Letters to the Editor

Building More Houses Will Make Orinda Even More at Risk of Fire
    The fire chief of Contra Costa County, Lewis Broschard, has warned that, “Fully two-thirds of the county is considered to be in some form of a fire hazard severity zone.” (East Bay Times, Aug. 5).
    The fire chief issued his warning at a July 23 meeting of Contra Costa County Supervisors.
    The chief added that the 2019 fire season will be as dangerous as the past two years have been.
    Orinda has much terrain that could easily be destroyed by a wildfire. To prepare Orindans for a wildfire event, the Moraga-Orinda Fire District on Jan. 6 sponsored a fire evacuation drill for the north Orinda area.
     The danger of an Orinda wildfire is such that any governmental entity (local, regional or state) must immediately impose a moratorium on any new development or construction in Orinda.
     For the past several years the state has been pressuring local communities to construct extra housing. Additional housing will place the lives of Orindans in jeopardy. In addition, regional governmental agencies such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) have been pushing Orinda and other local communities to build more housing.
    MTC and ABAG are responsible for transportation and land-use planning in the nine-county Bay Area.
    Orindans and residents of other local communities that could be affected by wildfires must demand that the lives and safety of residents take priority over any need for the construction of additional housing.
     –Richard S. Colman

Build an Arcade to Keep Kids Entertained, Out of Trouble
    We should have an arcade in Orinda. The reason I think that Orinda should have an arcade is so kids can have fun at the arcade and not be up to mischief.
    Also people can have birthdays there. You can take the money that the arcade earns and use it to make roads better or for whatever the city needs.
    –Ryan Aars

Help Protect ‘Storybook House’
    My two sisters and I were born and raised in Orinda at our family home at 100 Moraga Way, built in 1929 by our father, Edgar Ingram. The home has been dubbed “The Storybook House” by locals. Our family sold the property in 1980 however, “You can leave a house and move on … but some part of you stays there.” This is so true.
    This beloved landmark property earned its nickname due to its charming architecture and lovely setting in a dell circled by San Pablo Creek and framed by mature oak trees. The home contains priceless, salvaged components from the Charles Crocker Mansion of Nob Hill in San Francisco that was damaged in the 1906 earthquake.
    The property is under threat by major changes since Orinda’s adoption of new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) rules. New owners propose to build an incompatible ADU with a 27-foot, 2-story structure containing a 4-car garage with a 1,200 square foot dwelling above and a metal roof – in front of the unique historic home.
    This plan necessitates removal of mature, protected oak trees, crowding of three structures onto the land, and an 18-foot hillside driveway with huge retaining walls. To qualify to build the ADU, the charming 1940s guest cottage on the property must be gutted so that it’s no longer considered a dwelling.
    Unbelievably, Orinda’s ADU rules allow this type of insensitive development. This property represents the poster child for why the rules need refinement to protect historic and culturally important properties. What would stop an ADU from being built in front of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe?
    By state mandate, ADUs must have minimal impact and no major infrastructure requirements. This proposal defies that requirement and creates negative impacts on the neighborhood. It is also inconsistent with Orinda’s goals, which are: “The preservation, protection, enhancement and use of sites, buildings, structures, monument, trees, works of art….”
    Protecting the Storybook House and other objects having a special historical or architectural value is a public necessity and required in the interest and general welfare of the people of Orinda.
    We are asking that the proposed ADU be denied by the city and the ADU rules be refined to include special considerations respecting the cultural and historical heritage of Orinda.
    To see how you can help, please contact friends, family and neighbors of 100 Moraga Way by emailing n8rlvr2009@gmail.com.
    – Irene Ingram Smith