The following was sent to the members of the Piedmont City Council:
Dear Members of the Piedmont City Council,
I write to you in order to state my concerns about the Reach Codes (#750 N.S. and # 751 N.S.).
Let me state from the beginning that I am not against doing whatever we can, based on the integrity of our older homes in Piedmont, to reduce natural gas consumption and to increase our energy efficiency.
#1: Random Sampling Report of FM3
With an issue of such great importance to the City of Piedmont, I do not feel that a random sampling of 400 households represents all households in Piedmont. 400 is just a shade over 10% of all households in Piedmont. There is no indication of the ages of any of those 400 homes that were surveyed. My concern is that the sampling is not fairly representative of all Piedmont homes.
#2: Flawed Process
The codes appear to be “boiler plate” and not tailored to the age and character of our city.
Our city operates with the input of various commissions which are composed of concerned and interested citizens. These Commissions solicit other citizen input before make decisions. It appears that the Planning Commission has not been a part of this “Reach Code” process to date. Why?
#3: Subjectivity of Building Officials
The Reach Codes, in some instances, allow for exceptions to be made by employees of the City of Piedmont Building Department. I have dealt with many of our Building Officials over the past 50 years. Some dealings were because of being a homeowner and others occurred because of my job as a project manager. Some of the officials have been great to work with and others not so much. If a Building Official wants to make a statement that will show his/her power, his/her ability to grant or refuse an exception to the codes could become political and not based on merit.
#4: Unintended Consequences
I believe that the unintended consequences of the Reach Codes, presently stated, will be a reduction in the character of the older Piedmont homes.
I live in a house that is close to 100 years old. I know when I am no longer living in it, a new owner will want to make some major changes. If those changes cross the larger dollar amount thresholds, as stated in the Reach Codes, it will be cheaper for that new homeowner to tear down my house and start over than to retrofit to meet the “Reach Codes” requirements. Retrofitting is much more costly than building from the ground up. The turnover of many of the older homes in Piedmont will bring the same dilemma. In so doing, the historical character of Piedmont will forever be altered.
What I ask of you is to slow down this process which has been thrust upon us in such a presumptive manner.
Regroup and have the whole of Piedmont involved in a survey – not just 10%. Make the process transparent so that we who were not surveyed (close to 90%) will feel that the process represents everyone who lives in our beautiful city.
Thank you for your consideration.