Oct 10 2020

First PBAC meeting Agenda and Participation > PBAC Agenda 2020-10-13

During the COVID – 19 requirements, Piedmonters have flocked to sidewalks and streets on foot and bicycles to get exercise. The need for improvements for walkers, joggers, and bikers has been noted by all.

On September 30, 2020, the Piedmont City Council appointed nine residents of the City to serve on the new Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC). 

Chosen from among 36 applicants, the appointees are: Sofia Barandiaran, Siddharth Bhatia,  Eugene Brown, Jr., Katie DeWitt, Audrey Edel, Brett Hondorp, Hugh Louch, Thomas Reicher and Kristin Robrock. 

The PBAC will help guide the development and implementation of the Piedmont Safer Streets project. That project will update the City’s original Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (completed in 2014), with an additional focus on broader traffic safety.

The initial meeting of the PBAC will take place Tuesday, October 13, starting at 5:30 pm. For more information about the PBAC and about the meeting, click here and here.

For questions about the Piedmont Safer Streets project, contact Gopika Nair (City of Piedmont), at SaferStreets@Piedmont.ca.gov or at (510) 420-3054.

>PBAC Agenda 2020-10-13

You can view the documents to be discussed on the agenda in the drop box link below:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/11807apq78jiau8/AAD-OA4y41IOfwOnFd-OIj3ta?dl=0

Oct 5 2020
WHAT ABOUT THOSE OTHER CAPITAL PROJECTS?
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Supporting Measure UU seems like a “mom and apple pie” decision, but according to the most recent Budget Advisory Committee report the City has an additional $52 Million in capital needs for which there is no plan. Importantly, the list includes seismic retrofitting of our police, fire and Veterans buildings.
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When people are asked why they choose to live in Piedmont, public safety services are high on the list.  It appears that the pool bonds are being proposed without reference to the larger context of all needed capital projects. Why has the pool been given the highest priority?  Why has there apparently not been a systematic prioritization among all capital needs?
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If the pool bonds are issued, will that minimize the City’s ability to obtain additional financing for these other important needs? Might the pool bonds make residents less likely to approve another bond?
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With Piedmont being among the most highly taxed of comparable cities, we cannot assume that Piedmont’s residents could afford still another bond or that the City could take on additional debt while retaining its credit rating.  The City’s Q and A’s on Measure UU makes no mention of this context.
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Kathleen Quenneville, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 9 2020

City Council Seeks Volunteers for New Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee

Deadline: Friday, September 25, 2020

Have ideas for pedestrian or bicycle safety, sidewalks, access, streets, parked vehicles, stop signs, etc.?

The City Council of Piedmont is looking for a few talented volunteers to serve on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee which will assist in the preparation of the City’s updated Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP). This process is expected to begin in October 2020 and go through May 2021.

The efforts of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee will focus on assisting staff and City consultants with the development of the PBMP Update, specifically in reviewing and providing feedback on the following materials:

1. Community needs assessment.

2. Draft action plan of recommendations.

3. Opportunities for public participation and input regarding the draft action plan of recommendations.

4. Public draft of the PBMP Update document.

5. Opportunities for public participation and input regarding the public draft of the PBMP Update document.

In establishing this committee, the City Council called out two specific groups it is looking to see represented on the Committee, in addition to residents:

• Piedmont High School and Millennium High School Students Residing in Piedmont

• Current or Former Members of the Planning Commission, Public Safety Committee, and/or CIP Review Committee

Interested residents may view the City Council resolution establishing the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, download the Application for Appointive Vacancy, and/or apply online on the City’s web site at https://piedmont.ca.gov Applications are due to City Hall on or before the deadline of Friday, September 25th at 5:00 p.m.  See links below.

Interviews with the City Council for these positions will be scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, September 30, 2020. No appointments will be made without a Council interview.

Residents with questions are invited to contact the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

Notice of Appointive Vacancies 2020 – PBAC

Commission Application 2020 PBAC

2020-09-04 PBAC Recruitment

Aug 29 2020

The Piedmont Police Department will begin accepting Text to 911 calls throughout Piedmont on August 31, 2020. 

Calling 911 is faster and more reliable in an emergency.  Text messages can take longer to send and receive.  Location accuracy varies by carrier and should not be relied upon.  You should include your location, street address including city in your text.

Text to911 should only be used in an emergency when placing a call is not possible.

 Only use text 911 as a last resort.

Call if you can; Text if you can’t.

 No language interpretation currently exists.

Text messages can take longer to send/receive. 

READ INSTRUCTIONS HERE >PCA Text to 911 Flyer 8.27.20

Aug 24 2020

Piedmont Fire Department to Screen Award-Winning Documentary “Wilder than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future” on KCOM and Zoom on Monday, August 31st at 6:00 p.m.

The Piedmont Fire Department will host a screening of the award-winning documentary “Wilder than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future on KCOM and Zoom on Monday, August 31st at 6:00 p.m. followed by a panel discussion on wildfire preparation and disaster preparedness.

Wilder than Wild is a one-hour documentary that reveals how fire suppression and climate change have exposed western landscapes to large, high intensity wildfires. The film goes on to explore strategies that are being developed to help mitigate the impact of these fires

The City of Piedmont wants to build community awareness about mitigation strategies in this new age of wildfire. The screening is part of a larger effort by the City to engage the community in conversations about the future of wildfire, specifically in an urban setting. A panel featuring Kevin White, the film’s director/producer, and Fire Chief Bret Black will follow the screening.

Residents can view the screening by tuning to KCOM TV, Comcast channel 27 or AT&T channel 99. Residents can watch on the Zoom platform by clicking the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84429317342 

 READ the announcement > 2020-08-24 PFD to Screen Wilder than Wild Documentary on August 31st

Aug 18 2020
The ultimate goal of the Reach Codes is to force mandatory 100% electrification of homes. As we are in the midst of rolling electrical blackouts because the State power grid has insufficient capacity and rotating outages are a not uncommon disruption, let’s reflect on what a 100% electric home means during a blackout. No cooking, no cooling (or heating in winter), no lights, no charging your Tesla, no internet; those in 100% electric homes will be back to the Stone Age.
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Going to 100% electricity will stress the State grid further. Except for black swan events like PG&E’s 2010 San Bruno explosion, rolling natural gas outages are unknown. There is a glut of natural gas. Forcing 100% electricity on homes is too much, both from practical and economic perspectives. Electricity is a much more expensive power source than natural gas. Exacerbating this is that Californians pay electric rates 56% higher than the average of other states (source: Center For Jobs and the Economy) on top of our sky high housing costs and nationally second highest gasoline costs. On top of the high costs of the Bay Area, increases are coming as PG&E exits from bankruptcy and will sharply increase rates to comply with court orders to secure its power grid from causing future fires.

The goal of Reach Codes is commonly accepted, of “doing the right thing” by the environment. We all agree with that, however, the Reach Codes are a blanket solution that has many pitfalls and should be rejected in favor of an incentive based system in Piedmont.

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Aug 17 2020

Voluntary Electricity Conservation to Reduce Blackouts

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued a statewide Flex Alert, a call for voluntary electricity conservation through Wednesday, August 19, 3-10 p.m. each day.

ISO suggests simple actions to reduce energy consumption:

  • Set your thermostat to 78° or higher between 3 and 10 P.M.
  • Do not use major electric appliances between 3 and 10 P.M.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and electric appliances

The California Independent System Operator.manages 80% of California’s electric flow.  High temperatures have resulted in spikes related to air-conditioning demand.

Check the ISO current power outlook here.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is highlighting ways Californians can conserve energy this week to avoid temporary energy service interruptions. Cal OES is also encouraging all Californians to take steps now to prepare themselves and their families should a temporary service disruption occur.

Aug 16 2020

“Weeds, grass, vines, leaves, brush, diseased or dead trees, combustible growth, debris, or rubbish….

The second reading of the proposed stricter Piedmont Fire Code ordinance includes and broadens enforcement to all privately-held Piedmont property with expansive new regulations designed for Piedmont’s approximately 20% high fire hazard area.

Standards for vegetation management described herein shall be applicable to and within private property located within the City bounds..”  Ordinance language

A second reading of the proposed ordinance for vegetation controls on all Piedmont private properties will be considered on:

Monday, August 17, 2020, 6:00 p.m., by the Piedmont City Council.

 California state law requires property owners in specific 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. Most of Piedmont is not in the state defined high fire hazard zone, however the 30 foot distance will also be required by the ordinance of all Piedmont residential properties. See link in staff report below. 

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. 

“In many cases in Piedmont, dwellings are situated less than 8 feet apart, and fires can easily spread from house to house and are more readily spread upslope in the direction of prevailing winds.”  Ordinance language

Landscaping, plant choices, site planning, fencing, and safety are regularly considered by the Planning and Park Commissions and Public Safety Committee. Piedmont’s applicable Commissions and Committee have not been asked to consider the ordinance.  

Removal is required of hazardous vegetation or combustible materials including, but not limited to weeds, grass, vines, leaves, brush, diseased or dead trees, combustible growth, debris, or rubbish capable of being ignited and endangering property. 

Currently, the Fire Department notifies property owners of identified fire safety threats. The proposed ordinance will subject violators to penalty fines. Decisions regarding compliance are made by the Fire Code Official, who will have “discretion in their enforcement, so as to be reasonable in their implementation.”  Exceptions are not noted within the ordinance.

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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.”

Items included in the proposed new ordinance:

“B. Vegetation management requirements.

Standards for vegetation management described herein shall be applicable to and within private property located within the City bounds, unless stricter requirements apply under section 8.14.050 due to being located in a designated very high fire hazard zone, and failure to maintain property in accordance with such standards shall subject the responsible person to fine and/or abatement in accordance with chapter 1 or chapter 6 of this code.

1. Developed parcels.

For any parcel developed with a dwelling unit, or developed with any other structure or structures required to obtain a building permit prior to construction, each responsible person for such parcel shall ensure that vegetation on Attachment A the parcel is maintained in accordance with the requirements below. Each responsible person shall:

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.

[The following has been noted as impossible in most of Piedmont.]

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:

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.

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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.

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To READ the proposed Piedmont ordinance and staff report, click below:

2nd 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 and participation information:
https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf
Aug 14 2020

Confirmed Covid-19 Positive Test Results Stand at 27* for Piedmont as of August 13, 2020 –  

*Updated to 29 positive results – August 19, 2020 – 

While the current figure appears to reflect a sudden August surge, that may not be the case.  In a Zoom presentation to supporters of San Francisco Opera on Wednesday evening, August 12, Piedmont Epidemiologist George Rutherford pointed out that the virus tracker system had broken and the data was being corrected.  Catching up with the figures can create the appearance of a surge that is actually a correction covering longer periods. Rutherford indicated there were surges in April and again in June.

Aug 10 2020

Piedmont Police Department Press Release –

On July 19th, an armed robbery occurred on Caperton Avenue in Piedmont. The victim and his daughter were confronted by an armed suspect, who displayed a handgun, and demanded the victim’s wrist watch. The suspect fled with an additional suspect in a black sports type car.

Detectives were able to identify a possible suspect vehicle by utilizing the Department’s Public Safety Cameras. Further investigation revealed that this armed robbery vehicle was associated to several other robberies in Berkeley and Orinda. Detectives from the three agencies, working together, were able to confirm the same vehicle, and suspects had committed robberies in all three cities.

Search and arrest warrants were obtained and served on Wednesday, July 26, 2020.

SHANE DOWNS, JOHN DOWNS, and GRACE MURPHY were arrested on the 5800 block of Adeline Street in Oakland. The suspects were individually charged with several crimes including; robbery, probation violations, gang enhancements and firearms charges.

The following three suspects were booked into Santa Rita Jail:

SHANE DOWNS – Oakland resident born in 1997

JOHN DOWNS – Oakland resident born in 1995

GRACE MURPHY – Oakland resident born in 1964

Anyone with information and/or inquiries related to this case are asked to please contact Detective Jeff Spranza or John Lagios at (510) 420-3013.