May 25 2021

The Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD) is pleased to announce the selection of Eva Phalen as Piedmont’s newest recreation supervisor.

Ms. Phalen was selected through a rigorous interview process from a group of thirty-eight applicants. Ms. Phalen will join the department on June 7th.

Ms. Phalen is currently employed as the Recreation Manager at the City of Albany, an organization at which she has held several other positions, including Recreation Supervisor, since being hired in 2014.

Prior to her work in Albany, she served with the City of Orinda and Sunny Hills Services, now known as Side By Side.

In her position as Recreation Supervisor with PRD, Ms. Phalen will spend the majority of her time managing the City’s general recreation programs, including classes, facilities, special events, adult/senior programs, and inclusive programs. She will also help supervise PRD’s preschool programs.

“I am so thrilled to join the Piedmont Recreation Department team and work directly with the Piedmont community, said Ms. Phalen. “Living just a stone’s throw away in the Oakland Hills, my family and I utilize Piedmont’s gorgeous parks on a weekly basis. My kids have participated in various PRD camps and classes over the years. We’ve participated in the annual Turkey Trot and I actually grew up taking swim lessons in the Piedmont Community Pool. I’m continually impressed by Piedmont’s robust offerings and I am excited to bring my experience, creativity and passion for building community and family-focused programs to the city.”

“I am looking forward to working with Eva and thrilled to have her join the Piedmont Recreation Department,” said Recreation Director Chelle Putzer.” She brings a wealth of recreation experience to our PRD team and will be able to hit the ground running on her first day in Piedmont!”

May 24 2021

Zoom meeting details 2021-05-25 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

  1. Election of a Chairperson
  2.  Fiscal Year 2020-21 Financial Update
  3.  Review Proposed Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget and Consideration of FY 2021-2022 Budget Report
  4.  Review Long Range Financial Plan

Distributed presentation >2021-05-25 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Presentation

 

Apr 21 2021

Get Involved in the Community Pool Complex Planning!

The deadline to be a member of the Pool Advisory Committee is May 5th at 5 pm. 

The City Council will hold a special evening meeting on Monday, May 10th  to interview applicants. Go to the links below for detailed information.

2021-04-20 Pool Advisory Committee Recruitment

Notice of Appointive Vacancies 2021 – Pool Advisory Committee

Commission Application 2021 – Pool Advisory Committee

For questions, contact the City Clerk at 510/420-3040.

Apr 20 2021

On Monday 19, 2021, for over two hours the City Council heard from the City staff, legal counsel, and the public, including Art Center Board members. 

Inclusion, diversity, continued use as an arts venue, city scheduling and management of the building were repeatedly emphasized.  Additionally, community involvement, prioritization of usage, end to subletting, risk assessments, city costs, staffing, and  utilization of the space were among the many topics discussed.

More information was also requested  by the Council to support their decision making.  Established hours of usage by the Art Center were requested.  Information available indicated only 20% of the programmable space was being utilized.

Art shows, chess, various music formats, book reviews, discussion groups, meeting spaces and classes were some of the many potential uses mentioned.

In the end, the Council did not reach a clear consensus on direction for the use of 801 Magnolia.  The matter was  returned to the City Administrator and City Attorney  to synthesize the ideas discussed and return to the City Council with alternative plans for the public facility.  City Administrator, Sara Lillevand stated she wanted the matter to expeditiously return to the City Council, for many potential facility users wanted to be scheduled.

Input can be provided to the City Council and the City Administrator at:

citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

slillevand@piedmont.ca.gov

Apr 19 2021
WALKING ON WEDNESDAYS

Walking on Wednesdays meets every Wednesday at 10:00 am at Exedra Plaza!

The Recreation Department has developed a new set of protocols designed to keep the Wednesday walkers protected and safe on their walks.
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Individuals wanting to participate in walks will be required to register on the Recreation Department’s CommunityPass site. Only residents of Alameda County will initially be allowed to participate in WOW walks 
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Walkers will be placed in a pod and each pod of walkers will have a different assembly and walk start time. The start times will be at fifteen minute intervals starting at 10:00 am every Wednesday at the Exedra Plaza in the center of Piedmont at Magnolia and Highland Avenues.
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The walkers in each pod will be defined and set until pandemic activity restrictions are removed or modified by Alameda County or the City of Piedmont. Participants will not be allowed to move within pods, or walk with other pods, after the pods have been defined. Additionally, before, during, and after their walks participants will be required to wear masks, not have physical contact with non-family participants, and maintain six feet of separation from non-family member participants.
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If Alameda County’s tier level changes, or conditions in Piedmont change, the protocols and the appropriateness of conducting the Walking on Wednesdays activity will be reevaluated by PRD.
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There are no fees to participate in Walking on Wednesdays activities. Those interested in walking with the group should register, or contact the Piedmont Recreation Department at 510 420-3070.
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Apr 18 2021

 Council Agenda for virtual meeting on April 19, 2021 – 6 pm

PROVIDE INPUT TO THE CITY COUNCIL AT:

citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

READ THE FULL AGENDA AND METHODS OF WATCHING AND PARTICIPATING BY CLICKING BELOW.

4192021 council-agenda

Apr 17 2021

How does the City Council plan to oversee the use of the City owned property at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

While seniors decry the lack of senior programing and voice a need for a Senior Center in Piedmont, private business use has taken priority over public use limiting public use.

Approval of a new lease with the Art Center Board indicates various Council policies are needed:

  • Policy decision authority retained by the Council, the ultimate landlord
  • Guaranteed inclusion rather than exclusion of legitimate non-profit uses of the facility 
  • Council oversight of compliance by all users with local, state, and federal laws including: municipal, state, federal taxes, 501c3 non-profit status, workers compensation, ADA compliance, anti-discrimination, incorporation documentation, valid business licenses and  prohibition of political activities on the premises
  • Accounting of space utilization and ongoing consideration of lost City revenue
  • Evaluation and accountability of liability, risks, and costs to the City by each user and provision of appropriate insurance coverages
  • Semi-annual reports to Council on diversity of users, uses, financial statements, compliance with City policies, and City obligations
  • Staff Annual reports to Council on building structural integrity, safety measures, maintenance, ADA compliance, and interior and exterior upkeep expenditures
  • Required Council approval for all commercial subleases extending over two weeks
  • Council adoption of written conditions required for all sublets 
  • Prohibition of Art Center Board members and advisors to sublet the property for more than two weeks per year
  • Prompt staff reports to Council concerning issues arising from the lease or sublets 
  • Public access to financial records, board meetings, and minutes of Art Center Board
  • Adoption of comprehensive Council policies governing the use and rental of all Piedmont public properties

Piedmonters, owners of 801 Magnolia Avenue, have been awaiting invitations to observe Board meetings and receive regular financial reports from their tenant.  The Piedmont Center for the Arts Board is composed of well-meaning, generous, local residents of Piedmont and Oakland who may have overlooked their obligation to keep Piedmont citizens informed in a transparent manner of the use of this important public asset.

Apr 15 2021

Should the facilities at 801 Magnolia continue to be for the arts commingled with a commercial business?

“City staff has negotiated the lease renewal behind closed doors and there seems to be a majority on Council that couldn’t be bothered with public input on matters other than the lease.  That’s too bad because over the years residents have proposed creative ideas for 801 and were Council to engage in an open conversation with its constituents it would lead to better use of the building.”   Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member submitted to this website.

At its regular meeting on Monday April 19th, the City Council will consider the proposed revised lease renewal for the Piedmont Center for the Arts.  Should this City building be dedicated to community use? The proposal continues to avoid the issue of whether the building should be subleased by the Art Center Board to a private business.    

The City did not seek open public participation on the use and lease of 801 Magnolia.  As noted by concerned citizens, the proposal was fashioned behind closed doors, continuing the practice of exclusion and special favors.

It is unknown if any Council members were involved in voicing their opinions privately to the staff in a “hub and spoke” process forbidden under California’s open meeting laws, the Brown Act.

No written policy on non-arts uses of the public building.

Did the City Council willingly relinquish its responsibility in order to permit undefined Non-Arts Related Rentals?

“Non-Arts Related Rentals (15.1) The amended Lease requires PCA [Piedmont Center for the Arts] to seek the City’s prior written consent in the event it wishes to allow activities to occur at the Leased Premises other than Approved Uses (e.g., non-arts related activities), where PCA would charge user fees for the activities. The previous version of the Lease deemed any preexisting arrangement for user fees as approved, but PCA has now agreed to let go of its long-standing weekly Wednesday rental to a non-arts related user and has designated that time as part of the upfront City allotment.”

Piedmont has been seeking greater equity and inclusion in public decisions and public property use.  The public has a right to participate in decisions about the use of public property.  This proposal excluded open public input.

The proposal does not resolve the public use issue – public over commercial use and Council involvement in subleases.

There appears to be a community desire for musical, dramatic, and artist programs to continue under the leadership of the Piedmont Center for the Arts.  Yet, turning the building into partial commercial use under a stub-lease to the exclusion of public use has been highly criticized.

No publicly agendized meetings, hearings, community outreach or known research has occurred since the preemptive move in November 2020 to approve the now discarded problematic lease renewal with the Piedmont Center for the Arts group.

Many in the community have waited months for City input solicitation, but none came.   Meanwhile, the “City” devised and negotiated terms of a new lease without open public input.

History appears to be repeating a faulty, exclusionary process:

The City Council, if it accepts the process, will be repeating the prior practice of excluding the public and allowing pre-authorization of commercial use of the public building without public hearings or a Council adopted specific policy on non-art commercial use of the building and grounds.

On November 16, 2020, a rushed, surprise lease renewal proposal was promptly approved at a first reading in a  3-2 split vote by the then members of the City Council.  Council members Rood and Cavenaugh voted “No” wanting more information, inclusion, and input prior to approving the free rental proposal and unclear policies.  The new Council will  determine the equity and  appropriateness of the lease and sublease requirements .

Uses other than music, drama, and art programs have not been publicly discussed or considered.  For example, Piedmont seniors who bear the burden of taxes for Piedmont, have sought a facility for seniors programs.  801 Magnolia has sufficient unused space to allow the Art Center group to coexist with seniors programs.  Yet, the proposed lease does not provide for this expanded use.

The current non-art commercial business sublease of the property was privately granted outside of Council view and unknown to all Councilmembers.  The then City Administrator collaborated privately with the commercial business and the Art Center Board to sublet space under the free Art Center lease at 801 Magnolia.

Public uses and priorities have been excluded from use considerations as the City allows continuation of prior commercial practices.

Members of the  City Council when previously asked to consider and approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) under the free Art Center lease for a commercial use were never informed by the City Administrator (“the City”), acting as the landlord, had already approved and signed off on the commercial sublease without public consideration or Council approval.

Outreach to the community was minimal and some neighbors were not aware of the closed door arrangement for a commercial business sublet.  Public use was preempted.  A newspaper notification was absent.

Some City Council members not realizing the commercial use and sublease had already been granted by the City Administrator were told the City Council could only consider matters such as parking and hours of operation, not the sublets commercial use or sublease.  The Council was never provided a copy of the sublease and had no opportunity by policy to examine the terms and appropriateness.

The Art Center management drew concerns from the community by providing the commercial business owner, an Art Center Committee Advisor, a below market rate commercial sublease, while excluding various public users and consuming space for business purposes. The Piedmont Recreation Department regularly referred potential public/community users of the facility to the commercial business owner, who  determined if they could use the facility.

The City staff proposed agreement once more bestows upon the staff (“the City”) rather than the Council, unilateral decision authority on a policy matter – what is good or bad for Piedmont  – with no policy direction from the Council or public input.

Read the staff report and lease language by clicking below:

Final Proposed Art-Center-2021-2nd-Reading-of-Ordinance-758-N.S-–-Approving-an-Amended-and-Restated-Agreement-with-the-Piedmont-Center-for-the-Arts-at-801-Magnolia-Avenue

Certain individuals were excluded, while others were allowed to provide input to the staff on the proposal.  There was no investigation of community-wide priorities or a use policy draft.  The rushed attempt in November 2020 to renew the faulty lease was publicly abandoned for 6 months without explanation.

The Piedmont City Council will – Consider Renewal of the Piedmont Center for the Arts Lease on Monday, April 19th.   Major changes to the lease are noted by the staff as:  • Addition of Rent Payment • Additional Time Designated for City Programming • Improved Early Termination Clause • Addition of an Emergency or Unforeseen Circumstance Clause • Prior Written Consent [by “the City”] for Non-Arts Related Rentals.

Provide input to the City Council at  citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

AGENDA >  Meeting  Participation and Schedule for Monday, April 19, 2021  

Consideration of the lease has been placed last on the agenda.

Art Center 2021-04-09 Council to Consider Piedmont Center for the Arts Lease Renewal on April 19th

Apr 12 2021

 A Look at the California Electrical Grid Evolution  –

I got interested in studying the California electric grid as the result of the passage of Measure UU. The amount of energy consumed by an aquatic facility is significant:  in 2019 the existing pools used 25,396 therms of gas and 110 MWh of electricity a year, equivalent to 854 MWh (1MWh = 1,000 kwh). The new Piedmont aquatic facility is planned to have three times the surface and therefore could need as much as three times more energy in a steady state.

Clearly the new facility ought to minimize greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.  Given the expected lifetime of the future facility, it makes sense to look forward and consider its GHG footprint in the long term in the context of the evolution of the grid, the City Climate Action Plan and the State 2050 decarbonisation goals.

I built a simulation engine for the California grid based on the hourly empirical data available for the year 2019 from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the California Public Utility Commission. It simulates the way the energy available from various in-state and out-of-state sources are fed into the grid to meet demand. Increase in wind and solar supply is assumed to be based on scaling existing farms, therefore resulting in a proportional increase in such hourly energy offered to the grid. Demand is scaled based on the projection of the adoption of electric vehicles, the construction of new all-electric homes, and the conversion to electricity of residential, commercial, and industrial natural gas usage. Each sector has its own specific hourly demand distribution.

Wind and solar are energy sources with very large down and up swings.

  • On the down side in 2019 the wind and solar offering fell below 5% of hourly demand 19% of the time. Such intermittent power needs to be backfilled on a real time basis by dispatchable sources to match demand. Dispatchable energies are generated by power units able to vary output to follow demand, such as natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear and geothermal plants. The utilisation factor of such traditional plants diminishes with intermittent energy use, but the plants cannot be decommissioned because their full power is needed for the several hours a year with high demand and lack of wind and sun.

  • On the up side, wind and solar energy production has to be curtailed whenever its hourly generation exceeds demand (minus a dispatchable energy floor to ensure reliable service). As the proportion of wind and solar power offered to the grid relative to demand increases, the proportion of such refused energy relative to the one offered increases.

The graph below is the result of running scenarios on the simulator corresponding to the projected demand in 2045. Note that the projection does not take into account converting industrial natural gas use (768,188 million cubic feet a year) to electricity, equivalent to 225 TWh a year assuming all industrial usage is for heating (one TWh equals 1,000,000 MWh).

The refused wind and solar energy could be converted to hydrogen through electrolysis rather than curtailed and used either to power hydrogen cars, to generate dispatchable electricity through hydrogen turbines and/or to be mixed with natural gas for distribution through the existing gas network.  See  below: Looking at the various possible evolutions of the mix of energy sources in the grid, I was hoping to calculate the sweet spot on the blue lines in the chart for the ratio of wind and solar power offered relative to demand that would optimize all life cycle costs and service reliability. But I failed because of the large uncertainties on many parameters which would allow me to reach any conclusion that I am biased towards, in particular:

  • Cost of upgrading the natural gas distribution network to handle hydrogen.

  • Life cycle cost of new nuclear and hydrogen dispatchable power plants.

  • Life cycle cost of new solar and wind farms with potentially lower level of utilization than currently accounted for.

  • Life cycle cost of traditional power plants operated at much lower utilisation factor, but still needed to power the grid in the hours with no wind and solar.

  • Energy efficiency in the electricity-hydrogen- electricity life cycle.

  • Life cycle cost of batteries.

Politics will drive where the grid ends up. Currently intermittent energy sources are favored over dispatchable non-fossil power plants as they create jobs all over California rather than in a few places and have a projected low life cycle cost.

With regard to the design of the new aquatic facilities, I would favor a single smaller pool focused on sports rather than recreation because of my belief that frugality is essential to meet the climate challenge. In any case, I know that a competent team focused on sustainability is working on the design of a “green” pool and I am confident that the promises of Measure UU will be achieved to the satisfaction of our community.

Bernard Pech, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 31 2021

The 801 Magnolia Avenue building would be the perfect place for a Senior Center.

I am amazed that there is no Senior Center in Piedmont and the 801 Magnolia building would be the perfect place to have such a center.  We who live here and have helped build this community have nowhere to go in Piedmont. 

There is a Senior meeting held once a month (during non-Covid times) that does not engage the community very well. 

Seniors need to be able to get together in their own communities for arts, crafts, exercise, classes, excursions and social engaging. Those of us who still live here need to go outside the community for such endeavors, now and as Covid is still strongly present, I have realized the lack of such in our community.

Carol Warren, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.