May 16 2022

The City released the draft budget for 2022-2023 last week and it’s on the May 16 Council agenda. ( City of Piedmont 2022-2023 Budget).

One purpose of the document is to project tax revenue growth for the next 10 years so that City can implement long-term financial planning.  Growth from property tax revenue in Piedmont is pretty stable, increasing 4-5% a year.  Transfer tax revenue, the 1.3% tax assessed on the sale of homes, can be volatile, but contributes more to annual growth than the property tax.   
.
As the figure below shows, revenue bounces between $2 and $4M/yr (the exception being the three years of the Great Recession) and shows a steady rate of growth from 2010 to 2020.  Averaged over those 10 years, the transfer tax is $3.4M/yr and the City projects that as a flat growth rate for the next 7 years, leading many city funds into the red. Alternatively, when the transfer tax growth rate is used to project growth (Transfer Tax Projection), transfer tax revenue grows to almost $5M/yr over the same time period.

The City describes 2020-2021 transfer tax revenue ($6.3M) as an outlier, but that remains to be seen.  2021 transfer tax revenue was a record for Piedmont that may well be broken this year. Through the first quarter of the 2021-22 fiscal year, transfer tax revenue was ahead of last year by about 24% and carried over the year that comes to a transfer tax of $7.8M for 2021-2022.  Staff may provide an update on this tax revenue at tonight’s meeting.

So this is good news but will it last?  I don’t know, but it strikes me that averaging over the past 10 years is too conservative an approach that naturally leads the City to seek tax increases to make up for funding it projects it won’t receive when in fact it will.   The City should at least run two financial projections – flat growth and expected growth – to provide City Council with a more balanced report for long-term planning.  Perhaps the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee can request this from staff.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 12 2022
At the Planning Commission hearing on the Housing Element on May 12, 2022, the consultant from Lisa Wise Consulting stated that Housing and Community Development Department was not accepting SB9 projections to count towards a city’s RHNA housing goals.  A little web searching revealed that Atherton is preparing SB9 projections to include in its Housing Element and there are consulting firms using SB9 potential in housing element calculations.
.
SB9 projections are highly uncertain this early after implementation of the law, but if HCD is willing to accept these estimates then Piedmont should generate them.  Yes, such sites are unlikely to be very low and low affordable units, but the point is to claim this capacity so as to remove pressure to develop public sites like the Veterans Building and the 801 Magnolia Avenue Building, sites identified for moderate income units.  The Atherton estimate is based on 10 SB9 units (10 units since  January 2022, so 80 units over 8 years) and it remains to be seen if HCD will accept this projection.
.

Inline image

https://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/10036/ITEM-17

From “Proposal for the Town of Ross Housing Element Update” submitted by Dyett and Bhatia, Urban and Regional Planners, January 28, 2022.

“Next, we will evaluate the realistic development capacity for each site with reference to demonstrated development trends, drawing on input from the Housing Forum and the Town’s recent APRs. Documenting the number of ADUs developed in recent years and prior to 2018 will be an important consideration, as HCD guidance allows jurisdictions to project based on past trends with adjustments that account for new laws that significantly increase the potential for ADU development. Capacity calculations will also consider the potential for lot splits permitted under SB9. Based on this evaluation, sufficient sites to satisfy the Sixth Cycle RHNA for all income levels will be included on the inventory.”

.
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member and Resident
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 9 2022

Special Planning Commission Meeting – Thursday – May 12, 2022

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

.

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

 

May 2 2022

 City Proposal for Housing Element Includes: Zoning Changes, Transitional Housing, ADU Heights to 24 feet, City Charter Amendments, Converting City Hall and Veterans Buildings to Low-Income Housing, Coaches Field, Blair Park, etc.

There’s more than just numbers (587 new housing units to be exact) to the Housing Element.  There are several programs and policies in the draft that have not gotten much attention in the city workshops or outreach program, some are noted below:

Require large home remodels include an ADU in the expansion. 

• Establish a transitional home for 6 homeless individuals in a residential neighborhood. Collaborate with a nonprofit affordable housing organization to convert a home or homes to transitional housing for six persons.  This would require changing current residential zone restrictions to allow transitional housing throughout the city. (page 74),

• Create additional local housing opportunities for persons employed within Piedmont in order to reduce commuting and associated greenhouse gas emissions. A particular emphasis should be placed on transportation and on housing for municipal and school district employees, since these are the largest employers in the City. (page 75).

• Allow ADUs to be built to a height of 24 feet if the ADU is deed restricted for 10 years. (page 55).

• Amend the City Charter to eliminate the requirement that the reclassification of zones and/or reduction or enlargement of size or area of zones be subject to a majority vote at a general or special election. (page 57).

• Rezone the Corporation Yard and areas around Coaches Field to accommodate 130 housing units.  Fifty high density units would be built in the Coaches Filed overflow parking lot and 50 units on the slope below the third base line of the field.  If this plan is infeasible, develop 200 high density units in Blair Park. (Appendix B-14)

• Convert Veterans and City Halls into low-income housing (Appendix B-15).

Public comment on the Housing Element started April 6, 2022, and will run for 3 months with Council adoption expected in June 2022. Once approved by Council, the Housing Element needs to be approved by state authorities.  By statute, the deadline for state approval was recently extended to May 2023.  

City Council should take advantage of the state time extension and extend public comment on the Housing Element through November 2022. There are a number of reasons for doing so. 

  •  The plan needs work and a June hearing should still be held to address deficiencies of the current draft so that revisions can be made. 
  • The plan currently does not achieve the equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout Piedmont.
  • The plan for Coaches Field is really half-baked. 
  • There are many new programs and policies called for in the Housing Element that need better vetting with the community. 
  • By extending public comment through November, Piedmont voters can express their opinion on the draft Housing Element by seating a majority of Council (3 seats will be on the ballot).  This timeline offers residents an excellent opportunity to have their voices heard and two of the Councilmembers will likely serve for 8 years, the lifespan of the 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element, ensuring some continuity. 
  • Postponing consideration of the Housing Element until after the November election would engage the entire community in setting Piedmont’s affordable housing future, a legacy everyone could be proud of.  

Public comments on the Housing Element will be sent to the Planning Commission if received by May 5.  Send comments to Piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov.  The public can also comment on the Housing Element at the Special Planning Commission meeting, a virtual meeting on Zoom on May 12.  Read the draft Housing Element at:

https://p1cdn4static.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Planning%20Division/Housing%20Programs/Housing%20Element/DRAFT-Housing_Element-Public-Review.pdf

Garrett Keating, Former member of the Piedmont City Council and Piedmont Resident

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

Contact information:

510/420-3050 – Planning Staff

510/420-3040 – City Clerk – City Council
Ask for the email address where you can send comments.  Sending an email to the City Council is a good place to send a comment.  Written comments become part of the public record, phone calls do not. 
Go to the City of Piedmont web page for more information.
May 2 2022

“City Staff is asking Park Commissioners to provide feedback on the Draft 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element as community members and key stakeholders. The Park Commission meeting on May 4 gives the public further opportunities to learn about the Housing Element update process and to give their input and feedback.”

Numerous proposals are in the Draft Housing Element many occurring throughout Piedmont.  Density increases, removal of parking requirements, raised height limits of buildings, end to neighbor input on proposals, zoning changes, Charter change, etc.

 All proposals in the 374 page Draft Housing Element document can be read online for public comment.  See link at the end of this article.

6. Proposed Specific Plan: Page B-12, Appendix B, of the Draft Housing Element proposes to prepare a specific plan (Government Code §65450 et. seq) for the area of the Public Works Corporation Yard to accommodate new housing development, incorporate existing amenities, and modernize current city functions. The portion of the site utilized for park Page 2 of 62 and recreational uses, are intended to remain as an amenity for the proposed specific plan area, with the existing vehicle parking reconfigured, as needed.  See map on linked attachment below.

7. Blair Park: The Draft Housing Element identifies Blair Park, which is located on the south side of Moraga Avenue, as a potential alternate site for housing if the proposed specific plan for the Public Works Corporation Yard fails to yield 122 housing units (page B-13). Blair Park is 3.55 acres, with the potential for 210 units if developed at 60 units per acre.

8. Zoning Amendments: In order to meet the 6th Cycle RHNA target with Piedmont’s limited available land, the Draft Housing Element’s Goal 1, New Housing Construction, proposes to increase the allowed residential density for housing affiliated with religious institutions in Zone A (program 1.D, page (37) and increase allowed residential density in Zone B (program 1.F), Zone C (program 1.G), and Zone D (1.H).

READ the Draft Housing Element May 4 presentation to the Park Commission and Agenda, including participation information below:

> 2022-05-04 Park Agenda

May 1 2022

Receipt of the Piedmont Community Pool Design Development Package and Consideration of: 

1) Approval of Design Modifications to the Recreation Pool; and

2) Authorization for Staff and ELS to Advance to Construction Documents Phase

RECOMMENDATION: Receive the 100% Design Development Package and Cost Estimate for the Piedmont Community Pool Project and by a single motion, take the following actions with regard to the project:

1) Approve design modifications to the shallow water recreation pool as recommended by the Community Pool Advisory Committee (PAC):

a) Lap Lanes: increased length of the three lap lanes from 20 to 25 yards with a depth profile that moves side to side from approximately 3.5 feet in the middle of the pool to approximately 5 feet at the western edge of the pool

b) Rotate the stairs 90 degrees such that the stairs enter the open free water area rather than the rectangular lap lane area

2) Approve expansion of the zero-beach entry area in the recreation pool by approximately 300 square feet

3) Authorize Staff and ELS to advance to Construction Documents Phase

FULL STAFF REPORT >Pool Acceptance 522022

council- 522020 agenda

Apr 24 2022

Piedmont is scheduled to adopt a new Housing Element to accommodate 587 new housing units in Piedmont.  You can play a role in deciding how! 

For development potential, some residents and City staff have suggested,  amongst other areas, the area around the City Corporation Yard on Moraga Avenue.  Undeveloped areas are unlikely to provide housing space for 587 new housing units leading to new units added in single family neighborhoods. 

Once the Housing Element is approved, the City will be prohibited by law from informing neighbors of certain proposed projects, potentially turning garages into housing, subdividing properties, adding new housing units on existing properties, restructuring existing homes as apartment buildings, etc. .

The Housing Element is important to all areas of Piedmont, for after parameters and requirements for housing are approved in the new Housing Element, “ministerial” permits are to be issued by the City Planning Department for all conforming proposals without neighborhood notification or input. 

The Piedmont Planning staff, along with outside consultants, have devised the new DRAFT Housing Element.  Attempts have been made by the City to involve Piedmont residents in the process.  The result is a 374 page DRAFT Housing Element document outlining conditions for approval of housing units. 

Go to the end of this article to learn how you can voice your preferences and read the DRAFT Housing Element.

TIME FOR WRITTEN INPUT TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION IS  ENDING ON MAY 5, 2022.

If you are not able or need assistance with submitting your ideas to the City, contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510-420-3040 or Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald at 510-420-3050.

  The Piedmont City Council has planned a limited comment period based on an earlier State deadline for submittal of Piedmont’s new Housing Element. 

State Housing Element Update Timeline was Extended to May 2023 due to a recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods.

  • April 8, 2022: Publication of the Draft Housing Element > Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element.  (374 pages)

  • May 12, 2022: Special Planning Commission public hearing, starting at 5:30 pm to discuss and consider the Draft Housing Element. Approximately one month comment period.
  • June 2022: City Council public hearing. Approximately one month comment period.
  • May 2023: NEW deadline for adoption of the final draft of the updated Housing Element, date amended due to recent state law requiring additional review and longer comment periods! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Special Planning Commission Meeting – May 12, 2022 – City News Release Below
.
Piedmont’s Planning Commission will hold a hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting on May 12, 2022, at 5:30 pm to consider a recommendation to the City Council on the >Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element. On April 8, 2022, the City of Piedmont published the Draft Housing Element for public review and comment. The Draft Housing Element is posted to the homepages of the City of Piedmont website and Piedmontishome.org. Other formats are available upon request. The Planning Commission agenda will be published on the City website and posted by May 9, 2022.
Cover of Draft Housing Element
The 374-page Draft Housing Element, shown above, includes policies to increase housing access and affordability in Piedmont.
Places to Find Draft Housing Element Online
Purple arrows identify the locations of the links to the Draft Housing Element on the homepages of the City website and Piedmontishome.org
Win $50 Gift Card To Ace Hardware!
Piedmont Puzzle Welcome Page
The web-based Piedmont Housing Puzzle supports the development of the next Housing Element by giving you the tools to imagine sites for 587 new housing units in Piedmont. Links to the Puzzle are posted here:
Over 300 Piedmont community members have already visited the Piedmont Housing Puzzle or submitted their housing plans and comments. We would like to reach more!
.
Please share the City’s Facebook page at the link above, or share the link to the Piedmont Puzzle on social media or via email. People are 100 times more likely to follow a link online if it is recommended by someone they know.
.
There are only 10 days left to provide comments about new housing sites through the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. The Puzzle ends Sunday, May 1, 2022.
.
Comment icon symbol
Information symbol icon
Win a $50 gift card to Grand Lake Ace Hardware by submitting your housing plan, email, and comments in the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. Click below to start!

How to Read and Review the Draft Housing Element

The Draft Housing Element enables construction to occur, but does not force property owners to build or otherwise change the ways that they use their property. [Notification to neighbors of certain proposals is prohibited by State law.] The organization of the Draft Housing Element begins with an executive summary and then the following four sections:
  • Introduction
  • Projected Housing Need
  • Housing Resources
  • Housing Plan: Goals, Policies, and Programs
.
There are six technical appendices that provide analysis of housing law, demographics, constraints, and other issues in greater detail, including Appendix F, an analysis of compliance with AB 686 and goals to affirmatively further fair housing in Piedmont.
.
Community members (everyone that lives, works, attends school, or cares about housing in Piedmont) are encouraged to review the Draft Housing Element and provide comments to City decision-makers. Comments can be made using any of the following methods:
.
.
-Use the Share Your Voice tool on the homepage at: https://Piedmontishome.org *
.
-Use the Piedmont Housing Puzzle at: https://Piedmont.abalancingact.com/housingsim
.
-Mail to: Draft Housing Element, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611*
.
-Attend a public meeting: Planning Commission is May 12, 2022, starting at 5:30 pm. City Council is tentatively scheduled for June 2022.
.
*Comments received by May 5, 2022, will be forwarded to the Planning Commission the weekend before the first public hearing.

 This is a City website.

STAY CONNECTED & INFORMED
The City of Piedmont wants to keep you up to date on planning-related issues regarding transportation, sustainability, housing and changes to development regulations that affect you. Community participation is key to the success of new City policies. Contact pmacdonald@piedmont.ca.gov to learn more.
Get this Update email right in your inbox! Share with friends, family and neighbors!
.

This is a City website.

Apr 21 2022

“The Piedmont Unified School District is inviting Piedmonters to tour the new STEAM building and Performing Arts Center Saturday April 30, from 1:00-4:00.

“The 20 minute tours will start in front of the STEAM building and end in the lobby of the theater. Residents will have an opportunity to see new classrooms, science labs, music rooms and performance spaces. They’ll be led by members of the Facilities Steering Committee who advised the district before and during construction and members of The Piedmont Education Foundation.

“Attached is a link to sign up for slots in one of the 5 time slots.”

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084FA8AE2FA4F85-tour

Apr 19 2022

To view the appointee list:  Click below

2022-04-19 Commission Appointments

Apr 19 2022
In response to public criticism of the lack of transparency into the renewal of the use agreement for the 801 Magnolia Avenue building, several Councilmembers and Piedmont Center for the Arts  (PCA*) Board members pushed back, claiming that three meetings over a 15-month period allowed for adequate public input.  That sounds transparent but some history and context is needed to see how poorly the process of the past 15 months met community needs.
  • ·     The City purchased the 801 Magnolia Avenue property in 2003 at a cost of $735,000.  A the time, the City was developing the Civic Center Master Plan, a redevelopment of the Civic Center that called for replacing the 801 building with a modern building and civic plaza.  Undergrounding cost overruns and the 2008 economic downturn forestalled proceeding with the master plan at that time.

 

  • ·     In March, 2011, the City received a proposal from the Piedmont Center for the Arts to lease the building.  The City conducted a public hearing, “Consideration of the Concept of use of City Property at 801 Magnolia Avenue by the Piedmont Center for the Arts” at which PCA presented its Articles of Incorporation which state “The specific purpose of this corporation is to promote artistic endeavors for youth within the Piedmont community by providing exhibit and performance space and a website to connect the Arts Center with exhibitors and renters.”  At the hearing, commenters recommended other uses for the building such as a Maker Center, teen or senior center and public library.

 

  • ·     In April, 2011 PCA signed a 10-year, no-rent lease with the City which stipulated that PCA could rent space to only non-profit sub-tenants.  Over the ensuing 10 years, the City modified the Zone B use restrictions so that a for-profit business of a PCA Board member could be operated in the 801 Magnolia Building.

 

  • ·     In November 2021, the City came forward with a 10-year lease renewal with PCA.  No public hearings on the use of the 801 Building were held at City Council or city commissions nor did Council discuss the 801 lease renewal in closed session prior to the November meeting.

Failure to engage the public and City Council in discussions of use of the 801 Building prior to the November meeting soured the public process from the start.  According to the City Charter, “An ordinance may be introduced by any Councilmember at any regular or special meeting of the City Council.”

At the November 2021 meeting, the previous Mayor publicly stated he was asked by PCA to open negotiations on a new lease and presumably used this ordinance authority to bring forward the new lease (at his last meeting as mayor). But in so doing, he ignored the input of his Council colleagues and the community at large on the use of 801 Magnolia.  Other factors contributing to public dissatisfaction with the process were flaws in the lease and the obvious bias to Piedmont Center for the Arts it contained. Read the analysis by Rick Raushenbush to see just how badly the first draft of the agreement represented the City’s interest.

https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2020/11/29/opinion-four-major-flaws-in-proposed-art-center-lease/

Since November 2021, overwhelming public opposition to the first draft of the lease and the process by which it was brought forward resulted in the City taking more control of the building and relying on a facility use agreement that was approved by Council in March, 2022

(http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18384268). 

But as with the first draft, no public hearings or closed sessions of City Council on the use of 801 were held in the ensuing 15 months and again, the majority of public comment has been critical of the agreement and the lack of transparency into its development.  So three meetings over a 15-month period was not a “robust public process” but a series of reactionary meetings with the public trying to claw back access to this public building.

What’s really confounding is why the City didn’t conduct an open public process on the use of 801 Magnolia?  PCA would likely have retained preeminent use of the building with better community access being achieved at the same time.  Instead, a lease highly favorable to PCA was always the only topic for comment, sending a strong signal that it was a fait accompli.  It should be noted that it was in the City’s interest, as well, to have a limited discussion of 801’s use.  Office space is at a premium in City Hall and no doubt staff will make use of the new space in 801 for employees.

There are three spaces in the 801 building – the office space, classroom and performance hall – and a more equitable agreement would be to have assigned the classroom to the community as a senior center.  The Recreation Department is doing a better job of providing senior programming, but what seniors really need more is a gathering space and the 801 classroom would be perfect for that.

Why all this matters is that 6 years from now the facility use agreement will expire and the community will again go through this process for the 801 building. Several current Councilmembers could be involved again so hopefully a better public process will be followed.  This whole saga reminded me of the scene from Oliver Twist when Oliver approaches the master and asks “Please sir, I want some more”.  Hopefully it won’t be so hard to ask next time.

 Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council 
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
*Since 1986, PCA has been the logo for the Piedmont Civic Association.  In 2011, when the Piedmont Center for the Arts was formed and  began using PCA as an identifying symbol, the Piedmont Civic Association  informed the Arts Center of the potential misunderstanding for two Piedmont organizations to refer to themselves as PCA.   The two PCA organizations are separate and unrelated entities serving Piedmont.  The Piedmont Civic Association has never had a lease or agreement with the City of Piedmont for use of  801 Magnolia Avenue.