Piedmont Neighborhood News

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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


4 Responses to “Underground District Debate”

  1. The agenda for the December 12, 2009 Special City Council meeting has been posted. you can download it from http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/citycouncil/

    • nmcenroe said

      If you can’t attend December 12, 2009 Council meeting, it is very, very important to let Council Members know your feelings on this staff recommendation before the 12th.

      The staff recommendation provides an relatively “easy” solution (for city staff, bond counsel and district property owners) to the current “unpleasant” problems for the district. Three Council votes are all that is needed on Saturday and POOF this expensive, professional embarrassment disappears from public scrutiny — that is until the next time general tax revenues are needed to pay for a specific benefit assessment district. Council needs to hold the line and reject this recommendation.

      Let them know NOW.

  2. trood said

    It appears the amount of the bonds for the PUHD was capped at
    $1,753,251, per the bond purchase contract posted at

    According to the Valley Utility construction contract provided by the City Clerk, the original construction contract before change orders was for $1,515,295.

    According to the Council staff report for 12/7/09, the ten change orders to date have totaled $1,480,384. Taking into account credits received ($423,025) from not having to do the standard open trench cut work for certain trenches as shown in the original contract brings the overall net additional cost for rock work to approximately $1,057,359.

    I would like to know whether these change orders were authorized by the Council, or if not, whether the Public Works Director and/or City Administrator had the authority to approve change orders in excess of the bonding capacity of the district. If they did not, it would appear that one or both staff members was derelict in their duty to bring this matter to the Council for authorization before authorizing the additional expenditure of public funds.

    This is a truly regrettable situation for all Piedmonters. Only our elected officials’ oversight of staff can prevent this from happening again and again. Please urge the Council not to approve the $1.04 million appropriation unless strict conditions are attached, including both a statement reiterating the City’s policy against public funding of undergrounding projects and appointment of a Council subcommittee to further investigate this matter and take any appropriate disciplinary action.

    Tim Rood

  3. […] Neighborhood News caught my eye. It began with a big, bold quote from their City Administrator from a recent Council meeting: Such an extraordinary, such an unpleasant, such a difficult recommendation. The recommendation is […]

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