The Orinda Road Facts web site recommends the following Road Action Plan:
No Bad Roads
No one in Orinda should be forced to live on or drive on a road in Poor (below PCI 50) or Very Poor (below PCI 25) condition. All residents should be willing to pay enough to upgrade all of our roads. The total cost, $80 million, is less than one percent of the market value of Orinda’s residential real estate.
A Single Vote for Repair and Maintenance Funds
To date, the voters have approved two taxes: Measure L, a half cent sales tax expected to generate $10 million; and Measure J, a $20 million road bond to be repaid with ad valorem property taxes over 20 years. Combined with $5 million from existing sources, this $35 million leaves Orinda $45 million short of being able to repair all of its roads. The $35 million available will cure about half of the road problem.
The majority of Orinda residents currently, or soon will, live on good roads. But a significant number do not. If we pass another small tax which is not a full solution to the problem, we run the risk of stranding a significant number, 1,000 – 2,000 households, on poor roads with the appetite for yet another tax dropping below the majority to pass the that tax. In addition, if we pass taxes just to repair the roads and not to maintain them after they are repaired, then we run the risk of ending up with a very good road system and inadequate funds to provide the maintenance to keep it from degrading back to the condition our streets are in today.
If the City and its residents are committed to the idea of bringing its roads up to reasonable standards so that driving on them is safe and enjoyable and so that they are not degrading the value of our homes as they are today, then we need to commit to pay for those improvements. It is not going to cost any more in the long run if the commitment is made today in a single vote than if it is made in a series of votes over the years. And if the commitment is made, then new buyers can be told that even if the roads are not currently upgraded, they soon will be and they will also be maintained after they are repaired. This alone should improve property values.
The Cost is Reasonable
Regardless of funding options, the cost to both repair and maintain the roads over the next 25 years, in addition to commitments already made, is about $4 million per year adjusted annually for inflation. This averages to $600 per household per year or less than $2 per day. Depending on the financing option(s) chosen, existing residents will pay less than the full amount. The average Orinda home is worth $1.5 million. Each year it increases almost $40,000 in value with inflation (averaging 2.5%). Allocating less than 2 percent of that gain to good roads is affordable.
Discuss the Issues
Fixing our roads is a serious decision. Most people want good roads and virtually everyone who can afford to live in Orinda can afford them. The question that needs to be discussed, so the appropriate taxes can be passed, is what is the most cost effective and fairest tax(es) to pay for the improvements and on-going maintenance. A series of forums and workshops so that residents can better understand the options and discuss their pros and cons plus other elements of a road repair program (which road gets fixed first) is most desirable.
Vote for an Inclusive Tax Package
The Road Action Group has spent considerable time reviewing the options and recommends the following:
A) An extension of the existing one half cent Sales Tax. This is currently generating $1 million per year and it should increase with inflation. Everyone in Orinda pays part of it. The majority comes from a tax on vehicle sales for cars registered in Orinda so there is a nexus to road use. There is also a “progressive” element to this tax (the wealthy pay more) as the wealthy probably spend more on taxable purchases. This tax will provide 25 percent of the total funds required.
B) A Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) equal to 0.8 percent of the sales price of a property with the seller paying half. The pros and cons of this tax are enumerated on a separate page but briefly are reiterated here:
Start Discussing the Issues
A RETT and the obligatory Charter City election can only be held at a general election (November 2016 or 2018). By putting a partial funding initiative on the June 2016 ballot, the City has killed all chances for a total solution in November of 2016. The City has not spent the majority of the $20 million Measure J money and has enough to continue construction through 2018. The community needs to begin the discussion of appropriate funding measures which include equity for Private Street Holders and is fair to our Newer Residents. If the RETT is the agreed upon choice, then the complexities of becoming a Charter City must also be discussed. If an informal city concensus is arrived at, the City can plan to move beyond 2018 even though RETT funding cannot be voted on until November of 2018.
A survey to gauge the community’s commitment to move forward has been created. We ask the community to participate and forward the request to friends and neighbors. The survey asks:
The survey gives respondents the ability to comment and the comments will be posted on this website. Please take a few minutes to participate in this survey.
Thank you for your participation