PIEDMONT -- Several residents took the City Council and staff to task over a proposed risk-management policy the city presented for review at its Monday night meeting.

The drafting of the policy comes in the wake of two large botched projects -- Blair Park and Piedmont Hills undergrounding -- that cost taxpayers millions of dollars and that many claim suffered from lack of city oversight.

The policy details procedures that should be followed to minimize risk to the city through peer review, better reporting to the public, responsible project management and a set of checks and balances. The draft was analyzed by the Piedmont League of Women Voters, which issued a detailed response to what were perceived as flaws in the policy.

"The policy is very hard to read, is dense and wordy," said League President Julie McDonald, who has practiced administrative law. "It needs some redoing, including a short statement of guiding principles. ... The lack of clarity makes the public nervous," she said.

Licensed architect and certified planner Tim Rood, who serves on the Budget Advisory Committee, said the plan is too detailed about procedures and lacks broad statements of policy.

Resident Rick Schiller commented, "There should be more transparency in project dealings," citing what he felt were serious missteps in the Blair Park sports park project.

"Let's not reargue Moraga Canyon (Blair)," Councilman Jeff Wieler said impatiently.


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The council expressed approval for the concepts the risk-management document contained. The policy would apply to major capital projects that exceed $300,000 in construction costs. That could include sanitation, sewage, utility undergrounding, new buildings and playgrounds.

The council also approved spending no more than $87,000 to correct a chronic storm drainage problem on Sharon Avenue. There is a constant algae stream on the street that attracts insects, creates odor and is very slippery, Public Works Director Chester Nakahara said.

Howard Engineering provided the lowest responsible bid and will begin work in May. The project will take about four weeks to complete.

The council gave the go-ahead to Recreation Director Mark Delventhal to spend $6,000 to create construction documents to prepare for work on the Hampton and possibly the Beach tennis courts, both of which are in poor shape and need resurfacing and other repairs.

The ultimate cost would be in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 each for two courts per site.

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