Oct 8 2020
“There are three good reasons to vote No on  Measure UU Pool Bonds.”
I sincerely thought Piedmont learned a valuable lesson after the Hills Under-grounding debacle and the famous and equally outrageous Blair Park proposal that was thankfully averted due to its handful of determined and fiscally responsible citizens.
Based on the estimates of a half baked design can be categorized as oversized, under-budgeted, and perhaps, can also be described as a trivial issue given the current needs of Piedmont to improve its police, fire and government buildings, combat climate change, improve roads and public transportation systems, etc., etc.
Lastly, I hear the proponents claim it is cheap money so lets go ahead and spend it. There is no such thing as cheap money; money is only cheap when you spend others money and not yours.  Given the current use, money would be spent most wisely if the existing pool is renovated at a fraction of the proposed $19.5 million aquatics facility by competent people to continue to serve those who use the pool and perhaps limit its use only to the residents of Piedmont.
PHS and private swim teams, middle and high school PE class, adaptive PE, the PHS water polo teams, adult fitness swimmers, and senior water aerobics do not need a new aquatics facility that costs $19.5 million, it needs a well maintained and managed functioning pool.
Please reject Measure UU by voting No on UU.
Sinan Sabuncuoglu
Architect and Piedmont Resident for over 35 years
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 7 2020

        It is long past time for Piedmont to rebuild our one and only community pool.

Current residents of Piedmont have benefitted from the generosity of prior residents who built, paid for, and in many cases donated our buildings, parks, playfields and of course, the pool.  Their generosity toward future generations has allowed us, as taxpayers, to focus our collective resources on our excellent public schools.

It is now our turn to step up to rebuild our failing infrastructure. The two measures on the ballot in November are about repairing and replacing what is broken. Measure UU will allow Piedmont to issue, for the first time ever, municipal bonds to rebuild the failing 56-year-old Piedmont Pool.  Municipal bonds are like a 30-year fixed-rate community mortgage, repaid through property tax assessments.  Measure TT will align the real property transfer tax – only paid when a home is bought or sold – to match those of Berkeley and Oakland, and use the funds to repair and maintain our city facilities and failing roads and sidewalks.

To us, six former Piedmont Mayors, the focus on long-term planning is a sign of pragmatic and strategic thinking.  The current City Council unanimously placed Measures UU and TT on the ballot because our failing infrastructure can’t wait.  Spending more to repair a crumbling pool facility makes no fiscal sense. Borrowing money at low interest rates to rebuild a necessary civic asset is the prudent decision.

Soon the City Council will be forced to make the decision that no one wants to make: to permanently close the Piedmont Pool. If Measure UU does not pass, Piedmont will then fail to provide a basic public amenity that every other city in Alameda County provides to its residents. Whether you swim or not, the lack of a municipal pool would be a profound loss for our community and our schools.

Please join us in supporting the future of Piedmont and voting yes on Measures UU and TT.

Dean Barbieri

Michael Bruck

John Chiang

Abe Friedman

Susan Hill

Valerie Matzger

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Oct 7 2020

No Consumer Ever Got a “Prop. 13 Discount”

Since Prop. 13 was passed in 1978, the taxable value of California business property has increased no more than 2% per year regardless of its market value, unless there is a change in ownership.  Owners of such properties have used various legal mechanisms to avoid a change in ownership.  These owners, whether operating a business or renting property to others, pay far less property tax than competing businesses that acquired property more recently.

Prices and rents, however, are set by markets.  Consumers and renters don’t get a “Prop. 13 discount” that reflects the property owner’s low property tax; the property owner just pockets those savings while the rest of us pay not only the market price, but also more in all kinds of taxes to make up for the lost business property tax revenue.

Prop. 15, on the November ballot, will fix this situation by allowing the taxable value of business properties worth more than $3 million to gradually rise to market value.  Opponents claim that Prop. 15 will cause prices and rents to rise as property owners try to pass along the increased property tax.  That’s extremely unlikely—if those property owners could charge more, they already would be.

Please vote in favor of Prop. 15 to require all businesses to pay their fair share and fund our schools.

Richard W. Raushenbush, Former School Board Member

Oct 5 2020
I oppose Measure TT, the thirty-five percent increase in the Real Property Transfer Tax (“RPTT”), as  Measure TT is fundamentally flawed.
Proponents claim the city faces a “maintenance deficit” and this is based on the city’s assumption that RPTT revenue will remain flat at $2.8M for the next 10 years.  The data reveals that over the past 10 years the tax revenue has already averaged $3.3M annually. A conservative projection shows by 2030 the RPTT will be $4.4M. Despite  expected volatility Piedmont’s RPTT revenue will continue to grow because of rising Piedmont home prices, consistent sales volume and macro-economic forces.
Measure TT is proposed as needed for facility maintenance and repair; the text of Measure TT allows taxpayer dollars to be used for any City service. If a tax is needed for facilities, then it should be written that way. Further, Piedmonters are already taxed at high levels by our City services and sewer taxes.  Additionally, our School tax is the highest in the State and School bonds are at the maximum legal limit. Our total City and School financial burden is at the highest State wide level. Keeping City taxes at a reasonable level allows more generous volunteer contributions to our Schools which makes future school tax increases unnecessary and supports the many retired seniors on fixed incomes.
All City long-term needs including sewer replacement, equipment replacement and pension obligations are stable.  Plainly at this time, there is no reason to permanently raise the transfer tax.
Vote no on Measure TT.
Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 5 2020
Supporting Measure UU seems like a “mom and apple pie” decision, but according to the most recent Budget Advisory Committee report the City has an additional $52 Million in capital needs for which there is no plan. Importantly, the list includes seismic retrofitting of our police, fire and Veterans buildings.
When people are asked why they choose to live in Piedmont, public safety services are high on the list.  It appears that the pool bonds are being proposed without reference to the larger context of all needed capital projects. Why has the pool been given the highest priority?  Why has there apparently not been a systematic prioritization among all capital needs?
If the pool bonds are issued, will that minimize the City’s ability to obtain additional financing for these other important needs? Might the pool bonds make residents less likely to approve another bond?
With Piedmont being among the most highly taxed of comparable cities, we cannot assume that Piedmont’s residents could afford still another bond or that the City could take on additional debt while retaining its credit rating.  The City’s Q and A’s on Measure UU makes no mention of this context.
Kathleen Quenneville, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 5 2020

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont Board, composed of both Piedmonters and non-Piedmonters, voted to endorse Piedmont’s Measures TT and UU.  The Piedmont League, a non-partisan political organization, supported the measures without hearing from both proponents and opponents.  The League’s Board has sole authority on endorsing Piedmont ballot measures.  The League’s general membership is not involved in the endorsement of ballot measures.  


The press release linked below was prepared by the Piedmont League of Women Voters on their Pros and Cons of Measures TT (Tax increase on property sales) and UU (Pool bonds for new municipal pools). 

Pros and Cons TT and UU 2020

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont.
Oct 4 2020

“It’s legal theft of your equity.”

East Bay Times October 2, 2020

The following submitted article was in the East Bay Times newspaper.

Read the whole article here. or below.

Editorial: Don’t let these Bay Area cities take more of your home equity

Sep 29 2020

The following information from the City of Piedmont website was submitted by Measure UU Pool Bond supporters. 


Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding Measure UU, which, if approved, would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to replace the Piedmont Community Pool.

1. The City proposes to issue $19.5 Million in bonds. What is the actual expected borrowing interest rate assuming the bond passes this year? 

Municipal bonds can be issued in stages as the funds are needed, and the applicable interest rate is determined at the time the bonds are issued.  As a frame of reference, the interest rate as of September 16, 2020 is 2.8%.

2. What is the City’s current total outstanding general obligation debt?

The City currently has no outstanding general obligation debt.

3. What is the term of the bond repayment?

Measure UU provides that the term of the bond repayment is 30 years with a fixed interest rate.

4. How long will the tax be imposed on properties, and will the amount of the tax ever decrease?

Measure UU, if adopted, would impose a tax on properties for 30 years.  In the event our property tax roll increases at 3.5% per year (10 year average is ~4.5%), the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value will drop from $0.26 (if all bonds are issued) to approximately $0.10 in thirty years. The total tax assessed would still be the same, but redistributed based on the individual property assessment.

5. How can a property owner ascertain the assessed value of property?

Each year, the Alameda County Assessor’s Office notifies all property owners of the property’s annual assessed value. This number can also be found on a property owner’s property tax bill. Residents can ascertain the assessed value of their home on the Alameda County Assessor’s web site

6. How does Measure UU impact the City’s General Fund?

Measure UU does not have an impact on the City’s General Fund.

7. What is the proposed concept for replacing the existing pool?

In the event Measure UU is adopted, the exact design of the pool facility will be finalized through a public process. The current proposed concept to replace the existing pool is the establishment of two pools: (1) a warmer, shallower recreation pool with areas for safe water play, swim lessons, therapeutic swim, and physical rehabilitation, and (2) a wider and deeper pool for recreation, physical education, water aerobics, water polo, swim team, and lap swimming.  Each pool would be larger than the current “medium” and “big” pools.

8. What are the estimated costs of the project compared to bond revenues and what steps will the City take to limit project costs to available bond revenues?

The measure would authorize the City to issue bonds with a principal value that does not exceed $19.5 million. In the event the City receives an AA+ bond rating, it is conceivable the bonds would be sold at a premium and Measure UU would provide revenues in excess of the face value of the bonds. The City determined that the $19.5 million figure was appropriate based on rough “hard cost” estimates as follows: $8 million for the two pools to replace the current “medium” and “big” pools, $3.5 million for site preparation, and $6 million for a building to house the pool equipment, restrooms, offices, and community space.  If necessary, the concept can be value-engineered during final design development to meet the budget parameters.

9. Can the City repair the existing pool?

The City has determined that repairing the existing pool is not a feasible option.  The City has been continuously repairing the existing pool since it took over operations in 2011. The repairs required to keep the facility safe and operational have become increasingly expensive every year, and the facility is now at the point where pool decks need to be removed in order to address structural issues. A renovation of the existing facility would require not only major structural repair and equipment replacement, but would also trigger significant site work required to meet current health, safety, and accessibility regulations.

10. What oversight is in place to ensure that the bond funds are used properly?

Measure UU provides that a bond oversight committee be appointed to make sure the bonds are issued and spent in accordance with the terms of Measure UU. As with any project, staff and the City Council will also work to ensure proper use of public funds. The project will also be subject to the City’s project risk management policy.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the City of Piedmont and Measure UU supporters.
Sep 28 2020

Read detailed information and watch a short video for School Board Candidate Hari Titan by clicking below.

> Hari Titan for School Board 2020 | Community Digital Town Hall

Hari Titan Piedmont School Board Candidate

Sep 26 2020


In 2011, the Piedmont Center for the Arts, Inc. (PCA), formed by Piedmont volunteers, proposed to host community art events in an unused City building at 801 Magnolia Avenue. The City of Piedmont supported that mission, subsidizing PCA with a 10-year lease at $1/year in exchange for PCA performing some renovation work and to further community use of the building. PCA has managed the West Wing of 801 Magnolia for the last nine years, renting it out for various arts-related events.

[Editors Note:  Since 1986, the Piedmont Civic Association has been known as PCA.   The PCA references in this article refer to the Piedmont Center for the Arts.  The two organizations are separate.]

PCA now is seeking a 10-year extension of its lease, even though the lease does not expire until June 3, 2021. While PCA has performed a public service by hosting art events, before any lease renewal, the City needs to take time to carefully assess its own needs for building space, the extent of the City’s subsidy to PCA and whether that subsidy efficiently supports arts in Piedmont, and whether community uses of 801 Magnolia should be limited solely to arts.

The City should consider, based on input from its departments and the public, the following:

(1) Will the City need the 801 Magnolia space to facilitate any infrastructure improvements, including relocation of services?  Numerous City buildings require renovation or reconstruction, and services will need to be relocated. Is 801 Magnolia Ave. one potential location? Given that PCA’s lease already runs to June 2021, there is time to figure this out.

(2) Does the City need additional space to provide services regardless of infrastructure improvements? Would the City offer more programs if it had available space?

(3) Given the City’s need for revenue to fill a hole in maintenance funding, the City or a Committee should consider at least: (a) what is the market rental value of 801 Magnolia, as the City changed the zoning code to allow for-profit entities in City-owned buildings; and (b) what revenue could the City earn if it rented out the facility for events when not needed for City use, perhaps subsidizing arts and other community events with lower rental rates? The
differential between such revenue and PCA’s rent (currently $1/year) is the City subsidy to PCA.

(4) If the facility is to be leased to a third party, for what purposes and on what terms?  In 2011, the City Council provided the building rent-free so that, as the Lease says: ““Tenant will use the Premises for the purpose of operating a venue for exhibits, performances, concerts, and other similar events or activities for the benefit of the local community.”  PCA, however, has limited such uses to “arts-related” events. Review of pre-pandemic event calendars on the PCA website shows the space is used quite a bit, but there also are a considerable number of open days and hours within days. Whether there are Piedmont residents (or even City departments) who would like to use the facility on those days, or during those hours, for non-arts-related events is not known. Thus far, the City has not sought public comment on expanding use of 801 Magnolia.

(5) The City Council should be fully informed about not only the extent of the City’s subsidy of PCA (the differential between market rent and PCA’s rent), but also whether PCA is passing such savings along to the persons and groups presenting events at 801 Magnolia. PCA does not post the hourly rental rates it charges to hold an event at 801 Magnolia. If the City’s intent is to subsidize community uses of 801 Magnolia, then PCA’s revenues should roughly equal the cost of operating the facility. Even then, the City should consider whether its own staff, who already manage rentals of other City facilities such as Community Hall, could manage 801 Magnolia at less cost. If the City wishes to obtain revenue from renting 801 Magnolia at a rate greater than its operating costs, it again may sense for City staff to handle facility rentals.

Notwithstanding the City’s need to fund significant infrastructure improvements, the City Council may decide that it wishes to continue to subsidize arts in Piedmont. If so, however, I hope the City will seek and consider public input on how best to support arts and other community events in Piedmont.

Rick Raushenbush, Former School Board Member

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.