The City is planning to put a new sales tax on the November 2020 ballot. This tax, 1% of all sales in Orinda including velicles registered in Orinda, would cost the average Orinda family $350 a year and would increase with inflation. While the tax may (or may not) include a sunset provision, the need for the $2.4 million it would provide for road and storm drain maintenance would never go away.
In January, the City is planning on surveying 400 Orinda residents to see if they would support the tax. The survey is asking questions about including or excluding private roads in the road maintenance funding. However, to date, the City has done no investigation as to what the cost would be to provide that maintenance. Without this, asking people if they would pay to maintain the private streets while giving no cost cost for that maintenance, is doomed to result in meaningless results (and this survey is not cheap).
The City Staff has told the Council that the cost could be as great as $25 million to repair the 30 miles of private streets and $35,000 a mile to maintain them. However, a private survey of the streets indicates that the repair cost would probably be less than $5 million and the historic maintenance experience of the streets is closer to $20,000 a mile, not $35,000. Including repair and maintenance, the private streets will cost 40% of what we are spending, or should spend, on the public streets per mile. But none of this information will be shared with the survey respondents.
If you are one of the people surveyed, we request that you turn down the new tax until the cost of maintaining private streets is determined.