City Council approves additional spending to offset additional Housing Element costs

In response to what city staffers and their consultants said is a reflection of an increasingly demanding and heavily scrutinized process, the City Council on Monday approved spending up to $319,000 in additional funds for Housing Element work and related General Plan updates being done by two contracted consulting firms.

The council voted unanimously to spend up to $142,320 on work being overseen by Lisa Wise Consulting on the sixth cycle (2023 – 2031) Housing Element, the living document that will inform and guide how Piedmont will plan to accommodate housing growth in Piedmont over the next eight years. The work that firm will do could now cost up to $833,500. 

Similarly, the council authorized spending as much as $177,136 for additional work by Rincon Consulting, which is concentrating on environmental review work. That means the City could eventually pay Rincon as much as $319,450 for its work on the 2023-2031 Housing Element.

Kevin Jackson, Piedmont’s director of planning and building, told the Council Monday night that the timeline for the Housing Element work has extended longer than originally anticipated, in part because of extra work needed on what has become a more complex process than that associated with past Housing Element cycles.

The state has mandated Piedmont plan for 587 new residences that could be added to existing housing stock by 2031. The city has also spent the past two years working to engage its residents on this planning.

David Bergman, a director with Lisa Wise Consulting, said the additional money would essentially “backfill” an expansion of the originally planned scope of work (five change orders, including additional analysis of the Grand Avenue site) that were added to the original contract as a result of the April public review.

Bergman told the Council that the Housing Elements being compiled now by many of the 14 cities his firm has been consulting with have required added expenditures much like those Piedmont approved Monday, thanks largely to tougher demands of the state Department of Housing and Community Development regarding the cities’ plans. Likewise, Jackson said planning officials he knows in other cities have been running into similar timeline delays.

Supervising Planner Karly Kaufman of Rincon Consulting told the Council the same situation applies to the state’s requirements for the work relating to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including on the new Moraga Canyon Specific Plan. 

Piedmont’s updated Housing Element is now in its second 60-day period of review by HCD. Jackson said it’s entirely possible HCD will continue to have questions and recommendations on Piedmont’s sixth cycle Housing Element, and that the process is far from over.

East Bay Parks presentation

Dee Rosario, the East Bay Regional Park District director whose Ward 2 includes Piedmont, gave a presentation to the Council Monday night of major projects either recently completed or in process, including restoration work along San Leandro Creek near the community of Canyon, about five miles east of Piedmont, and remediation of blue-green algae blooms in Lake Temescal just north of Piedmont. 

Vice Mayor Betsy Smegal Andersen told Rosario that the $507,000 in Measure WW park bond money to rebuild Hampton Field was “transformational” for that facility. Rosario said he hopes the park district can offer another round of WW-fueled local park funding in the near future.

Contact Sam Richards at

2 thoughts on “City Council approves additional spending to offset additional Housing Element costs

  1. Are Piedmont residents responsible for all the consulting and building costs of the new housing units?

  2. Clever play on the Piedmont is Home logo. This has to be one of the most expensive consulting contracts the city has ever issued.

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