Piedmont Neighborhood News

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Archive for November, 2011

Moraga Canyon Sports Fields Project – Public Hearing

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 22, 2011

This is the 300th post on the PNN. Some of our first posts covered: a burglary/kidnapping, Mulberrys Market opening, a robbery, and baseball signups. Some things don’t change. Hopefully some others do. Happy Thanksgiving.


 

City of Piedmont

California

PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice is hereby given that the Piedmont City Council will conduct a public hearing regarding the Moraga Canyon Sports Fields Project on Monday, December 5, 2011 at 7:30pm in the Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA. At the meeting, the City Council will be considering approval of an Addendum to the previously certified Moraga Canyon Sports Fields Project Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR); adoption of a mitigation monitoring program for the Project; adoption of findings and a statement of overriding considerations pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); conditions of approval for the Project; and approval or denial of the Project, or parts of the Project. In addition, the Council will consider a site lease, including a construction agreement, for the project, and the referral of the project to the Planning Commission for design review. The Addendum addresses modifications proposed to the Blair Park element of the Project by the Project proponents, Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO), while the Coaches Field element of the Project remains unchanged from the previously certified FEIR.

After the City Council’s certification of the FEIR on December 6, 2010, the City directed that the project be referred to the City Recreation, Park and Planning Commissions for further review and recommendations. Public hearings were held on January 19, 2011 (Recreation Commission), February 17, 2011 and March 2, 2011 (Park Commission), and February 24, 201l (Planning Commission) as specified by the City Council. On March 21, 2011, the City Council considered project alternatives presented by the public and PRFO, along with the input and comments received from the Recreation, Park and Planning Commissions. At this meeting, the City Council voted to proceed with consideration of a revised PRFO Blair Park master plan and requested that this plan include design modifications, particularly to address significant traffic and pedestrian safety impacts identified in the FEIR. The City Council also directed that additional environmental (CEQA) and legal review be conducted to determine if the previously certified FEIR would require additional analysis in the form of an Addendum (CEQA Guidelines, § 15164) or a Supplement (CEQA Guidelines, § 15163). Staff was also directed to prepare formal Conditions of Project Approval, Findings and Statement of Overriding Considerations for consideration by the Council.

The Final Project Proposal as submitted by the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization is available for review on the City’s web site: http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us . Hard copies of the proposal are available in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, for inspection. Any additional materials for this matter will be placed on the City website on or before November 23, 2011. The staff report for this matter will be available for public review on the city web site on or before Thursday, December 1, 2011.

Public testimony and comment on this matter is welcomed. Written comments are invited to the City Council, c/o Piedmont City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 or by email to: jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us. Correspondence received by the City Clerk is considered part of the public record.

Seating in the Council Chambers is limited. However, the meeting will be televised live on KCOM-TV, Channel 27, the City of Piedmont government access TV station, and is also available through streaming video on the city web site www.ci.piedmont.ca.us under on-line video.

For further information, contact Recreation Director Mark Delventhal at 420-3073 or City Clerk John Tulloch at 420-3040.

Posted: November 21, 2011

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GATE Parent Information Night

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 17, 2011

GATE Parent Information Night – Monday, November 28, 7:00 pm

All parents are invited to attend a GATE Parent Information Night on Monday, November 28, from 7:00-8:30 pm, at the Piedmont High School Library. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Randall Booker will discuss highlights of the revised GATE plan (approved in September 2011), implementation, and answer questions from parents. This year, the GATE Advisory Council (GAC) will be discussing the practice of cluster grouping, the new assessment process for GATE identification, teacher training, and improving school to home communications. Information from the GAC’s discussions will be shared and additional input will be taken in order to inform the District’s GATE planning and programming.

For more information, go to http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/curriculum/gate or contact Randall Booker at: RBooker@piedmont.k12.ca.us

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An Open Letter to Piedmonters on Blair Park

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 14, 2011

An Open Letter to Piedmonters Regarding My Position on Blair Park

By Tim Rood

A recent letter to the Piedmont Post  inaccurately characterized my position regarding the proposed sports complex at Blair Park. I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

As a longtime soccer parent (as well as baseball and softball) I am completely sympathetic to the desire for additional field space in town and understand that the lease for the fields currently used at Alameda Point expires next year. I know that for many Piedmonters, getting Blair Park built is the most important issue in their minds as they consider the Council candidates. There are many other Piedmonters for whom stopping Blair Park from happening at all is the most important issue on their minds. Personally, I am most focused on fiscally responsible government and an open and transparent public process, and I believe Blair Park touches on both of these issues.

The City has spent more than it took in for four of the past five years, without setting any funds aside for the maintenance of our City buildings and facilities, and has drawn down our reserves by half – over $7 million – in the past four years, despite having stable revenues during the economic downturn. Adding to our fiscal problems, the Council also decided to take over the operation of the City’s pools this year from the Piedmont Swim Club (of which  I was board president) , which entails a new annual cost to the taxpayers of about $400,000 per year to subsidize their operation, which had been fully paid by the Swim Club for the previous 47 years.

The Municipal Tax Review Committee’s “base case” projections of current trends show that the current path leads to a $2.2 million deficit and a $3.8 million shortfall in essential reserves within four years – even if the voters authorize renewal of the parcel tax.  To protect our essential public services, I am focused on taking concrete action to rein in City spending and ensuring that the Council does not make additional commitments involving City funding or staff time for new programs or projects without a full understanding of the costs and potential liabilities, and full funding in place. I’ve detailed my positions on fiscal issues on the “Issues” page of my website, www.TimRood2012.com. I understand that Blair Park is to be privately funded and maintained. To be confident that Piedmont’s taxpayers will not incur costs or liability from the construction, operation or maintenance of the proposed sports complex and associated changes to Moraga Avenue, the public will need to see the agreements between PRFO and the City that ensure this. I believe that drafts of these agreements should be made public prior to their adoption.

The City Administrator has publicly said the City does not have funds for the construction or maintenance of new sports or recreation facilities and that such facilities need to be privately funded, but he and the City Attorney have also signed an agreement with PRFO committing the City to covering the cost of staff and city attorney time connected with the  approval and environmental review process of the Blair Park proposal. There was no Council resolution authorizing this commitment of City resources, but because the City Administrator is overseen by the Council, I can only assume that this agreement was made with the approval of a majority of the Council – which to my mind should have been a publicly noticed agenda item and reported vote, even if discussed in closed session.

The Blair Park proposal coming before the Council on Dec. 5 is described as “final” by the proponents, but it still has unresolved traffic and pedestrian safety issues, on which the Council requested additional information back in March. In my professional opinion as a city planner, the major changes in the project since the original EIR was certified clearly call for a Supplemental EIR, which would require public circulation and notification to the agencies that raised concerns about the original EIR, rather than a CEQA addendum, which would not. I’ve posted on Piedmont Patch some technical comments about FHWA guidance regarding design criteria for mini-roundabouts that should be addressed in the environmental review. According to the CEQA guidelines, an addendum would only be appropriate when the project’s impacts are the same or less than the original project. I am hopeful that this additional information will be provided to the Council and the public prior to any further approvals of the project. The decision of what level of CEQA review is appropriate is properly a technical and legal one that should be made by City staff and the City attorney in consultation with the environmental review consultant, rather than a political decision to be made by the Council. The purpose of thorough CEQA review is not to delay the project but rather to comply with state law, allow affected parties the opportunity to review and comment on the documentation and thereby minimize the risk of liability to all parties concerned.

Personally, if I were on the Council, I would want to review this information in detail and be satisfied of its completeness and adequacy before I could vote to approve the project. The risk of liability to the city and the donors and proponents from an inadequate environmental review process is simply too great.

Even though it’s a privately funded project, Blair Park is happening on public land and involves changes to public streets.  Because the project is so controversial, an open, respectful and inclusive public process will be critical in bringing this issue to a successful conclusion for all parties. Personally, I believe that much of the controversy could have been avoided had the City chosen to involve the entire community  from the outset in an open forum/town hall discussion of community goals for field space and for Moraga Canyon/Coaches’ Field, done an independent and objective evaluation of multiple design alternatives to accommodate the desired additional field space, and documented that evaluation process professionally and transparently.

Given where we are now, with a clear Council majority in favor of moving the current proposal forward, regardless of who wins the election, I would like to see the City outline a clear, public sequence of decision points so that the remaining steps in public review, environmental review and approval process are completely transparent. I think this approach, combined with a thorough and professional environmental review, will best help to minimize the risk of liability to the City and best serve the community as a whole, including the proponents and donors. Litigation is not a good use of anyone’s time, energy or money, and the best way to avoid it is through a transparent and professional process.

I’d like to encourage interested parties and to attend or watch the Piedmont Civic Association candidate forum on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 7pm in the Council chambers and on KCOM and ask all the candidates their position on this and other issues facing Piedmont.

 

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9th Annual PHS Women’s Basketball Skills Clinic

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 9, 2011

The 9th Annual PHS Women’s Basketball Skills Clinic is this Friday. Each year, the basketball team conducts its community youth bas­ketball clinic where the coaches, team, and a volunteer parent spend most of the day teaching the fundamentals of basketball to the lo­cal youth of Beach, Havens and Wildwood elementary and Piedmont Middle schools. 

When: November 11, 2011
Time: 9am – 1pm
Who: Ages 5-18
Cost: $50, including lunch

All clinic participants should bring a ball with their name on it and water. A pizza lunch will be provided.  Students will participate in drills to teach them shooting, ball handling, passing, defensive & offensive skills as well participate in scrimmages.

This annual youth clinic is in its ninth consecutive year and has been a mainstay in the fundraising efforts for the women’s basketball team.  The funds from the clinic go to support the Highlanders and helps with fund­ing uniforms, equipment and team travel to Kelseyville, Phoenix and games all around the Bay Area.  The girls really enjoy being around all these young participants and feed off the positive, endless energy.  “Our annual clinic helps kick off our season.  I think it’s also good for our team to work with the energetic kids and try to getthem to do what they trying to teach.  I always hope it lets them see what it’s like to try to ‘be a coach for a day”.  It’s pretty funny to see how tired they are after the clinic.”  Coach Gardere added with a chuckle.

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Vanquishing the Electricity Vampires in Your Home

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 1, 2011

Simple Steps for Saving $ and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Wednesday, November 16, 7 – 8:30pm
Havens Elementary School – Science Room – 344
2nd floor overlooking the Mulberry’s parking lot.
Enter through the Vista Ave. doors across from City Hall

As we move into the darker and colder days of winter, it’s a good time to learn more about the ways we waste electricity in our homes without even realizing it. The good news is that there are some relatively easy steps you can take to reduce your electric bills month over month. Piedmont Connect has invited Chris Hunt, founder of the residential electricity auditing firm PowerDown, to share a few case studies of homes that have substantially cut down on their electrical usage, as well as show us some hands-on examples of specific products that are proven to help. We hope you will join us.

Since space is limited in the room, please RSVP at https://sites.google.com/site/connectpiedmontenergy/

Questions? Please contact Margaret Ovenden at movenden@sbcglobal.net

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