President’s Message – July 2019

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Independence: It’s More Than Parades and Fireworks

    July is the month of parades and fireworks to mark our independence. On July Fourth, Orinda will be celebrating with its very own “Best Home Town Parade.” As we enjoy these festivities, let’s keep in mind some of the important and exiting activities that the City Council is engaged in on our behalf.
    If you can make a Tuesday night available, you may find attending a City Council meeting very worthwhile and educational. You have to look no further than the June 4 City Council meeting to appreciate the depth of issues that impact our community, as the lengthy agenda indicated. 
    A city official called the agenda a “meaty” one, and he was right. The session began with a special meeting to discuss the GHAD (Geological Hazard Abatement District) established in Wilder to provide prudent management of open space. 
    Wilder has 1,300 acres of open space, including wetlands that need careful maintenance and management. Attendees learned from the property owner’s representative that out of the 240 lots, 100 homes along with all the fields have been completed, and 85 of them are occupied. 
    The Garden and Art Center formally opened June 2. More than half the auditorium was filled with Wilder residents reminding us that Wilder is very much part of our community and that its residents will always be interested in city 
issues.
    Another item on the agenda was the new Accessory Structure (ADU) Title 17 Amendments and introduction of a new ordinance. These are the new rules for what used to be called granny-units or mother-in-law units. ADUs are allowed in most residential lots. While the rules are more flexible, there are certain requirements to meet city standards. For additional information and questions, contact mpatel@cityoforinda.org.
    Up next: The city approved a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Rheem Boulevard and Zander Drive. This item was supported at the hearing by many residents in the area who cited the need for additional safety for both drivers and pedestrians. 
    The other significant item of interest was the discussion of the ConnectOrinda Streetscape Master Plan Project. This project started in mid 2018, and the planning process is expected to be completed by September. 
    The Planning Department, under the direction of the city manager and City Council, has been trying to identify projects with broad community support. There have been numerous meetings, presentations and surveys within the past year to garner public input. The most recent event was on May 28 at the Library Auditorium. 
    The project began as a way to beautify downtown and has evolved with strong community input. Some of the ideas identified are connecting the two sides of downtown and supporting future pedestrian access along San Pablo Creek. The Planning staff and the City Manager need to be commended for their efforts to maximize public engagement in the process and producing grant-eligible projects that can be funded. 
    The City Council thanked and directed staff to concentrate on the “Near Term Projects “that can be funded by the city or through grants.” It’s refreshing to see that a tangible improvement, no matter how small, may occur in the short term. It’s a wonderful thought that a planning study may actually become more than a report to be forgotten.
    If you are attending the Fourth of July Parade and Celebration, the Community Center will be open and displaying the project boards with each ConnectOrinda project’s forecasted costs and possible funding source. 
    Take the time to see the project boards. To offer input, email afoster@cityoforinda.org. As you enjoy the July festivities, keep in mind the myriad issues that will have an impact in our community.

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