Apr 17 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 12 2021

 A Look at the California Electrical Grid Evolution  –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Life cycle cost of batteries.

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

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

Bernard Pech, Piedmont Resident

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

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

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

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

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

Carol Warren, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

A Community Room for Piedmont at 801 Magnolia Avenue?

How should the public 801 building be used? Public or Private purposes?

If I read the tea leaves right, City Council won’t be holding any public hearings on the use of the 801 Magnolia Building. City staff has negotiated the lease renewal behind closed doors and there seems to be a majority on Council that couldn’t be bothered with public input on matters other than the lease.  That’s too bad because over the years residents have proposed creative ideas for 801 and were Council to engage in an open conversation with its constituents it would lead to better use of the building.

So if the West Wing is lost, let’s talk about the East Wing.  It’s a pretty utilitarian space with a series of cubicles left over from its days as a Sunday School Building.  Sort of a conference room with cubby holes.  Others have commented that the East Wing is well-suited for tutoring, historical displays, and other small group activities.   It might hold 20 comfortably around a conference table or more dispersed throughout the room. A that capacity, it is perfect for a community room. Many cities offer such rooms in libraries or municipal buildings at no or little cost to residents and non-profits.  Open the doors to the East Wing and Piedmonters will find a way to use it.

For that to happen, two things need to occur. First, city staff needs to occupy the offices in the West Wing.  Based on my time on Council, staff has every reason to do this – City Hall is packed to the rafters – or more accurately the basement – and staff was always asking for appropriations to rehab the downstairs.   Why do that when there is perfectly good office space in 801?  But more to the point, having the City occupy the West Wing offices would put staff in proximity to an East Wing community room which would enable public use of the room, particularly as a drop-in center.  Staff would be on hand to “chaperon” the space.  In my experience Piedmonters don’t need chaperoning but I suspect this would be required legally. 

Second, the Piedmont Center for the Arts (PCA) needs to agree to City use of the office space.  That may be hard for PCA to do.  The current tenant of the office is an ex-board member of PCA who was given a below-market rent for the space. Abrogating that arrangement could lead to some bad press for PCA.  The proposed lease for 801 currently has PCA retaining control of the office spaces in the West Wing which it will presumably continue to rent to the ex-board member.  Why should PCA be allowed to rent a public space at below market rates while the City charges higher rates to other non-profits?  If PCA does not need the office space for its own programming, then let the City use the space for its needs.

Surveys of the community have consistently shown that residents want more gathering spaces in the civic center area, be it public or commercial space.  The East Wing offers an excellent opportunity to meet this need and Council should consider how use of the West Wing could facilitate operation of a drop-in center in the East Wing.

  Residents with ideas on how the 801 Building should be used should contact City Council at:

citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.gov.

.
Garrett Keating, Former Member Piedmont City Council 
Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Mar 30 2021

The City Council talked to candidates for hours on March 29, 2021, before diligently considering who to appoint to each available position.  The public meeting allowed viewers via Zoom to see the Council struggle amongst the talented group of applicants.  Residents should be pleased by the conscientious selection process. The meeting lasted for four hours, and in the end with one motion a slate was approved unanimously by the Council.  Service on the bodies is for 3 year terms as volunteers.

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee: Robert McBain and Vanessa L. Washington

Civil Service Commission: Laura Isaacs and Michael Reese*

Park Commission:  Amber Brumfiel* and Patty Dunlap*

Public Safety Committee:  Stella Ngai and Jeffrey Horner*

Recreation Commission:  Rebecca Posamentier and Lisa Gardner

CIP Review Committee: Sharon Shoshani

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee: Robert Dickinson

* Incumbent

Mar 28 2021

Open Meeting: Monday, 6 pm March 29, 2021 

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

  AGENDA >  City Council Agenda 2021-03-29 (Special)                * Incumbent

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (2 Vacancies)

6:15 p.m. Vanessa L. Washington

6:20 p.m. Jill Tanner (Also applied for Public Safety)

6:25 p.m. Robert Dickinson (Also applied for Housing Advisory, Planning)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Police & Fire Pension Board)

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Civil Service, Public Safety)

BAFP 2021_Redacted    Applications

Civil Service Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:30 p.m. Amy Kelly

6:35 p.m. Laura Isaacs

Michael Reese* (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Public Safety)

Civil Service 2021_Redacted   Applications

Park Commission (2 Vacancies)

6:40 p.m. Sharon Shoshani

6:45 p.m. Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Recreation)

Amber Brumfiel*

Patty Dunlap*

Park 2021_Redacted Applications

6:50 p.m. BREAK

Public Safety Committee (2 Vacancies)

7:00 p.m. Jamie Totsubo

7:05 p.m. Michael Reese (Also applied for Budget Advisory, Civil Service)

7:10 p.m. Stella Ngai

7:15 p.m. Sara Kaplan

Jeffrey Horner*

Jill Tanner (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Public Safety 2021_Redacted Applications

Recreation Commission (2 Vacancies)

7:20 p.m. Brooke Wall

7:25 p.m. Rebecca Posamentier

7:30 p.m. Mike McConathy

7:35 p.m. Lisa Gardner

7:40 p.m. Caroline Davis

7:45 p.m. Derek Cheung

Jenny Feinberg (Also applied for Park)

Recreation 2021_Redacted  Applications

CIP Review Committee (1 Vacancy) No Applicants

Police & Fire Pension Board & City Investment Subcommittee (1 Vacancy)

Robert McBain (Also applied for Budget Advisory)

Police & Fire Pension 2021_Redacted   Application

Interview Schedule 2021-03-29  <

 

 

Mar 23 2021

PIEDMONT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD MEETING – March 24, 2021

 Update for on campus instruction – Spring and Fall

  • Negotiations continue for Spring on campus instruction.  
  • Fall 2021 – The Board of Education and the Piedmont Unified School District is planning for providing full-time, on-campus instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.  Read the staff report in the link below.

>VII_B_BackgroundOnCampusInstructionSpring2021AndFall2021_0

  • $10,000,000 in School Bonds: The bonds were awarded to the bidder providing the lowest true interest cost (TIC), which represents the interest to be repaid by taxpayers. The bids also include a premium to cover the costs of the sale so that the net amount received by the District is $10 million. Of the seven bids received, Fidelity Capital Markets had the lowest TIC at 2.1268%. The costs of issuance total $146,440, not including the compensation to the underwriters. Costs include fees paid to the bond counsel, financial advisor, rating agency and other miscellaneous costs related to the bond sale. These costs, as well as any underwriting costs or commissions are included in the TIC because they are paid from premium generated when the underwriters sell the bonds to investors. The competitive sale ensures that the bonds were sold at the lowest possible cost.

>VII_A_BackgroundResultsOfSaleSeries2021C

_0VII_A_PresentationPostSaleSummary_0

  • InterDistrict Transfers – Updated 

VIII_A_UpdatedBPAR5117InterDistrictTransferAttendance

  • Theater and STEAM Building Updates

VIII_B_BackgroundSTEAMTheaterGMP_0

  • Agenda and more links > HERE

Mar 21 2021

Piedmonters will get a rare at home view of the all important Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee considerations.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 3:00 p.m.  by Teleconference and Zoom

Taxes, tax measures, the budget and large expenditures are funneled through the Committee.  Historically minutes and video recording have NOT been made of the Committee’s meetings.  Typically, a report has been drafted by the Chair and reviewed by the Committee after a number of meetings.  

The March 23rd agenda includes the Municipal Pool, PERS pension project costs, and the annual budget actuals.

Stay up to date:

  • 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 Committee.

Regular Agenda

  • 1. Update on FY 20-21 General Fund Revenue and Expenditures: Projected Actual vs Budget

  • 2. Presentation of Ten Year Projections of CalPERS Pension Costs

  • 3. Update on Piedmont Community Pool Project and Bond Oversight Committee

Read Agenda and Participation >2021-03-23 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

 To maximize public safety while still maintaining transparency and public access, members of the public can participate in the meeting in several ways:  Computer or smart phone: Click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89251231925  Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 892-5123-1925 To participate in the meeting by providing public comment, members of the public may use the ZOOM platform to make live, verbal public comments. To speak to the Committee click the “Raise Your Hand” button when the item on which you would like to comment is called. If you are connected to the meeting by phone, please dial *9. When it is your turn to speak, the City Clerk will call your name and unmute your line, at which point you will have three minutes to address the Committee. After the allotted time, you will then be re-muted.

Instructions of how to “Raise Your Hand” is available at https://support.zoom.us/hc/enus/articles/205566129%0D-Raise-Hand-In-Webinar

Mar 9 2021

– Student transfers from other School Districts into the Piedmont School District are proposed on a priority basis.   Children of persons working 10 hours or more per week in Piedmont need no longer work for the City or School District and grandchildren of Piedmont residents will continue to be prioritized.

Expanded qualifications for enrollment in Piedmont Schools will be considered on March 10.

Three separate initiatives were discussed during a February 24th School Board meeting in order to help achieve the Board’s goal:

1. PUSD Athletic Coaches: Paid contracted athletic coaches [children] may be eligible for admittance to Piedmont schools based on verification of employment. Does not pertain to volunteer coaches. When a District Coach ceases employment with the District, he/she shall withdraw his/her child from the District no later than the end of the current semester or at the discretion of the Superintendent.

2. Persons Employed Within the City of Piedmont: Limits Children of Persons physically employed at least 10 hours a week within the City of Piedmont limits may be eligible for admittance to Piedmont schools. Proof of employment via a letter on employer’s stationary verifying schedule (hours and days) and location of employment and a copy of a current pay stub must accompany the application. When the person ceases employment within the City of Piedmont limits, he/she shall withdraw his/her child from the District no later than the end of the current semester or at the discretion of the Superintendent.

3. Children of the City of Piedmont Government Employees The District may admit children of City of Piedmont government employees employed at least 10 hours a week. A City government employee is defined as an employee who is on a regularly scheduled City of Piedmont government employee payroll on which appropriate deductions occur. It does not include consultants or contractors for the City of Piedmont.

Read the proposed priorities for admittance in the links below:

IX_B_BackgroundBPAR5117_0

IX_B_UpdatedBPAR5117InterDistrictTransferAttendance_0

To participate in this Agenda item on March 10, 2021, at the 7 pm, Piedmont Unified School District meeting, click the Agenda below:

https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=82620&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

Mar 3 2021

Mayor Teddy King stated under Announcements at the end of the March 1, 2021 Council meeting,  her interest and pursuit of the possibility of converting to housing the defunct EBMUD reservoir at the top of Scenic and Blair Avenues.

Having met with the Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (PREC), who expressed an interest in developing the site for housing, King had requested the Piedmont staff to contact EBMUD to determine if it was a possibility to convert the property to housing.  According to King, EBMUD showed a lack of enthusiasm for converting the site to affordable housing.

King suggested to the City Council that it would likely require the involvement of Piedmont’s elected representatives in the California Assembly and Senate, Buffy Wicks, Assembly and Nancy Skinner, Senate, if the site was to be converted to housing.  King stated her intention of continuing to pursue the conversion of the EBMUD site to housing.

Decades ago, it was determined by EBMUD that the reservoir was not properly constructed to withstand a catastrophic earthquake.  Consequently, the reservoir was fenced off and abandoned as a reservoir.  Mature redwood trees dot the property.  Public access to the area is not allowed.

No discussion or action on the matter was undertaken during the meeting.