It inherited most of this problem from the county when it incorporated 25 years ago and so far it has done its best to address the problem with the limited resources available but the majority of the problem remains.
In October 2004 the City created an Infrastructure Committee led by a group of citizens whose goal was to quantify the problem. They released their final report in July of 2006.
The Committee broke the problem down into three areas:
2) Storm Drains
3) Water supply to fire hydrants
They developed cost estimates to rehabilitate these three elements of Orinda's infrastructure to reasonable standards and a financing plan to effect the repairs (or the majority of them).
The financing plan was an ad valorem tax which would repay a $60 million bond over 30 years. It was presented to the voters in November 2006 as Measure Q. This measure failed to meet the 2/3 majority needed, gaining only 64.4% of the vote. The following June the City put essentially the same measure on the ballot (Measure E) and it too was defeated; garnering only 63.4% support.
In anticipation of collecting Measure E funds, the city created a citizen oversight committee (Citizens Infrastructure Oversight Commission - CIOC) to oversee the spending of the Measure E money. Although Measure E did not pass, the CIOC was retained and they have monitored and encouraged optimal expenditures of infrastructure dollars. They have focused the City's spending on its most heavily used roads and thus maximized the impact of the tax dollar. Drains have only been slightly addressed and expenditures on water pipes for fire hydrants has not been addressed at all.
In 2012 the City finally renewed its efforts to fix Orinda's roads. It produced a 10 Year Road and Drainage Repairs Plan which estimated that it would cost $39 million increase the average PCI of the roads from below 50 to 70 and an additional $13 million to repair the associated storm drain system. It was not fully explained that by raising the average PCI to 70 that about half of the streets in poor condition would remain there.
To start the repair process, the City put a half cent sales tax on the ballot as the first phase of repairing its roads. The tax passed. And while it was originally expected to generate about $650,000 per year in revenue, in its first (short) year it produced $800,000 which the City expects to continue as $1 million per year. The City has dedicated this money to the worst of the worst residential streets.
At the end of 2012, the City's road consultant, Harris and Associates, delivered a report stating that (1) the City should spend $2.5 million per year just to maintain the road system in the current state it was (existing revenues plus the new sales tax would only generate $2.0 million), and (2) to bring the system to an "optimal" condition which would result in all all roads being upgraded to a condition of "Good"(above PCI 50) would cost about $58 million over 5 years. Including the $13 million storm drain cost would bring the total to $71 million. But this was the cost if the construction could be completed in 5 years (2013-2017).
In April 2014 the City produced a revised 10 Year Road and Drainage Repairs Plan with an increased road repair cost estimate of $52 million which assumed an eight year repair term but still targeted a city-wide PCI average of 70 (which would leave 20-25 miles of roads in Poor condition). Including a $14 million estimate for storm drains, the total repair cost was $66 million. In June of 2014 the City voted for a $20 million bond measure increasing the total new tax revenues for repair to $30 million.
In December 2014 the bi-annual road report, this time by CAPS (Capital Asset and Pavement Services), was released. They estimated that the five year cost to bring all roads up to Good condition would be $59 million, just about the same as the Harris report two years earlier. Including $14 million for storm drains, the total cost would be $73 million but that assumed the work could be competed from 2015-2019.
In June 2015 the City Council and the CIOC met and it was agreed the CIOC would price out the cost for a system with no road under a PCI of 50. The resulting cost for completing the work over eight years between 2015 and 2022 was $66 million. Adding the $14 million cost for storm drains, the total was $80 million. The estimate for road maintenance (excluding storm drain maintenance) was determined to be $3 million per year starting in 2023.
Between the Measure L sales tax, the Measure J road bond, and existing funds from the budget, the City has $35 million of the $80 million needed for repairs. Looking forward, the City's budget has $1 million of the $3 million needed for maintenance.
In November 2015 the CIOC recommended to the City Council adopt a road repair goal minimum PCI of 50, not an average PCI of 70 which would leave mile of roads in Poor condition. The City Council agreed to the CIOC's recommendation.
In December 2015 the FAC (Finance Advisory Committee) presented a list of five funding sources for proving (1) $45 million of additional repair funds through 2022 and (2) $2 million per year of additional maintenance funds starting in 2023.
At that meeting, the Road Action Group recomended that the City conduct a series of public forums and workshops explaing the need for addtional taxes to repair and then maintain Orinda's roads. The Road Action Group announced that it had already scheduled the first of those forums, on January 14th, which included a speaker on public finance whose fee was funded by the Group. The Council's response was to announce that it would spend $22,000 in late January to conduct a telephone survey of residents; polling them on what they wanted to do without first educating them on what the needs or options were. The Road Action Group canceled the January 14th forum.