President’s Message – December 2019

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Remembrance and Hope

    This holiday season brings both great sadness and hope for a better future. On Halloween night, five young lives were lost in our city at a party held at a non-hosted Airbnb rental. A poster and flowers at the old Theatre Square fountain express our collective feelings.
    “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives” reads the poster signed by the students of Orinda Intermediate School. The poster and flowers are joined by other sentiments of mourning from family members, Orinda residents, and friends. We remember these lives gone too soon: Oshiana Tompkins, 19, Omar Taylor, 24, Tiyon Farley, 22, Raymon Hill Jr., 23, and Javlin County, 29. For those who would like to commemorate those taken too soon from their families and friends, please come by the fountain at Brookwood Road and Camino Pablo.
    When a tragedy such as this occurs, we are often left with pain, sorrow, grief, questions and a desire to prevent another tragedy. The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, pledged to pay for the shooting victims’ funeral costs, as well as counseling for family members. Airbnb also announced changes to rid abuses in non-hosted rentals, ban “party houses,” enhance guest policies and increase screenings for “high risk” rentals. This increased scrutiny is welcome. And our city also has acted as well.
    The city will be enforcing stricter regulations through an Urgency Ordinance on short term rentals (STR). The ordinance would be effective for 45 days, with a 2-year extension option. The property at Lucille Way, where the shootings occurred, was a non-hosted STR; and the ordinance would ban that type of STR.
    The holiday season in Orinda will be a time to grieve and to remember those who have passed. It will also be a time to be thankful for our residents who care about others less fortunate.
    We would like to thank all of you who contributed so generously in response to our annual fundraising letter and request in last month’s The Orinda News . Your contributions and donations will continue to support vital local non-profit programs that serve the community. Without your kind support and contributions, these programs would not be possible.
    We would especially like to thank the Orinda Rotary for its $7,000 donation. This contribution was part of the funds raised at the Rotary’s “ Dancing with the Cars” extravaganza on Sept. 6. These funds will continue to support programs such as The Orinda Association’s Seniors Around Town Program (SAT) which provides free transportation to seniors for medical and personal appointments. On behalf of the OA, thank you Orinda Rotary for your generous contribution and to all those who work tirelessly to support one another in Orinda.

(Contributed Photo)
Dancing with the Cars co-chair Ken Jew and Orinda Rotary President Dan Gannett present a $7000 check to OA President Carlos Baltodano and OA Board member Diane Lautz for The Orinda Association’s support of the annual fundraiser.

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