On August 27, 2019 there was a workshop to discuss the City-funded maintenance of private roads. It was held in the auditorium of the Orinda Community Center.
The auditorium was filled to capacity and people were forced to bring in many extra chairs to fit in all of the audience. When the crowd asked to raise hands if they were private street residents, almost all raised their hands.
The city spoke first – Larry Theis (Public Works Director) about public vs. private roads and Osa Wolff (City Attorney) about legal issues involved in use of public funds.
Charles Porges opened: road maintenance is a basic public service; private road residents are paying for services they are barred from receiving; there are legal remedies to use public funds; the city must determine the cost for including all streets; that there are several possible ways to fund such coverage. He emphasized that Orinda must work for the common good of all residents.
Bob Daoro reiterated how there is no difference between public and private streets
Joel Libove described the issue of storm drains and how water runs downhill on both types of streets, how the drains are all interconnected, and ow public run off on private streets had cost private road residents much money.
Steve Cohn gave the numbers, showing how for pennies a day ($80 annually per household) all streets could be under the same umbrella
Melissa Roeder insisted that the city needed to treat all streets equally; that residents of private streets couldn’t possibly access the funds that the city could in the event of a catastrophic failure; that we needed more dialogues like this one
Kathy Finch summed up by noting how the city made it impossible for any private street to be dedicated as public; by appealing to the City to offer the kind of relief given to private road residents in many other cities in the state (LA, San Anselmo, Pasadena, Burbank); by telling the City that it has the ability to do this and the duty to serve all citizens rather than 80% only.
More city finance, present and future, was rolled out by the city (Finance Director Paul Rankin), and then Jim Bougart (moderator) summed up what people said.
Public discussion followed, with many horror stories of costly assessment to repair problems caused by the city, trucks, PGE, etc. Many people spoke. Charles Porges challenged some of Mr. Theis’s cost estimates and Ms. Wolff’s assertion that dedication is the sole way that the city can undertake private road maintenance. The entire workshop recording and other documents can be found at this link.
People also complained that the city was unresponsive. Though the CC members present were quiet, they did seem alert to people’s discontent.
They should be worried. We reminded the audience on several occasions that we are a voting block that can refuse any new taxes and that the city needed us as much as we needed them.
Finally, everyone urged the city to do a PTAP (visual survey to determine pavement condition) of private streets and to include the storm drains on private streets in the current survey it is performing. There is no way to tell how much it will cost to treat all streets equally and how much we will need to raise without this information.
Kathy Finch thanked Amy Worth for the workshop and for attending and told her that this was the first time we felt heard, that CC meetings with 3 minutes of speaking time and no rebuttal was frustrating and worthless, and that we needed more workshops.
To learn more about how residents of Orinda's Private Roads are treated as second class citizens and what you can do, go to the Private Streets section of this web site.