Nov 19 2017

The City Council will convene a Special Meeting in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue, which will begin in open session at 5:45 p.m., Monday, November 20, 2017.

  1. At 5:45 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, Interview of Candidates for the Recreation Commission Vacancy to be Followed by Possible Appointment to the Posted Vacancy (Interviews and appointment consideration are open to the public.)
  2.  At 7:00 p.m. Closed Session in the Emergency Operations Center, 403 Highland Avenue for CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATORS (Govt. Code §54957.6) Agency Designated Representative(s): Janae Novotny  (This item is not open to the public.)  All Represented Labor Groups: (Piedmont Firefighters Assn; Piedmont Police Officers Assn; SEIU Local 1021 (General and Public Works Units). Unrepresented Employees: City Administrator; City Clerk; Finance Director; Confidential Employees; Public Works Director; Professional, Technical & Supervisory Employees; Planning Director Parks & Project Manager; Building Official; Police Chief; Police Captain; Police Support Services Commander; Fire Chief; Fire Captains; Recreation Director; Recreation/Childcare Employees)

At 7:30 p.m. – Regular City Council Meeting, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

 AGENDA :  November 20, 2017 < Click for Special & Regular Meeting Agenda – Items are open for public input.

To read the staff reports, click on the underlined reports below:

Private Underground Utility Districts’ Bond Refinancing – 

11/20/17 – 2nd Reading of Ordinance 736 N.S., Authorizing a Refinancing of Limited Obligation Bonds Related to Undergrounding Assessment Districts

Mosquito Abatement District Appointment

Nov 19 2017

On the night of November 8th, I attended the School Board meeting in the City Council Chambers. The School Board met to talk about several topics such as: possible refinancing of Capital Appreciation Bonds; the new instructional calendar; contract openers between the District and Piedmont teachers; and policy concerning the naming of new buildings.

Before addressing the main topics, members from the Board made a few announcements. Sarah Pearson, Board of Education President, spoke about the work that has been done for last years’ issues in the Middle School. She was very proud about the progress that has been made through a history project for all students.

Hillary Cooper, as Co-president of the Piedmont High School Parent Club, shared her appreciation for an article in the student newspaper The Piedmont Highlander <Click to read] about PHS’s new principal Adam Littlefield. The article emphasized the honor and commitment that Mr. Littlefield has expressed in his few months here in Piedmont.

Millenium High School students representative, Joshua Miller, also had some good news, sharing his appreciation for all the money that has been donated to the fire victims through ASB. He also made a few weekly announcements regarding the assemblies and plays.

A few Piedmont High School students also had a chance to speak during the meeting. Senior Kai Zimmer said he was really happy with the schedule, but also shared some concern he heard from other students for the way the schedule is organized during finals. Gigi Gleghorn shared her appreciation towards PHS’s teachers for being helpful towards students working on college applications.

I then spoke to the Board about some concerns I had been hearing from several students about all the textbooks that are required for all students, and questioned when we can find versions of those textbooks online.

Next up, was the refinancing for the Capital Appreciation Bonds (CAB). A presentation about the plan was presented to the Board and kept all the Board Members busy thinking of when it would be better to renew some of the District bonds. The Board finally agreed to continue the recommendation during the next meeting to talk further about the plan.

Once the CAB plan had been considered, the Board addressed the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Instructional Calendar. PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker presented the new calendar, announcing that next year the school year will begin on the third week of August and the Thanksgiving break will go back to lasting one full week. During Thanksgiving week, attendance problems had been noticed. Finals will also be moved from the end of December to before Winter Break.

I was personally really happy to hear about the new calendar that the Board was proposing: I noticed a lot of controversy for Finals scheduled at the end of December. In addition, I have seen how many families in Piedmont take week long vacations during Thanksgiving break which makes them miss two “A” schedule days during that week, increasing the workload once they get back to school.

The next topic was the policy concerning the naming of buildings and other facilities. Michael Brady took the podium, presenting his project to the Board.

As I was heading out of the City Hall, I had a chance to talk to Mr. Brady and ask him a few questions.  First, I wanted to learn what his role was in these meetings. He told me about the school’s project to rebuild some of the building adding new classrooms. Mr. Brady is the bond coordinator for this project and they have already passed a bond to renovate the school. His purpose in this meeting was to notify the School Board on how things are going which he thinks is very helpful since they need to know the policy. The next step, he will take for the next meeting, is to talk about which construction company will help build this project. Mr. Brady was happy to answer my questions and he really helped me understand what his role was in this project.

by Alexander Parisi, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Nov 14 2017

On Wednesday, November 8th, 2017, I attended the School Board meeting of the Piedmont Unified School District.

There were many topics covered the night I attended. The first speaker was Mr. Kessler, a representative of APT (the Association of Piedmont Teachers) from the Middle School, who reported on his success with students with recent lessons on social justice.

Then, Ms. Heather Frank from the Piedmont Education Foundation gave an update on the Giving Campaign and its recent efforts to increase participation in donating.

Following her report, Josh Miller, a student representative from Millennium High School reported on the ASB efforts to raise money and resources for fire victims, as well as other ASB-sanctioned events, such as Spirit Week.

Next up was the “items not on the agenda” portion of the meeting, in which I addressed the Board after also hearing from some fellow  students. With the upcoming renovations to the facilities, I spoke to the Board about the opportunity to provide more food options for students on campus. After informing them that schools like Monte Vista High School provide options such as Subway and Pizza Hut on campus, I explained that this could solve the rampant line-cutting problem at food service. For students who cannot afford off-campus options nearby or want healthier food choices closer to class, this would solve some very important problems, while also teaching planning and budgeting skills.

The Board then heard from a representative of KNN Public Finance and discussed the financing of the District’s budget involving the CABs (Capital Appreciation Bonds). The representative, along with Superintendent Randy Booker, discussed how to successfully renew the bonds that are expiring in 2023. The board has an opportunity to renew some of the District’s bonds now, but some of the School Board members are unsure of what to do.

Mr. Ireland, one of these Board members, worried that if the District renews the CABs now, they will miss out on possible future options. But, Ms. Smegal argued that if they don’t renew now, and interest rates go up, the District could be charged more for the transaction and costs.

Some community members, including Mr. Bill Hosler, who are experts in this field, offered their advice and insight and the Board decided to hold a Special Meeting in early December to discuss this matter further.

After this report, Superintendent Randy Booker spoke to the Board about the new academic calendars that had just been approved by the APT (Association of Piedmont Teachers). The teachers’ union approved two calendars, for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, which will be similar to our current calendar, scheduling finals before the holiday winter break. One change is that the students will have the whole week off for Thanksgiving instead of just three days.

I was happy to hear that finals would continue to be held prior to the break because student surveys have shown that this schedule has resulted in lower stress levels. My experience has been that having to worry about finals during Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s lessens the enjoyment of the holidays for everyone. After listening to Mr. Booker’s report on this topic, I felt that the Board had really made an effort to listen to the students and adjusted the schedule according to our suggestions.

I also spoke with Ms. Heather Frank, the Executive Director of PEF (Piedmont Education Foundation), about the meeting and why she was there. She elaborated on the Giving Campaign, which she had updated the Board on earlier in the meeting, and told me that she attends as many meetings as she can. As an important leader of the fundraising network that supports the District, she said it’s important for her to understand the opportunities and challenges facing our schools so that she can help the community understand the District’s needs.

Frank also enjoyed the meeting and was happy to hear about The Highlander’s endorsement of Principal Littlefield. She said it was good to hear that we have strong leadership at our high school.

Frank went on to say, “A small but important piece of the meeting – and my particular concern – was the approval and adoption of Board Policy 7310 – Naming of Buildings and Facilities. This policy adoption paves the way for the School Board, PUSD administration, PEF and the community to potentially work together on a campaign that will not only raise funds for the schools, but will allow us to honor and recognize Piedmont families that have made a difference through the naming of school buildings. My next step in this area is to meet with PUSD administration to begin planning for a feasibility study for a naming campaign.”

After attending this School Board meeting, I understood firsthand the importance of civilian participation in the government. Without the input of experts such as Mr. Hosler, for example, the Board may have had a much more difficult time deciding how to vote on bond renewal. Or without the student report from Josh Miller, they may feel disconnected and distant from the actual students they are working so hard to support. Ultimately, I feel that the School Board meeting was just one great example of a governmental body working hard to support the broader community.

The Board is the governing body of the School District, which is responsible for the hiring of the Superintendent and for ensuring that he or she carries out the mission of the District. They meet every two weeks, with the exception of special meetings that can be scheduled anytime with the approval of the Board.

by Minnie Cooper, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 23 2017

At the October 25 School Board meeting, consideration will be given to refinancing the Piedmont School Bonds.  The link to the information is HERE.

Read the agenda ITEM VII C  information HERE.

Oct 2 2017

School District Presents Designs for New High School STEAM Building and New Alan Harvey Theater  

Click below to view the design and read the PUSD press release.

Press Release PUSD Presents Designs for PHS and AHT 092917

Sep 29 2017

 Statewide CAASPP Results

Press release from Piedmont Unified School District…..

September 27, 2017 –

On September 27, 2017, the California Department of Education released the 2017 CAASPP Results for districts across the State. The public can access these results at

The CAASPP — the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress – are computer-based assessments in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. The CAASPP replaced the paper-based Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program three years ago. Last spring, Piedmont Students in grades 3–8 and 11 participated in the 2017 CAASPP.

The assessments are “adaptive” in that they take into account the student’s correct or incorrect answers to generate succeeding questions. These assessments move beyond multiple choice, and include performance tasks that require complex written responses. For these reasons, the CAASPP are designed to provide a more complete understanding of student knowledge and critical thinking skills for college and career readiness.

Piedmont students performed superbly. Superintendent Randall Booker commented, “Piedmont’s students perennially demonstrate a remarkable level of academic excellence. I am extremely proud of their efforts, as well as the extraordinary teaching and support found across the District.”

The following charts provide overall CAASPP results for Piedmont Unified as well as other unified school districts that are historically comparable to Piedmont Unified. The values indicate the percentage of test-takers (grades 3-8, 11) who either “met” or “exceeded” the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics.

Like class assignments and report cards, the new assessments are one gauge of student progress, providing information to schools, teachers, and parents about how students perform relative to California’s goals for both learning and college and career readiness. These results will be used as one of several means to determine and meet student needs, and guide discussions among parents and teachers. Also, the scores will be used as a baseline for the progress teachers expect students to make over time.

Unified (K-12) School Districts – English Language Arts & Mathematics

Piedmont Unified ranks #2 in the state of California in the percentage of students who either met or exceeded the standards in English language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics.

Unified School Districts

English Language Arts/Literacy:

Standard Exceeded/Met


Standard Exceeded/Met

Piedmont Unified

86.02% #1 in Northern California (#2 in State)

83.63% #1 in Northern California (#2 in State)

Albany Unified



Arcadia Unified



Berkeley Unified



Dublin Unified



Fremont Unified



Irvine Unified



La Cañada Unified



Laguna Beach Unified



Los Alamitos Unified



Manhattan Beach Unified



Oak Park Unified



Palo Alto Unified



Palos Verdes Unified



Pleasanton Unified



San Marino Unified



San Ramon Unified



South Pasadena Unified



Alameda County






Aug 13 2017

No tax deduction allowed for ratepayers paying for city waste services.

Placing the cost of City Waste Services on private home garbage ratepayer billing rather than using the Piedmont General Fund Budget eliminates the tax deductibility of a legitimate municipal service, which should be covered by the Municipal Services Tax. 

How much municipal cost for waste services will be shifted from the city budget to individual residents’ in their required monthly waste removal charges? The recently received Republic Services bid provides no breakout of the cost of providing the city service that is billed to ratepayers.

Questions have also been raised about the ratepayer fees for City services without a benefit to the individual ratepayer, which may be considered an unauthorized required tax.  

Simultaneously, the City Council is moving ahead on considering a change to the City Charter to allow the city to accumulate more than the Charter prescribed maximum reserve of 25% of the annual budget. The city has been experiencing unprecedented increases in excess revenues which have been placed into various city reserve funds. Rather than using existing money for ongoing municipal services, such as city waste removal or the greatly needed pavement of substandard or damaged sidewalks, the city continues to ask for more funding from Piedmonters.

The voter enacted Piedmont City Charter states:

“The Council shall establish a fund known as the General Fund Reserve in an amount not to exceed twenty-five (25%) of the budget for the purpose of maintaining municipal services during periods of reduced revenues to the City, as well as meeting unforeseen contingencies and emergencies of the City.”

Council Moves Forward to Contract with Sole Source Bidder – 

On July 17th, the Piedmont City Council accepted the proposal submitted by Republic Services for waste collection services beginning on July 1, 2018, notably imposing huge rate increases particularly for backyard services and no rate break for seniors or the disabled.

Numerous residents have expressed dismay and shock at the cost of procuring only one bidder and the expensive end result.  It is not unusual for sole source procurement to result in unacceptably high costs. No breakout of the cost to go 30 feet into a backyard versus 100 feet or up many steep steps was offered.

Piedmont resident Alan Kong recommended “a re-procurement … with a non-responsive” penalty or  “a more stringent annual renewal cap.”

Despite the long lead time, a new less complex RFP for Piedmont property owners will not be sent out in an attempt to acquire waste removal charges in line with other communities. Detailed contract negotiations will proceed on the basis of the lone bid by Republic Services.

Concerns over the huge increase in rates for garbage collection have produced suggestions from a range of individuals.

“From what I have read in Mr. Benoit’s report may be indicative of inappropriate discussions by the proposers. In some industries such as sanitation/waste disposal, where there is limited to no competition, the eligible participants will divide territories/cities. Periodically these territories/cities will be redistributed in an RFP re-bid process. It seems odd that 2 proposers declined to bid altogether while of the remaining 2 proposers (Waste Management and Republic), there was a formal “no bid” citing safety. 

“Perhaps a re-procurement should be enacted with a qualifier that a non-responsive proposal will penalize/disqualify that party from future contract award considerations. Or implement a more stringent annual renewal cap (no greater than a legitimate index + X%, annually…and tie the contractor into a 5-10 year term contract with a stringent termination clause).

“However this is resolved, the seemingly damaged party will be the residents of the City of Piedmont. There are easy answers to this situation.” Alan Kong


“What the City has left out in its online explanation of the process and in response to Mike Rancer’s thoughtful comment, is that Waste Management, which services many Oakland streets right next to Piedmont, wanted to use a different type of cart that matched to a lift on the trucks which would reduce their concern about worker injury. Piedmont did not want to investigate this thinking backyard service would not be possible. The Jan. 17 2017 staff report included my letter and research material; that material has Oakland provider Waste Management’s rate sheet which clearly shows Waste Management providing both curbside and backyard service.”  Rick Schiller


“Are the City’s requirements asking for something that is far too expensive? Maybe relaxing some of the requirements would result in lower prices, and more competitors for the contract.”  Bruce Joffe


“Maybe the problem is that Piedmont is too small to generate competitive bids or economies of scale. Given that Piedmont is completely surrounded by Oakland, and many of our streets cross the boundary into Oakland, has the city considered talking to Oakland about joining their contract and consolidating services to improve efficiency and lower our cost? It would be the height of negligence if our City Council simply rolled over and accepted this non-competitive bid. ”  Michael Rancer


“Those are enormous rate increases – did Republic provide a quantifiable basis? They admitted they blew the last bid – you have to wonder how good this estimate is. And their flat rate for backyard makes no sense – all Piedmont backyards are not created equal. Staff’s formula may have been too complex for Republic, so make it simple – scale backyard service to lot size.

“Bad month for ratepayers – sewer, garbage and water rates all go up.”  Garrett Keating


“Rick Schiller is to be commended for the extensive research and persuasive recommendations that he made.

“I hope that the shocked ratepayers will remember this when City Council election time comes around again. As a reminder: “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?”

“Politics tends to be forgotten. Writing those quarterly checks is the “gift” that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. ” Jim McCrea


“July 14, 2017
Piedmont City Council
c/o John Tulloch, City Clerk

July 17 Agenda: New Republic Services refuse contract.

Dear Mayor Wieler and Council,
It is what it is: one bid from Republic Services. Regrettably the preliminary cost estimates are for substantial increases of 60% for curbside service and 120% for backyard service. Considering the considerable increases, it is most unfortunate there will be no accommodation for seniors over 70. Staff indicated such an accommodation leaves the City vulnerable to legal challenge yet, perplexingly, this specific accommodation is common elsewhere and has not been legally challenged.

The Staff Report states “backyard service would be available to disabled residents at curbsides rates.” What is the mechanism for disabled qualification?
Mr. Benoit indicated, when we spoke at the Linda Triangle opening, that the new contract would include unlimited curbside green waste. This is most appropriate in lush, expansive Piedmont with its many large lots. Unlimited curbside recycling also seems appropriate and is in harmony with Piedmont’s embrace of ecological concerns.”   
Rick Schiller


“I find it odd and inconsistent that Piedmont finds a senior exemption of backyard service at curbside rates contrary to State law as many Municipalities have this exemption. In Marin County Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Homestead, Marin County, Mill Valley, Strawberry and Tiburon provide exemptions for backyard service at curbside rates for (1) any age 70 Senior on signature alone that requests the service and (2) any disabled person with a doctor’s letter. The City of Berkeley has the same two exemptions and lowers the qualifying age to 62 and does not require a doctor’s letter for the handicapped exemption (form and code attached). City of Albany has both a disability exemption and an age 62 low-income discount exemption (see attached p 7). Santa Clarita has an age 60 low-income discount exemption (see attached p 7). No doubt there are many more California cities with an age based senior exemption of backyard service at curbside rates.”  Rick Schiller


“I think that there should be a provision that someone at age 75 (or pick a comparable age) or older should automatically be entitled to backyard collection at curbside rates. Will some noses get out of joint if they are thought to be “too old” to haul the cans to and from the curb and they don’t feel that way? If so, let THEM opt out of the reduced rates. “ Jim McCrea


“I have not followed the Piedmont waste issue closely, but I did have a caution that may be useful. The City of Oakland spent a great deal on staff, consultants and public time to craft a detailed and specific RFP that outlined a great number of demands and requirements. Unfortunately, their efforts were rewarded with only one responsive bid from their current provider, Waste Management. This caused no end of trouble for the city ending up with recirculation of the EGO, eventual litigation and very increased rates. The 2016 Grand Jury report covers this problem pretty well. Piedmont should not repeat Oakland’s path on this. Also, collusion between garbage companies is not unknown. ”  Michael Henn


“Good news- the proposed contract has significant reductions in service levels in that unlimited recycling/composting and individual curbside pick-ups are eliminated from the contract which should lower rates. These services were likely the reason rates were increased so much in the last contract so their elimination now should lead to lower rates. Likewise, the scalable backyard service formula should result in a more accurate (and higher) rate for this service, again leading to a rate reduction for curbside service, the majority of Piedmont’s service.

“Bad news – for recycling, this contract is a serious step backwards. Specifically, the contract calls for a 60% diversion rate, a rate the city had already achieved before the advent of the cart system 10 years ago. And it ignores the 75% diversion rate that council set by resolution – the stretch goal for this contract is 70% by 2028. Many other east bay cities are achieving 75 % and our city has routinely been above 70%. Staff assumes that with the reduction in unlimited recycling, green waste will go to the landfill instead and result in an underestimate of our true diversion rate – this happened in the past. But it won’t now – Alameda County has banned the dumping of green waste in land fills and green waste is now properly sorted and credited. The contract should at least adjust the diversion targets to 65, 70, and 75% at a minimum to maintain the current level of recycling in town. To do the right thing, the contract should set the target at 75% as directed by Resolution 38-08.

“General Plan Goals and Policies: the staff report lists the numerous goals and policies this contract addresses (wish that had been done with chapter 17 revisions) but many are really not related to this service contract. To make true headway with our Climate Action Plan, this contract should require the use of biodiesel vehicles – this is likely the largest source of truck traffic GHG emission generated by the city and the city could achieve major reduction by mandating this in the contract.”  Garrett Keating


“May I suggest that a requirement be included that the carts be placed back on the curbs after emptying. When the carts are left in the street, as they usually are, they occupy parking spaces where parking is very limited to begin with. I asked the company to include this in its instructions to its drivers, but compliance lasted approximately one week. This is a minor irritation but an irritation nonetheless.”  Susan McCreary

Read prior PCA article HERE.

Read City web page on waste services HERE.

Jul 22 2017


Backyard service proposal leaps from $61.08 to $131.43 per month.

While Piedmonters have complained that the current rates for waste collection are too high, Republic Services, Piedmont’s current collector, was the only bidder offering to provide service to Piedmont under a new contract.

The City Council hired a special consultant, Garth Schultz of R3 Consulting, to advise on the expiring contract with Republic, but only Republic responded with a bid.

In the most extensive public outreach seen in years, backyard service was repeatedly pointed out to be a desired service by many Piedmonters.

Piedmont with its significant population of senior residents, lugging carts back and forth to the curb presents issues.  The proposed new contract will increase the costs for “backyard” service from the current $61.08 to $131.43 per month. Curbside rates will go from $55.11 per month to $88.65 per month.

Republic Services rejected the City’s RFP request for variable backyard rates.  Republic would only consider an additional flat fee for backyard pickup rejecting the notion of individual rates for each home based on distance, terrain, etc. for backyard service. 

Reduced rates for seniors or the “handicapped” needing backyard service is not part of the proposed contract unless they qualify under unspecified rules. (See p3 of the staff report linked below.)

Resident Rick Schiller “asked Council by email and the City what is the qualification for the handicapped discount and received no reply (see my Jul 14 letter which I posted in comments). ”

Schiller further states: “Early in the process, I gave the City a list of many regional cities that have this discount, including nine in Marin County. The City’s own consultant on this, Garth Schultz, was quizzed on this by Tim Rood and Garth commented that I was correct and such a discount is common.  The City told me such a discount is not legally allowed which is odd when it is “common” and has never been legally challenged elsewhere.”

All Piedmont property owners are required by law to pay for waste services with the contracted service provider.  Ratepayers through their service charges will be paying for the waste service for all Piedmont public schools, all City buildings, various authorized special events, all municipal waste in parks and the corporation yard, plus all sidewalk bins.

According to the City’s Request for Proposals, part of the ratepayers fees will be returned to the City for the following City benefits:

  • Reimbursement for the Procurement Process
  • Transition Payment
  • Franchise Fee
  • Annual Service Rate Adjustment payment
  • Performance Review Payment

Under the proposed new contract Republic will be required to expend $75,000 per year to educate Piedmonters on how to properly dispose of and limit their waste.

Bulk pick ups will be allowed to increase in volume and multi-family dwellings will be newly allowed bulk pick ups. There will be no charge for any recycling waste cans.

Most Council members seemed unimpressed by the increase in the rates being charged.  One justified the increase because Piedmonters were stated to be currently receiving a bargain for service.  Looking for ways to eliminate the use of the diesel fuel used to power waste trucks, one Council member expressed concern; however, the Council was told refueling stations in the area for other fuels were not available.

In  the fall of 2016, resident Rick Schiller commented to the Council:

“In early 2015, I did a rudimentary survey of weekly garbage service cost in surrounding cities. At that time the Alameda three full size bin weekly service was $36.07 monthly. Berkeley’s was $35.93. The Chronicle reported the 3 bin weekly Oakland service as $36.82 monthly. However, a friend living in the windy, hilly streets of Montclair put her service cost closer to $30 monthly. In contrast the current Piedmont charge is about 80% higher. In the past service providers have taken advantage of Piedmont’s lax contract procedures and the false belief that all residents had no financial concerns. I urge you to control the garbage service costs.”

To read other regional comparison rates provided by Schiller, click here.

The matter will be continued to a future meeting following the City’s “consultant’s” attempts to further negotiate with Republic Services on a new contract.

Read the staff report here.

Readers may send comments to the City Council, as follows:

Jeff Wieler, Mayor  (510) 428-1648

Robert McBain, Vice Mayor  (510) 547-0597

Jennifer Cavenaugh  (510) 428-1442

Teddy Gray King  (510) 450-0890

Tim Rood  (510) 239-7663

Or to:

To send via U.S. Mail, please use the following address:

City Council
City of Piedmont
120 Vista Avenue
Piedmont, CA 94611

*Article updated July 23.

Jul 17 2017

Recreation Commission Agenda Wednesday, July 19, 2017 7:30 p.m. City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

Call to Order Public Forum: This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Commission.

Regular Agenda

1. Welcome

2. Approval of Minutes – May 17, 2017 and June 21, 2017

3. Chair’s Report

4. Aquatics Coordinator Transition Plan

5. Update on PRD Adult Programming

6. Updates on Facility Master Planning Projects

  • Aquatics
  • Recreation Department/Veteran’s Hall
  • Linda Beach Playfield
  • Coaches Field

Announcements, old business

This meeting can be viewed on Cable Channel 27 or on the City of Piedmont website.


Jul 1 2017
In case you missed it, there was an interesting pair of front-page headlines in last week’s Piedmonter. City Council: “Budget OK’d; municipal sewer taxes rising in July.” Education: “District withholds teacher raises.” Let that sink in for a minute and then ask yourself – which would you choose, paying more for sewers or paying teachers what they are owed? To answer that, you need to know a little about Piedmont’s sewers and a little about the teacher retirement fund.
Like Piedmont overall, our sewers are the best in the East Bay. That was not true 20 years ago but after EPA made all East Bay cities replace their old lines, Piedmont increased the Sewer Tax and every few years replaces sections around town – this summer’s work will take the city to 80% completion, 8 years ahead of schedule. The Sewer Tax increase amounts to about $25 per parcel and raises an additional $60,000 to bring annual sewer revenue to $2.4M. Piedmonters rejected a 50% increase in the Sewer Tax a few years ago, and it’s a good thing they did – the need was not there.
The need is there for the School District. At a recent School Board meeting, the business official said that District teachers will not get their 2017-2018 salary increases in order to maintain educational programming. The reason – school districts must increase their annual contributions to the underfunded employee pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS). The state has mandated these annual increases from the districts going forward and they represent a real problem for maintaining the School District’s current programming – read Rick Rausenbush’s assessment at to see how bad it could get for the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD.)
So back to the question, sewers or schools? That seems like a no-brainer given the condition of our sewer system and the PUSD projected deficits but it’s not that simple. City revenues and School revenues are two different pots of money and they don’t share. That’s too bad because the mantra of any resident, new or old, is that they came to Piedmont for the schools and stayed for the community. With the robust housing market, the City’s revenues are at all time-highs, thanks to the home sale transfer tax and property reassessments. In addition, the City benefits from state revenue increases more than PUSD – the new gas tax will increase City funds for street paving (TBD) and permanent funding increases to state public safety funds will bring $100K to Piedmont. As a result, the City has added two positions and is giving out 2% raises. The picture is not so rosy for the School District – the school has cut positions and programming and, according to the Superintendent, more cuts may be needed. For more details, see city and school budgets at (City) and (School.)
Another way to understand this funding disconnect is to look at how the City and School District maintain required annual reserves. Each is required to maintain reserves as part of their budget – for the City, it is up to 25% of the General Fund, for the School District, minimum 3%. For the past several years, the City has met this cap by transferring over $1M in General Funds to special accounts – this year $800,000 to Facilities Maintenance, $400,000 to Equipment Replacement. For the School District it is just the opposite – the school budget had to be reduced by over $400,000 this year in order to meet their reserve requirements.
The Piedmont City Clerk recently proposed removing the 25% cap written into the City Charter so even more reserves could be held by the City. Instead, Council directed staff to undertake a review of the City Charter and address the 25% cap and other ambiguous Charter provisions. Perhaps there can be new Charter provisions so the City and School District can “share the wealth” so to speak. Such language won’t be forth coming from City Hall so residents should weigh in when this City Charter review comes to Council.
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Council Member
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.