INDEXED REPLAY from 6/18th Orinda City Council Meeting

We have reviewed the 6/18th meeting and taken rudimentary notes from the Orinda city staff report of the Draft Housing Element, a document that goes beyond what the law requires to handle the mandatory Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Allocations.  If you were unable to attend or would like to rereview the meeting, this is a nice little guide.

To listen to the audio, go HERE.

Here are the indexed comments with rudimentary notes for each speaker on the I-1 discussion (update on the Orinda Housing Element):

02:55 Chet Martine, citizen – no public review of draft Housing Element prior to negotiations with Housing & Community Development (HCD)

06:35 Chris Kniel, citizen - Comments on Public Forum process – lists all of the times and ways the public has expressed major concerns on Plan Bay Area.  “Orinda Residents are deserving of a response.”  “Is the city council going to do whatever it wants anyway...?” 

21:40 City Planner Ursu update on the Housing Element  - reads the report on the Draft Housing Element to City Council -  That can be found HERE.

30:10 Council Member Dean Orr – asks questions of City Planner Ursu about the Draft Housing Element – suggests he note the Santa Maria site throughout the report.  Asks questions about the removal of the Use Permit.  Ask questions of the change from 10 to 20 units per acre as it relates to Santa Maria site.  No changes to zoning in downtown as it relates to Orinda's

36:40 Lisa Pioli, citizen – 'huge concern for us', 'worked really hard to save the money to buy a home in Orinda', concerns about

38:50 Dan DeBusschere – giving away some things that you are not obligated to give away.  Asks Mr. Ursu to cite government code for these requirements which were not cited in the report.  Need city council and staff to start pushing back against HCD.

41:55 Richard Colman – asks for city sponsored town hall.  Need agenda item on the heights.  Needs to be a vote by the people.  Suggests the 'planning' is futile; impossible to predict things multi-decades in the future.  Asks for responses to letters previously

43:30 Owen Murphy, citizen and representing Save Orinda - “has the look and smell that this is a done deal”, “no transparency”, “why was this submitted to HCD prior to public comment”, “WOW”.

44:45 Mike Delehunt, citizen – asking to preserve the city, don't want high-density, obligation to obey state housing requirements but the city has gone beyond that, spending thousands of dollars on a housing consultant which is odd given the condition our roads, Harvard study on air pollution and putting people next to highway (autism in children) etc.  Why would it be appropriate to place low-income people next to highways?  Creating PDAs or potential PDAs...who benefits from that?  Consultants and housing developers benefit. City is being slowly eroded and destroyed.  Need widespread discussions and town halls to go through this.

48:00 Rusty Snow, citizen and representative of Orinda Watch – 'Shocked', 'This is a nightmare', cursory review of the items.  Documents reflect our worst not reflect the approval and support.  More than is required by the state's housing requirements. Highest impact ever presented before the city of Orinda.  Formal letter is going to presented by Orinda Watch.  Town Hall to be hosted.  Wondering if City Council support this elements of this onerous document.  Others may lose their jobs if they support the existing documents.

50:45 Heidi, citizen – need more time to review these documents, several items are not necessary to comply with housing laws, HCD has no legal authority to demand these changes to the city to certify the housing element.

52:50 Chet Martine, citizen – draft housing element was generic in referring to the Santa Maria site, not transparent enough.  Can't believe this is going to move forward so rapidly.

56:20 Vince Maiorana, citizen – concerns about adding second units and the criteria to be used, 'illegal is ok?', need to get a notification.

57:50 Matt Timm, citizen – starting to be discussed a little more in the community, people are starting to be “woken up”, this is one of the biggest issues that will face Orinda, like to see the council to reach out to the community to find out what the constituents are thinking and feeling about this topic, need to engage the citizens more to get a better sense of what the citizens want and how to represent the citizens.  Searching for information and ideas about what the council wants and where the council stands.  Asking

1:00:35 – Jennifer Camay, citizen – (emotional plea from herself and working moms) came here tonight instead of going out with a friend, what are the laws and how to maintain housing values, etc.  Fully support diversity.  All have a right to be informed by city council.

1:03:35 - Janet Maiorana, citizen – talks about Gateway Blvd issues from late 1980s as to how it relates today.  Citizens were allowed to vote back then and should be allowed to vote now.  Opposed to in-law/rental units on each lot.  Orinda is adopting second units? Citizens are not aware.  Orinda needs some type of town hall meeting.

1:06:05 James Bitter, citizen of Mill Valley – Pat Eklund represents Marin cities, no conversation with the citizenry, 'the people are being kept in the dark and this is by design', Council took an oath to protect the city of Orinda, Federal govt is spreading billions of dollars throughout the entire country and internationally as well. Spend 2 hours on your computer researching this.  'Ugly, bad, unethical, shabby, etc.'  Talk to the folks.  Keep Orinda the way they like it.

*End of public comments.  Asks Orinda City Council if there are any comments.

1:09:30 Council member Smith – asks for more detail on the Santa Maria site and what is the zoning now and what it would be changed to.  RM disctrict – establish an overlay on the parcel to allow 20 units per acre; site was ball fields for a church, that shut down in the early 1970s.  Currently using the lot for Montessori, portions of the building for storage by the church. Doubling the density.  If the Church would sell this to a developer, the senior housing would be allowed at 38 units per acre (under the current housing element), while if it was for lower-income it would be 64 units per acre.  Would look at existing land uses, the local schools may use those fields periodically.  Design-review would look at what the existing uses of the site are currently.  No changes in the development standards.  Would conform to the existing height limits.  This does not propose a change in the current cycle but for the next cycle.  Page 153 of the document – study the feasibility of a rent-restricted second unit program.  Had a volunteer (Steve Ross) who went through Craigslist postings to find out how much 2nd units were renting for, did regression analysis that talks about what they would rent for.  3 ways to identify housing 1) default at 20 units per acre 2) subsidize the development of affordable housing (not an option) 3) home rents are affordable at lower income levels, at the low and moderate level but not at the very low level.  Will have a deficit of 20 units in the next cycle.  How do we accommodate those 20 units?  Find an acre that can be developed at 20 units per acre.  Or allow a second unit on sites that are only available to very low income.  What is the impact on the neighbors?  How do we mitigate that on a small lot?  Would be part of the program of determining the feasibility....think it's worth investigating.  When will the council be looking at the feasibility?  AFTER THE ELEMENT IS ADOPTED(!?!)  Would be in the next 18 to 24 months after element is adopted.

1:20:35 Council Member Severson looking to enhance the quality of life in Orinda....we should take that direction.  RHNA numbers in place since 1980...have taken a very conservative approach, have written letters and responded to appropriate agency. Would hope to push back on unreasonable expectations there.  Pleased that staff have historically tried to balance the legal requirements. Limit the rezoning.  Not making a blanket change.  Minimizing potential impact on downtown for citizens of Orinda.  Expect to have the same approach going forward.  Regarding 2nd unit notification.  Neighbors would be notified of potential changes (300 ft radius around the property).  Have schools been engaged by the city regarding what is being proposed (served on Orinda School Board)...finding declining enrollment at the moment, would welcome more students in the schools.  Need to maintain excellence within the schools.  Ursu states he worked with the school last year with a consultant the school had retained.  Open dialogue with schools here. Need to be transparent.  No rash decisions being made.  Need to maintain current quality of life.

1:26:34 Mayor Worth – thanks participants for comments that were made. Questions about the legal basis of this plan.  Analysis of state law is needed.  Questions regarding the choices of this particular (Santa Maria) site.  Did the city review other sites?  Talked about the process we've gone through; this draft would come back to the council for additional discussion.  Talk about the process going forward over the next few months.  Requires a recommendation from the Planning Commission to city council to provide recommendations.  Submit to HCD to review the document (they have 90 days to review).  We did have prior consultations with HCD(!) which brought the review time under 2 weeks.  Might be helpful to included the entire public document and the responses from HCD through the various points of going through this since 2009.  Ursu agrees to includes this.  Would like to have it included as an attachment when this comes back to the council.

1:32:00 Council Member Orr – this is a huge step forward from our past housing element.  This is a super cohesive document in a clear story.  Legibility is dramatically better.  Staff and Consultant has done a good job putting this together.

1:33:13 Council Member Glazer – thanks a few members.  Glazer talks about how many public meetings they've had.  Suggests that City Council has pushed back on the HCD.  The challenge is that we can have a civil and constructive discussion and we should have good fair game discussions.  Concerned about sweeping statements from the public that we are allowing things to slip through our fingers.  2 months is a lot of time.  Certainly open to talking about this more.  This is not a rushed judgment.  People talking about suggestion that we will change the height limit.  Let's keep it on point.  Let's talk about this rezoning as it affects our town.  Be careful about the words we use.  Take our words more seriously.  None of the conversations we've had through HCD bind this city to anything.  IT's because we've pushed back that we don't have a certified housing element.  We have every right to push back on HCD. Mayor Worth brought up the issue about having clear sights on the government code as well as that brought up by Dan [DeBusschere].

1:38:00 end of discussion of this on the Housing Element. (Audibly hear the public citizens exiting the room.)

1:44:45 Chris Kniel – asks why Council Member Glazer makes little light of Orinda citizens concerns saying the building heights won't be obeyed. Mr. Glazer suggests that Mr. Kniel is 'wrong' (either in words or through body language) and then Mr. Kniel asks how Mr. Glazer can say that and asks Mr. Glazer to tell him how it's wrong.  “What's the building height for Orinda and what's the building height for this property?”  Mayor Worth asks Mr. Kniel to close up his comment.  Mr. Glazer does not respond to Mr. Kniel immediately following the conclusion of Mr. Kniel's comment.