In the early 1900’s the citizens of Piedmont had the opportunity to become a neighborhood within the blossoming city of Oakland. However, the city took a vote and the community decided to remain an island, both literally and figuratively. Surrounded completely on all sides by the city of Oakland, Piedmont has maintained an extremely savvy and aware citizenry who remain determined to protect the philosophical and geographical integrity of the city.
Lay of the Land
Piedmont is located in Alameda County, within relatively close proximity to both the rest of the Bay Area and San Francisco. Thanks to extremely tight zoning regulations, the city has managed to remain almost entirely commercial free, with the vast majority of the city zoned solely for single-family dwelling use only. Positioned in the heart of Oakland on a swath of land of approximately 1.6 square miles and spectacular views, Piedmont is populated by just over 11,000 extremely wealthy citizens. The average estimated household income for the city is $200,000 while the estimated average median home value for the area is over one million dollars.
Bus transportation for the city is provided by the Alameda County Transit authority. This includes service to several stations within the city itself as well as to numerous local Bay Area Rapid Transit stations within Oakland and several surrounding cities. Bay Area Rapid Transit stations provide access to locations over the entire Bay Area and multiple surrounding counties. The city also takes advantage of the Bay Area Paratransit network. Paratransit provides Bay Area residents who are physically unable to utilize traditional public transportation services travel accommodations via fully equipped commercial vans. Finally, air travel is quick and convenient via the Oakland International Airport. Residents also have the option of traveling to the San Francisco International Airport or the San Jose International Airport.
First and foremost, Piedmont is an upscale residential neighborhood. The desire to protect this status and to maintain strict control over the nature of development in the area is what led the citizens to incorporate originally even though it made more sense geographically to simply become an Oakland neighborhood. Piedmont still features many of the mansions built by one of the numerous millionaires who called the city home including the Hills brothers (of coffee fame) and the Crocker family (the founders of Crocker Bank).
Commercial ventures are almost nonexistent within the city of Piedmont, with the exception of several small centers focused in a small town center area. Public services are therefore funded by the citizens of Piedmont almost exclusively through property taxes and specially assessed fees. While the city provides its own educational services, fire services, police services, and recreational services, it depends on the city of Oakland for library services and postal services.
Piedmont\’s desire for autonomy and self-determination also extends to its recreational pursuits and park services. The community has access to an unusually high number of activities and services for a town of its relative size. The vast majority of these programs are aimed at providing services for the youngest members of the community, including youth sports programs, early childhood programs and services, and a summer youth employment program. However, it also features several senior programs designed to help the elderly portion of the population maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Piedmont schools typically rank at the very highest levels.
While the city does not feature many commercial buildings, there are several prominent locations designed for public use. These include City Hall, a Veterans’ Memorial Building, a Public Recreation Center, an Aquatic Center, and even a local Center for the Arts. This is in addition to numerous general use and specialty parks, including numerous sports fields and even a skate park, located around the city. The vast majority of the public locations and parks offer facilities for public rental designed for gatherings and events. Piedmont Park is a common gathering area for public and private events, and hosts a lively Fourth of July parade and picnic for the enthusiastic residents.