Doomed may be the best way to describe local control in Orinda and other California cities.
For years, government forces in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. have been usurping power from local communities.
Local control in Orinda is in such jeopardy that city-council member (and the city’s mayor for most of 2016) Victoria Smith, on May 26, 2016, wrote two members of the California State Legislature stating: “The City of Orinda opposes the recently-released proposal by the Governor [Jerry Brown] to pre-empt local discretionary land use approvals of specified housing developments. . .” Smith’s letter went on to say: “Like other residents of California, the citizens of Orinda expect to be part of an open and transparent process in shaping the community.”
On June 2, 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that the governor “wants to wipe away local and state rules on parking, height, density, and environmental reviews beyond those already required through zoning.”
On September 27, 2016, Gov, Brown signed Senate Bill 1069, allowing so-called “granny units” to be built on a homeowner’s property.
Granny units, sometimes called Second Units, will allow a homeowner to construct extra housing on his property without review by local government. Second Units can be unobtrusive, but they can also result in the installation of tenants who play loud music, park vehicles (like motorcycles) in quiet neighborhoods, or have noisy parties. Has anyone thought about the law-enforcement costs associated with Second Units? Also, can local schools, in communities like Orinda, accommodate any extra pupils who live in Second Units?
In 1968, the federal government passed the Fair Housing Act, which prevents discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of property. This law must be upheld.
However, a local community has a right to develop community standards. For example, should a local community allow someone to put up a 50-foot high, flashing neon sign saying, “Harry lives here?”
Unelected, unaccountable governmental bureaucrats are threatening the harmony and semi-rural character of Orinda. In 2015, the Orinda City Council, being threatened with the cutoff of road-repair funds coming from the State of California, passed what is called the Fifth Cycle (version) of the Housing Element, a plan forcing Orinda, a city which is full, to add hundreds of new homes.
Orindans pay taxes. Orindans should ask themselves what are they getting for their money. Orindans should demand that their city council stand up to external bureaucratic rule. Now is the time for the city council to show courage.