Piedmont Neighborhood News

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Archive for November, 2010

Piedmont Events

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 29, 2010

Here are a some of events for this week.

Piedmont Baseball Foundation Community Meeting

Tuesday, November 30th, 7-9pm
Piedmont HS Library

Baseball is not winding down, we’re just gearing up….

Please join us on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 from 7-9 pm at the PHS Library for Parent Information Night.

Want to learn more about player evaluations or team formation, league divisions or foundation philosophy?  Come have your questions answered as Division Commissioners outline their plans for the quickly approaching Spring season.

Parents of all age groups are encouraged to come.  The meeting will be divided into several sessions:  Shetland (ages 5-6) and Pinto (ages 7-8) from 7-7:30; Mustang (ages 9-10) from 7:30-8; Bronco (ages 11-12) from 8-8:30; and Pony (ages 13-14) from 8:30-9.

We hope to see you there.
Piedmont Baseball Foundation

Learn more at http://www.piedmontbaseball.org

Holiday Tree Lighting

Wednesday, December 2nd, 7:15 pm
Piedmont Community Center

Tree lighting, cider, caroling and good cheer.

PBF Player Evaluations

Saturday, December 4th at the times and locations below.

Pinto – 8-11 a.m. at Witter Football Field

Mustang – 12:30-3:30 p.m. at Witter Football Field

Bronco – 9-11 a.m. at Coaches Field**

Pony – 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Coaches Field**

**To minimize congestion at Coaches Field on December 4th, there will be no parking allowed in Coaches’ field lot.  PBSF encourages Bronco and Pony players and parents to do one of three things to get to the evaluations:

  1. Carpool with other families and drop the players off at the field.
  2. Walk to Coaches Field.
  3. PBSF will coordinate a shuttle from the Piedmont Community Center parking lot to Coaches.  Pick up will be at 8:45 for Bronco and 11:15 a.m. for Pony.

Any players left at Coaches after evaluations will be shuttled back to the Community Center parking lot (around 11:15 a.m. for Bronco and around 1:45 p.m. for Pony).

Posted in City News, Youth Sports | Leave a Comment »

News from the Piedmont Swim Club

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 29, 2010

Piedmont Swim Club
777 Magnolia Avenue,
Piedmont, CA 94611
Contact:  Tim Rood, tsr12@columbia.edu


Monday, November 29, 2010

Negotiations for Renewal of the Swim Club Lease Are at a Critical Point

The Piedmont Swim Club lease expires on June 30, 2011.  Negotiations for renewal of the lease are at a critical point.  The City Council will be discussing the lease in closed session at its December 6, 2010 meeting.  The principal obstacle to a new lease is the issue of rent.  The Club’s position is that it already supports swimming programs for the Piedmont School District, the Piedmont Swim Team and the broader community at a cost to the Club of over $100,000 per year and it cannot, in addition, afford to pay cash rent.  For 31 of its 46 years, the Club has provided those programs to the community, in lieu of rent.  It did pay rent of $38,000 per year from 1993 to 2008, but, because of uncertainty about a lease renewal and the failure to have a long-term lease, Club membership has dropped by 145 (25%), causing a loss of about $400,000.  For that reason, there simply is no money to pay rent.  The City’s position is that, if the Club does not pay rent, the City will take over operation of the pool, which it understands will cost the City between $250,000 and $350,000 and will require the City to charge those families who participate in the swimming programs of the Piedmont School District and Piedmont Swim Team for their use of the pool.

If you are a member of the Club, your kids participate in the high school water polo or swim teams, the middle school PE or adapted PE programs, or the Piedmont Swim Team programs, or you are a Piedmont taxpayer who doesn’t care about swimming but does care that the City not spend money on something that has been provided for the last 46 years at no cost, it is important that you let the members of the Council know, before their December 6 meeting, that renewal of the Piedmont Swim Club lease is important to you.  Council member Garrett Keating, as a member of the Club, has recused himself from this issue.  The names and email addresses of the other Council members are listed below, as are the important points on this issue.

John Chiang: jchiang@ci.piedmont.ca.us

Dean Barbieri: dbarbieri@ci.piedmont.ca.us

Jeff Wieler: jwieler@ci.piedmont.ca.us

Margaret Fujioka: mfujioka@ci.piedmont.ca.us

(cc the City Clerk, jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us, so your email becomes part of the public record)

Important Points About Renewal of the Swim Club Lease

1.  Uncertainty about renewal of the Club’s lease and the failure to have a long-term lease in place over the last five years has caused Club membership to drop by 145 and forced it to lose about $400,000 in revenue and to completely use up all of its reserves.  As of July 1, 2011, it will have no reserves.

2.  The City helped get the Club into this fiscal dilemma and, if the Club is to continue to provide its support to the swimming programs for the kids of the community and public access to the community as a whole, at no cost to the City, the City is going to have to help the Club get out of it.

3.  Returning the Club to financial health will be hard.  The Club will have to regenerate prudent reserves for both operating and capital expenses before it can pay any money to the City for rent.  Financial forecasts making reasonable assumptions over the course of a projected lease show that the Club can’t both generate those reserves and pay rent to the City.

4.  In lieu of rent, the Club has offered to give the City any money it hasn’t spent at the end of the lease, if the City will use that money for pool operation or towards a replacement pool.

5.  The Club is willing to continue to provide swimming programs for the community at no cost to the City.

6.  If the City takes over operation of the pool, its own projections show that it will cost the City between $250,000 and $350,000, and the City will not be able to provide free use to the Middle School and High School swimming programs or heavily discounted use to the Piedmont Swim Team.

7.  Other communities have had to close public pools for budgetary reasons and have established partnerships with local non-profits to provide swimming programs for the community.  Piedmont already has that model and it has worked for 46 years.  This would be a strange time for the City to abandon that model and take over operations of the pool at taxpayer expense, simply because the Club could not pay a rent which represents a small fraction of the cost to the City (rent the Club demonstrably can not afford to pay).

8.  The Blair Park group, which plans to operate soccer fields in Moraga Canyon, is not being asked to pay rent.  Why is the Piedmont Swim Club?


Posted in City News, Recreation, School, Youth Sports | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

PLWV Holiday Lunch – The Oakland Library: Opportunity for All

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 19, 2010

Oakland Library Director to Speak at Piedmont League of Women Voters Holiday Lunch

Carmen Martinez, Director of the Oakland Public Library, will be the featured speaker at the Piedmont League of Women Voters’ Holiday Lunch on Wednesday, December. 1, 2010.  The event will be held at 104 Monte Avenue, Piedmont, and the program will begin at 10:30 a.m. Ms. Martinez will discuss “The Oakland Library: Opportunity for All.”

Carmen Martinez has been Library Services Director of the Oakland Public Library for 10 years. She received her Master’s degree in library science at California State University, Fullerton in 1974 and worked as a children’s librarian in Los Angeles County before becoming Director of Branches at the Los Angeles Public Library. She is active professionally in the California and American Library Associations and serves on the board of the California Cultural and Historic Endowment Fund. Ms. Martinez lives in the Montclair neighborhood and enjoys hiking, cooking, and “good reads.”

Cost of the luncheon is $25.00 per person, and reservations are required.. For reservations, mail check, payable to LWVP, to Treasurer Ward Lindenmayer, 40 Highland Ave., Piedmont, 94611. Reservation deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 23.  For further information, call Marj Blackwell, 510.654.4456.


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Reminder: Important Meeting for the PMS Parent Community

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 16, 2010

Please come to an important meeting for the PMS parent community this Thursday, November 18 from 7:00-9:00 pm in the PMS MPR. (note: the meeting will start at 7:00, not 7:30)

The PMS Parent Club invites you to a Special Meeting for the PMS Parent Community featuring Superintendent Connie Hubbard, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services David Roth, Principal Jeanne Donovan, Assistant Principal Dan Bonnin, and Counselors Brooke Zimmerman and Kech Carera.

They will provide an overview of the state budget situation and how Piedmont Unified School District plans to maintain excellence despite shrinking compensation from the state. They will also share insights about academic programs, priorities for professional development of teachers, and social-emotional issues that our kids are facing at PMS.

The meeting will be from 7:00-9:00 in the PMS Multipurpose Room in lieu of the regularly scheduled Parent Club Meeting. A parent from each family is strongly encouraged to attend!

Questions/suggestions – please contact PMS Parent Club President Sarah Pearson <srpear@gmail.com> 658-0888

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Blair Park – Viewpoint

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 15, 2010

Blair Park comes before the city council November 15th and December 6th. I received this email and Michael agreed to my request to repost it for PNN readers. I think captures a lot of the depth of the issue surrounding Blair Park and wanted to share it with you.


Dear fellow Piedmonters,

As an environmental scientist who teaches classes on natural resources management, sustainable cities, sustainable development, and other such topics, let me take off my soccer coach’s hat and put on my objective, academic hat and weigh in on this issue with a few points.

A sustainable community is one that balances the economic, social and environmental aspects of its citizens’ lives, not only within the confines of its boundaries but with respect to the surrounding communities and the broader environment.

Moraga Canyon/Blair Field is indeed one of the few open spaces in Piedmont as has been pointed out in email exchanges. However, in my professional opinion, it has limited environmental value. Because of the development of the upper part of the valley with houses and the presence of Highway 13, it does not likely function much as an ecological corridor. Although it has a few mature oak trees and some surrounding Chaparral on the south slope, it is not really large enough to be a refuge for wildlife passing through on their way to somewhere else. While it is adjunct to a larger area of open-space namely the Cemetery District, it is largely disconnected from that by the busy road, by coaches field, and the corporation lot. It does not house a stream or any other watercourse and offers little benefit, because of the modified drainage caused by city streets and culverts, as an absorption area for urban runoff. While the existing vegetation does offer a carbon sink, most of the trees are already mature and are fixing little in the way of carbon (if new trees were planted in and around the newly built sports facility, these would actually provide a more active sink for carbon as they grow to maturity). Assuming the trees cut down would be put to good use as firewood, they would offset the use of fossil fuels and could be mitigated by Piedmont financing the planting of additional trees elsewhere in the community or in some other local (a carbon offset) as part of the project. All other removed vegetation could be composted so as to keep that carbon as much as possible in its terrestrial form. Note that the current vegetation is not a pristine ecosystem. It is full of non-native species (Algerian ivy, broom, acacia, grasses, etc.), mixed with native ones. It is routinely cut back by city staff and is ringed by gardens and fences and other ecological barriers on all sides. Based on the above considerations (and one would of course go into much more detail on this as part of an full environmental impact assessment), this site probably cannot be assigned much environmental value in a consideration of community sustainability. Its environmental value, whatever a full analysis turns out to show in terms of habitat for native species, could be relatively easily mitigated by Piedmont residents using our considerable human resources and some of our financial resources to protect and enhance more obviously valuable ecological assets elsewhere within our surroundings – for example, in the nearby East Bay Regional Parks – or even further afield.

What the current Moraga Canyon/Blair Field site does have is amenity value – it is undoubtedly a community asset in its current form. It is most obviously a visual asset – I and many other’s enjoy its natural appearance as we drive up and down the valley. It is also dog-walk area for a few of Piedmont’s families and residents from Montclair and other parts of Oakland who drive their dogs there for exercise (I see little foot traffic because of the lack of sidewalk access to and from surrounding areas and the busy traffic). Thus, the number of individuals using this amenity seems limited and within the immediate surrounds there are existing alternatives that could be enhanced or could be argued already meet these needs. Similarly, the visual asset aspect of this location is something that too can be mitigated with appropriate landscaping that would preserve the current wooded feel of the valley and it must also not be forgotten that the sight of a well-designed recreational complex replete with happy and active children playing their favorite sports will also bring pleasure to many in a form that might be equal, though different, to that currently enjoyed by the canyon in its current form.

The biggest issue, it seems to me, is that in its current form, its main value is not so much its current value to the community of Piedmont as a whole, but to the specific portion of our community living immediately adjacent to it or above or below it on the transportation corridor it contains. The valley is an attractive buffer for the residents who live on the ridge above – a low-noise area and also a radiant cooling space between their properties and the busy road, the residences of the Maxwelton neighborhood, and Coaches Field. Very few properties have an active view of the canyon, but the few that do undoubtedly value the tranquility and the absence of glare that its unlit space provides. I know I would. The absence of all but the occasional dog-walker on the current open-space also acts to limit traffic flow to the ambient through-flow that Moraga supports from Montclair and Highway 13 down into Piedmont and the Piedmont Avenue areas (and on to other locations) and to the relatively limited evening and weekend traffic that accompanies visitors to Coaches Field for sports and skate-boarding. Clearly, as quantifiable by a thorough environmental impact review, the situation described would change for local residents due to the increase in use of the valley for sports and recreation, increasing the number of vehicles accessing this area, and adding noise and light that are currently at relatively low levels. Travel time through the valley at certain times might be increased due to the presence of traffic lights and the in-and-out of visitor’s vehicles. However, this might also be offset by greater road safety for drivers, bikers, and joggers due to the slowing effect that road modifications would have on through traffic forced to stop for lights.

In deciding what to do with the valley, as it is with many of the issues faced by a community when it comes to development of sites within them from one land-use type to another, our community needs to take the big picture. How many of our members will be disadvantaged by the change being proposed? Can the potential negative effects or loss of utility be mitigated or compensated by appropriate design or the provision of suitable alternatives at other nearby sites? What are the trade-offs in terms of enhanced amenity value afforded to the community as a whole? Do the enhanced community-wide values outweigh the more localized net-negative impacts affecting adjacent property owners (because it must be remembered that they too share in the positive effects of any change)?  Ultimately, in a community planning process, these kinds of issues are usually put to a vote – either a plebiscite such as a ballot measure, or as a proxy system by way of elected officials empowered by our community to act in our best interests, as communicated to them through the public consultation process. As a soccer coach and an environmental scientist and academic engaged in sustainable development teaching and research I will be happy to provide continued input to this discussion and will be attending the meeting on Monday November 15 and December 6th.


Michael Lee

Professor (Sustainability, Water, Development), Cal State East Bay
PYSC Volunteer Coaching Coordinator, Board Member, and E License Coach

Posted in City News, Parks, Recreation, Youth Sports | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »