Jun 18 2022

Hello City Council:

I won’t have time this weekend (Father’s Day festivities) to review the staff report but wanted to offer up these observations and suggestions about the Housing Element (HE) for your consideration Monday. I attended the HE workshops, participated in the online surveys and have read the HE.

1.     SB 9: staff has stated at several meetings that the Department of Housing and Development (HCD) is not accepting unit projections based on this SB 9.  HCD guidance says otherwise and several cities are submitting such projections.  Please clarify why staff has not done so and direct them to conduct this analysis for inclusion in the final HE.  Not considering the potential for SB 9 to produce units in the next cycle is bad planning.

2.     Multi-family zone:  the HE makes no projections for units from this zone over the next 8 years.  This is short-sighted in that this area is a logical zone for new units and the HE increases zone density for that reason.  Staff simply needs to cite other such developments in the Temescal, Pleasant Valley Rd etc. to show that this development is highly likely. These developments are not in Piedmont but are very local and I would think HCD would understand that similar developments are likely to occur in Piedmont.  Also clarify whether the small housing policy prohibits the destruction of the small houses on Linda to the Oakland Avenue bridge.  Conversion of these lots to multi-family buildings could vastly increase the number of units.

3.     ADUs: the incentives workshop mentioned increasing ADU height from 16 to 18-20 feet. The workshop also presented the idea of garage conversions by presented to specific building height. The HE now has specific height for garage conversions (24 ft) but does not mention what the new height for ADU will be. Please clarify this point;  I asked staff but received no response.  I think the ADU projections (20/year) is an underestimate; ADU development rate these past three years was likely influenced by COVID restrictions.

4.     Extremely low/very low-income units:  the HE provide no details on where these units will occur in Piedmont, which according to HCD should be over 120 units.  I asked about this at the last workshop and the consultant could not answer.  Instead he referred to the Alameda County family of four income ($100,000) as a target for Piedmont’s low income housing.  The HE policy to prioritize housing for PUSD and City of Piedmont employees dovetails with this target – these employees will meet this income level but very low and extremely low Alameda County residents won’t.  Where will the housing be for families of these income levels?

5.     Better outreach:  the process leading up to the HE utilized several different communication/engagement methods. Now that the draft of out, those methods should be used again.  Particularly, staff should conduct an online survey of the HE and particularly focus on policies not included in the workshop or prior surveys:  ADU tax on large remodels, purchase of supportive housing by the City of Piedmont, revocation of charter elements for example.

6.     General Plan:  staff conceded it has not completed an analysis of how the HE integrates with the General Plan.  Inquire about this and what elements of the Plan staff thinks will be impacted.

Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Jun 18 2022

Are Piedmonters aware of what is proposed for the most profound change to housing in Piedmont’s 115 year history?

Due to lack of information and available summaries, few Piedmonters understand how the proposed Housing Element (HE) will impact their home, their taxes, and the City of Piedmont.

If the HE is sent to the State, as proposed by City staff, and approved by the City Council, Piedmont will have committed the city to specific obligations within the HE, such as rezoning, densities, and building height increases.  If the HE is sent to the State, as proposed for Monday, June 20, Piedmont will relinquish the ability to remove committed items in the HE.

Piedmont officials have stated, “It is only a plan.” Not stated however, is the fact that once the HE is adopted by Piedmont and approved by the state, by law, the HE must be implemented.  Funding appears not to be a limitation on development as significant amounts of public money joined with commercial development interests are expected. 

In the staff report attached below, outreach by the City has yielded limited success in informing Piedmonters of the breath and specifics of the proposals.  Despite a City description of “robust” public outreach, there was no hard copy distribution of the  proposed HE, a summary, or a survey sent directly to Piedmonters for their consideration.  

The State extended the deadline for HE approval for approximately one year until May 2023 to allow greater participation and comment by the public.  

Where is the information on required zoning changes and safety requirements in the HE?

The Housing Element includes:

  • Without neighborhood knowledge or input, proposals meeting the requirements of split lots, four units on a lot, tall 4 story buildings replacing existing homes,  etc., will be done with no right by neighborhoods to object, for property owners and the City will have a legal right to build on or divide property according to the HE. 
  • Where zoning changes are required in the HE, such as increasing density and changed uses, the Piedmont City Charter gives voters with the exclusive right to approve zoning changes.  Once the proposed HE is approved and adopted, Piedmont voters will be forced by the State based on the HE to approve zoning changes within a three year period of HE approval.

What is the intended outcome of the proposed HE revision? 

Table IV -1 Quantifiable Objectives (on page 232 of the staff report) shows the number and type of new housing units expected to be built in Piedmont over the next few years.  It is intended to clarify to (decision-makers) authorities the new housing development obligation fulfillment.  No single family zoning or lot survives the rezoning as described in the City Charter. 

Staff report: >  PCA Housing Ele 62022  Over 200 pages long 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Public HEARING AGENDA

and participation information > PCA 62022 Council Agenda

Information on the Housing Element Process and required rezoning linked below:

State Required Housing Element Process –

  • Update previous housing element.
  • New! Public Participation Requirements: Prior to submittal of the first draft within a planning period to HCD, the local government must make the draft available for public comment for 30 days and if any comments were received, take at least 10 business days to consider and incorporate public comments.
  • Submit draft to HCD for review/approval.
  • Revise and adopt (or adopt without changes).
  • New! Transparency Requirements: For any subsequent revisions, the local government must post the draft revision on its website and email a link to all individuals and organizations that have previously requested notices relating to the local government’s housing element at least seven days before submitting the draft revision to HCD.  
  • Submit revised draft/adopted housing element to HCD.

Learn more in Building Blocks: Comprehensive Housing-Element Guide.

Housing Element Completeness Checklist (PDF) — Optional tool outlining the statutory requirement of Housing Element Law to assist jurisdictions in the preparation of the housing element.

New! Consequences for Late Housing Elements — Jurisdictions that fail to adopt a housing element that has been found in substantial compliance within 120 days of the statutory deadline to revise the housing element must complete all necessary rezones within one year of that statutory deadline. This means both that jurisdictions must adopt the housing element and that the housing element must be found in compliance (meaning a letter from HCD affirming compliance) with Housing Element Law by HCD within 120 days of the statutory deadline, or they will need to complete rezones within one year of their housing element due date (as opposed to three years) to maintain housing element compliance. Jurisdictions that adopt more than one year from the statutory deadline cannot be found in substantial compliance with Housing Element Law until the local government has completed any required rezoning.

Staff report:   PCA Housing Ele 62022  Over 200 pages long 

Public HEARING AGENDA and participation information PCA 62022 Council Agenda

City notice below:

Housing Element Public Hearing

City Council Meeting June 20, 2022

On Monday, June 20, 2022, the City Council will conduct a public hearing in Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, to consider the Draft Housing Element for the 6th Cycle (Draft Housing Element) and to submit the Draft Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for its 90-day review. The City Council agenda is available on the City website at this link.

State law requires cities to update their General Plan Housing Element. The next Housing Element guides City actions for 2023 to 2031; it is part of the City’s General Plan; and it applies City-wide.

The proposed Draft Housing Element has been developed to meet the State of California’s legal requirements, including the regional housing needs allocation (RHNA). The City Council staff report for the Draft Housing Element hearing on June 20 is located on the City website at this link.

The Draft Housing Element is available for public review on the City’s website at https://piedmont.ca.gov as well as https://piedmontishome.org. It is also available at City Hall, located at 120 Vista Avenue, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

You may send  comments and ideas to the Piedmont City Council via email at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

All City Council meetings are televised live on KCOM-TV, the City’s government access TV station and will be available through streaming video on the City’s website https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/meeting_videos

New Housing Programs!

  • Interested in building an ADU? CalHFA offers a $40K grant to low and moderate income homeowners to plan ADUs. More information about the grant is available here: https://www.calhfa.ca.gov/adu/
Jun 16 2022

While a lot of work has been done on the Housing Element, some significant changes to the sites inventory are needed to ensure compliance with State laws and community objectives. In particular, the element fails to include a single realistic site that would be available for construction of lower-income housing over the next several years.

Additionally, the City’s proposal to locate majority of its housing, including all affordable housing, on currently non-surplus public sites (as defined under State law), many actively used for civic and recreational uses (e.g., police station, Veterans Hall, tennis courts) is highly unusual, and perhaps unique among hundreds of California cities. This would encumber the City with obligations post-adoption it may struggle to meet, resulting in highly messy implementation, significant financial burdens, and potential loss of civic facilities and parks, even if this strategy passes muster with the State.

I will first start with some easy opportunities that should be captured, followed by a discussion of the some of the items raised above.

1.      COUNT ALLOWABLE SITES CURRENTLY NOT INCLUDED IN THE INVENTORY

The Housing Element currently fails to reflect housing and sites allowed to be counted under State laws, which should be included in the sites inventory, and would put some dent in remaining housing needs:

Housing for which certificate of occupancy will be issued July 1, 2022 to Jan. 31, 2023

These are not included in the current draft of the Housing Element, as it seems from the June 6th community workshop, that the City’s consultant was unaware of this provision. This stems from the difference in the Housing Element Planning Period (which starts January 2023) and the regional data Projection Period (which starts July 1, 2022). The State HCD reference to this has been provided to staff and hopefully this will be corrected in the next draft of the Housing Element. https://www.hcd.ca.gov/community-development/housing-element/docs/6th-web-he-duedate.pdf. At the current pace of development, this would likely be 12 to 15 units, but City staff should have precise building permitting data.

SB-9 Units

It’s a bit puzzling why these have been left out of consideration for housing sites. City staff mentioned at the public workshop that housing built under SB-9 would be reflected in the City’s Housing Element annual progress reports as achievements following adoption, but including this now would help the City meet a portion of its housing needs. Several Southern California jurisdictions have used SB-9 without running into issues with the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and Bay Area cities such as Mill Valley, Larkspur, and Ross are using these as well. SB-9 has both a lot split and a non lot-split component. However, rules (e.g., direct street access from a new lot to street) need to be spelled out by cities, and Piedmont has not done so yet. Actual yield would need to be calculated using Geographic Information Systems calculations, but a guess is that 40 to 50 units from this could result.

2.      PROVIDE MEANINGFUL LOWER-INCOME HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES

The draft Housing Element fails to make available any realistic sites for affordable housing, as required under State law. All lower income sites are located on City-owned land, none of which is surplus. I am not aware of any other city in California that is doing this, especially for the entirety of its lower-income housing program. The Civic Center sites are unrealistic (see below) and the Housing Element would require preparation of a Specific Plan for the Moraga Canyon sites, adoption of which is a discretionary City Council action, and thus there is no certainty that this will happen, and even if it does, would certainly push out site availability by several years. Thus, the City’s commitment to lower-income housing is questionable.

3.     REMOVE CIVIC CENTER SITES AS THESE ARE UNREALISTIC FOR HOUSING AND HAVE POTENTIAL TO GENERATE MASSIVE PROBLEMS FOR CITY POST HOUSING ELEMENT ADOPTION

The Housing Element has sites in the Civic Center area that are actively used for civic and recreational uses (e.g., police station, Veterans Hall, tennis courts), and Highland Green. There are no details in the Housing Element of housing will result on these sites.  There are some real practical problems – e.g., the cost to rehab and seismically retrofit Veterans Hall and the Police Building alone was estimated by the City at $15 million to $20 million two years ago, and the City decided not to place these together with pool reconstruction on the bond ballot measure at the same time. So currently there is no funding for these. If housing is built together with these facilities, these facilities will need to be replaced, not just rehabbed, at significantly higher costs, which may be several multiples of the rehab cost. The City does not have money to rehab these facilities, let alone build new ones. Housing on top of these structures would also be much more expensive to build and be unlikely for even market-rate housing, let alone for affordable housing.

Additionally, there are legal uncertainties. The City Charter does not permit reclassification of existing zones, and going from allowing one single-family unit per site in the Civic Center area to higher density housing at 60 or 80 units per acre is reclassification of Public zone to Public/Residential for all practical purposes, regardless of whether the zone title is changed. The City also cannot commit any monies to affordable housing under the California constitution, without a vote of the people (as example, Oakland has a ballot measure in place for November asking the voters to authorize this).

It should be noted that following the demise of redevelopment which provided monies for affordable housing to cities, State law was changed to allow cities to use a minimum “default density” as a proxy for affordable housing. In the Bay Area/Piedmont, this is 30 units per acre. So while housing elements may have sites at densities higher than this as having potential for income-restricted housing, in practice, it is rare for these sites get developed with affordable housing, as these require subsidies and assembling of financing packages, that are often difficult to cobble together. The higher densities do facilitate development of market-rate workforce and senior housing, so these sites do serve a useful purpose.

Because the City is the owner of the sites where the lower-income sites are shown, it would be incumbent upon the City to demonstrate how lower-income (that is, income-restricted) housing would result, in more detail in the Housing Element. The City needs to lay out this roadmap in the element to satisfy the State. Later, say when the City is ready to move along with rehabbing Veterans Hall, it would need to wait for a housing partner. The City may need to issue RFPs to attract developers, convince the State that no developers were found if that is the case, and have to find other sites to zone under new State laws passed in 2018, which means starting over.

This approach is so fraught with potential problems, that I don’t readily know of any city in California that is doing this as part of their Housing Element inventories, not even cities with a lot more dedicated staff and resources or huge commitments to housing. While this may seem like an easy way to find sites and get the Housing Element certified, the real problems will emerge and consume the City for the several years AFTER the Housing Element is adopted and certified, and present problems that the City may find hard to extricate itself from.

The City should remove these sites from further consideration in the Housing Element, especially as it is possible to meet both lower-income and overall housing needs through other methods.

4.      REMOVE HIGHLAND GREEN FROM CONSIDERATION

The City should also remove Highland Green from consideration as a housing site. This site has a total of five paltry units capacity as per the Housing Element (which is a lot less than the SB-9 units the City believes it doesn’t need to count), is used for July 4th parade staging, and is barely 25 feet deep, and unsuited for housing. Piedmont also is short on parks and recreation space, and the EIR on the Housing Element will likely show a significant and unavoidable park impact with the addition of new housing, requiring the City to undertake all feasible measures to mitigate these impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

5.      REMOVE REQUIREMENT OF SPECIFIC PLAN FOR MORAGA CANYON DEVELOPMENT

A requirement of a Specific Plan as a prelude to any development in this area will delay development. This is also unnecessary, as utilities are available at the site and the City can apportion areas here easily for housing development to enable development to proceed. The City is already required under State law to prepare objective housing design standards, which could be tailored for the area.

6.      DESIGNATE ONE OF THE TWO GRAND AVENUE SITES FOR LOWER-INCOME HOUSING

The Housing Element designates Ace Hardware and Sylvan office building for moderate and higher income housing. These sites are within the acreage (0.5 acres to 10.0 acres) range that HCD recommends for lower-income housing, and should be designated for these instead of Civic Center sites. Development at these sites will likely take place by razing the existing buildings, and housing can be easily incorporated as part of redevelopment. Regardless, it will up to the market to perform development here–whether it’s affordable, market rate, or senior–rather than encumbering the City with this responsibility.

7.      CONSIDER HIGHER DENSITIES ALONG GRAND AVENUE AND HIGHLAND AVENUE TO MAKE UP SHORTFALL RESULTING FROM REMOVAL OF CIVIC CENTER SITES

The proposed densities of 80 units per acre along Grand and Highland avenues are low, and can be increased to 120 or 140 units per acre, within five stories. For context, much of the new development along Broadway in Oakland in Broadway Valdez area are at about three times this density. The new six-story residential building with a 35,000 s.f. Target store and other commercial uses Broadway/26th is at 240 units per acre, in a seven-story configuration (six stories residential above commercial). Half this much density, especially along Grand Avenue, is not unreasonable. This a great area, walkable, with access to stores, school, and amenities.

Calculation of how increase in density at Grand Avenue to 140 units per acre max. and Highland sites to 100 units per acre would result in the same number of units after removal of Civic Center sites has been provided to the City. It should be noted that were SB-9 units to be counted, the proposed Highland Avenue densities can be left as proposed in the Housing Element (80 units per acre), and Grand Avenue densities increased to 120 units per acre.

8.      ADDITIONAL ITEMS FOR CONSIDERATION

Promoting Missing Middle Housing

The Housing Element does not consider strategies to foster a greater variety of housing types (for examples triplexes, fourplexes) in some or all single-family areas. This may run afoul of the City Charter, but is a strategy worth considering, and is much less of a change from the City Charter than what is being considered for the Public zone in the draft element. The City can maintain the existing development regulations (pertaining to setbacks, heights, floor area ratios) to ensure that these blend in into existing neighborhoods.

Consideration of Walkability and Access to Amenities

The draft Housing Element has a lot of housing units (132) squeezed into a relatively small area at the Corp Yard site. This area does not have the same access to stores, services, and transit as the Grand Avenue area, yet the highest densities (80 units per acre max.) are the same in the two areas. This number should be reduced, and more housing accommodated along Grand and Highland avenues. The City may also find that less development is needed here once SB-9 sites are counted.

Rajeev Bhatia, Piedmont Resident
The above letter was sent to the Piedmont City Council.
Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
1 Comment »
Jun 15 2022

One of the missing puzzle pieces from the Piedmont Housing Element is an analysis of the potential for Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) to add new housing to Piedmont over the next 8 years.

In short, SB 9 allows property owners with lots of a certain size to subdivide and add two units on the new lot with virtually no restrictions from the municipal authority.  There are many of these lots in Piedmont’s Zones A and E and their development under SB 9 could contribute significantly to meeting the goal of 587 units by 2031.

This type of housing growth is new and in March 2022 the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), the state agency in charge of setting the 2031 housing goals, published guidance on how cities can develop projections for SB 9 growth to include in their 2023 Housing Elements.  That guidance states:

“To utilize projections based on SB 9 toward a jurisdiction’s regional housing need allocation, the housing element must: 1) include a site-specific inventory of sites where SB 9 projections are being applied, 2) include a non-vacant sites analysis demonstrating the likelihood of redevelopment and that the existing use will not constitute an impediment for additional residential use, 3) identify any governmental constraints to the use of SB 9 in the creation of units (including land use controls, fees, and other exactions, as well as locally adopted ordinances that impact the cost and supply of residential development), and 4) include programs and policies that establish zoning and development standards early in the planning period and implement incentives to encourage and facilitate development. The element should support this analysis with local information such as local developer or owner interest to utilize zoning and incentives established through SB 9.”

SB 9 Fact Sheet

Several Bay Area cities are following this guidance and including SB 9 projections in their Housing Elements. The City of Atherton projects 80 units over the next 8 years based on limited community input and a GIS analysis of large lots in their community (see page 72 of the draft Atherton Housing Element).  Larkspur is conducting a survey of property owners to gauge their interest in developing their property ( Larkspur Property Owner Survey).  The City of Ross is also considering including an SB 9 analysis in its Housing Element  (Ross Housing Element).   Housing advocates are calling on cites to include SB 9 projections in their housing elements as well.  A letter sent to the City of Piedmont from East Bay for Everyone and the Greenbelt Alliance states:

“The Draft Housing Element states that the city plans to “Amend the Zoning Ordinance to encourage large lot splits under SB 9 by early 2027”.  Piedmont’s primary method of building new Moderate and Above-Moderate Income housing may well be lot splits and duplexes on existing lots, which makes this an unreasonable time frame. The City should go further than SB9 requires and allow for building housing in Zones A and E, such as fourplexes, six-plexes, Cottage Courts, Townhouses, and similar building styles. We believe that allowing the construction of fourplexes and six-plexes will increase the likelihood of development on each site and lower the price per square foot of the new homes, which will make them available to a wider range of people. Adding more units per lot will increase the amount of tax revenue and impact fees the city collects, which will make it easier to construct subsidized affordable housing on other sites in the inventory.”
                                                                                                            East Bay for Everyone/Greenbelt Alliance

Yet with all this evidence to the contrary, the Piedmont Planning Department insists that HCD will not accept SB 9 projections in its housing element.  The public record says otherwise and staff should explain its position in light of the HCD SB 9 guidance.   Staff does acknowledge that these SB 9 units will count towards housing goals should they develop but in so doing are losing an opportunity now to properly plan for that growth for the betterment of the community.  For example, to incentivize development, the Housing Element increases densities in the multi-use zone, thereby risking the conversion of Ace Hardware to housing.   Likewise, to develop moderate income housing, the Housing Element proposes using public sites in the Civic Center and Corporation Yard, important public spaces the city needs to modernize.  Were the Planning Department to account for SB 9 moderate income units in Zones A and E (and incentivize that as the housing advocates suggest), the City would not need to propose housing development for these essential private and public spaces.

Fortunately, there is time for an SB9 analysis to be included in the Housing Element – the deadline for the document is May 2023.  But Council will have to step up and direct staff to do so.  Otherwise, the Housing Element will fail to account for a significant source of new housing potential, which staff always reminds us is the whole point of this exercise.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of the Piedmont City Council

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those the author.
2 Comments »
Jun 7 2022

– Imposed Housing, New School Superintendent, Police and Fire, Zoning, Taxes, Transparency, School Funding, Open Accessible Government, Safety, Utility Undergrounding, Equity, Safe Sidewalks, Recreation for All, Lower Student Enrollment, Pandemic Requirements, Budgets, Environment, Employee Selections, Teacher Retention, and more …..

Have you or someone you know thought of seeking election to the Piedmont City Council or School Board?

Now is a good time to get a campaign underway.

Filing for the November 8, 2022 Election starts on Monday, July 18, 2022 @ 8:30 AM

The races for the City Council and School Board are non-partisan.  Piedmont has historically followed a “who do you know” pattern of election with endorsements from individuals and sometimes groups for particular candidates.  With many issues to be considered during the election, certain special interest groups or individuals will coalless. 

Although John Tulloch, Piedmont’s City Clerk, has yet to publish the various deadlines and requirements for placing your name on the Piedmont November 2022 ballot, he may be contacted at 510/420-3040 for information. 

Editors’ Note: The Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) does not support or oppose particular candidates seeking elected office, but greatly encourages participatory democracy and elections.
1 Comment »
Jun 7 2022

Elected Positions Open on City Council and School Board –

Campaign Coffee Invitation

Are you an active community leader with vast talents you would love to put to work to make our community and schools a better place to learn, live and grow? Have you ever considered running for public office but don’t know where to start?

Whether you’ve always dreamed of running for office or thought that would never be you, there’s a place and a path for everyone. Our city and schools need YOU! And we’re here to show you how and to support you on your journey.

During the November 2022 election cycle, the Piedmont Unified School District will have two openings as Amal Smith will be termed out and Board Member Megan Pillsbury is not running for reelection. The Piedmont City Council will have three openings as Mayor Teddy Gray King will be termed out, Council Member Betsy Andersen will be up for reelection and  appointed Council Member Jennifer Long will be up for election.

Please join us to learn more about what’s it like to serve your community in elected office. Tues. June 14th at 9:30 a.m. PST.  RSVP to Jen Cavenaugh (jcavenaugh3@gmail.com) for location details. If you can’t make it at this time, but would like to learn more, please contact us to set-up a one-on-one conversation at your convenience.

If you know someone you think would be great, please tell them you see their potential and send them our way.

Jen Cavenaugh, Vice Mayor Piedmont

Megan Pillsbury, Vice President PUSD Board of Trustees

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Jun 3 2022

Is more resident engagement needed for the Housing Element?

Many Piedmont residents do not understand or approve of plans for adding 587 new housing units within Piedmont’s built-out city limits of 1.8 square miles. The Piedmont City Council, unlike other City Councils in the region, has energetically and swiftly pressed to further densify Piedmont and add the 587 new housing units.  

No survey has been mailed to Piedmont residents, the most direct, useful, and inclusive means of gaining resident opinions.

Expensive banners are up throughout the city creating dismay about their meaning:  their grammar; insulting slogans; and seeming downgrading of neighboring communities.  Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on staff, mailers, meetings, banners, postcards, City news releases, consultants, puzzles, preferred interest-group participation,  committee and commission presentations,  fewer than 300 Piedmonters have participated by writing to the City in the process.

 The City printed “Piedmont is home.” postcards for residents, yet sent no questionnaire or survey by direct mail to Piedmont residents to gather their input. Most outreach of the Housing Element draft was conducted during the raging pandemic via the  internet, eliminating many seniors not current with the internet.  A mailed survey would no doubt have produced far greater input.

Wait Until the New Council is Elected in November to Act on the Housing Element

Piedmont is holding its election for 3 Council seats this November, 2022.  Of the three seats, one seat is totally open (Mayor King is termed out of office.), one seat has an incumbent (Councilmember Andersen), and one seat is held by an appointed incumbent (Councilmember Long).  A citizen suggested allowing the Housing Element to be thoroughly aired during the election process and campaigns.  This would conform to state extended deadlines while allowing greater resident participation and understanding of the Housing Element.  The current Council plans are:

“Summer 2022: With the City Council’s consent, submission of Draft Housing Element to the CA Housing and Community Development Department for certification.”

“May 2023: 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.”  City publicity.

Summary Information and Question Answers missing from publicity.

Most residents have no idea of how proposed changes will impact Piedmont as a whole or their homes.   Additionally, some input has been ignored by the City. While little direct information is provided to residents, notions abound and concerns persist.

  • Is safety the foundation of all proposals in the Housing Element?

  • Have safety considerations been given for high fire areas, substandard streets, overhead utilities, public safety access, traffic, parking, transit, mud slides, water, sidewalks, city staffing requirements?

  • The City Charter specifically prescribes Piedmont voters have a right to approve zoning changes.  Will the proposals require this to be ultimately taken away from Piedmont voters?

  • What zoning or land use changes are proposed?

  • How much will the expanded staffing and public safety needs cost in taxes or other sources of funding? 

  • Will the proposed changes make Piedmont a less desirable city?

  • Is loss of air and light to be considered with proposed new higher height limits for each garage/ADU living unit?

  • When will the public be allowed to provide input on building proposals in their neighborhood?

  • The Moraga Avenue Corporation Yard was chosen for high-rise buildings. What public transit is available, new streets, new electric signaling, sidewalks, water, sewer, waste?

  • Trees in Piedmont are prized. How does the proposal protect the trees on public and private property?

  • The current pandemic has pointed out the vital need for open space and air for healthy living conditions.  How has this been addressed in the proposal?

 

City News Release below:

DRAFT HOUSING ELEMENT TOWN HALL

The City of Piedmont will host a virtual Town Hall on June 7, 2022, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm to provide an opportunity to learn more about the >Draft Housing Element. [over 600 page document]

This Town Hall will provide an opportunity for community members to pose questions about the Draft Housing Element. Following a short presentation, a panel the City’s team of housing consultants and staff will provide responses to questions submitted by attendees.

The City has received over 275 written comments from community members on the Draft Housing Element via email and the Piedmont Housing Puzzle. Over 50 community members participated at the April 19th Housing Advisory Committee meeting and at the May 12th Planning Commission meeting.

You are welcomed and encouraged to participate using the following formats:

  • Computer or smart phone:

     Click on https://piedmont-ca-gov.zoom.us/j/86477811380

  • Computer or smart phone:

     Click on https://piedmont.ca.gov/government/meeting_videos

  • Telephone:

Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 864-7781-1380

  • Television:

Watch on KCOM, Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T UVerse Channel 99

We look forward to seeing you there!

City news release below:

The City of Piedmont will host a Town Hall on June 7th at 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. to provide an opportunity for Piedmont residents to learn more about the Draft Housing Element. This Town Hall
will provide an opportunity for community members to pose questions about the document.

Following a short presentation addressing some of the issues, a panel  [names not listed] will provide responses to  questions submitted by attendees.

“We have received over 275 written comments from community members on the Draft Housing
Element via email and the Piedmont Puzzle. And have heard from over 50 community members at
the April 19th Housing Advisory Committee meeting and the May 12th Planning Commission
meeting,” said Kevin Jackson, the City’s Director of Planning & Building. “Several of those
comments included questions. We intend to provide answers to those questions and clarity on the
purpose and scope of the Draft Housing Element at this Town Hall Q&A meeting.”

Residents can participate in the Zoom meeting or watch the meeting by tuning to KCOM TV,
Comcast channel 27 or AT&T channel 99.

Housing Element Update Timeline:

June 7, 2022: Virtual Town Hall Q&A Meeting at 6:00 p.m.

June 20, 2022: City Council Consideration of Draft Housing Element.

Summer 2022: With the City Council’s consent, submission of Draft Housing Element to the CA Housing and Community Development Department for certification.

May 2023: 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.

Four informational videos about the 2023-2031 Housing Element have been produced by City staff.
Please visit Piedmont’s Youtube channel at
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3RUnN7wcyGgnnjmYmFnXQ

or watch these videos on the homepage of https://piedmontishome.org.

Piedmontishome.org

The City has created a web site, https://piedmontishome.org, which is a one-stop shop for information
on the City’s housing efforts. This site contains information about the 2023-2031 Housing Element
process, as well as other fair housing programs.

Community members are encouraged to review the materials on the site and submit comments,
questions, ideas, and concerns to piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov. This email address will capture
official public correspondence about City of Piedmont housing policy work, including the 2023-2031
Housing Element Update.

2022-05-24 Housing Element Town Hall Meeting

1 Comment »
Jun 3 2022

What’s with all those suggestive banners on Grand Avenue?  “A Housing Element for All,” “How Will Piedmont Grow?” and a couple more I could not either see (for the trees) or remember.

Anytime I see advocacy for Piedmont to grow, I hope they mean more kids in the existing housing.   I was one at ABAG — at both Regional Planning and the Executive Board, who insisted that some communities were not meant to build more housing for a number of reasons.  
.
There is this compulsion that California needs to grow its population.  This began with Governor Pat Brown (Jerry’s Dad) in the early 1960’s.  The senior Brown wanted California to become the most populous state and, therefore, have the most electoral votes.  Well, we have the most votes but we have a state whose population is outrunning its resources.
.
The State water project (also championed by Pat Brown) was never completed.  We lack the water capacity to support both population and agriculture.  Now, how does this affect Piedmont and it’s planning?  You run the very real risk of over burdening the community’s resources by way of infrastructure and effect on other imported resources such as water and energy.
.
The State has adopted this philosophy of build, build, build and we have, have, have.  California loses valuable agricultural land to development every year.  We have less land to produce food for more people.  When did this become a good idea?  This elongated period of drought has caused tremendous harm to the underground water supply in the Central Valley.  Yet there is this continuing demand to build right over those aquifers.
.
I am not even going to get into the status of public education and the effects this has on the future of public vs. private education.   
.
Forcing communities, such as Piedmont, to grow its housing is just symptomatic of the harm being done throughout California.  Jerry Brown, as Governor, the second time around, spoke of a California with 50 million people.  However, he did not add that it would be 50 million living with resources for 35 million.
.
The State needs to pull back on the draconian mandate to build more housing and assess California’s resources and how best to manage them.  The only State offered water plan continues to be building a piped version of the Peripheral Canal.  Likewise, why has the State been lax in planning for California’s agriculture assets?  How much more ag land can be paved over before Sacramento realizes the danger this poses for the future of this state?
.
“How shall Piedmont Grow” is an indicator of how far off the rails California is headed (and I don’t mean all the money invested in “high speed rail”) with this forced building policy (more like extorsion) while under planning for the resources to supply the population.
.
Steve Eigenberg, Former Piedmont Mayor and Councilmember
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
3 Comments »
Jun 3 2022

From the City of Piedmont:

To limit the impact of increasing COVID-19 cases on hospitalizations, today Alameda County health officials announced that masks will be required in most indoor public settings beginning 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 3, 2022.

 
Masking provides an added layer of protection against infection from a virus that spreads through the air. Wearing a high-quality mask protects both the wearer and those around them, and having more people masked will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Children under age 2 should not mask.
 
“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. “We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities.”
 
Remember that for masks to work properly, they need to completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face and around your nose.
 

For more information, including the text of the Alameda County health order, please see: https://covid-19.acgov.org/face-masks.page

 
 
May 25 2022

HOUSING ELEMENTS: STATE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS FOUND TO BE IN ERROR BY STATE AUDITOR 

How many housing units are actually needed?

The Auditor’s letter suggests a number of fundamental Housing and Community Development (HCD) failures:

– adequate consideration of all factors required by state law

– accurate use of healthy housing vacancy rates

– projection of the number of future households that will require housing units lacks supportive data

– lack of a proper study to support HCD housing numbers required of local communities

Excerpt quoted from Acting California State Auditor’s letter:

“…  In reviewing the needs assessments for three regions, we identified multiple areas in which HCD must improve its process. For example, HCD does not satisfactorily review its needs assessments to ensure that staff accurately enter data when they calculate how much housing local governments must plan to build. As a result, HCD made errors that reduced its projected need for housing in two of the regions we reviewed. We also found that HCD could not demonstrate that it adequately considered all of the factors that state law requires, and it could not support its use of healthy housing vacancy rates. This insufficient oversight and lack of support for its considerations risks eroding public confidence that HCD is informing local governments of the appropriate amount of housing they will need.

“HCD’s needs assessments also rely on some projections that the Department of Finance (Finance) provides. While we found that most of Finance’s projections were reasonably accurate, it has not adequately supported the rates it uses to project the number of future households that will require housing units in the State. Although these household projections are a key component in HCD’s needs assessments, Finance has not conducted a proper study or obtained formal recommendations from experts it consulted to support its assumptions in this area. Finance intends to reevaluate its assumptions related to household growth as more detailed 2020 Census data becomes available later in the year, but without such efforts, Finance cannot ensure that it is providing the most appropriate information to HCD.”

Respectfully submitted,

MICHAEL S. TILDEN, CPA
Acting California State Auditor

Read the complete letter here.

3 Comments »