Orinda Watch Newsletter - Tomorrow's City Council Meeting, Upcoming Events, Key Expert Reports Published, Corte Madera's Response to Plan Bay Area

Dear Orinda Watch Members,

I: Upcoming Events
II: Recap of 5/13th Special Meeting at Orinda City Council
III: Orinda City Council Meeting this Tuesday, May 21st
IV: Key Expert & Citizen Reports are now AVAILABLE on our website
V: Comparing Corte Madera vs Orinda City Council Responses 

I: Upcoming Events:

  • May 21st, 7pm: Orinda City Council Regular Meeting @ Orinda Library Auditorium (see below for Further Details)

  • May 21st, 7pm: Pleasant Hill Citizens for Responsible Growth - Plan Bay Area Informational Meeting (Please tell all of your Pleasant Hill friends & neighbors to attend!) (see below for more details)

  • May 30th, 6:30pm: "The Great Planning Debate: One Bay Area...is it Good for the Bay Area, is it good for Marin" @ Marin Civic Center, San Rafael (you won't want to miss this!)  [2 MTC/ABAG executives  vs 2 Nationally-Recognized Land-use & Transportation Experts as Opponents] (full details below)   VERY IMPORTANT...Please attend. You Must Arrive Early. Plan on being there before 6pm.

  • June 3rd, 6pm-8pm: Education/Training Session by Orinda Watch on the Expert Reports.  Location: Orinda Community Center, Lower Level, Room 8

  • June 4th, Orinda City Council Meeting.  Orinda Watch has requested an hour of time at the beginning of an upcoming City Council meeting to share concerns about Plan Bay Area (our letter is ATTACHED to this email).

Additional details on these events are below:

Event 1: The Great Planning Debate: One Bay Area...is it Good for the Bay Area, is it good for Marin (aka The Thrilla in Marin-illa), 
When: Thursday, May 30th6:30pm-8:30pm
Where: Marin Board of Supervisors Chamber, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael

The Great Planning Debate: 

Plan Bay Area … Is it good for the region?

Is it good for Marin?

Thursday, May 30th, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Marin Civic Center Board of Supervisors Chamber

 MAY 1st 2013, San Rafael, California: Plan Bay Area stands to make significant changes to housing and transit across the Bay Area, encouraging cities and counties to plan high-density housing around transit - sometimes referred to as "smart growth". The Institute for Leadership Studies at Dominican University is sponsoring a meeting of the minds on this subject, bringing together four leading figures on both sides of the plan.

 Panelists supporting Plan Bay Area are possibly the top two speakers on this topic: Steve Kinsey, MTC commissioner and Marin County Supervisor; and Mark Luce, Napa County Supervisor and President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Both hold leadership positions in the two agencies that developed Plan Bay Area.

Opposing Plan Bay Area are two of the strongest opponents to the transit-oriented development and smart-growth approaches proposed in Plan Bay Area: Randal O'Toole of the Cato institute, author of "Gridlock"; and Thomas Rubin, an Oakland-based transportation consultant and former Chief Financial Officer of Southern California Rapid Transit District (1989-1994).

Panelists will speak to the issue of the evening and respond to audience questions. The League of Women Voters and community leader Richard Hall will facilitate audience questions submitted that evening by card.

 Date/Time: Thursday, May 30th 6:30pm - 8:30pm

 Location: Marin Board of Supervisors Chamber, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael

 Moderator: Judge Verna Adams

 Entry: A $5-$10 donation is requested but not required.

(This is to cover Randal O'Toole's travel expenses, he is flying in from Portland)


Event 2: Pleasant Hill Citizens for Responsible Growth - Plan Bay Area Informational Meeting
When: May 21st at 7pm
Where: Pleasant Hill Community Meeting Room at 100 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA

Details: The Pleasant Hill Citizens for Responsible Growth (PHCRG) was founded in 1985 and is the only grassroots organization that advocates for residents on a full range of issues, including land use, education and quality of life in Pleasant Hill.

PHCRG is holding an informational meeting on May 21st on Plan Bay Area.  Pleasant Hill's General Plan will be revised this year, so it's critically important that residents become informed.

PHCRG President, Mike Flake, will be the presenter at the May 21st meeting.  "Mike is an engineer who has worked with CalTrans, etc. and is very knowledgeable about One Bay Area.  Mike is well-known in the community and has developed an informative presentation tailored to Pleasant Hill's issues, so people can gain an appreciation for the Sustainable Communities Strategy's impacts on Pleasant Hill 'from one of their own.' "

PHCRG leadership are seeking to re-energize the organization and grow their membership, in preparation for the 2014 City Council race.  Because the group advocates for residents on a wide range of issues, in addition to land-use, it's important for PHCRG to "have a seat at the table" when city officials make decisions regarding education, street and infrastructure maintenance, finances, recreation and park issues, etc.

PHCRG's eventbrite site for this event offers additional information about the group.  Full color flyer is attached and can be freely distributed.  Please forward this to anyone you know that wants to understand more of this issue but has yet to attend a townhall, especially anyone you know that lives in or around Pleasant Hill.


II: Recap of 5/13th Special Meeting at Orinda City Council

Thank you, Orinda Watch!  You stepped up tremendously to the call to action to this past Monday's Special City Council Meeting to take citizen comments.  Orinda Watch has a lot to think about after the eloquent and diligent response from the Orinda citizens at the last 2 city council meetings.  The room was packed; over 200 people came out and the room was so full that the back doors had to be opened to allow overflow into the outside courtyard so as not to create a fire safety hazard.  Graciously, our police department was on hand to help keep everyone well organized.  Some sources have suggested that this was arguably the biggest turnout for an Orinda City Council meeting for a perhaps decade.  

The meeting opened with a 45 minute presentation by staff on Plan Bay Area, which included a colloquy between staff and council members. A fair characterization of the staff report and council colloquy is that it represented a vigorous defense of Plan Bay Area, and argument that there are minimal if any risks to the City from the Plan. Orinda Watch has requested the opportunity to make a similar presentation at the beginning of an upcoming council meeting, but this time presenting concerns about the Plan—so that there will be free and open debate on this issue that has so much potential to affect our lives as Orindans and the Bay Area as a whole.  

Following the staff presentation, roughly 40 citizens, limited to 3 minutes maximum, offered their public testimony with roughly 85% of the eloquently speaking out against the Plan.  

The meeting concluded with City Council agreeing to send a response to the Plan Bay Area and the Environmental Impact Report with a request for a 60-day extension to allow citizens to submit comments. Citizens, however, had requested a much longer list of request in the City’s comment letter.  City Council also agreed to forward citizen comments to Plan Bay Area. Mayor Worth was careful to specify that the comment letters to the Council from Orinda citizens would not be attached to the comment letter the City Council filed with ABAG and MTC regarding Plan Bay Area.  

Audio from the May 13th City Council Meeting


Here's the audio from the May 7th meeting as well:

Video footage of the speakers will be posted soon but the audio should suffice.  Stay Tuned.

Click here for a recap on the meeting from a local news source

III: Orinda City Council Meeting this Tuesday, May 21st
Orinda Watch will be asking the City Council in a letter on Monday May 20 for the opportunity to present concerns about Plan Bay Area at an upcoming meeting, and we are suggesting June 4given the compressed time frame before ABAG and MTC intend to vote to adopt the Plan.  If you are planning on attending the Council meeting this Tuesday, you may want to mention this request that all of us (you included) are making on behalf of the citizens of Orinda. However, this is NOT a major call to action like prior weeks.  

Please note, though, that it is not up to Orinda Watch Leadership to decide what the citizens choose to address with City Council—that decision belongs to the individual citizen him or herself.  Orinda Watch has been and always will be about providing important and accurate information, and giving the residents, ourselves included, a voice within in the city.  Those that wish to continue to raise the critical issues of Plan Bay Area with the City Council while Orinda Watch formulates our next actions should do so.  If you should so choose to attend this city council meeting, in addition to all of the great questions you've asked of city council, here are some possible follow-up questions:

Possible follow-up questions for City Council:
1) Staff presented a defense of Plan Bay Area and an argument that Plan Bay Area will have minimal or no impact on the City during the first 45 minutes of the Council meeting on Plan Bay Area Monday, March 13. Orinda Watch did not have the same opportunity to present the concerns about Plan Bay Area that we’ve identified in our many hundreds of hours of careful research into the Plan. Orinda Watch has submitted a letter to the Council s requesting that Orinda Watch have the opportunity to present the bases for citizen concerns about Plan Bay Area at the beginning of the next Council meeting.  I stand behind Orinda Watch’s request, and ask the Council to grant it.

1a) Orinda citizens raised a number of concerns about Plan Bay Area at the Council meetings on May 7 and May 13. Orinda citizens also submitted 40-50 letters offering their views on Plan Bay Area in advance of the May 13 meeting, in response to the Council’s request. Roughly 85% of the public comments and letters submitted have been in opposition to the Plan. We would appreciate learning of the Council and staff’s plan to review and analyze this information and respond to the citizens, as the Council and staff’s thoughts are relevant to the City’s response to and position on Plan Bay Area.

2a) Mayor Worth is current chair of MTC, and also sits on the Joint MTC Planning and ABAG Executive Committee, which considered citizen requests to extend the comment period for Plan Bay Area at its May 10, 2013 meeting, and denied those requests. Mayor Worth joined the unanimous voice vote of the MTC Commissioners at that May 10, 2013 meeting that denied the citizens’ requests for an extension of the comment period.

Was the fact that ABAG and MTC had already considered and voted against extending the comment period at the May 10 meeting a relevant fact that should have been shared with the Orinda citizens attending the May 13 Council meeting?

Should the Council have shared with the Orinda citizens at the May 13 meeting before it suggested that it would submit a comment letter to ABAG and MTC requesting a 60 day extension of the comment period for Plan Bay Area and its draft EIR that ABAG and MTC had considered and denied the citizens’ extension requests the previous Friday?

3) We would appreciate clarity on Mayor Worth’s position on Plan Bay Area and its mandates on Orinda, given her role as chair of MTC. On the one hand, we are assured Mayor Worth will stand behind the city and limit the potential risks to the City of mandates for massive subsidized high-density development.  On the other hand, there are comments like these from the April 12, 2013 MTC meeting minutes (see attached) which suggest views about Plan Bay Area that are dramatically different than what Orinda Watch concludes about the Plan:

  • "Commissioner Rein-Worth stated that when members of the public hear more and more about the plan, about the elements of regional planning, along with local control, local decision-making, they’re really reassured about what this plan represents and the opportunities it provides."

Orinda Watch members have put in countless hundreds of hours of our own time looking into the Plan—undoubtedly know will into the thousands of hours. The more we look into the Plan, the graver our concerns. We believe our conclusions are based on unassailable analysis and indisputable facts regarding the Plan. We respect our Mayor’s position as our local elected official, but we also expect all of our council members, including our Mayor, to represent the interests of the City of Orinda and its residents, and not an unelected regional entity that may or may not be acting in the interests of the City of Orinda or of the Bay Area in general (and with Plan Bay Area, we are certain that MTC and ABAG are not acting in the interests of the City or of the Bay Area as a whole).

4a) Mayor/MTC Chair Worth and city staff are on the record as stating that Orinda is a potential Priority Development Area ("PDA") and not a full-fledged Priority Development Area.  Will the city put in writing that Orinda will not allow itself nor request for the city to be designated a PDA?  

4b) Furthermore, and deeply troubling, is Mayor/MTC Chair Worth aware of requests from the 6 Wins coalition (the group largely responsible for the 5th Alternative to Plan Bay Area) to "Shift 25,000 RHNA units from PDAs to 'PDA-like places' " which "ABAG’s executive board agreed to emphasize in its unanimous July 2011 vote?"  ABAG and MTC staff at the May 10 meeting said they will be recommending modifications to the Plan that they would like ABAG and MTC to vote to approve at their June 14 meeting. Could this be one of the modifications ABAG and MTC staff will be proposing?

4c) Is Mayor/MTC Chair Worth aware that ABAG and MTC staff stated in a May 2nd memorandum to the Joint MTC Planning and ABAG Executive Committee that "Based upon input gathered at public meetings related to the draft Plan and DEIR, there is interest in MTC and ABAG considering changes to the Draft Plan prior to its adoption in July 2013." which has strong potential to have Plan Bay Area assign even more units to "high opportunity communities" (communities with high performing schools and high median income levels) like Orinda, Lafayette, & Moraga?

IV: Key Expert & Citizen Reports are now AVAILABLE on our website.

We are in possession of dozens of substantive expert and citizen reports and comment letters to Plan Bay Area and the Environmental Impact Report.  It is our pleasure to present these reports to you (HERE). We will be digesting these and presenting them in the near future at a public meeting for your benefit. We are proud and thankful to all those that contributed (financially, time-wise, etc) to make these reports happen. These reports prove that Plan Bay Area is a sham, prove Plan Bay Area uses faulty data with a fraudulent process, and questions the legitimacy of these unaccountable agencies (MTC & ABAG).

V: Comparing Corte Madera vs Orinda City Council Reponses 
Speaking of comment letters, we have not yet seen a copy of the letter submitted by Orinda City Council to Plan Bay Area that needed to be submitted before the May 16 4pm deadline.  If anyone has a copy, please send it our way.  However, we are attaching the letter that Corte Madera (the city that voted to get itself out of ABAG) submitted on behalf of its citizens.  The Corte Madera City Council’s letter looks impressive and attentive to the issues at hand and we hope the Orinda City Council’s comment letter is of similar depth and quality in addressing concerns about Plan Bay Area and its draft EIR.


Orinda Watch Leadership

City of Corte Madera comment letter.pdf
Denial of Extension Request Memo May 2, 2013.pdf
Orinda Watch-Letter to the Orinda City Council-May 20 2013.pdf