PIEDMONT -- The City Council voted unanimously Monday to place a measure on the Nov. 4 ballot that would move municipal elections to coincide with the state general election to save money.
Municipal elections had been held the first Tuesday in February in even numbered years since 2010. City Clerk John Tulloch told the council at a meeting in May that per-voter fees charged by the county registrar have almost doubled since 2006. They were $4.72 per voter in 2006 compared with $9.89 per voter in 2014 for a special election.
The 2012 election cost the city $65,424. The February 2014 election cost the city $81,758. If the ballot measure is approved in November, the cost will likely be $4 to $6 per voter, a considerable savings approved by both the council and the school board.
The measure, if approved, would extend the terms of the current City Council and school board members to coincide with the new election timetable. The last day for filing arguments for or against the measure is Aug. 15. The last day for filing rebuttal arguments for or against the ballot measure is Aug. 25. All arguments shall be filed with the Piedmont City Clerk.
The council also approved the working draft for the 2015-2023 Housing Element report, a 226-page document that will be submitted to the state's Housing and Community Development Department.
The document details what Piedmont will do to attempt to comply with its "fair share" of regional housing needs. The quota for the 2015-2023 period is 60 units, ranging from market value, to moderate, low-income and very low-income units. Because Piedmont is largely built out and has a limited supply of land zoned for multifamily units, it must rely on second or "granny" units to meet its goals.
Vice Mayor Jeff Wieler objected to what he called "a capricious and frivolous allocation formula.
"I resent these stupid government actions that put an impossible imposition on citizens and cities. To hell with this quota system, " Wieler said, but he reluctantly voted for the draft along with the other council members.
The Housing Element is required so that municipalities can qualify for grants, such as the recently received grant for the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. There also is a risk of lawsuits if cities do not comply.
City Planner Kate Black explained there were strategies to register more second units in the city with possible incentives. She estimated there are 20 illegal second units, some of which have been determined with "tips" from home appraisers.
"There are also unintended second units all over town, and some exempt ones that were built before 1930 originally used for servants but now used for storage," Black said.
Educating homeowners is one step toward legalizing these second units, which would count toward the quota.
The Housing Element draft will be reviewed by the housing authority, returned for any "fixes" and resubmitted by the Jan. 31 deadline.
The council also moved to establish a permanent Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, which would review five-year budget projections, expenditures from the capital improvement and equipment replacement fund and other fiscal overviews. Committee members Bill Hosler and Mary Geong said they supported the move.