City Council approves fee waiver for ADUs

Screenshot from Feb. 5 City Council meeting

Piedmont City Council began Monday’s meeting with two proclamations before receiving updates from the city’s Sustainability program and approving a resolution to waive application fees for ADUs that house low-income residents. The also approved an addendum to the consent calendar to purchase an additional police vehicle after one was involved in an accident Sunday morning.

Mayor Jen Cavenaugh announced the observance of Black History Month and said that this year Piedmont will highlight Black contributions to the arts. Cavenaugh added that the city is working with the internationally-known designer Walter Hood, UC Berkeley’s Chair of Landscape Architecture, to commission a commemorative memorial for Sidney and Irene Dearing. The Dearings were Piedmont’s first Black homeowners, Cavenaugh added. 

Residents Nairobi Kim and Robert Dorsey accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Piedmont Black Family Youth Collective. Dorsey reflected on how Piedmont has grown, recalling his 78-year-old father’s stories of not being welcome in the city when growing up.

“I’m just so elated that Piedmont is recognizing the contributions of African Americans in this community,” Dorsey said. “I just feel really embraced, and it’s a really proud moment.” 

Cavenaugh also shared a proclamation regarding the Lunar New Year, highlighting the Piedmont Asian American Club and shouting out Friday’s celebration at the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse. Della Chow, Katherine Zhang, and Cassindy Chao accepted the proclamation on behalf of PAAC.

Officer injured, police vehicle damaged in stolen car collision

During the consent calendar, a last-minute amendment allowed for the purchase of an additional police vehicle due to a collision that had occurred Sunday morning. According to Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers, on Sunday morning a stolen vehicle crashed into the passenger side of an officer’s vehicle. The officer sustained minor injuries and is recuperating at home, he said. “Had it been the driver’s side I think we’d be talking about a different situation,” he said. Council approved the amendment authorizing purchase of three vehicles instead of the original two.

Sustainability update

Kevin Jackson, Piedmont’s director of planning and building, introduced two new staffers, Deniz Ergun and Alyssa Romeo. Ergun is Piedmont’s Sustainability Program Manager and Romeo is the Sustainability Service Corps Climate Action Fellow. 

“We have such a strong foundation of sustainability actions that have been accomplished or are underway,” Ergun said. “And yet we’re at this really interesting point where there is still so much opportunity and need to grow those actions.”

Following her appointment, Ergun briefed the city council on Piedmont’s upcoming sustainability efforts following the climate action plan update from July 2023. Ergun’s report focused on plans to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. This includes a strategy for building electrification, promoting the adoption of electrical vehicles and increasing the impact of community engagement. Piedmont will establish a sustainability task force that will focus on building electrification. Ergun stressed the importance of meeting residents where they are when discussing sustainability.  

Piedmont will be installing four EV fast chargers on Magnolia Avenue just west of the Exedra Plaza at Piedmont Park and hopes to begin construction in fall 2024, according to Ergun. The city originally approved the EV charger project in June 2021 and approved spending an additional $30,000 in May 2022 for associated improvements required to meet federal American with Disabilities Act requirements. The delay, Ergun said, was related to how the city’s partner Ava Community Energy (formerly East Bay Community Energy) selected cities for a “phase 1” installation and the process of identifying a building subcontractor for the project.

ADU fee waiver

To incentivize housing development, Jackson presented a plan to provide fee waivers for the construction of preapproved ADU plans. These waivers are only applicable if the applicant signs a 10-year deed restriction promising to house low-income residents for the first decade. The preapproved housing plans have not been used yet, but Jackson said the plans could appeal to those with a fixed income. The fee waiver only applies to the preapproved plans and the deed restriction does not require ADUs to be occupied, Jackson added. 

The resolution was unanimously approved by the City Council.

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