Lamorinda Weekly issue 24 volume 8
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Share your thoughts with our community! Opinions in Letters to the Editor are the express views of the writer and
not necessarily those of the Lamorinda Weekly. All published letters will include the writer's name and city/town of
residence -- we will only accept letters from those who live in, or own a business in, the communities comprising Lamorinda (please give
us your phone number for verification purposes only). Letters should be 350 words or less; letters of up to 500 words will be accepted on a
space-available basis. email: [email protected]; Regular mail: Lamorinda Weekly, P.O.Box 6133, Moraga, CA 94570
The supporters of a revitalized downtown overlook the
many side effects and collateral damage that would be
involved in demolishing and rebuilding Orinda Village,
and also overlook the drawbacks of a “revitalized” Village. How would Orinda obtain a revitalized downtown? Property would have to be acquired over time
from the many owners. While that is happening, existing businesses would close and new businesses would
not open. Our local, friendly, family-owned businesses
would be forced to close. There would be years of construction noise, dust, and interference with traffic flow
to the remaining businesses. What would the end result
be? Instead of family-owned businesses paying affordable rents and charging affordable prices, we would end
up with more expensive chain stores. We would have
more traffic on the only street through the village, and
parking problems, which already exist in the downtown
around the Orinda theater. Parking meters would be in
our future. Look at “revitalized” Lafayette. The costs
of the new construction, including underground parking, will be enormous. The developer will have to
charge high rents to make a profit. Only chain or specialty high end stores charging us high prices will be
able to afford those rents. It is ironic for the pro-development forces to point to the empty Phairs building,
when it was their efforts that helped scuttle the proposed
Montessori school, which the community desired. And
before we add more housing, let’s first wait and see the
effect of all of the recently-constructed housing on our
quality of life – on parking, traffic, schools and shopping. I prefer the current village, which serves the community and which will evolve slowly. There is easy
access to our community park. I can conveniently park
my car when I need to pick up a prescription at Rite
Aid, eat lunch at Geppetto’s, or obtain take out from the
Szechwan Chinese Restaurant. We can always drive the
short distance to Lafayette or Walnut Creek for an expensive meal or a high end retail product. Let’s not destroy Orinda’s village character in the guise of
revitalizing it.
mobiles. Orinda does not need or want low income or
high density housing. Housing prices should be set by
supply and demand, left to the individual discretion of
the individual owners of that land. All proposed or finished high density housing in Orinda does not have adequate parking for the residents to park their cars. This
is not an accident. Central "planners" want people out
of their cars so they are dependent on public transportation. Mr. Towbridge is resistant to change as well as
progress. The freedom of the automobile is the future
and is imperative of a free people. If you fly over the
U.S. you will see this country is empty. We do not need
to huddle together like medieval peasants. Democrats
are seeking to impose this on us simply so they can control us.
Henry R. Pinney
As a long-time resident of Orinda, I totally understand
why the City of Lafayette supports the plan to replace
Orinda’s Honey Hill Fire Station with a new station on
El Nido Ranch Road at Lorinda Lane in Lafayette. The
county closed their station in NW Lafayette nearly three
years ago. Since then, the residents of that area have depended on our Honey Hill Fire Station to provide emergency services. If the new (very expensive) station is
built, response times to NW Lafayette will be reduced
by several minutes – at no cost to Lafayette residents.
It’s a great deal – for Lafayette!
However, the real "costs" will be borne by the taxpayers
of the MOFD (especially parts of North Orinda) who
will have their already sub-standard response times increased by two minutes. The MOFD Board hopes to
save money on operations with this plan, but what is
the real cost? What is the value of a life lost while waiting for help to arrive or the value of a house that burns
down because MOFD couldn’t get there within its own
6-minute response time goal?
I understand why Lafayette would support this move.
What I don’t understand is why any resident of the
Nick Waranoff
MOFD would do the same. I, personally, have no deOrinda
sire to fund a station that will be located in Lafayette
and will primarily benefit Lafayette at the expense of
the residents of Orinda and Moraga. For more information visit the following web site: www.savehoneyIn his letter of 1-14-15, Tom Trowbridge said: "Housing
has been well established as an appropriate use of real
estate in villages for centuries." Tom overlooks or ig- John Robertson
nores that this "establishment" was formed in medieval Orinda
times. We now have the wonderful freedom of auto-
Motion to Bring Housing Element
Special Election to Voters Fails
... continued from page A7
“I have been here several times suggesting that, as I participated in the
fourth cycle, we came up with a good
document. Everybody agreed with
it,” said Dan DeBusschere, who
added that the fifth cycle should have
been “a slam dunk” after the amount
of work already done. “I urge you to
move on from this issue,” said Valerie
Sloven. “You’ve bent over backwards
to gather input.” Exchanges between
council and Orinda Watch members,
working line by line to edit drafts, are
audible on public meeting recordings.
“I think that the development and
submittal of a Housing Element is a
clear example of the purpose of representative government,” observed
Judd Hammond. “By virtue of the
election process, our city council
members have been delegated the responsibility of and the authority to act
on behalf of the citizens of Orinda in
precisely this sort of activity. Developing a complex plan such as the
Housing Element update requires
gathering and assessing large
amounts of information, including
input and feedback from citizens of
the city, identifying and evaluating
various alternatives and plans of action and, finally, deciding on a plan
O P E N!
Page: A9
that’s expected to best meet the needs
of the city as a whole while also
meeting external constraints, such as
state and county mandates and regulations. This type of back and forth
activity, often with several iterations,
cannot realistically be accomplished
through an election.”
Too long to reprint here, the deliberation can be heard online at Smith and Orr
spoke of opportunities lost as the city
has repeatedly back burnered key issues to address the Housing Element.
Phillips’ motion died without a second.
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Tuesday-Friday 10 AM -6PM
Saturday: 10 AM -4 PM
Moraga Citizens Network
... continued from page A5
To see a staff report about an issue,
residents had to make an appointment with staff to take a look in person, and only summaries of the
meeting minutes were available on
the town’s website, months after the
Schwartz called a meeting with
a few friends, including Beans, and
they started discussing what they
thought was needed in town. Moraga Citizens Network (MCN) was
born, with the simple objective of
“promoting participatory democracy in Moraga.”
Schwartz presented the project
to the town council and received a
cold reception from then mayor
Mike Majchrzak, but this didn’t
stop the group. They began attending all the meetings and spreading
information through their email
newsletter. “In 2007, during his
State of the Town address, Mike
(Majchrzak) said in front of everybody that he wanted to apologize to
Edy Schwartz, that he did not believe me and thought the group had
an agenda, and that he was wrong
and hoped everyone would support
them,” says Schwartz.
“Our first big information campaign came with the 2006 election,”
remembers Beans.
“We printed and sent our first
mailing to all voters with a Q&A
answered by all the candidates.”
The mailing was funded privately
by MCN members. MCN also organized its first candidates’ night in
partnership with the League of
Women Voters. Schwartz, Beans
and a few friends advertized the
forum by going door-to-door to
every retailer in both shopping centers and asking to put flyers in their
MCN members continued to
participate in meetings, listen and
sometimes comment, especially
when issues dealt with freedom of
speech or information for the public. In 2007 the website was up and
running and by 2008, MCN had 500
members. “We always had a table
at the Pear Festival, at the Fourth of
July, and spread the word that way
about our activities,” says Beans.
Then in 2008 there was a heated
battle in Moraga, not only between
council member candidates, but
also about ballot measures that
would affect land use. Knowing that
the stakes were high, some people
in town started questioning the neutrality of MCN. Beans welcomed
them to participate in the draft of the
questions that were going to be
asked at the Open Space Initiative
forum that MCN organized at Saint
Mary's College with proponents of
each measure. It was also the year
the Moraga Center Specific Plan's
report was produced. The group
videotaped the report and made
DVD copies that were available in
the library and other public places.
Lamorinda Weekly began taping the
candidates’ nights and making them
available online.
Now whenever the public needs
to be informed about an upcoming
meeting, initiative or workshop,
staff sends the information to Beans
for publication in the newsletter,
MCN Link. In recent years, information about Saint Mary’s College
and service group activities were
added to the newsletter. “MCN provides such a critical service to the
community since citizens can rely
on it for providing unbiased and
transparent information,” says
Town Manager Jill Keimach. “Ellen
(Beans) is one of the first people we
call when we need to get the word
out about something quickly.” She
adds that MCN’s candidate forum
provides all residents the opportunity to get to know and hear from
candidates, again in a manner that is
“non-political and unbiased.”
The group’s objective for the
next decade? Reach the next generation of Moragans.
Beans and Schwartz acknowledge that a lot of progress has been
made to provide information in
town. Agendas, staff reports and
minutes (including audio and, soon,
video) are available online and the
town publishes “About Town,”
which succinctly explains what
happened from a civic perspective.
“But it is hard to get information to
the people on complex issues,” says
Schwartz, whose current objective
is to get younger generations informed and involved in the land use
questions the town will debate this
The Moraga Town Council will
honor MCN tonight with a proclamation thanking the group for all it
has done to expand participatory
democracy in Moraga. The current
MCN board includes Ellen Beans,
Larry Beans, Mike Bernhardt, Tory
Courtney, Denise Duff, Janet Forman, John Haffner and Tom Marnane. To sign up for the MCN
newsletter, go to
Merrill Gardens at Lafayette
This Saturday • 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Merrill Gardens at Lafayette is now open and we invite you to come meet our
team, see our beautiful new building and learn about all of the services and
amenities we have to offer. If you’re not able to join us on Saturday, we’re open
seven days a week! Call and we’ll set up a visit that works for your schedule.
Many of our apartments have already been reserved.
Don’t miss your opportunity to select your new apartment!
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Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 272-0074
Lic #079200358
Retirement Living • Assisted Living • Memory Care
122314aCT_Lafayette_LaMorina_Weekly_NowOpen_A.indd 1
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