Apr 19 2022

To view the appointee list:  Click below

2022-04-19 Commission Appointments

Apr 19 2022
In response to public criticism of the lack of transparency into the renewal of the use agreement for the 801 Magnolia Avenue building, several Councilmembers and Piedmont Center for the Arts  (PCA*) Board members pushed back, claiming that three meetings over a 15-month period allowed for adequate public input.  That sounds transparent but some history and context is needed to see how poorly the process of the past 15 months met community needs.
  • ·     The City purchased the 801 Magnolia Avenue property in 2003 at a cost of $735,000.  A the time, the City was developing the Civic Center Master Plan, a redevelopment of the Civic Center that called for replacing the 801 building with a modern building and civic plaza.  Undergrounding cost overruns and the 2008 economic downturn forestalled proceeding with the master plan at that time.


  • ·     In March, 2011, the City received a proposal from the Piedmont Center for the Arts to lease the building.  The City conducted a public hearing, “Consideration of the Concept of use of City Property at 801 Magnolia Avenue by the Piedmont Center for the Arts” at which PCA presented its Articles of Incorporation which state “The specific purpose of this corporation is to promote artistic endeavors for youth within the Piedmont community by providing exhibit and performance space and a website to connect the Arts Center with exhibitors and renters.”  At the hearing, commenters recommended other uses for the building such as a Maker Center, teen or senior center and public library.


  • ·     In April, 2011 PCA signed a 10-year, no-rent lease with the City which stipulated that PCA could rent space to only non-profit sub-tenants.  Over the ensuing 10 years, the City modified the Zone B use restrictions so that a for-profit business of a PCA Board member could be operated in the 801 Magnolia Building.


  • ·     In November 2021, the City came forward with a 10-year lease renewal with PCA.  No public hearings on the use of the 801 Building were held at City Council or city commissions nor did Council discuss the 801 lease renewal in closed session prior to the November meeting.

Failure to engage the public and City Council in discussions of use of the 801 Building prior to the November meeting soured the public process from the start.  According to the City Charter, “An ordinance may be introduced by any Councilmember at any regular or special meeting of the City Council.”

At the November 2021 meeting, the previous Mayor publicly stated he was asked by PCA to open negotiations on a new lease and presumably used this ordinance authority to bring forward the new lease (at his last meeting as mayor). But in so doing, he ignored the input of his Council colleagues and the community at large on the use of 801 Magnolia.  Other factors contributing to public dissatisfaction with the process were flaws in the lease and the obvious bias to Piedmont Center for the Arts it contained. Read the analysis by Rick Raushenbush to see just how badly the first draft of the agreement represented the City’s interest.


Since November 2021, overwhelming public opposition to the first draft of the lease and the process by which it was brought forward resulted in the City taking more control of the building and relying on a facility use agreement that was approved by Council in March, 2022


But as with the first draft, no public hearings or closed sessions of City Council on the use of 801 were held in the ensuing 15 months and again, the majority of public comment has been critical of the agreement and the lack of transparency into its development.  So three meetings over a 15-month period was not a “robust public process” but a series of reactionary meetings with the public trying to claw back access to this public building.

What’s really confounding is why the City didn’t conduct an open public process on the use of 801 Magnolia?  PCA would likely have retained preeminent use of the building with better community access being achieved at the same time.  Instead, a lease highly favorable to PCA was always the only topic for comment, sending a strong signal that it was a fait accompli.  It should be noted that it was in the City’s interest, as well, to have a limited discussion of 801’s use.  Office space is at a premium in City Hall and no doubt staff will make use of the new space in 801 for employees.

There are three spaces in the 801 building – the office space, classroom and performance hall – and a more equitable agreement would be to have assigned the classroom to the community as a senior center.  The Recreation Department is doing a better job of providing senior programming, but what seniors really need more is a gathering space and the 801 classroom would be perfect for that.

Why all this matters is that 6 years from now the facility use agreement will expire and the community will again go through this process for the 801 building. Several current Councilmembers could be involved again so hopefully a better public process will be followed.  This whole saga reminded me of the scene from Oliver Twist when Oliver approaches the master and asks “Please sir, I want some more”.  Hopefully it won’t be so hard to ask next time.

 Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council 
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
*Since 1986, PCA has been the logo for the Piedmont Civic Association.  In 2011, when the Piedmont Center for the Arts was formed and  began using PCA as an identifying symbol, the Piedmont Civic Association  informed the Arts Center of the potential misunderstanding for two Piedmont organizations to refer to themselves as PCA.   The two PCA organizations are separate and unrelated entities serving Piedmont.  The Piedmont Civic Association has never had a lease or agreement with the City of Piedmont for use of  801 Magnolia Avenue. 
Apr 2 2022

  On Monday, April 4, City Council will be voting on whether the energy system for the new Aquatic Center will be all-electric or continue to rely on natural gas (a fossil fuel) for heating pool water, as in the past. Here are some frequently asked questions about an all-electric pool system, with answers drawn from information presented at the March 21st Council meeting by the City’s Sustainability Program Manager, as well as ELS Architecture and their energy engineer.  

Q: What are Piedmont’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets?

A: Our current targets, as outlined in our 2018 Climate Action Plan 2.0 (CAP 2.0), were in line with  State targets at that time – that is, to reduce our in-boundary emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to 8% below 2005 levels by 2050. But State goals have become stronger since then. California now targets achieving 100% emissions-free electricity and carbon neutrality by 2045.

Q: How close is Piedmont to achieving the GHG emissions reduction goals we set in 2018?

A: Piedmont has made incremental improvements over time but has far to go to meet our CAP 2.0 goals. The majority of our reductions so far can be attributed to forces outside Piedmont, such as increased home appliance efficiency. Since the majority of Piedmont’s emissions come from the residential sector, we can only meet our reduction targets if all residents make a concerted effort to decarbonize both their homes and their transportation. Unfortunately, rather than declining, our use of natural gas, the main source of GHG emissions from Piedmont buildings (municipal, residential, and commercial), has risen by 14% since 2014.

Q: What role must the City play in encouraging residents to decarbonize their homes and transportation?

A: The CAP 2.0 emphasizes that the City must focus on educating residents about emissions reduction opportunities and lead by example. Even though City emissions are only 2-4% of total Piedmont emissions, reducing these emissions will play an outsize role in Piedmont’s success in reducing its emissions overall, due to the demonstration effect the City’s efforts will have in motivating residents to decarbonize their own homes and transportation. Specific municipal or City goals in the CAP 2.0 include committing to Piedmont’s municipal facilities and activities becoming Zero-Carbon by 2050, about 25 years after the opening of the new pool facility.

Q: Will the City be able to meet its municipal carbon emissions reduction targets (as outlined in the CAP 2.0) if pool water in the new Aquatic Facility is heated by natural gas, a fossil fuel?

A: No. Heating the old pool with natural gas generated ~87% of the GHG emissions from municipal buildings and structures. If the new facility, with its increased pool square footage and water volume, were heated with natural gas, it would generate between 55-76% more emissions than the old pool (depending on whether or not some solar is installed). The City would not be able to make up for this increase in emissions by cutting emissions from other sources. In contrast, GHG emissions from operating an all-electric facility that relies on a combination of photovoltaic and thermal solar, electric heat pumps, and green grid electricity would be zero. The City would entirely eliminate the GHG emissions generated by the old facility, achieving a very significant municipal GHG emissions reduction.

Q: Using electric heat pumps to heat commercial-sized pools is a new application of this technology in California, so how can we be certain it will work?

A: ELS Architecture and the engineering firm they are working with are fully confident that electric heat pump technology will work for the new Piedmont Aquatic Center. They have designed an all-electric pool for Mountain View which will soon go out to bid. The reason an all-electric municipal pool seems innovative is that aquatic facilities comprise less than 3% of new public construction statewide. Looking at the public building sector overall,  from State and municipal buildings to buildings in the public education systems, new all-electric facilities are being constructed everywhere, and old buildings are undergoing significant retrofits to become all-electric. We are in the midst of an all-electric movement within both the public and private building sectors. Electric heat pump technology has been around for a long time, and, in states like Florida that are not piped for natural gas, 90% of commercial pools are heated by electric heat pumps. The reason this hasn’t been the case here in the West has been the cheap price of natural gas, a situation that is fast ending.

Q: How do the costs of an all-electric vs. a gas-powered system compare?

A: The upfront costs of an all-electric system will be higher by at least $600,000 (a more exact figure, based on recent facility design changes is forthcoming), but a lifecycle analysis shows that an all-electric facility will result in approximately $1,000,000 more in cost savings over 25 years, as compared to a system that uses natural gas. For more information, see the March 21 Staff Report on ELS’s Energy Use Report.

Q: Might the noise of the heat pumps be problematic for pool and tennis court users, as well as nearby residents?

A:  This will not be a complicated issue to resolve, as solutions are routinely found for much more complex noise issues. ELS will work with an acoustician on measures to dampen any undesirable sound from the array of heat pumps. Most of this work will take place after all the pool equipment is in place and functioning, but some pre-work may be done (for example, insulating certain walls and suspending a roof over the equipment).  Since we’ll have an array of heat pumps, it will be rare for them all to be working at their top (i.e. noisiest) capacity – for example, when the temperature gets below 30 degrees F. In addition, the heat pumps we’re looking at have a low decibel nighttime rating.                       

Q: Will relying on the clean electricity grid be more expensive than natural gas over the next 20 years?

A: The era of cheap natural gas is ending. Already, natural gas prices have gone up 200% since 2018, and every indication is that they will continue to rise. PG&E is proposing a 40% increase in natural gas prices over the next four years, as they add transportation and distribution costs for natural gas that aren’t on our current bills. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission is moving cost rates for natural gas infrastructure solely onto the developer (vs. sharing with rate payers). Moreover, within the next 5-10 years we’ll be seeing carbon pricing or carbon taxes adding to the cost of natural gas.

Q. Will the electricity grid be able to reliably supply us with the clean electricity an all-electric Aquatic Facility will need?

A: Yes. While upgrading California’s electricity transmission systems to accommodate the level of clean electricity the state aims to generate by 2045 is undoubtedly a challenge, there is no reason to worry that there won’t be enough electricity available. Our local clean electricity provider, East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), is supporting various projects to generate clean electricity locally and is continuously increasing the percentage of electricity from renewable sources in its power mix. Thanks to a 2018 City Council decision, the City is enrolled in EBCEs Renewable 100 plan, whereby the electricity EBCE purchases on our behalf comes only from renewable sources (wind, solar, and small-scale hydroelectric). Approximately 95% of Piedmont residents are also enrolled in Renewable 100.

Q: Isn’t it risky to rely on electricity during Planned Power Outages during fire season?

A: There’s no advantage to having a natural gas system to heat pool water during a power outage, since all natural gas boilers sold in California have electric power starts. They no longer have standing pilots that allow you to have gas service during an electric outage. The pumping system for keeping water circulating is the same between a natural gas and an all-electric system, so natural gas has no advantage here either. Currently, battery storage technology to use for emergency backup is not available, but advances are being made in solar battery storage.

Q: Could we start with a natural gas heated pool and pivot to an all-electric system later?

A: It would be hard and prohibitively expensive to retrofit for electricity later. Even if we included the pre-conduits and other infrastructure for electrification in a system that initially relied on natural gas, this would also push up costs. In either case, we would be paying for the cost of two different energy systems and abandoning the natural gas system before the end of the pool’s lifetime.

Q: Was the concept and cost of an all-electric facility factored into Measure UU?

A: No. When the conceptual master plan was initially developed in 2016, all-electric pool heating was not considered, and the baseline assumption was for natural gas, although some “green features” were proposed (solar and thermal tubes). But the details of the energy system were not specified, in the same way that most of the other details being fleshed out now (pool size, building and public space design, etc.) were not. Similarly, the 2016 conceptual plan did not do a GHG emissions analysis or consider how this municipal construction project would comply with Piedmont’s 2010 Climate Action Plan then in place. Since 2016, not only was Piedmont’s 2018 CAP 2.0 adopted, but the transition off natural gas and towards full electrification of public and private buildings and facilities across the state began in earnest, and other municipalities began to consider or actually design all-electric pools. After the passage of UU, Piedmont Connect and residents focused on how to reduce the carbon footprint of the new pool complex. Connect researched and modeled the possibility of designing an all-electric facility that would emit zero GHG emissions in its operation and help the City meet its CAP 2.0 goals. Connect’s calculations showed that it would be both economically and technologically feasible, the same conclusion that the project architects and engineers have now drawn. (A report Connect prepared in 2021 can be viewed here.) City staff and Council have made public commitments several times to support the “greenest” pool possible. When hired, ELS was directed by the City to conduct an energy analysis of the pool, and it stated publicly that it would design for an all-electric option. Since the City chose to wait until the design phase of the project to conduct this energy feasibility assessment and to decide on the facility’s energy system, it may appear that an all-electric facility is an afterthought. But, in reality, this discussion has been going on for some time.

Submitted by Margaret Ovenden, Piedmont Resident

Agenda and Participation Information HERE.

Staff Report HERE

Apr 2 2022

Update on Community Pool Design Modifications and Direct Staff to: 1) Continue Review of Program and Cost Considerations Related to the 20 Versus 25 Yard Recreation Pool Lanes with Referral to the Community Pool Advisory Committee for a Review of the Recreation Pool Length, and 2) Direct Staff to Prepare a Donation Policy for the Acceptance of Donations for the Piedmont Community Pool Project

Staff Report HERE.

Agenda and Participation Information HERE.


Mar 30 2022
On Monday April 4th at 6:00 p.m., the City Council will consider the method of heating for the new Piedmont Community Pools.
Community members are invited to share your thoughts with the Council at the meeting. The agenda (which contains participation details) and staff report will be posted to the City Council’s web page by 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 1.
More Information on the project is available on the Piedmont Community Pool Project page.
Mar 20 2022

“..the pool is the single biggest municipal GHG emitter in town.”

Letter to the City Council:

City staff is recommending that significant modifications be made to the schematic design to reduce the cost of the new pool. 

The staff report and lifecycle analysis in the energy report show that the all-electric option is the best financial and environmental option for the pool so I encourage you to direct staff to redesign the pool based on the all-electric option.

The lifecycle analysis shows that an all-electric pool saves the city $1,000,000 over 25 years, probably an underestimate given state and federal restrictions that will drive up the price of natural gas over that time.  Most importantly, the all-electric design will reduce GHG emissions compared to that from the existing pool, let alone the new pool.  Such reduction is needed for the City to achieve its 2030 and 2050 reduction targets.  More importantly, proceeding with the all-electric design will show the residents that City Council takes climate change seriously.  Having restricted the installation of natural gas in new construction in Piedmont, the all-electric option will show the City’s commitment to reducing its own GHG emissions and serve to motivate residents to take additional actions at reducing GHG emissions as well.

Electrifying the pool today is the single-most effective action the city can take to achieve the municipal GHG reduction targets set forth in CAP 2.0. The staff report implies that the current pool is less that 20% of municipal GHG emissions but that is biased by inclusion of employee commute as part of municipal emissions (figure 1), a GHG source City Council has little control over.  Excluding employee commute from municipal emissions, facilities comprise 44% of city GHG emissions.  And as figure 2 shows, city takeover of the pool in 2015 doubled municipal emissions – the pool is the single biggest municipal GHG emitter in town.  A natural gas option for the new pool would more than double municipal facilities emissions.  Achieving reductions in all municipal sectors is needed for the city to reach its GHG 2030 and 2050 targets and building an all-electric pool now will result in the single largest step this Council can authorize towards achieving those goals.

Figure 1

Figure 2


The table on page 3 of the staff report shows that a cost savings of $1,000,000 is achieved with the all-electric option compared to the hybrid (natural gas) option.  The 2/17 presentation to the Pool Advisory Committee by ELS showed that this savings is attributable to utility costs – $77,600/year for natural gas, $57,100/year for electricity.  The figure on page 7 of Attachment A shows higher annual costs and the all-electric option still saves costs compared to the hybrid option, with or without photovoltaics but more so with photovoltaics.  Total 25-year costs assume escalations for both rates but it is a safe assumption that natural gas will incur added costs due to costlier production and stricter regulation than electricity will. These factors are hard to account for now, but I think would favor an even greater 25-year lifecycle cost savings from electricity compared to natural gas.  Some have raised the possibility of installing natural gas now and converting to electricity in the future. At the 2/17 PAC meeting, Clarence Mumuyac of ELS said “It’s really expensive” and the energy consultant advised against it.

The other important figure of the report is on page 8 of Attachment A – Facility Annual Emissions.  The difference between the two options is the most important reason for the all-electric option – no new GHG will be emitted from the all-electric pool.  Decarbonization is the path to reversing climate change yet since 2016, natural gas usage in Piedmont has increased 14%.  This is not from the municipal sector (those emissions have been declining) but what message will it send to our residents if this new facility so vital to our community contributes to global warming?

Getting the right design for the energy infrastructure of the pool facility now has important ramifications for the long-term operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions of the pool. In both cases, the all-electric option is the best option.   Additional cost analysis will be provided you by April 4, but would seem unlikely to change this conclusion.  It would assist the redesign efforts of ELS were you to give direction tonight that the pool facility redesign be based on the all-electric option and I encourage you do so.

The pool facility has reached the point where a difficult choice has to be made. Conservatively, $4,000,000 in costs savings have to be found if the City is to stay within the spending limits of ballot measure UU.  ELS is looking at reductions to the recreational pool but if those and an all-electric pool can’t be accommodated within the $25,000,000 UU limits then Council should look at reducing the size of the aquatic pool – it is the largest user of energy within the facility and largest area of square footage.  It is not fair to the larger number of residents who obtain seasonal passes to have their pool use restricted nor future generations of Piedmonters to have their climate impacted by GHG emissions from the aquatic pool.

Bond Measure UU generated a great deal of enthusiasm for the new pool and I think Council can rely on this community support to accept reductions to all the pools in the current design.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

The matter will be considered at the March 21, 2022 City Council meeting.

Agenda and participation information > PCA council-current-agenda 3212022

Staff report > https://www.piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18419081

Staff report > https://www.piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18419085

Mar 20 2022

“Choosing natural gas would be irresponsible from a climate perspective.”

Progress on the new Piedmont Aquatic Center has reached a key decision making point. Between now and April 4, 2022, the Piedmont City Council will be deciding between a system that heats pool water by natural gas (a climate-warming fossil fuel) or one that uses no natural gas, relying instead on electricity from renewable sources.

The news from the preliminary energy use reportprepared by the engineers under contract with ELS architecture is good and cause for great hope that a climate-friendly all-electric system is within our financial reach. The analysis shows that while an all-electric facility will require an additional $600,000 in upfront cost and have a longer payback period (15.8 years, in comparison with 8.4 years for the natural gas option), it will provide approximately $1,000,000 more in cost savings over the 25-year period studied as compared to the natural gas option.

The estimated greenhouse gas emissions from each option stand in sharp contrast: The natural gas-fired facility will generate 260 MT CO2e and will make greenhouse gas emissions from the new facility 1.5 times greater than those from the old Community Pool, which generated approximately 75% of municipal emissions from natural gas. The all-electric option, however, will reduce the pool facility’s emissions by 100%.Opting for natural gas would thus make it impossible to meet Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan’s targets for reducing emissions in municipal facilities, reductions that are important not only in and of themselves but also as an example for residents to emulate in reducing emissions in their homes.

The decision to choose the all-electric system appears to be a no-brainer. But there’s a catch: The Staff Report accompanying the preliminary energy use report goes out of its way to frame emissions from the pool in the context of the municipal sector and Piedmont’s overall emissions, making the point that, when emissions from employee transportation are taken into account, the old Community Pool contributed less than 20% of municipal emissions and less than 1% of total emissions from Piedmont’s residential sector. While these numbers may be largely true for the old pool, the Staff Report fails to note that, given that a new natural gas-fueled facility will generate 1.5 times more emissions than the old facility, its portion of municipal emissions will also increase. These numbers also don’t take into account that emissions from employee commutes will decrease with the EV adoption that will likely accompany installation of EV charging stations near City Hall. The important point here is that referencing these numbers appears to be in service of providing a rationale for choosing natural gas for the pool.

Choosing natural gas would be very short-sighted, however. As the preliminary energy analysis points out, natural gas prices have become very volatile and are trending upwards at a faster rate than electricity prices. As California moves towards phasing out natural gas, a natural gas-dependent facility could become obsolete before the end of its expected lifetime. It is wiser to construct an energy system for the future now, than to face the cost-prohibitive prospect of having to re-do the system later. Choosing natural gas would also be imprudent from a financial perspective; while it may be tempting to choose a system with a lower up-front cost and shorter payback period, we need to keep in mind that the actual cost savings over 25 years of an electric system will be approximately $1,000,000 more than a natural gas system. A $600,000 up-front cost differential is really not that large in the larger picture, nor is an additional 7.4 years until payback.

Choosing natural gas would be irresponsible from a climate perspective. No matter how small the pool’s emissions are in the context of total Piedmont and world emissions, we all know that it’s important that each family, city, state and nation work to reduce its emissions in as many ways as possible, in order for us to collectively bring emissions down. Cities and other government bodies have an additional mandate of serving as role models for the citizens they represent; if governments don’t wholeheartedly attempt to reduce their emissions, saying that what they do doesn’t matter, citizens will follow suit. If we chose an all-electric pool, Piedmont will become one of the first California municipalities to do so, and we will be on the map as a model for other communities. If we chose a natural gas-fired facility, we will be taking the position that we are exempt from needing to tackle climate change on all possible fronts – an assertion of privilege that many in the community deeply wish us to move beyond.

Margaret Ovenden, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

The matter will be considered at the March 21, 2022 City Council meeting.

Agenda and participation information > PCA council-current-agenda 3212022

Staff report > https://www.piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18419081

Staff report > https://www.piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18419085

Mar 15 2022


Agenda and participation information for March 17, 7 p.m. Teleconference Meeting >   PCA2022-03-17 Bond Oversight Committee Agenda

Pool Bond Measure UU Campaign Information >


Actual Pool Bond Measure UU Ballot Language  >


Document to be considered at the meeting PCA 2022-03-17 Bond Oversight Committee Presentation

Mar 12 2022

Now is the time to tell the City if you have concerns regarding adding 587 housing units to Piedmont!

The City is planning an important review of conditions in Piedmont and potential issues relevant to the environment in Piedmont.

Adoption of an EIR will impact every area of Piedmont and potential development.

Without input from residents, the basis for developing the EIR is lessened. 

Once the EIR is approved by the City Council, it will be used repeatedly to measure, approve, or deny development in Piedmont using the EIR to determine environmental impacts.

Some issues not necessarily included in the EIR considerations are:

  • Safe roadway widths for vehicles
  • Safe pedestrian access
  • Viable provisions during an emergency
  • Lack of medical facilities
  • Insufficient police and fire services
  • Wildfire areas
  • Overhead utility wires
  • Pandemic resources
  • Open space/park preservation
  • Transit services
  • Urban trees and canopy preservation
  • Water provisions
  • Social services
  • Animal/fauna, pollinators survival
  • Landslide areas
  • Clay soil areas
  • Underground drainage systems 
  • Emergency exits from the City

Any questions, issues, or comments should be directed in writing to: Kevin Jackson, Planning & Building Director, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611; or kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov.

To assure the Piedmont City Council and the Piedmont Planning Commission are aware of any issues, public comments can also be sent and addressed to:

Piedmont City Council – citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov

Planning Commission – kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov.


The 6th Cycle (2023-2031)
Housing Element Update
Environmental Impact Report

Public Scoping Comments

from Piedmonters are

Due March 18, 2022

On March 1, 2022, a Scoping Meeting for the Housing Element EIR was held by the Planning Commission  Click to view the video of the meeting. In response to comments during the scoping meeting, the following information is being provided to community members who may be interested in providing comments on the scope and preparation of the EIR. Please click on the links provided below (in blue font).
This is a list of the environmental factors that are required to be examined under an Environmental Impact Report.
In this Appendix, for each environmental factor, a list of questions is provided that an agency might ask when studying potential environmental impacts.
On February 16, 2022, the City of Piedmont issued a Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed City of Piedmont 2023-2031 Housing Element update and associated amendments to the Piedmont General Plan.
The City of Piedmont is preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the City’s Housing Element update (“the project”) and is requesting comments on the scope and content of the Draft EIR. This scoping stage of EIR preparation seeks comments that would answer the following questions:
  • What do we need to know to prepare the EIR for the Housing Element update?
  • What potential environmental impacts from the City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 587 housing units should be studied as part of the EIR?
The EIR is being prepared by the City of Piedmont, which is the lead agency for the project, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and CEQA Guidelines. In accordance with CEQA Guidelines section 15082, the Notice of Preparation (NOP) was sent to the California State Clearinghouse, Alameda County Clerk, responsible agencies, trustee agencies, adjacent cities, and is being made available to members of the public, including individuals and organizations, to solicit comments on the scope and content of the analysis in the EIR.
Written Comments: Responses to the NOP and any questions or comments should be directed in writing to: Kevin Jackson, Planning & Building Director, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611; or kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov.
Responses to the NOP must be received on or before 5 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2022. Comments should focus on the scope and content of the EIR, such as significant environmental issues, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures.
Project Location: The project, which is an update to the Housing Element of the City’s General Plan, is applicable to the entire City of Piedmont (citywide). The City of Piedmont is located in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern Alameda County. The City of Piedmont encompasses approximately 1.7 square miles with a population of approximately 11,300 residents and 4,000 housing units. The Housing Element is one of the 7 state-mandated elements of the local General Plan and is required by the State of California to be updated every 8 years. Detailed project description information and background information are provided in the NOP, located here.
Probable Environmental Effects: Approval of the proposed Housing Element update would not include approval of any physical development (e.g., construction of housing or infrastructure). However, the EIR will assume that such actions are reasonably foreseeable future outcomes of the Housing Element update. The EIR will evaluate the potential physical environmental impacts that could result from future actions for implementing the policies proposed under the Housing Element update at a programmatic level, in accordance with CEQA Guidelines Section 15168. The topical areas that will be addressed in the EIR are: Aesthetics, Air Quality, Biological Resources, Cultural Resources, Energy, Geology and Soils, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Hazards and Hazardous Materials, Hydrology and Water Quality, Noise, Land Use and Planning, Population and Housing, Public Services and Recreation, Transportation, Tribal Cultural Resources, Utilities and Service Systems, and Wildfire.
The Draft EIR will also examine a reasonable range of alternatives to the proposed project, including the CEQA-mandated No Project Alternative and other potential alternatives that may be capable of reducing or avoiding potential environmental effects while meeting most of the basic objectives of the project. In addition, the EIR will address cumulative impacts, growth inducing impacts, and other issues required by CEQA.
Mar 8 2022

The Council heard from City staff, the City attorney, residents, non-residents, the Recreation Department, representatives from arts groups, and performers addressing an Agreement with the Piedmont Center for the Arts, a local non-profit organization, regarding the City owned property at 801 Magnolia Avenue.

Between 7:30 p.m. and almost midnight on Monday, March 7, 2022, there was a lively discussion of the proposed Agreement with the Piedmont Center for the Arts organization for their continued use of the City facility across from Piedmont High School.

Issues discussed were:

  • Length of Agreement  – 5 years – Accepted
  • High fees Arts Center might charge for usage of their time – Undetermined
  • Lack of review by Recreation Commission – True
  • Problematic process and insufficient information to community 
  • Excessive number of dates and times reserved for Arts Center group
  • Control over City facility by external group – To be reviewed
  • $200,000 + in Arts Center current reserves derived from fees
  • 90 day deadline for Arts Center to advise the City of non-use of their allotted time slots – Accepted
  • City review of Agreement and usage after  18 months – Accepted
  • City review of Agreement on an annual basis – Accepted
  • End to sub-leases of the property – Accepted
  • Adequate opportunities for other groups to use the facility 
  • Revenue not captured by the City
  • Compromises by all involved to reach Agreement
  •  Desire to continue the successful activities of the Arts Center 
  •  A provision for potential use of the property for housing – Accepted

Council members expressed sincere appreciate to the many volunteers from the Piedmont Center for the Arts in establishing a successful and regionally recognized arts venue in Piedmont.

Three Council members supported the Agreement not wanting to delay the matter further and approved the staff proposed Agreements with minor changes.   Those approving were King, Andersen and McCarthy.

Two Council members voted no desiring additional information, a more transparent process, shorter term to the Agreement, and guaranteed equitable access for the entire community; these were Council members Cavenaugh and Long.

Since the lease with the Arts Center will end, sub-tenant, The Piedmont Post, was given an extension of 60 days from time of notice to vacate the Arts Center building. The City will use the space for expanded recreational programs and Recreation Department staff needs.

See prior article on the proposed Agreement.