President’s Message – August 2020


Preservation and Perseverance

    The pandemic has not only impacted our lives and our health, it has had a drastic impact on our local businesses. Most of Orinda’s restaurants have been creative by offering meal pick up, delivery and even providing outside seating.
    You can order a pizza from Zamboni’s, or have a meal outside Europa, Fourth Bore or Shelby’s. Not every business is able to accomplish this, and one that has not been able to open at all is the iconic Orinda Theatre.
    Contra Costa County is not allowing any theater to open any time soon. Without patrons and ticket sales, our local theater is deeply in trouble. It appears the theater will not open this month or next; it may not be until October or November. Even then, it will be under specific health restrictions.
    At the start of the pandemic, the theater’s proprietors, Derek Zemrak and Leonard Pirkle, started a GoFundMe campaign to save the precious landmark. The goal has recently been raised to $165,000 to cover the fixed costs while the theater remains closed. These costs average $15,000 to $18,000 a month and include rent, utilities, insurance and equipment maintenance.
    In the past 10 years, Zemrak and Pirkle have expanded the theater’s community involvement and offered live performances through the Cabaret Series, free monthly movies and an annual film festival. Through these efforts they have given the theater higher visibility and Orindans a place to go for good entertainment.
    As of mid-July, more than 321 people had generously given to the GoFundMe campaign, and your participation and investment would be greatly appreciated.
    “Everyone is going through extremely difficult times,” Zemrak said. “The Orinda Theatre has been a historic part of the city and we need your help to thrive together.”
    He is asking supporters to go to the Orinda Theatre GoFundMe website and donate at least $12, the price for one ticket, or make a larger donation.
    Fire officials have made it clear Orinda is at high risk in the event of a fire. Fire safety is a top priority in the city and towards this end the City Council has formed a sub-committee to work with the Moraga-Orinda Fire District (MOFD) and other Lamorinda cities to coordinate efforts.
    A Firewise Council, a consortium of leaders from 13 Orinda Firewise groups working on prevention efforts, is working with MOFD and other officials. The council’s objective is to reduce the risk of wildfire in our neighborhoods and prepare for evacuations.
    Our neighborhood, like others, has been organized as a Firewise community. Each area designates block captains to engage other neighbors on fire safety and potential evacuations. The aim is to share information, emails and evacuation notices. It is also important to identify any vulnerable person who may need assistance.
    The first thing to do is sign up to receive emergency alerts from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office at
    Also, please take the time to view the safety and wildlife preparedness video on the Orinda Association website at
    Whether it is the iconic theater or beautiful outdoor spaces, let’s join efforts to protect these treasured resources.

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