How do I get the City Council to act on this issue?  By telling them that they need to treat everyone in Orinda equally; including how they allocate our tax dollars for road maintenance.  You can most effectively do this by joining your neighbors by signing up for our mailing list.  In addition, you might call (253-4200), write (22 Orinda Way) or email members of the City Council.

How many private streets are there in Orinda? There are 204 private streets with over 1,350 homes on those streets; about 20 percent of Orinda’s residents.

What can private streets do that public streets can’t? The main right of a private street is to deny public access (put up a gate). However, some private streets (Wilder streets for instance) do not even have that right; they have to provide public access. It should be noted that to our knowledge, of the 202 private streets in Orinda, only South Donald Drive is gated and then only at certain times.

Can a private street get public funds for maintenance now? The answer appears to theoretically be yes but in practice it would be very difficult. (1) There are threestreets in Orindawoods which apparently are private but the City maintains them (Ridge Gate, Village Gate and Watchwood). How this came about is unknown by us. (2) The city does have a policy, adopted in 1990, by which a private street can petition to become public. However, the policy makes it virtually imposible for a private street to “qualify” and to our knowledge no street has ever been qualified.  Starting in April 2017, "upper" Mira Loma has been trying but, to date, the City has made no viable effort accept its petition.

What retrictions would be put on private streets if the city agreed to maintain them? This is unknown. The city has started a review of its policy towards private streets but no substantive discussions by either the Council or the CIOC (Citizens Infrastructure Oversight Commission) has taken place. It is not unreasonable to assume that if the city did provide public funds for the maintenance of a private street, assuming the street did not literally become a public street, the private street would have to guarantee public access.

Is the recently elected new tax funding (Orinda half cent sales tax and $45 million of road bonds) available for private streets? No. It was sold to the voters as money to rehabilitate Orinda’s 64 miles of public residential streets. It is not supposed to be used for Orinda’s 29 miles major streets either; the arterials and collectors.  These new taxes will cost the taxpayers about $70 million over the next 20 years as the bonds are paid off.  This equates to $10,000 per household.  Every property owner, whether living on a public street and receiving benefit or on a private street and not receiving benefit will pay this $10,000.

How are the major streets repaired if not by these funds? Orinda’s road policy is that it dedicates three funding sources for street maintenance and repair (state gas tax, county Measure J sales tax, and garbage franchise fees) to the exclusive use of the major streets. In fact, after the new sales tax and bond funds are used up to bring the public residential streets up to reasonable standards, there will be no money to maintain them.

So if there is no money to repair private residential streets and no money to maintain either public or private residential streets, how can the city change its policy to fund the maintenance of private streets? The city would either have to reallocate existing funds (from its major expense the police force or use park and rec fees for something other than park and rec activities), or develop new funding source for long range maintenance of its infrastructure. This new funding source would most likely be a new tax. If the city offered to share this tax with the private street holders, in all likelihood they would support it.  The CIOC, in its latest revision of the Road and Drainage Repairs Plan, informed the City that it would have to raise an additional $2.5 million annually to adequately maintain the public streets it has spent over $50 million repairing.  It has been estimated that it could cost as little as an additional $300,000 to include the 30 miles of private streets.

Are there other tax revenues available for the private streets? Yes. The state gas tax and county Measure J sales tax are allocated based on the miles of roads the city maintains. If the city paid to maintain the 28 miles of private streets, its tax receipts could increase by as much as $300,000 annually. The private street holders cannot access this money, tax dollars they are already paying, on their own. Only the city can be awarded these funds and only if it changes its street maintenance policy.