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Category: Local Interest

Big Money Pays Off

Big Money Pays Off

Candidates who received the most money for the Orinda City Council’s November 2018 election all won. According to the Orinda City Clerk’s office, three candidates — Amy Worth, Nick Kosla, and Dennis Fay — collectively brought in $57,241.  That total, when added to money from Orindans for a Better Downtown (OBD), came to $61,640. OBD was a special group that supported Worth, Kosla, and Fay. The total of $61,640 represents 88.6 percent of all city-council campaign monetary contributions. For all…

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Orinda’s High-Quality Schools Imperiled

Orinda’s High-Quality Schools Imperiled

Imperious and remote forces are placing the quality of Orinda’s schools in jeopardy. While the Orinda Union School District (OUSD) is in the top one percent of public school districts in California, the State of California is planning to bring demographic changes to Orinda.  These changes, if carried out, could lower educational quality. The one percent figure that rates the quality of Orinda’s school comes from the 2017-2018 annual report of the Educational Foundation of Orinda.  The foundation helps provide…

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California: A Failed State?

California: A Failed State?

The famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, once said, “America was tilted, and everything loose was sliding into Southern California.” If Mr. Wright were alive today, he presumably would be taking about all of California. What Mr. Wright might also be saying is that California is on the verge of becoming — or has become — a failed state. To stop the rot in California, groups like Livable California have come into existence. Livable California (www.livablecalifornia.org), which began operations in early…

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Regional Governmental Agencies Usurp Control of Local Communities

Regional Governmental Agencies Usurp Control of Local Communities

Unelected regional governmental bodies have decided to seek control over land use and other policies now governed by local communities. In December 2018, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted to have a 21-member steering committee support the Casa Compact, which is designed to ameliorate the shortage of housing in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC is a regional governmental agency involved in transportation planning. The Casa Compact, which is also known as the Committee to House the Bay Area,…

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Where Is Local Control?

Where Is Local Control?

Local control of land use in California is in jeopardy. The State of California is usurping local communities’ ability to handle matters relating to building heights, zoning, and housing density (houses per acre). Livable California, a group formed in early 2018, is creating coalitions with like-minded community leaders, elected city officials, and partnerships with statewide organizations. The goal that brings these people together is to strengthen local control, within a context of regional planning and funding driven by locally-identified problems…

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Taxes, Fees & Prices Rise

Taxes, Fees & Prices Rise

Since the autumn of 2017, prices, taxes, and fees have risen — sometimes sharply — in Orinda (and elsewhere). On Nov. 1, 2017, the State of California raised taxes on gasoline by 12 cents a gallon.  Fees for vehicle registration also went up.  The new taxes and fees are designed to raise $52.4 billion for the repair and maintenance of the state’s roads, bridges, and freeways. In March 2018, the fees Orindans pay for garbage collection went up by 9.8…

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Housing, Overpopulation, & Taxes

Housing, Overpopulation, & Taxes

Anecdotal evidence coming from Silicon Valley goes like this:  A family earning $300,000 a year may not be able to obtain a loan for a house. Silicon Valley, which is about 40 miles south of San Francisco, is the home of many high-technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, Intel, and Google. An internet search shows that the Silicon Valley has a population between 3.5 million and 4 million. Homes in Silicon Valley often cost $2 million or more.  A 20…

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Development Proposed for Large Orinda Valley

Development Proposed for Large Orinda Valley

An engineering firm has outlined a proposal for the development of housing in Southwood Valley, a large, natural area in the midst of Orinda. The Southwood plan might not comply with Orinda’s General Plan.  Each city in California is required to have a General Plan, which is a document covering a city’s governance, especially in the area of land use. At a meeting at the Orinda Public Library on April 16, 2018, Design Resources, an engineering firm in Walnut Creek,…

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Housing & the Free Market

Housing & the Free Market

Economically, everything appears to be getting worse in Northern California.  The same situation may also exist in Southern California.  Housing in Northern California is drastically overpriced.  Try finding a decent home for less than $1 million or $2 million (or more).  Taxes are high.  California leads the nation in the sales tax, the gasoline tax, and the top-bracket of the state’s personal income tax (13.3 percent).  The freeways are jammed in Northern California.  There is limited parking, assuming one can…

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Orinda Opposes State Land Grab

Orinda Opposes State Land Grab

A land grab of local communities’ territories by the State of California has drawn the opposition of the Orinda City Council. On February 23, 2018, Amy Worth, a member of the city council and the city’s current mayor, wrote that the City of Orinda opposes State Senate Bill 827 (SB 827), which, if enacted, would seize control of a local community’s land near transit stops. Specifically, SB 827 would give the State of California control over a given city’s land…

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