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

Nov 2 2018

City of Piedmont
Joint Park Commission and
Recreation Commission 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

7:00 p.m.

City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

 Receipt of a Report on the Revised Conceptual Plan for the Linda Beach Master Plan and
Consideration of a Recommendation to the City Council on Next Steps

A summary of the distinguishing attributes of the revised plan are as follows:

  •  A California Playscape designed with landscape buffers near the Oakland Avenue Bridge and along Howard Avenue fills the now dormant south end of the park with natural adventure play for all ages
  •  Creation of a new enclosed tot lot (~4000 sq. ft.) for children age 3 and younger at the north end of the park within the existing tot lot footprint with a new restroom building to serve the tot lot, flex space and tennis courts
  •  A Sport Court Flex Space that can serve as multipurpose outdoor recreation program space for all ages (e.g. weekday adult/senior programs such as tai chi, outdoor fitness and painting; afterschool enrichment activities such as jump rope, martial arts, arts and crafts; outdoor and overflow space for Schoolmates)
  •  An artificial turf bocce ball court that makes efficient use of space required for ADA access grading
  •  Multiple picnic areas suitable for small family gatherings
  •  New modern restrooms and storage for community youth sports organizations at the south end
  •  Significant landscape buffers at the south end of the park
  •  Two ADA entrances from Linda Avenue and stair access from the north end of the pedestrian path near Beach School to the tot lot and stair access from the tennis courts to the sports field
  •  Retention of the notable trees on site including the Melaleucas along Linda Avenue and the mature redwoods below the play field
  •  Two tennis courts with north-south orientation and slightly larger offsets than existing courts
  •  The use of permeable surfaces for hardscape areas and paths to create options for green infrastructure allowing for appropriate storm water treatment options to be integrated into the landscape
  •  Phasing approach that allows for the long neglected south end of the park to be constructed first
  •  Allows for a third phase of the project which would add a multi-purpose recreation building to the northwest corner of the park expanding indoor recreation programming opportunities for Piedmonters of all ages (bridge, mahjong, book club, yoga, art, lego, knitting, carpentry, ballet etc.)
  •  Phase three building also creates an indoor/outdoor interface that will accommodate robust and complete full day summer camp offerings as well as after school enrichment activities and small evening and weekend gatherings
  •  Fencing plan allows for controlling park use after hours

READ the prior meeting draft minutes, full staff report, and schematic plan Joint Park and Recreation Commission Meeting 11.7.18 Packet

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 6 2018

The Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD) has announced that it will not hold the annual Haunted House at 358 Hillside Avenue in 2018. This will be just the third time in 30 years that Piedmonters will not be spooked and scared by PRD staff in the Recreation Department building during the last week in October.

Staffing changes in the Schoolmates program have reduced the available time staff has to build and create the Haunted House. Previously, Schoolmates staff spent a significant portion of October, when not caring for students, developing and building the frights that were enjoyed by visitors to the Haunted House.

“Though the haunted house is a Piedmont tradition, our priority is delivering quality care before and after school at Schoolmates,” said Recreation Director Sara Lillevand. “We believe that quality would suffer at Schoolmates sites if we were to shift resources to the Haunted House during this time of transition.”

Over the next six months, Recreation Department staff will examine different approaches to creating, building and staffing the Haunted House and determine whether a feasible model exists to continue this fun but complex three-day event in future years.

Oct 2 2018

September 26th School Board Meeting

On September 26th, 2018, I attended the Piedmont Unified School District’s Board of Education meeting. The meeting started with the discussion of the school’s decision to hire substitute teachers to teach the online physics and Spanish classes. A representative for the teachers voiced concern with this, and argued that those jobs belong to real teachers.

I agree with his argument, although this is a very difficult situation for the school, I believe they should be doing more to make teaching at Piedmont High School more realistic.

The second topic was the Giving Campaign. One of the organizers of the campaign announced that the Giving Campaign had just begun, and was off to a great start. She also mentioned that the campaign helps teachers afford bay area living, and their donations will help the hiring situation for new teachers.

Next, Max Roitblat, ASB president, gave a rundown of everything that had been going on events at the high school since the last meeting and the safe driving and consent assembly coming up, the new online courses, progress reports, the senior picnic, and homecoming week.

After this, a Piedmont resident talked about the quality of asphalt around Piedmont recreational areas and issues concerning senior citizens. He argued that Piedmont could be doing more to improve senior recreation facilities, especially compared to some other districts near us, and  seniors should be given income based senior exemption of school taxes, given the abnormally high taxes in Piedmont.

Following this, two senior girls brought up an issue concerning school bathrooms, claiming the girls bathroom has a lot of defects and needs work.

Next, Pierce Mcdonald-Powell, a Piedmont City Planner, talked about wireless electronics in the school system. She gave an update on the wireless communication facilities, and answered questions from the Board.

Pete Palmer, the School construction manager, gave an update on the new STEAM building, the new Alan Harvey Theater, and the new field. He included a timeline and goals for the project, closures of the current Alan Harvey Theater, and Witter Field, and updated designs of the Alan Harvey Theater and STEAM building.

I decided to voice my concern about the rebuilding of Witter Field. I asked how students, especially underclassmen, will be able to manage rides to the temporary practice field at Laney College, and where the home games will be played.

I also argued that deciding to redo the field over the course of just one sport is unfair to that sport, and it would be much more fair to rebuild the field during half of two different sports.  I stated this would hurt the team because we would not have home field advantage, unlike other teams.

This experience was fairly disappointing. Although the topic we debated is still being planned, I felt that the Board could not answer most of my questions. Also, I felt that they ignored my arguments.

Similarly to the treatment of the teacher representative, they thanked me for my opinion and moved on, without addressing any of my concerns. After the meeting was over, I interviewed Megan Pillsbury about her experience. When I asked why she attended, she said she running for a seat on the School Board, and had been attending the past few meetings in order to learn more about the School Board.

by Sachiel Newbrun, Piedmont High School Senior

Sep 21 2018

Renovations are projected to cost millions. 

On September 17th of 2018, the Piedmont City Council met in the Council Chamber of City Hall. The meeting opened with a designated ten-minute period of open comments, where community members can speak on items not listed on the general agenda.

Mr. Maganas, a longtime resident of Piedmont, highlighted a lack of knowledge among parents and students concerning the Peralta Community College system offering college-level classes such as Calculus I and II through Berkeley City College, Laney College, and three others. The Peralta Colleges offer a valuable resource to students hoping to challenge themselves academically with advanced courses. Maganas hoped to increase awareness of this resource among high school students and parents.

Mayor Robert McBain declared September a month of Suicide Prevention Awareness, as a part of the national effort to reduce suicide and self-harm, especially among teens. Council members, such as Teddy King, voiced unwavering support for McBain in raising this issue, as she has lost family members in the past to suicide.

Next, an East Bay Regional Park District Board Member, Dee Rosario gave the Council a report on Measure FF. Measure CC, which passed in 2004, stipulates that twelve dollars a year are received from properties and used for park infrastructure, ecological projects, electrical maintenance, fuel reduction, sewage cleanup, and restroom repair; for example, the Crab Cove Visitor Center is now open year-round thanks to funding from Measure CC, as opposed to only a few months or a season at a time. Measure CC has been rebranded as Measure FF and falls under the same stipulations for funding. Measure FF has been renewed for the next twenty years.

The Council then discussed the consideration of appointing a new Piedmont Fire Chief.  After a lengthy vetting process by two separate panels composed of respected Piedmont residents and others working in law or government, City Administrator Paul Benoit had presented to the City Council the narrowed field of two applicants.

The Council then interviewed the two finalists, selecting Bret Black, currently serving in Clovis, California. This comprehensive search arose following the retirement of beloved community-member Bud McLaren, who faithfully served as Fire Chief in Piedmont for five years. Following a unanimous vote among the City Council members, Bret Black was hired to fill the Fire Chief position beginning October 1st with a starting annual salary of $193,164.

Closing out the agenda, two architects from the Bay Area firm Siegel & Strain – Larry Strain and Roland Lazzarotto -presented a report on potential renovations of Piedmont’s Recreation Center and the Piedmont Veterans’ Hall. Both buildings, are seventy-years old or older and are in dire need of renovation and remodeling.

Though not dilapidated, the floor plan of the Recreation Center is considered archaic, and the plans presented outline a better use of square footage and increased operational efficiency for educational use and programs.

For example, Lazzarotto drafted plans to reorganize the building layout, moving the preschool away from the entrance. In the event of an intruder, the rooms should be ordered in a fashion keeping the youngest children farthest from the main door.

Similarly, Lazzarotto proposed ripping out the driveway and replacing the space with a fenced off play area with shade and soft ground. Lastly, he proposed renovating the defunct attic into an office space and conference room, while installing an elevator to access all three main floors. On each floor, bathrooms would either be renovated or torn out, and modified to meet ADA accessibility standards.

In the case of the Veterans Hall, Lazzarotto sought to maximize efficiency in a similar manner: rip out the stage to create a larger ballroom, while establishing smaller classrooms and multi-purpose rooms on the side. The kitchen would be renovated and brought up to modern standards, in hopes of accommodating future weddings in the new space.

Before he left, I had the opportunity to briefly interview Mr. Lazzarotto about his role at the meeting tonight. He noted that his group, Siegel and Strain, focused on providing sustainable and affordable projects.

During the presentation, Councilwoman Jen Cavenaugh questioned the environmental sustainability of the building, and Mr. Larry Siegel- Lazzarotto’s companion – highlighted their plan to reuse the wood and install new windows, both reducing carbon emissions and waste.

The Recreational Center was in immediate need of increased accessibility; for example, the reception desk lies on the second floor, and is not wheelchair accessible.

Both buildings have outlived their functional use and require restructuring and renovation to meet the accessibility and safety standards of today. Now that the City Council has reached a general consensus and approval of the layouts, Lazzarotto will in the future provide drafts and layouts to City Administrator Paul Benoit.

As the discussion and presentation came to a close among the Council, student Mia Horvath asked City Administrator Paul Benoit- who had been working in conjunction with Siegel and Strain – how renovations and construction would affect public access to the space; for example, the Recreational Center sits at a major thoroughfare that parents drive by to drop off their kids at the Middle and High School. Though the Council did not have an immediate solution, Mayor McBain affirmed that a well-planned schedule would be released in the future to ease traffic and pedestrian flow.

Tim Rood mentioned that these renovations would mean losing access to the services of the Recreational Center for months on end, but Paul Benoit noted that it would be possible to relocate these offices and services for the duration of construction. The plans are currently in development and in their drafting phase, so all propositions and suggestions are subject to change.

The City Council meets on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month to discuss, consider, and announce citywide events, issues, notices, and more.

by Aaron Moy, Piedmont High School Senior

Sep 21 2018

The League of Women Voters Piedmont devised voter issues and questions for School Board and City Council November 6, 2018 candidates.

Press Release:

Earlier this summer, LWVP newsletter readers provided 33 responses to our poll regarding issues and questions for City Council and School Board candidates. Four LWVP board member volunteers then ranked 20 questions from the poll and submitted the top 8 to:

Voters Edge website  (https://votersedge.org/ca).

We highlight the 3 most important issues selected and list the top 4 questions for each race. We also attach more detailed summaries of the poll and of the ranking process as well as the questionnaires used.

The list of issues in the poll were taken from a July 19th, 2018 Piedmont Civic Association website article entitled “TIME to RUN: Contested or Uncontested Piedmont City Council and School Board Elections” This list of issues is licensed under a Creative Commons License and was sorted alphabetically.

For the 33 respondents, chosen from many choices, the top 3 issues for City Council candidates were:

  1. Citizen involvement – open participatory processes
  2. Environmental matters
  3. Taxation increases

The top 4 questions submitted on the Council topics were:

  1. What plans do you have to support the many different populations of Piedmont with city programs and city facilities? And, how do you plan to promote and actively support inclusive practices within city government?
  2. How will you be responsive to citizens and to support and improve citizen involvement in city government?
  3. How can and will you mediate between different interest groups in Piedmont, including evaluating how representative the concerns of vocal minorities might be?
  4. How should the city decide whether and how to plan and pay for a new swimming pool or pools? How important is this to you?

For the 33 respondents, the top 3 issues for School Board candidates were:

  1. Personnel selections
  2. School construction within constraints of bond funding limits
  3. Revenues sufficient to support operations and programs

The top 4 questions for School Board candidates were:

  1. The District has a history of hiring staff and teachers with personal connections to Piedmont and current district staff. How will you reassure city residents that new hires are the best choice for students and the school and that hiring is not unduly influenced by personal connections?
  2. How could and would you increase transparency in district decision making?
  3. How could and would you continue or improve the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers?
  4. If elected, what would be your budgeting priorities? How can the school district prepare for increased pension liabilities? Can you identify areas in the budget when savings are possible?

Read the PCA article  “TIME to RUN: Contested or Uncontested Piedmont City Council and School Board Elections

Sep 13 2018

 Survey regarding tennis & pickleball due 9/16

 Subcommittee Will Hold Community Meetings

9/25 & 9/26
Veterans’ Hall

The Piedmont Recreation Commission Tennis and Pickleball Sub-Committee will be holding two separate public discussions regarding Tennis and Pickleball court usage in Piedmont.

  • Pickleball – Tuesday, September 25th – 7:00pm

  • Tennis – Wednesday, September 26th – 7:00pm

Both meetings will be held in the Veterans Memorial Building – 401 Highland Avenue, Piedmont

You’re invited to join in the conversation, ask questions and voice your opinion or concerns.

Residents are also encouraged to take a > survey regarding tennis & pickleball. The deadline for responses is Sunday, September 16th.

If you have any questions, please contact Steven Chavarria at 510-420-6223 or schavarria@piedmont.ca.gov

Sep 11 2018

Due to a recent Recreation Commissioner’s resignation, the Piedmont City Council will be appointing a citizen volunteer to fill the new vacancy on the Piedmont Recreation Commission.

SPECIAL NOTICE OF APPOINTIVE VACANCY 

 on the Piedmont Recreation Commission

All interested citizens must complete and return the > Commission Application 2018 – Recreation on or before the posted deadline of Wednesday, October 10, 2018.Postmarks will not be accepted.

Applications are also available on the city’s website at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us or from the office of the City Clerk, Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, or by telephone at (510) 420-3040.

All applicants must be available for an interview with the City Council on Monday, October 15, 2018, at which time the appointment will be made.

___________________________

John O. Tulloch, City Clerk       Posted: September 11, 2018

>   Commission Application 2018 – Recreation

Learn more about the Piedmont Recreation Commission > HERE.

Aug 31 2018

2nd Reading of Ordinance 741 N.S. Updating Leash Law Provisions, Clarifying Off Leash Areas, Allowing for the Issuance of Administrative Citations, and Updating Outdated Provisions – 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 City Council Consideration, 7:30 p.m. 12o Vista Avenue, Council Chambers.

RECOMMENDATION Take the following actions related to updating City Code provisions related to dogs:

1) Decide whether off leash hours at Dracena Park should match those of the Linda Dog Park, as recommended by the Park Commission (7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekends) or should match the overall hours of the park (5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily)

2) Approve the 2nd reading of Ordinance 741 N.S., Updating Leash Law Provisions, Clarifying Off Leash Areas, Allowing for the Issuance of Administrative Citations, and Updating Outdated Provisions

3) By motion, set fines for the revised provisions at $100 per violation

Read the 18 page staff report HERE.  Maps are not included in the staff report. 

COMMENTS TO CITY COUNCIL:

Robert McBain, Mayor rmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048
Teddy Gray King, Vice Mayor tking@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048
Jennifer Cavenaugh jcavenaugh@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048
Tim Rood trood@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 239-7663
Betsy Smegal Andersen bandersen@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3048