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Author: Richard Colman

Sad Blueprint For Orinda

Sad Blueprint For Orinda

In its fall 2017 issue (volume 2, number 4), The Icon reported, “Orinda has many assets:  excellent schools; a semi-rural environment, friendly people; a low crime rate; a salubrious climate; and beautiful homes.” No one knows how long “traditional” Orinda will last.  But powerful forces want to destroy local control and transform the community into some sort of Tokyo or Manhattan. Developers and supportive political forces have plans to add additional housing to Orinda, a city which is full.  There…

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Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting

Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon), pictured, spoke at a town-hall meeting in Orinda in September.  Also speaking were County Supervisor Candace Andersen and Orinda Mayor Eve Phillips.  All three elected officials support local control of municipalities and oppose Senate Bill 35, now law, which takes land-use authority away from local communities and gives it to the State of California.

Editorial: California Usurps Local Control in Orinda

Editorial: California Usurps Local Control in Orinda

Orinda no longer has control over the land inside the city’s borders. The State of California, using its vast powers, had made Orinda (and other cities) a colony of California. Orinda, in the area of building heights, zoning practices, and housing density (houses per acre), must now take dictation from Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown of California has shown that he and the state legislature are acting like emperors, not elected officials. Brown, a Democrat, signed 15 housing bills on Sept….

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Editorial: Civil Rights Are Important

Editorial: Civil Rights Are Important

The Icon has always strongly supported civil rights.  In 1964, Congress passed — and the president signed — the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination, in employment, on the basis of color, race, sex, or national origin.  The act ended segregation in public places. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 took power away from state governments that wanted to prevent African-Americans from voting. In 1968, Congress passed — and the president signed — the Fair Housing Act.  This act prevents…

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Why Live in Orinda?

Why Live in Orinda?

Why do people move to Orinda?  What did they expect to find in such a warm, friendly place? Orinda has many assets:  excellent schools; a semi-rural environment; friendly people; a low crime rate; a salubrious climate; and beautiful homes. Rarely, if ever, does life get better than it does in Orinda. But are Orindans’ expectations being met today? The Orinda of 1960, 1970, or 1980 is being challenged.  The population has grown.  The schools are on the verge of overcrowding,…

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California’s Phony Water Shortage

California’s Phony Water Shortage

By Richard Colman California does not have a water shortage.  The federal government, through subsidies, mismanages the water that is available in California. The impact financially is enormous. Orinda residents, who obtain their water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), pay about $7 per 1,000 gallons of water.  Growers who receive federally subsidized water in such areas as Fresno, can pay 42 cents for the same amount of water. Thus, an Orinda resident is paying 17 times more…

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Orindans Powerless to Stop Water-Rate Hikes

Orindans Powerless to Stop Water-Rate Hikes

By Richard Colman Water rates for Orinda residents and businesses are going up massively. On July 11, 2017, the directors of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) voted 6 to 1 to raise water rates.  A 9.25 percent increase will take place from July 2017 to June 2018.  Between July 2018 and June 2019, there will be another rate increase of 9.0 percent. Thus, in a two-year period, water rates will be going up by 19 percent. How can…

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Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?

When is the last time the government of Orinda had an open exchange with the city’s residents? In the last 10 years, no one from the Orinda City Council has held a town-hall meeting or a press conference. In June 2017, The Icon asked the city council to put an item — an item about holding a town-hall meeting — on a council agenda. Interim City Manager Steve Salomon wrote The Icon on Aug. 1, 2017.  He said:  “I have…

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Orinda’s Public Schools Face Challenges; Can Education Stay Excellent?

Orinda’s Public Schools Face Challenges; Can Education Stay Excellent?

Orinda’s public schools continue to maintain a tradition of excellence, but serious challenges exist to keeping quality high. Inadequate financial support from the State of California is hampering progress, Orinda school officials said recently. According to Dr. Carolyn Seaton, superintendent of the Orinda Union School District (OUSD) and Mr. Jason Kaune, president of OUSD’s Board of Trustees, 87 percent of the district’s pupils met or exceeded 2016 state test scores in the area of English/language arts.  In mathematics, the figure…

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Is Suburbia Under Attack? Living Near Transit Stations May Not Be Safe

Is Suburbia Under Attack? Living Near Transit Stations May Not Be Safe

Whether it’s Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue or a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, there are several things city residents — compared with residents of single, detached suburban homes — generally do not have:  lawns, gardens, more space, and possibly swimming pools. After World War II, millions of Americans decided to abandon such places as Manhattan, Chicago, and San Francisco for suburbia. Suburbia generally offered better schools and lower crime rates.  One could own a car and…

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