Demands by the State of California on Orinda are seriously jeopardizing the desirability of living in Orinda.
Essentially, the state, for years, has been usurping Orinda’s ability to control the city’s destiny.
The state’s attack has been especially obnoxious. Orinda’s schools, its semi-rural environment, and its open spaces are in jeopardy.
Two state-mandated programs are depriving Orinda of local control.
One program is the Housing Element. According the website of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, “Since 1969, California has required all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community.” In Orinda, recent Housing Elements have required that hundreds of new homes be constructed.
Another program is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). The website of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) states that “ . . . RHNA is the state-mandated process to identify the total number of housing units (by affordability level) that each jurisdiction must accommodate in its Housing Element.” The directors of ABAG are not directly elected by voters.
Until 2017, Orinda, without serious objection, went along with the Housing Element and RHNA. In August of that year, Eve Phillips, a member of the Orinda City Council, showed leadership when she wrote members of the state legislature, stating that the city council opposed state Senate Bill 35 (of 2017), a state-mandated land-use plan that ultimately Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law. Ms. Phillips’ letter had the support of the other four members of the city council: Amy Worth; Darlene Gee; Inga Miller; and Dean Orr.
Senate Bill 35 requires about 98 percent of all of California’s cities to expedite the construction state-mandated housing, especially what is called affordable housing. Orinda is basically full and has no room for additional residences.
Amy Worth of the city council also showed leadership when, in February 2018, she wrote a member of the state Senate, saying Senate Bill 827 (of 2018) interfered with Orinda’s local control. Ms. Worth’s letter had the support of all other members of the city council.
Senate Bill 827, which died in a senate committee, would have, as originally written, given the State of California control of a local community’s land within one-quarter mile of a frequently-used bus route or one-half mile from a train station. The bill would have allowed construction of apartment houses up to 85 feet high. Senate Bill 827 is likely to be revived in the legislature in 2019.
Orinda appears to be doomed to having the State of California control the city. The state government wants the Housing Element and RHNA to continue.
The voters of Orinda, not the State of California, should decide how Orinda is to handle housing matters.
Orinda’s voters must, in the city’s November 2018 elections, make clear to all city-council candidates that local control in Orinda is absolutely necessary.
Orinda does not need any more imperialism from Sacramento.