda includes introductions and updates on:

  1.  Minutes of 5/13/18
  2.  Announcement of New Committee Members
  3.  Local Hazard Mitigation Plan
  4.  Get Ready, Piedmont Guides and Checklist
  5.  School Liaison Activities and Campus Safety Preparedness
  6.  Crime Prevention/Community Outreach
  7.  Neighborhood Meetings
  8.  City Website
  9.  Year End Crime Report
  10.  Boy Scouts and Map Your Neighborhood Project
  11.  Public Safety Cameras and consideration of a Subcommittee on the Public Safety Cameras Program
Sep 18 2018


At its regular meeting on September 17, 2018, the City Council appointed Bret Black as Fire Chief of the City of Piedmont. Following a rigorous selection process, Mr. Black was chosen unanimously by the Council from a field of 27 candidates. Mr. Black’s first day as Fire Chief will be Monday, October 1st.

This appointment follows interviews of qualified candidates by two panels comprised of residents and public safety professionals, the City Administrator, and the full City Council, which made the final selection. The City Council unanimously agreed that Mr. Black will fit extraordinarily well with the community and the department.

Black began his family in Marin County where he married his wife Nimai and had three sons. His professional firefighting career began with Skywalker Ranch Fire Department in 1997. At the same time he remained active in the local community teaching first aid & CPR as a member of the neighboring volunteer fire department. A few years later he relocated to the Clovis Fire Department in the Central Valley. Mr. Black rose through the ranks from firefighter, engineer, captain, training officer, to battalion chief. Although Bret had an accomplished career with Clovis Fire, he and his wife both longed to come back to the Bay Area someday. Mr. Black brings a broad set of skills to Piedmont, specifically with training mandates, disaster preparedness, strategic planning, but most importantly an inclusive leadership style.

“We are pleased that the recruitment process developed such qualified candidates, in particular Bret Black,” said Mayor Robert McBain. “I would like to express my appreciation to members of the Council as well as the members of the interview panels: Mahvash Hassan, Jeffrey Horner, Lyman Shaffer, Lynne Wright, Don Bivins, Dave Rocha, and Elizabeth Warmerdam.”

“Bret has extensive experience in the fire service,” said Vice Mayor Teddy Gray King. “I believe he will be a tremendous asset to the Piedmont community, the City of Piedmont, and the Fire Department.”

“I believe that Bret Black will serve the City of Piedmont well as Fire Chief,” said City Administrator Paul Benoit. “Piedmont would have been well served with each of the finalists, however Mr. Black distinguished himself during the interviews.”

“Serving as Fire Chief in Piedmont will allow me to be part of a community that values its culture and heritage,” Black said. “I look forward to serving the residents and firefighters of Piedmont and to build on the existing talent within the organization.”

For conditions of employment, read prior PCA article HERE.

Sep 15 2018

Bret Black is scheduled to be appointed by the Piedmont City Council as Piedmont Fire Chief at a starting salary of $193,164.  The appointment and employment conditions resolution will be considered at the Monday, September 17, 2018, Piedmont City Council meeting, 7:30 p.m., City Hall.  The meeting will be broadcast live via Cable Channel 27 and the City website under videos. See full employment agreement linked below.

The Council selected Black after interviewing two of the 27 applicants for the position of Fire Chief.  Upon Council appointment, Bret Black will serve as Fire Chief, effective October 1, 2018.

The Fire Chief vacancy occurred when Fire Chief Warren “Bud” McLaren announced his intention to retire, effective July 6, 2018. McLaren had served the City of Piedmont for thirty years.

The City Council retained the services of Peckham & McKenney, a Sacramento based executive search firm. Peckham & McKenney advertised the employment opportunity extensively, using personal outreach, traditional print and electronic marketing, as well as social media. As a result of the recruitment efforts, 27 applicants submitted resumes for consideration. After reviewing each of the resumes and conducting on-line research on applicants who appeared most qualified, the recruiter selected twelve candidates to undergo screening interviews.

The City Council interviewed two pre-screened finalists and selected Bret Black.

“The employment resolution proposed for Council consideration contains all elements common to other Department Heads. The proposed annual salary is $193,164, which is the amount earned by Chief McLaren upon his retirement. Should the City Council approve the appointment and the resolution, Mr. Black’s first day with the City will be on Monday, October 1, 2018.”

“The City Council wishes to acknowledge the special public service rendered by the City’s management personnel. Management personnel consists of all department heads and the City Administrator. Under the operational coordination of the City Administrator, management personnel are responsible for producing the quality and effectiveness of City services, as required by the City Council.”

There will be a 3% annual salary increase for Black during the term of the resolution.

3.1 Salary – Monthly:  The monthly rate of pay for the Fire Chief is $16,097. The rates of pay shown reflect the following cost-of-living increases during the term of this Resolution:

  • % Increase Monthly Effective 7/1/2019 3% $16,580
  • Effective 7/1/2020 3% $17,078
  • If, during the term of this Resolution, any other bargaining unit is offered a cost of living increase greater than the increases shown above for the same fiscal year, then the difference between the increase for the other bargaining unit and the increase provided under this Resolution will take effect for the Fire Chief.

The City Administrator will make recommendations on future compensation for consideration and action by the City Council.


“10.2 Termination: Pay Upon termination or resignation requested by the City Council, the City will provide the employee at least one (1) month’s pay and benefit coverage as set forth in Sec. 3 hereof, or more at its discretion. This section would not apply in the event of the employee’s voluntary resignation or removal from office involving conviction of a felony, gross negligence or dereliction of duty, dishonest or immoral conduct, intemperance which interferes with job performance or conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.”

READ the full staff report and proposed compensation agreement linked below:

Sep 12 2018

Do you recognize the man pictured below?

On September 9, 2018 between 11:30am and 1:00pm, a subject entered a locked locker containing personal property at the Piedmont Aquatic Center.

The subject stole a single credit card and later used that stolen card at two different businesses on Lakeshore Avenue to fraudulently purchase $527.96 worth of merchandise.

Suspect is a male, 45-60 years old, 5’07” to 5’10”, medium build, salt/pepper hair, slight beard. He wore a white Adidas baseball cap, faded black tee shirt, black baggy shorts, black rim glasses, a black watch on right wrist, and a gold band on his left hand ring finger.

The photos below of the subject using the credit card were obtained from the two Lakeshore Avenue businesses.

If you have any information or can help identify this subject, please contact Detective R. Coffey at or Detective J. Spranza at If you wish to remain anonymous please leave the information at (510) 420-3015.

Call Piedmont Police at (510) 420-3000 for more information.