Jan 16 2023

Hello City Council:

I’ve reviewed the staff report and draft RFP for the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan (MCSP) and submit the following comments and questions. Hopefully you can delve into them.

The MCSP is good planning, but clearly the RFP is being developed to expedite a City application for Measure A funds by 2024.  Perhaps for that reason, the RFP is short on explaining how the plan addresses important city policies.  Table 2 list these policies but the RFP states that these policies “may” be considered and only stipulates that the consultant team will demonstrate “professional experience and knowledge of the personnel general principles and background law applicable to specific plans, land development and affordable housing development requirements”.   There are important sustainability policies outlined in the General Plan and Climate Action Plan and the City should stipulate this a credential it seeks on the consultant team.  Does the team have a sustainability expert like our City does?  Traffic safety is another core credential that should be requested.

The staff report and RFP suggests that additional environmental review beyond the programmatic EIR will be conducted based on the impacts of the specific projects in the MCSP.  That makes sense but is predicated on a robust programmatic EIR which has yet to be released.  Without the programmatic EIR being public at this time, the generalities of that assessment may be used to gloss over specific impacts of the projects at a later date.  One way to alleviate this concern is to assure that the programmatic EIR will have a response to comments process as a project specific EIR does.  Staff should confirm this publicly.  Subsection m. in scope of services should clarify this point as well.

One important EIR consideration is whether an assessment of GHG emissions will be undertaken in the MCSP.   This assessment may occur in the “built out” programmatic EIR so this may not be a factor but without that document, who can say?   To resolve this question, staff should clarify whether these GHG emission calculations are being conducted as a part of the programmatic EIR.  According to state guidance, GHG emissions are to be part of a CEQA analysis: CEQA GHG.  However, based on certain criteria, affordable housing projects under 100 units are exempt from CEQA and staff should clarify this as well CEQA Housing. Indeed, staff should clarify whether CEQA is applicable to all the projects being considered in the MCSP, particularly the low-income housing projects.

The staff report and RFP do not clarify whether the relocation of the Corporation Yard will be studied as part of the MCSP.  The only possible reference to this is that “replacement” of the Corporation Yard be considered.  The City should clarify this in the RFP so as to provide consultants the widest latitude to develop creative proposals for the canyon.  Indeed, this latitude may provide for the subdivisions of parcels and development standards that are attractive to builders of housing at all income levels. As staff envisioned with civic center sites, the City could leverage better housing for the project if the Corporation Yard is moved to less desirable building site in the canyon.

Following are more specific comments/questions to the RFP:

The project timeline on page 5 of the staff report is particularly short on detail.  The City seems not to have identified the type of public process it intend to conduct. 

Under “Specific Plan for Success” there is no mention of field lighting as part of the recreational facilities to be developed.  Is it the intent of the City and this Council not to proceed with the installation of lights at Coaches Field?  There is some precedent for this.

The landscape plan makes no mention that it is to comply with the City’s municipal Bay Friendly Landscape Ordinance which has specific criteria for vegetation and water use.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jan 15 2023

Another Consultant is proposed to be hired at an unspecified cost to produce a Moraga Canyon specific plan.

The RFP does not set a price, but … [in 2019]  … the preparation of a specific plan cost an average of $544,237.”  according to ABAG.

On the Council Agenda, Tuesday, January 17, 2023 the City of Piedmont returns to the previously unexamined, controversial legal opinion of the Piedmont City Charter when the City Attorney dismissed the specific language within the Piedmont City Charter of requiring voter approval of proposed zoning changes. Agenda > >council-agenda 1.17.23

 This program requires an amendment to the City’s General Plan and the preparation of a specific plan to accommodate the density and create development standards for the unique site conditions. The required amendments would be reviewed by the City Attorney for conformance with the City Charter and other legal requirements. If it is determined that it is infeasible to develop this site during the planning process, the City will consider utilizing other City-owned properties as alternative sites (see Appendix B).

Funds generated by General Plan Maintenance fee instituted by the City on July 1, 2019 will provide significant funds for General Plan costs – plans and zoning changes. 

Currently, the fee is $0.013 x the construction cost valuation on building permits. The fee  generated $427,000 in FY 21-22 and the City expects a similar amount this fiscal year. The funds must be spent on updates and amendments to the General Plan and other auxiliary  documents (e.g., Climate Action Plan, Zoning Ordinance, Hazard Mitigation Plan, and a  specific plan). The City Council might consider increasing this fee to help cover the rising costs of land use planning.

READ the full staff report in the link below:

Moraga Canyon Plan Consultant 1.17.23

Stay Informed about the Moraga Canyon Specific Plan

After the City adopts a 6th Cycle Housing Element, a key piece of the implementation process will be the creation of a Moraga Canyon Specific Plan. This initiative will study all City-owned land in Moraga Canyon with the goal of creating a detailed plan for how to maintain and improve existing amenities while also incorporating new housing in the area.

The City expects to issue an RFP in late January seeking professional services to lead this process. Stay informed by subscribing to our Moraga Canyon Specific Plan email list.

Dec 15 2022

Adding 587 new housing units –

COMMENT PERIOD IS NOW OPEN UNTIL JANUARY 8, 2023 –

Piedmont officials in the notice below provide no mention of the City Charter requirement for voters to approve zoning changes permitting many of the 587 new housing units necessary for an updated Piedmont General Plan.  Zoning code changes are  required to incorporate the pending Housing Element into the General Plan. The City notes  the necessity of “changes to the land use categories” without mentioning the City Charter requirements.

Since the Housing Element was first considered and subsequently approved by the City Council for state consideration, residents have mentioned numerous concerns regarding the addition of the 587 new housing units.  NOW, until January 8, 2023 is the time to inform the City of Piedmont of any environmental or other concerns you may have.  See below for contact address. If you want your concern or interest to be part of the permanent record, note it in your communication and ask that a copy be sent to the Piedmont City Council.

kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov is noted as the primary contact.

Publicity in the PIEDMONT PLANNING DEPARTMENT NEWSLETTER ,,,,,,,,,12.8.2022

“Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), City staff recently completed an Initial Study for the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element, after receiving direction from the City Council and community feedback regarding the sites inventory in November 2022. The City’s environmental consultants had been waiting for a stable sites inventory to complete a project description and proceed with environmental review.

After conducting the Initial Study, staff determined that the Housing Element alone will have no adverse physical impacts on the environment because the Housing Element is a policy document, and additional implementation steps must be taken before any physical changes can occur. The City has issued a Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration, available here. The Initial Study is published to the City website here and Piedmontishome.org hereThe Initial Study is available in hard copy at Piedmont City Hall and the Montclair Branch Public Library, 1687 Mountain Boulevard, Oakland.

The Initial Study-Negative Declaration public comment period is from December 9, 2022, to January 8, 2023. Public comments can be made in writing to Kevin Jackson, Director of Planning & Building, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611, or via email to kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov

City staff and consultants are also in the process of preparing a programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR), pursuant to CEQA, for the General Plan amendments and changes to the City Code, that are envisioned in the Housing Element. The EIR will be released for public review before the General Plan amendments are adopted by the Piedmont City Council, and before the City prepares the draft changes to the City Code sections. General Plan amendments will include changes to the land use categories in the Piedmont General Plan’s Land Use Element to facilitate the development of 587 new housing units. The EIR will continue to provide the streamlining benefits that prompted the City in 2021 to consider a programmatic EIR. The EIR will study the full build-out of the growth allowed by the General Plan amendments and City Code changes.”

Nov 15 2022

On November 15, 2022 at the Special Council Meeting on the Housing Element, the Council unanimously voted to:

“Approve the attached Resolution authorizing staff to finalize and submit the City of Piedmont’s Sixth Cycle Draft Housing Element to the California Department Of Housing And Community Development For Review.”

 No Council changes were made to the proposal. 

All participants appeared to understand the necessity of moving forward on the Housing Element in meeting the January 31, 2023 deadline and responding to the Housing and Community Development Department.

A number of speakers wanted additional consideration of housing on city property in the center of Piedmont.  Others were supportive of the changes made to the November 15, 2022 proposal.

Interest was expressed regarding evaluating public safety facilities in conjunction with housing in Central Piedmont, recognition of safety issues related to adding housing next to schools in the congested center of Piedmont, need to support recreational spaces given the increase in population, potential of isolating low-income families in Moraga Canyon, and renewed planning study of Central Piedmont.

READ the authorized Housing Element >HERE.

 

Oct 31 2022

If you have not already voted in the November 8th City Council election, here are some of the pressing issues, in random, not priority order, the new City Council majority will be addressing:

  • Adding 587 new dwelling units in Piedmont
  • Following the Piedmont City Charter on voters rights, zoning, budgets, loans, administrative authority
  • Hiring a new City Administrator
  • Completing the Aquatic Center on time and within budget
  • Providing transparent open and available processes by the Council, Committees, and Commissions
  • Adherence to the California Brown Act, sunshine law
  • Encouraging diversity, inclusion and opportunity
  • Protecting Piedmont’s historic architecture and character
  • Supporting Piedmont’s urban forest and sustainability
  • Improving street and sidewalk conditions for vehicles and pedestrians
  • Evaluating utility undergrounding for all of Piedmont
  • Improving Police and Fire Department facilities
  • Providing safety and protection for Piedmonters
  • Controlling costs

READ the candidate’s official statements beside their photographs.

Six candidates are seeking election to three seats on the Piedmont City Council. Voters can vote for up to three of the candidates. The election is on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The candidates are shown below in alphabetical order with their ballot statements copied beside their photographs.

Betsy Andersen

Betsy Smegal Andersen

City Council Member

My education and qualifications are: My priorities on the Piedmont City Council have been community health and safety, financial stability, and strong city-school relations. During my time on Council, we have renovated Hampton Park and the Corey Reich Tennis Center, invested $3.75M for future pension needs, facilitated in-town COVID-19 testing, allocated funds to modernize police and fire dispatch, and maintained a balanced budget. Currently, we are rebuilding the city-owned Piedmont Community Pool, thanks to voter-approved Measure UU. As a lifelong resident, I appreciate the challenges and opportunities as we develop strategies to meet our climate action goals, address the state housing crisis, and replace aging infrastructure. Prior to serving on Council, I volunteered on the Public Safety Committee to promote emergency preparedness and chaired the Recreation Commission with a focus on improving recreational facilities and opportunities for all ages. I attended Piedmont public schools, majored in Public Policy at Duke, earned my law degree from UCLA, and practiced law for nearly two decades. My husband, Robert, and I raised our daughters here, Jane (PHS ’18) and Ellie (PHS ’21). If re-elected, I will continue to listen thoughtfully to all voices as we work together to strengthen the community we call home

Sonny Bostrom-Flemming

 

Nancy “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming

My education and qualifications are: Once upon a time there was a chubby little rich boy who lived in a mansion. He was driven in a limousine to school where he faced name calling, shoving, pinching. His mother sang, taught him piano & knitted him sweaters. He earned two doctorates. One music, one in theology, trained as a Presbyterian minister, married, had two children, four grandchildren, & millions of stepchildren. You might be one of them. His name was Fred Rogers and he lives in your heart. He never forgot the pain he experienced when he was helpless as we all have been or will be. His sweater is at the Smithsonian. My name is Sunny. I ran before. I promoted cameras at Piedmont’s entrances that keep your family & pets safer. My father taught me to swim when I was six months old. When I went to Katrina to help I realized that African-Americans are at a great & deadly disadvantage as far as swimming education is concerned. We can start a program to promote water safety for all children in America, saving thousands of lives. The issues before us are among the most important in our histor

Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long

Appointed City Council Member

My education and qualifications are: I am running for City Council to serve our beautiful community and maintain its greatness as it grows and evolves. With an impending pool build, critical infrastructure repair (and or replacement) and housing development, Piedmont is poised to be a city with the future in mind. In these unprecedented times, our city needs leaders who understand the interests of our citizens to maintain its excellent schools and outstanding public services such as the police and fire department. My perspective as a current member of the council and my direct engagement with the Piedmont community allow me to get to the essence of what is needed to create and maintain a safe, inclusive, and fiscally-sound community. My experience as a current city council member, attorney and life coach provide me with a solid foundation to tackle the matters that lie ahead for Piedmont. Through my work in various community organizations and with my connections to a variety of community members from sports teams to schools, I have a deep understanding of what makes Piedmont the outstanding community we all love and how to make it evolve into a city we will continue to be proud of in the future.

Bridget Harris

Bridget McInerney Harris

Estate Planning Attorney

My  education and qualifications are: I seek election to the City Council to serve the community with a strong commitment to public safety, fiscal discipline, realistic growth and common sense. I believe we can improve our community’s engagement regarding the increased housing requirement imposed by California by introducing more public forums and clear accessible diagrams of what is being discussed and debated. Importantly, I would advocate that all residents should vote before any park or city land is used for multi-family units within the city of Piedmont. Another top priority is public safety with additional support for the police and fire departments; improving both facilities and funding. I would be honored to put my knowledge, work ethic, and love for Piedmont to work as your City Council member. I earned my B.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, my JD from Gonzaga University, and my Taxation LLM from Georgetown University. I have practiced tax law locally for more than 40 years. We have resided in Piedmont since 1986, raising our four children here. I serve on the Executive Boards of the Piedmont Boy Scouts and Order of Malta Clinic in Oakland, a provider of free medical care to uninsured patients in our community.

Tom Ramsey

Tom Ramsey

Architect

My education and qualifications are: Piedmont’s a great town. 25 years ago, my family moved here for the public schools, and now that our daughters graduated PHS, we stayed for the friendships, location, and services delivered by the city. I value safe neighborhoods, and I expect fiscal responsibility. Our town does have work to do. We have a pool to build as construction costs increase. We have public facilities with deferred maintenance issues. We have the difficult task of navigating the state mandates for housing density in a small town already built out and full of beautiful historic homes and civic buildings. I’m an architect, a problem solver and for over 30 years I’ve been building and leading diverse teams around the Bay Area. I’ll leverage my professional experience and my seven years on the planning commission to continue to accommodate growth while preserving Piedmont’s physical character. I’ve served on committees: Seismic Advisory, Design Guidelines, Measure A1 and I’ve worked with Piedmont’s youth through Scouting’s Community Service Crew for over a decade. I’m confident that when our town is fully engaged and works together, we can successfully resolve the issues in front of us; that’s what makes Piedmont a great town. vote4tomramsey.com

Jeanne Solnordal

Jeanne Solnordal

Broker

My education and qualifications are: I am running for the City Council to bring a much-needed perspective and balance to our beautiful city. Many voices are underrepresented, especially those residents who oppose the plan to add 587 units of affordable housing to Piedmont at a cost of around $850,000 per unit. I am well-educated, having earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 1994 after working for the IRS for 18 years. In 1994 I obtained a Broker’s license and established a property management company which I still run. My legal (landlord/tenant) and tax accounting experience will be very helpful to Piedmont going forward. I will work to prioritize the city’s needs and will be fiscally responsible with your hard earned taxpayer dollars. My family has lived in Piedmont since 2002 and our children attended Piedmont schools. I served as a Girl Scout leader, President of Millennium Parents Club, a school volunteer, and assisted in organizing the Spring Flings and Harvest Festival. Currently, I am serving on the Public Safety Committee. Piedmont is a unique and desirable place to live. Let’s keep it that way.

Sep 7 2022

Piedmonters have called for clearer explanations on what is proposed in the Housing Element.  Helpful explanations would include:

  • Specific diagrams of any new and safer roads near schools and in the Morago Canyon Area where housing is proposed, including cost projections for road improvements.
  • The state is looking for zoning changes to increase housing density. How is Piedmont proposing to comply with the City Charter and Piedmont voters rights on zoning changes increasing density?
  • High density housing in Piedmont is being proposed to a height of 6 stories.  This height is greater than existing buildings in Piedmont.  How does this not change the character of the city and stay in  compliance with Piedmont ordinances and design review standards?
  • Currently, a small number of dwelling units are in the Moraga Canyon area. How will services be provided including: transit, pedestrian access, monitoring of low-income and affordable rents, public safety access, etc. –  for the hundreds of new dwelling units proposed? How will the additional workload and costs be covered ?
  • The Housing Element once adopted by the City and the Department of Housing and Community Development becomes a “property use right. “ On city and private property, what are city and voter controls over development and costs after the Housing Element has been adopted by the City Council?
  • The City is not required to build the housing.  However, the use of City land is essential to meeting the large numbers of dwelling units required of the HE.  What right does the City have to participate in leasing, selling, or assisting in the use of public lands per the State Constitution Article 34 and the City Charter without voter approval of the zoning use changes?
  • Commercial developers paired with government money await the opportunity to build in Piedmont as supported locally by influencers in and outside of Piedmont.   What is the schedule to provide  Piedmont voters with their right to vote on the HE zoning changes prior to final adoption?
  • Outreach efforts by Piedmont have been clouded and confused by partial information and changes to the proposed HE.  Why isn’t or wasn’t a mailed survey sent to every residence in Piedmont to learn of voters concerns and interests?
  • What are the requirements for building high density dwelling units in Piedmont, including: height limits, density, street configurations, utilities, public safety, trees, transit, parks, sewers, water, landslides, fire protection, parking, lighting, open space, etc. ?
Jun 3 2022

Is more resident engagement needed for the Housing Element?

Many Piedmont residents do not understand or approve of plans for adding 587 new housing units within Piedmont’s built-out city limits of 1.8 square miles. The Piedmont City Council, unlike other City Councils in the region, has energetically and swiftly pressed to further densify Piedmont and add the 587 new housing units.  

No survey has been mailed to Piedmont residents, the most direct, useful, and inclusive means of gaining resident opinions.

Expensive banners are up throughout the city creating dismay about their meaning:  their grammar; insulting slogans; and seeming downgrading of neighboring communities.  Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on staff, mailers, meetings, banners, postcards, City news releases, consultants, puzzles, preferred interest-group participation,  committee and commission presentations,  fewer than 300 Piedmonters have participated by writing to the City in the process.

 The City printed “Piedmont is home.” postcards for residents, yet sent no questionnaire or survey by direct mail to Piedmont residents to gather their input. Most outreach of the Housing Element draft was conducted during the raging pandemic via the  internet, eliminating many seniors not current with the internet.  A mailed survey would no doubt have produced far greater input.

Wait Until the New Council is Elected in November to Act on the Housing Element

Piedmont is holding its election for 3 Council seats this November, 2022.  Of the three seats, one seat is totally open (Mayor King is termed out of office.), one seat has an incumbent (Councilmember Andersen), and one seat is held by an appointed incumbent (Councilmember Long).  A citizen suggested allowing the Housing Element to be thoroughly aired during the election process and campaigns.  This would conform to state extended deadlines while allowing greater resident participation and understanding of the Housing Element.  The current Council plans are:

“Summer 2022: With the City Council’s consent, submission of Draft Housing Element to the CA Housing and Community Development Department for certification.”

“May 2023: Deadline for adoption of the final draft of the updated Housing Element, date amended due to recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods.”  City publicity.

Summary Information and Question Answers missing from publicity.

Most residents have no idea of how proposed changes will impact Piedmont as a whole or their homes.   Additionally, some input has been ignored by the City. While little direct information is provided to residents, notions abound and concerns persist.

  • Is safety the foundation of all proposals in the Housing Element?

  • Have safety considerations been given for high fire areas, substandard streets, overhead utilities, public safety access, traffic, parking, transit, mud slides, water, sidewalks, city staffing requirements?

  • The City Charter specifically prescribes Piedmont voters have a right to approve zoning changes.  Will the proposals require this to be ultimately taken away from Piedmont voters?

  • What zoning or land use changes are proposed?

  • How much will the expanded staffing and public safety needs cost in taxes or other sources of funding? 

  • Will the proposed changes make Piedmont a less desirable city?

  • Is loss of air and light to be considered with proposed new higher height limits for each garage/ADU living unit?

  • When will the public be allowed to provide input on building proposals in their neighborhood?

  • The Moraga Avenue Corporation Yard was chosen for high-rise buildings. What public transit is available, new streets, new electric signaling, sidewalks, water, sewer, waste?

  • Trees in Piedmont are prized. How does the proposal protect the trees on public and private property?

  • The current pandemic has pointed out the vital need for open space and air for healthy living conditions.  How has this been addressed in the proposal?

 

City News Release below:

DRAFT HOUSING ELEMENT TOWN HALL

The City of Piedmont will host a virtual Town Hall on June 7, 2022, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm to provide an opportunity to learn more about the >Draft Housing Element. [over 600 page document]

This Town Hall will provide an opportunity for community members to pose questions about the Draft Housing Element. Following a short presentation, a panel the City’s team of housing consultants and staff will provide responses to questions submitted by attendees.

The City has received over 275 written comments from community members on the Draft Housing Element via email and the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. Over 50 community members participated at the April 19th Housing Advisory Committee meeting and at the May 12th Planning Commission meeting.

You are welcomed and encouraged to participate using the following formats:

  • Computer or smart phone:

     Click on https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/86477811380

  • Computer or smart phone:

     Click on https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/meeting_videos

  • Telephone:

Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 864-7781-1380

  • Television:

Watch on KCOM, Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T UVerse Channel 99

We look forward to seeing you there!

City news release below:

The City of Piedmont will host a Town Hall on June 7th at 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. to provide an opportunity for Piedmont residents to learn more about the Draft Housing Element. This Town Hall
will provide an opportunity for community members to pose questions about the document.

Following a short presentation addressing some of the issues, a panel  [names not listed] will provide responses to  questions submitted by attendees.

“We have received over 275 written comments from community members on the Draft Housing
Element via email and the Piedmont Puzzle. And have heard from over 50 community members at
the April 19th Housing Advisory Committee meeting and the May 12th Planning Commission
meeting,” said Kevin Jackson, the City’s Director of Planning & Building. “Several of those
comments included questions. We intend to provide answers to those questions and clarity on the
purpose and scope of the Draft Housing Element at this Town Hall Q&A meeting.”

Residents can participate in the Zoom meeting or watch the meeting by tuning to KCOM TV,
Comcast channel 27 or AT&T channel 99.

Housing Element Update Timeline:

June 7, 2022: Virtual Town Hall Q&A Meeting at 6:00 p.m.

June 20, 2022: City Council Consideration of Draft Housing Element.

Summer 2022: With the City Council’s consent, submission of Draft Housing Element to the CA Housing and Community Development Department for certification.

May 2023: Deadline for adoption of the final draft of the updated Housing Element, date amended due to recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods.

Four informational videos about the 2023-2031 Housing Element have been produced by City staff.
Please visit Piedmont’s Youtube channel at
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3RUnN7wcyGgnnjmYmFnXQ

or watch these videos on the homepage of https://piedmontishome.org.

Piedmontishome.org

The City has created a web site, https://piedmontishome.org, which is a one-stop shop for information
on the City’s housing efforts. This site contains information about the 2023-2031 Housing Element
process, as well as other fair housing programs.

Community members are encouraged to review the materials on the site and submit comments,
questions, ideas, and concerns to piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov. This email address will capture
official public correspondence about City of Piedmont housing policy work, including the 2023-2031
Housing Element Update.

2022-05-24 Housing Element Town Hall Meeting

May 19 2022

Unlike other City meetings when broadcasted videos are produced, home/remote viewers will not be able to observe the City Council and Staff as important policy and program issues are considered at the Saturday Budget Session. Interested persons must be physically present to observe the meeting.

Taxes, fees, policies, programs, and priorities involving the City budget are to be presented by staff and considered by the Council during the important Council Budget Session Saturday, May 21.

On Saturday May 21, 2022, Council Budget Session

9:00 am Emergency Operations Center in the Police Department on Highland Avenue

With transparency, equity, and inclusion touted as goals of the Piedmont City Council, accessibility to certain public meetings, including this Budget Session, continue to be difficult or impossible for many individuals. If you can not physically attend the Budget meeting, you will not be able to observe the proceedings remotely via Zoom, computers, or cable television.

During the height of the COVID pandemic, residents had the “luxury”of being able to remotely watch the Council make decisions without being physically present at a meeting.  Some of the “Zoom” meetings, although broadcast during the time of the meeting, were not preserved as a cost cutting measure.   Presentations and considerations were not preserved reducing transparency, accessibility, and accountability.

The 2022-23 Annual Piedmont Budget Session will once more follow the long -held Piedmont Council tradition and not be broadcast for remote viewing. The Saturday Council Budget Session will be moved from City Hall where cameras are installed and videos are regularly made of the proceedings.  The Budget meeting will take place in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Highland Avenue where broadcasting is not done leaving home/remote viewers unable to observe the proceedings.

Ironically, during the month of May, in a prior list of  public meetings, there were 12 public City meetings.  See link below. These 12 different City meetings, Regular Council, Commission, and Committee meetings, are stated to be held either “Virtually or Hybrid”, consequently using City broadcast facilities.  Broadcasting meetings allows  interested persons to watch and observe the Council away from the meetings. The Council Budget Session is the only full Council meeting on the list to require observers physical presence.   

Under consideration and discussion at the Budget Session are:

  • How should the City Council spend City resources?

  • How much should residents be taxed or charged for sewers, municipal services, fees, use of City facilities, priorities,  programs and monetary considerations, such as broadcasting City meetings and preserving public records?

Concerns have been expressed in the past to the City Council regarding broadcasting meetings to encourage greater public access to governance, but the Council’s tradition of not broadcasting meetings remains, thus missing an opportunity to increase access, accountability, transparency, equity, and inclusion.

2022-05 Notice of Regular Meetings – Revised

> City of Piedmont 2022-2023 Budget

Agenda > City Council Agenda 2022-05-21 (Special)

  • 1. Overview of the Proposed FY 2022-23 Budget
  • 2. Review of Departmental Budgets for FY 2022-23
  • a. Police
  • b. Public Works
  • c. Planning & Building
  • d. Recreation
  • e. Fire
  • f. Administration & KCOM
  • g. Non-Departmental and Other Funds Budgets

City notice with links below:

BUDGET WORK SESSION THIS SATURDAY

The Piedmont City Council will consider the proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2022-23 at three separate meetings. A Saturday work session will be held on May 21, 2022 at 9:00 am in the EOC at 403 Highland Avenue. Members of the public are invited to participate in this meeting.

Public hearings regarding the proposed budget and the levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Sewer Tax will be held during regularly scheduled City Council meetings on June 6 and June 20, 2022. The public is invited to attend these meetings and speak to the City Council about spending priorities for the city in the coming year. Click to visit the Annual Budgets page, where all sections of the proposed budget as well as approved budgets from previous years are available for download.

For questions on contents of the budget, please contact Finance Director Michael Szczech via email at mszczech@piedmont.ca.gov or by phone at (510) 420-3045. If you wish to write to the Council regarding the budget, please send an e-mail to the City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or send a letter via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, c/o City Clerk’s Office, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, 94611.

May 19 2022

Most pedestrians and walkers in Piedmont bemoan the numerous cracks and divots in many of Piedmont’s sidewalks.  The City annually budgets for sidewalk repairs.  Piedmont’s handsome street trees are known for their roots to uplift and crack the sidewalks in a seemingly endless cycle of growth and repair.

Staff report:

Piedmont’s sidewalks are increasingly showing their age. For loss prevention purposes, it is essential to repair sidewalks with significant defects soon after they are reported. Prompt repair of defective sidewalk reduces the risk of accidents and the liability associated with injuries that might result thereafter.

Last fiscal year, sidewalk replacement and repair costs totaled $868,905. Through March of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the City has spent $870,000. The approved budget for these costs was $900,000, consisting of $600,000 from the Facilities Maintenance Fund and $300,000 from the Gas Tax Fund.

Staff is requesting an additional appropriation of $300,000 from the General Fund in FY 2021-22 to continue to repair and replace sidewalks that are identified as having significant offsets and defects. We expect sidewalk repair costs to continue near the current level and our long-range financial plan will reflect such costs.

Currently, the system for managing sidewalk maintenance is manual and cumbersome. Staff is working towards the implementation of an asset management software program to track service calls and maintenance history. Once implemented, the tools in this software will allow staff to track service calls and develop recommendations to improve not only for the City’s sidewalk replacement program, but for other types of maintenance as well.

READ the full staff report linked below:

sidewalk repairs 522022

May 9 2022

Special Planning Commission Meeting – Thursday – May 12, 2022

 WHERE ARE 587 NEW HOUSING UNITS GOING TO GO IN PIEDMONT?
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The City of Piedmont is moving ahead with a new Housing Element.    Few Piedmonters have trudged through the almost 400 page Draft Housing Element containing profound suggested changes to Piedmont zoning.  The proposal suggests ending the Piedmont City Charter requirement of Piedmont voter control over zoning.
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Piedmont’s Planning Commission will hold a hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting on May 12, 2022, at 5:30 pm to consider a recommendation on the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element. On April 8, 2022, the City of Piedmont published the Draft Housing Element for public review and comment. The Draft Housing Element is posted to the homepages of the City of Piedmont website and Piedmontishome.org. Other formats are available upon request to the City. 

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Agenda and participation information >Planning 2022-05-12 Special Meeting