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.

Feb 23 2021

Do you have the time and interest in volunteering for the City of Piedmont ?

Deadline: Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The City of Piedmont is looking for a few talented volunteers for vacancies on commissions and committees. Interested residents may view [also linked below] the Commission Description of Duties, download the Application for Appointive Vacancy, and/or apply online on the City’s web site at https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/. 

Applications are due to City Hall on or before the deadline of Wednesday, March 17th.

Interviews with the City Council for these positions will be scheduled for the evenings of Monday, March 22nd and Monday, March 29th. Applicants will be notified of their interview date after the application period closes. No appointments will be made without a Council interview.  All interviews will be virtual. 

The vacancies are as follows:

Commission / Committee No. of
Vacancies
No. of Incumbents
Eligible for Reappointment
Budget Advisory and Financial
Planning Committee
 2 1
CIP Review Committee 1 0
Civil Service Committee 2 1
Housing Advisory Committee 4 or 6 0
Park Commission 2 2
Planning Commission 2 2
Police & Fire Pension Board &
City Investment Subcommittee
1 1
Public Safety Committee 2 1
Recreation Commission 2 0

Commission and Committee Descriptions of Duties 2021-02-17

Commission and Committee Fillable Application 2021

Notice and Procedural Details of Appointive Vacancies 2021

Residents with questions are invited to contact the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

2021-02-23 Volunteers for Commissions-Committees

Feb 22 2021

– Piedmont Priorities –

With life as good as it is in Piedmont, it’s hard to think how it could get better. But there’s always room for improvement so in 2007 the City conducted a community survey as a prelude to updating its General Plan.

The response to the 2007 survey exceeded all expectations. Approximately 3,800 surveys were mailed out, and almost 1,300 surveys were completed and returned. That’s a 34% response rate, the highest ever response rate of any community survey of Piedmont residents.  Question 7 in the survey asked “For which types of projects would you support increases in city taxes or fees?”.  The range of responses to that question are in the table below.  

Q7: FOR WHICH TYPES OF PROJECTS   WOULD YOU SUPPORT INCREASES IN   CITY TAXES OR FEES?
Total with Opinion Response Average Strongly Oppose Somewhat  Oppose Somewhat  Support Strongly Support
Additional recreational facilities 1116 2.69 20.2% 17.4% 35.7% 26.8%
Landscaping and tree planting 1155 2.87 13.3% 15.2% 42.9% 28.6
City-owned competitive swimming pool 1124 2.59 28.3% 15.1% 25.5% 31.0%
Undergrounding of overhead utility wires 1159 2.96 18.5% 11.8% 25.0% 44.7%
A parking garage in the City Hall area 1122 2.21 37.9% 21.7% 22.4% 18.1%
More child care centers 932 2.25 29.4% 27.8% 30.9% 11.9%
A teen center 1083 2.87 17.6% 12.3% 35.7% 34.3%
Bike paths and marked bike lanes 1095 2.85 14.8% 16.6% 36.9% 31.7%
A community gathering place or plaza 1080 2.78 17.9% 16.8% 35.1% 30.3%
City arts and cultural center 1067 2.57 22.2% 20.0% 36.7% 21.1%
Wheeled mixed materials recycling carts 1003 2.63 22.1% 20.8% 29.0% 28.0%
Backyard service for recycling/ green waste 998 2.60 23.3% 21.2% 27.3% 28.2%
Free citywide wireless (WiFi) internet  1030 2.80 22.5% 13.5% 25.7% 38.3%

Now 14 years later, what has come of this community survey?

Additional recreation facilities – check.

City-owned pool? – check.

Backyard service for recycling/green waste – check.

City arts and cultural center – half-check.  The city has a classical arts and cultural center. Chamber music only.

A teen center – negative.

Creating a community gathering place or plaza – negative.

Why this lookback matters is because the city is on the verge of missing a golden opportunity to address the two negatives on the list.  A teen/senior center and community drop-in space could easily be run out of the East Wing of the building with access to the restrooms in the West Wing and the placing of city staff in the West Wing office space.  And no additional taxes required – seniors and the community don’t need to be supervised by staff.  They do need a place to freely gather and schedule meetings and an accessible East Wing would facilitate that.  

Instead, city staff has negotiated a lease for the 801 Magnolia Building with the Piedmont Center for the Arts that reduces both city use of and access to the 801 building for the next 7 years. There are significant flaws in the lease (https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2020/11/29/opinion-four-major-flaws-in-proposed-art-center-lease/) and better ideas for true community use of the space (https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2021/02/03/opinion-arts-center-founder-wants-usage-opened-up/ ; https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2021/01/10/opinion-a-false-choice-has-been-presented-for-arts-center-lease/).

So the City has two choices – hold a public hearing on the use of the 801 Magnolia building or a second reading of the flawed lease.  By all indications, city staff is proceeding with a second reading of the lease with PCA.  Unless Council steps up and calls for a public hearing, this opportunity for Piedmonters to achieve long-standing aspirations of a community space will be lost for another 7 years.   To that end, newly elected Councilwoman Conna McCarthy could honor her campaign pledge and call for public meetings on the use of 801 before any lease is approved:

“I want to be part of the leadership that encourages large conversations where all stakeholders thoughtfully plan and manage limited resources for the benefit of Piedmont now and into the future.” 

Elected Council Candidate Conna McCarthy  

https://www.piedmontcivic.org/category/new-elections/page/8/

If you want the City Council to hold public hearings on the use of 801 Magnolia Avenue, you can reach all Council members at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Dec 4 2020

– The Results of the City Election will be Certified by the City Council on Monday, Dec. 7, at 5:00 p.m. –

Elected to the Piedmont City Council:

Jennifer Cavenaugh to begin a second 4 year term.

Conna McCarthy to begin a first 4 year term.

~~~~~

Elected to the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Trustees:

Cory Smegal to begin a second 4 year term..

Veronica Anderson-Thigpen to begin a first 4 year term,

Hilary Cooper to begin a first 4 year term.

~~~~

Measure UU – Pool Bonds were voter approved by 68 %. 

Measure TT – Real Property Transfer Tax was defeated by voters – 52% No to 48% Yes.

Click below for detailed official results and stats –

Certification of Election Results for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020_

The Piedmont City Charter states:

“(D) ELECTION. The regular election of Councilmembers shall be held at the General Municipal Election as provided for in Section 8.01 of this Charter. The terms of elected Councilmembers shall begin upon certification of the election results by the City Council. They shall hold office for four (4) years. Elections shall be alternately for two (2) and three (3) Councilmembers, excluding elections to fill an unexpired term of office. (Charter Amendment 11/4/2014)”  Piedmont City Charter

Gratitude for outgoing Mayor Bob McBain will be acknowledged.   McBain has served on the City Council for 8 plus years.

Next Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Piedmont:

“SECTION 2.08 MAYOR Following each general municipal election, the City Council shall elect from among its member officers of the City who shall have the titles of Mayor and Vice-Mayor, each of whom shall serve at the pleasure of the Council. The Mayor shall preside at meetings of the Council, shall be recognized as head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes and by the Governor for the purposes of military law, but shall have no administrative duties. The Vice-Mayor shall act as mayor during the absence or disability of the Mayor. In case of the temporary absence or disability of both the Mayor and Vice-Mayor, the Council shall select one of its members to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore.”

Council members are listed below in order of seniority on the council and votes garnered in their elections:

Teddy Gray King   –  6 years on the Council – term ends 2022

Tim Rood –  6 years on the Council – term ends 2022

Jennifer Cavenaugh – 4 years on the Council – term ends 2024

Betsy Smegal Andersen – approximately 3 years on the Council – term ends 2022

Conna McCarthy – newly elected to the Council – term ends 2024

Piedmont Mayors and Vice-Mayors are chosen by 3 or more Council members.  The Mayor and Vice-Mayor serve at the pleasure of the City Council.

SCHOOL BOARD 

School Board: The December meeting of the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education has been changed to Tuesday, December 15th in order to swear-in newly elected school board members in compliance with Assembly Bill (AB) 2449. AB 2449 (2018) changed the seating date for newly elected school district and county board of education members to the second Friday in December following their election.  Regular Open Session will begin at 7:00 PM.

Retiring School Board members Sarah Pearson and Andrea Swenson will have each completed 8 plus years of service on the Board.

To watch and participate in the meeting see instructions at the top of the 12/7/2020 agenda or click on the Zoom link – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83694657877:

1272020council-current-agenda

Nov 29 2020

– The Proposed Piedmont Center for the Arts Lease Is Flawed –

On November 16, 2020, three City Councilmembers voted to approve a 7-year renewal of the City’s lease of 801 Magnolia Avenue to the Piedmont Center for the Arts (PCA), rejecting a motion to allow more public input first. Because the City Council will have a second vote on the proposed lease, Piedmonters still have an opportunity to express their views by writing to the Piedmont City Council at: 

cityclerk@piedmont.ca.gov

The threshold question for the City Council is whether to continue PCA control of a City building.

Public comment was split between those appreciating PCA’s role in hosting arts events and those who hoped that 801 Magnolia could become more of a “community center” where arts is one use, but not the only use.

Most Piedmont non-profits rent City or School facilities as needed (e.g., Education Speaker Series, Diversity Film Series, Piedmont Soccer Club); PCA could do the same for its arts events. The City Manager stated that Recreation Department programs could fill any unused City space and the PCA space is often unused (even pre-COVID), other than as a quiet space for its commercial sub-tenant.

This is not a choice between arts and no arts, but rather how best to maximize community benefit from limited City spaces. If the City Council decides to renew PCA’s lease, the proposed PCA lease has four major flaws. As a result, it fails to achieve the goals set forth in the City Staff Report. The lease is at:

https://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17199779.

(1) Future City Construction.

The proposed lease prevents the City from terminating the lease until January 2024 at the earliest—and then only if the City is conducting significant renovations of the Police, Fire or Recreation buildings. (See Sections 1.8 & 9.2).

The City, however, plans to seek voter approval of bonds to renovate or rebuild City buildings in Spring 2021. The City’s building plans might include relocating City staff to 801 Magnolia Avenue while construction is ongoing or even a new structure at the 801 Magnolia Avenue location. The City could be ready to begin construction in Summer 2022, but be blocked by the PCA lease, as construction costs increase during the delay.

The simple fix is to amend the lease to allow the City to terminate without cause on 180 days’ notice (note that the City’s lease to the Piedmont Educational Foundation allows termination without cause on 90 days’ notice).

(2) City Use of 801 Magnolia Avenue.

Because the 801 Magnolia Avenue space has been unused much of the time (other than PCA’s sublease to The Piedmont Post), the City seeks the right to hold “City Sponsored Activities” there or to rent it out for “City Private Rental Activities.” A good idea, but the proposed lease puts unwarranted hurdles in the City’s way.

The proposed lease would allow City-Sponsored Activities, but only (i) with advance notice, (ii) if the City cannot go elsewhere, (iii) if the City mitigates PCA’s concerns about “unreasonable interference” with “Tenant’s use,” and (iv) the City tries to relocate its activity if PCA asks. (Section 4.2(c)). City Private Rental Activities, allowed only if PCA has nothing planned, face similar restrictions. (Section 4.2(b)).

The simple fix, consistent with the City’s ownership on behalf of all City residents, is to allow the City to schedule any activity there that is compatible with any arts related activity previously scheduled by PCA. At a bare minimum, a City right to terminate without cause on 180 days’ notice will ensure good faith cooperation on both sides.

(3) Revenue for City Expenses.

In 2011, the City gave PCA a no-rent lease because PCA agreed to pay to perform long-deferred maintenance on the building. In the proposed lease, PCA pays no rent, but is not asked to perform any work. By contrast, another non-profit, the Piedmont Education Foundation, pays rent of $19,020/year for less nice space inside Veterans Hall.

PCA’s 2019 balance sheet shows over $406,000 in assets and its 2018 and 2019 profit & loss statements show income exceeding expenses. After public comment that PCA could afford to pay rent (like most non-profits using City or School facilities), PCA’s Treasurer stated that PCA could “do more,” i.e., pay rent. The City has stated that it needs revenue to fund maintenance. Accept PCA’s offer!

(4) Equal Access.

In the past, PCA has turned away those who did not meet its definition of “arts-related.” The Staff Report says PCA agrees to more diverse programming, but the proposed lease would narrow PCA’s Approved Uses from a “venue for exhibits and performances” to “arts-related” activities only, plus its sub-lease. (Section 1.1).

In theory, the City Private Rental Activities provide another path for residents to rent the 801 Magnolia Avenue space, but, as noted above, the City’s rights are restricted. Even if that is fixed, PCA has the first right to schedule events. The lease should require PCA to rent space to any Piedmont resident for any event compatible with the space.

I encourage Piedmonters to share their views on the proposed PCA lease, as it will determine the use of 801 Magnolia Avenue for the next 7 years.

Rick Raushenbush, Piedmont Resident and Former Piedmont School Board

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.  The Piedmont Center for the Arts (PCA) is a separate organization from the Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) that originated in 1986 and provides this news site. 
Nov 17 2020

November 16, 2020 on a first reading, the Piedmont City Council split their votes on extending a $1 per year lease for seven more years to a private organization, Piedmont Center for the Arts, of Piedmont’s property at 801 Magnolia Avenue. 

For several hours more than a dozen speakers testified for and against the proposed lease extension of the 801 Magnolia building. The current $1 per year lease will expire in June 2021. 

Mayor Bob McBain, whose term on the Council is ending and who sets the agenda, noted he had promised the Arts Board and others, he would have a vote on the lease extension of the Piedmont Center for the Arts.  McBain acknowledged he and City Administrator Sara Lillevand had been meeting with the Art Center Board for months and in August he had informed others, including Lillevand, there were 3 votes on the City Council in favor of the lease extension.

With no publicity or public notice by the City, the matter was addressed favorably primarily by the Board of the Art Center. Other speakers concerned about the lease noted the lack of public input and need for alternatives to the problematic proposed lease.

All speakers supported use of the facilities for the arts while offering suggestions to protect the City’s interests and increase community involvement.

At the close of the public hearing and Council discussion,  Mayor Bob McBain preempted the other Council members and made a motion to approve the lease extension.  Vice Mayor Teddy King seconded his motion.  Council member Betsy Andersen, who was the 3rd Yes vote, asked that the term of the lease be changed from 10 years to 7 years.

Council member Jen Cavenaugh made a substitute motion seconded by Council member Tim Rood to table the matter in order to allow additional information based on questions and concerns plus more time for public input prior to approving the first reading of the proposed long-term lease of the property.  McBain, Andersen, and King voted against the motion, and it failed.

McBain and King’s motion was approved by Andersen, McBain and King gaining a first reading to extend the lease for 7 years. Rood and Cavenaugh voted no.

The matter will return in December, or later, to the Council after a new Council is seated in December.   McBain will have be termed out of office and his seat will be filled by Conna McCarthy on December 7, 2020.  Council member Jen Cavenaugh reelected to a second term on the Council will serve for another 4 years.  Council members, King, Rood, and Andersen will remain on the Council for two more years.

Some issues raised and not resolved prior to the Council approving the first reading of the lease were:

  • Why wasn’t the lease extension publicized in local media to gather public input?
  • How much more would it cost the City to operate the Center?
  • What is the financial condition of the Art Center, Inc.?
  • Who controls how the property can be used?
  • What is the value to the City of the property?
  •  Why are Art Center Board minutes and financial information not provided to the city regarding income and users?
  • Why are arts groups and other community organizations turned away in preference for commercial business activities?
  • How can revenue from the Center foster arts in the community?
  • The City recently stated it needed more money on two recent ballot measures. Why is the Art Center revenue stream of hundreds of thousands of dollars not considered a desired revenue source?
  • What is the status of the IRS 501C3 qualification given recent information on the Art Center?
  • Why are there terms in the lease that do not favor the taxpayers and City of Piedmont?
  • What information is available on cost-effective use of the building?
  • How can a private organization lease public property and then sublease to a commercial entity?
  • Why is the Arts Board allowed exclusionary control of the property and not include all segments of the community?
  • Why isn’t the building fully utilized?
  • Can conflicts  between commercial uses, recreation classes and art shows be resolved?
  • What are the CEQA issues raised by a resident who received short notice?
  • Will the new high school theater offer superior performance space?
  • Have parking demands been considered?
  • Where is the sub-tenant commercial lease?

Those satisfied with the lease extension spoke to:

  • Prior improvements made to the building.
  • Successful programs of music and art for Piedmont and the wider community.
  • Continuing benefit to the City at little cost.
  • Grandfathering the commercial newspaper sub-tenant lease
  • Expanding programs
  • Use by top artists
  • Volunteer commendation for a successful operation.

The Lease Extension approved by 3 council members is linked below:

Art Center Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 758 N.S. – Approving a Lease Agreement with Piedmont Center for the Arts for City Property at 801 Magnolia Avenue

Nov 9 2020

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters continues to compile election  results.  More Piedmont votes have been added to totals, however the Piedmont relative percentages have not varied enough to change the outcome and are not expected to change.  The most recent and detailed results can be found at –https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/241/indexA.htm

Presumed Elected:

City Council – Jennifer Cavenaugh and Conna McCarthy

School Board – Cory Smegal, Veronica Anderson-Thigpen and Hilary Cooper

~~~~~~~

Measure UU, pool bonds, continues to be approved by over 68% of the voters.

Measure TT, increase in the real property transfer tax, continues to fail by a wider margins. See below.

2 of 2 Precincts Reported (100.00% )
Needs 50% + 1 Yes vote to pass
 
Contest Votes Percentage
No 3,755 51.83 %
Yes 3,490 48.17 %
Nov 4 2020

Hats off and praise is deserved for the thousands of Piedmonters who were involved in the Piedmont City Council and PUSD School Board elections, plus Piedmont Measures TT, increase in property transfer tax, and UU pool bonds.

Despite COVID – 19 encumbrances, residents endorsed, posted signs, mailed letters, donated to campaigns, and talked to friends and neighbors and then voted. Piedmonters once more showed a keen interest in Piedmont by participating.

Out of the 9 individuals who sought public office, five were elected – Council: Jen Cavenaugh and Conna McCarthy – School Board: Cory Smegal, Veronica Anderson Thigpen, and Hilary Cooper. 

The two City Council tax measures,  TT, increase in property transfer tax, lost by approximately 50 votes, and UU, pool bonds, was handily approved by over 2/3rds of the voters. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Piedmont election.

Updated election returns > https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/241/indexA.htm

Nov 3 2020

The following are Piedmont election results as of 9:25 p.m. November 3.  Election results are not final until all votes have been recorded and certified.  The elected candidates are listed in the order of votes gained.  Election results are unlikely to change. 

Elected to the City Council:

Jen Cavenaugh

Conna McCarthy

Elected to the School Board:

Cory Smegal

Veronica Anderson-Thigpen

Hilary Cooper

Piedmont Ballot Measures:

Measure TT – Increase in real property transfer tax – Failed – by 31 votes

Measure UU – Pool Bonds – Approved – by over 2/3rds of voters

Updates can be found on https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/241/indexA.htm

Nov 1 2020

– Environmental Voting Guide written by Piedmonter Emily Ballati –

Things-are-Heating-Up-Guide-to-Environmental-Voting

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.