Piedmont Neighborhood News

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Archive for December, 2009

Undergrounding, tell it like it is

Posted by Len Gilbert on December 10, 2009

The city is having another special city council meeting to discuss a $1 million dollar bailout for the Piedmont Hills Underground District. The meeting is Saturday, December 12th at 2:00pm. There is only one agenda item and it’s a whopper.

Consideration of an appropriation of $1,004,832 from the General Fund for projected construction costs to complete the Piedmont Hills Underground Utility District

At least one member of the district seems upset the public found out about the “emergency” meeting on Monday and that a call for public participation, review, and oversight was made. Fortunately, word about this ill-advised use of our general fund got out, and an outpouring of opposition has been communicated to the council and city administrator. The taxpayers are rightly suspicious of a plan to spend 1/3 of the general fund on 3-days notice, so the decision was postponed to Saturday. Why was minimum notice given since it is clear the PHUD and city staff knew about the issue a month earlier?

Please add your voice. This project must be paid by the 144 households in the PHUD who directly benefit from undergrounding. As much as they claim the benefit is for the entire town, this claim is an overstatement. If undergrounding is a major safety improvement, the city should spend the money to underground on Highland, Oakland, and Grand Avenues—all major transportation routes for public safety vehicles—before undergrounding a residential corner of upper Piedmont. 

You can watch the replay on KCOM at http://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=300 Then click on the item 7 link.

Abe Friedman, Mayor afriedman@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 654-0409 Term Exp. 3/10
Dean Barbieri, Vice Mayor dbarbieri@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 655-6802 Term Exp. 3/12
John Chiang jchiang@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 655-2959 Term Exp. 3/10
Garrett Keating gkeating@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 566-1481 Term Exp. 3/10
Margaret Fujioka mfujioka@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 463-7821 Term Exp. 3/12

Watch the last meeting, then make your opinion heard before the council decides on this very important issue.

Len Gilbert

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Underground District Debate

Posted by Len Gilbert on December 8, 2009

“Such an extraordinary, such an unpleasant, such a difficult recommendation. The recommendation is mine and I am responsible for it.”

—City Administrator Grote addressing the council.

You can watch the replay on KCOM at http://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=300 Then click on the item 7 link.

Why does the city insist on subsidizing improved street views for 144 upper Piedmont households at the expense and jeopardy of our general fund? Hear City Administrator Geoff Grote explain how we got into this mess. His proposal is that we bail out these select residents and the Piedmont Hills Undergrounding District (PHUD).

If  “safety” is the primary concern, then Grand, Highland, and Oakland Avenues should be undergrounded. Those are primary routes through town for public safety vehicles such as fire and ambulance. Yet, the call is to instead spend the money in a pocket of town where there are no schools, markets, transportation arteries…you decide how much “safety” played into the decision to underground utilities for the 144.

My reaction is to again loudly say NO. This project should never have been approved and it should immediately be stopped.

Make your opinion heard before the council decides on this very important issue.

Abe Friedman, Mayor afriedman@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 654-0409 Term Exp. 3/10
Dean Barbieri, Vice Mayor dbarbieri@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 655-6802 Term Exp. 3/12
John Chiang jchiang@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 655-2959 Term Exp. 3/10
Garrett Keating gkeating@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 566-1481 Term Exp. 3/10
Margaret Fujioka mfujioka@ci.piedmont.ca.us (510) 463-7821 Term Exp. 3/12

Let the council know today.

Len Gilbert


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Undergrounding is “an emergency?”

Posted by Len Gilbert on December 5, 2009

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the Council will act on an unprecedented “emergency” resolution to subsidize a $2.5 million undergrounding district that benefits 145 homes. Details at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/12-07-09/phu_approp.pdf

The undergrounding was supposed to be paid by the homeowners. Bids ranged from $1.5 to $2.5 million and they went with the low bidder. The “emergency” is that the contractors hit rock, which wasn’t included in the low bid. So our City administrator is recommending that the City commit over $1 million in public funds, roughly one-third of the City’s reserve fund, to cover these unexpected costs. The homeowners have raised $30,000 to date and pledged another $70,000.

Is it really reasonable to spend one-third of the City’s General Fund reserve to provide a subsidy of $6,800 per home on a beautification project that doesn’t really benefit anyone else in the City?

If you care about this expenditure of scarce public dollars, please attend the Council meeting Monday, email the Council (addresses at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/citycouncil/) and circulate this email widely.

Thanks,
Tim Rood

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