If Measure J is NOT the way, then WHAT?

Dear fellow Orindans,

Topics in this letter (PDF version):

I. Reminder: Orinda Watch Meeting, Monday May 19, 2014, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Community Center, Room 8 (Note this is and exception to the 4th Monday of the month as the normal time, because of Memorial Day.)

II. Commentary - If Measure J is NOT the way, then WHAT? 
III. Rotary talks in Opposition to Measure J, presented on April 30, 2014 
IV. A citizen’s statement on Measure J 
V. Road bond website

II. If Measure J is NOT the way, then WHAT?

Over the past several weeks Orinda Watch has shared with our readers why we think Measure J is NOT the right way to fix the roads. It’s indisputable that the City Council / Citizen Infrastructure Oversight Committee (CIOC) have dropped the ball on this issue for years and their dereliction of their responsibilities has left our roads in terrible shape. We have been clear in all of our communications that we want to fix the roads and we understand that substantial costs are involved which regrettably for the most part will have to be borne by Orinda residents--likely through a variety of revenue sources.

Prior to the June 3, 2014 vote on Measure J, we encourage you to re-read our past Newsletters (available on our website). Those Newsletters have identified reasons why we oppose the City’s so-called “plan” and therefore Measure J. We also outlined a far superior—and workable—approach centered around a genuine Definitive Plan that ensures the money will be spent on the roads that need to be fixed.

It is sadly apparent that the City/CIOC do not even comprehend the essence of a real Plan, which of course must first be based on a known scope of work. Funding is key to any plan, but funding alone, which is pretty much all that the City discusses in their so-called plan, does not substitute for a Definitive Plan. We know what happens to a project with weak design criteria and a weak plan, and need look no further than the recent Bay Bridge fiasco which will be costing us $billions in real and opportunity costs for decades.

Unlike the City Council, Staff, and CIOC who have had years and resources to develop a sound approach, our resources and time are rather limited, but nonetheless, in this Newsletter we will summarize our perspective on why Measure J deserves a NO VOTE and outline a viable alternative approach Orinda can take when Measure J fails. We view that outcome to be inevitable given the deep and richly-earned distrust so many residents have in this Council, and the severe deficiencies in their proposed $20M bond ballot initiative.

Our key points as discussed below are:

1- Measure J represents a fatally flawed approach.

2- Trusting this City Council with $20,000,000 is inappropriate and not warranted.

3- Fixing the roads requires an understanding of scale. Because of the City’s failure to address the roads issue since the city’s incorporation in 1985, we are facing a major capital improvement project, which is different from day-to-day maintenance. The goal is to get it done—not “keep fixing,” as Measure J’s proponents suggest it should be. Armed with this understanding, we can be open-minded and receptive to a better, faster, and cheaper approach that follows sound project management norms.

1 - Fatally Flawed Approach

The April 30, 2014, “Opposition Talks to Measure J,” presented to The Rotary Club of Orinda, (which are included in this Newsletter—see below) identified several reasons why the City’s approach is fatally flawed—flaws that cannot be remedied. The City does not have a plan that identifies which roads are to be fixed. Instead, they have a plan for a process to identify the roads. We kid you not—you read that right.

The Council tells us, “give us the money first”; then, they tell us, they’ll develop the plan. The facially obvious problem with this approach is there are no safeguards for taxpayers—none at all. Despite their claims to the contrary, CIOC has been mostly a rubber stamp (for proposals coming from Public Works Director Swanson and City Manager Keeter). CIOC had minimal input to the first “10 Year Plan” two years ago and were barely consulted when this bond measure was being developed earlier this year. Do we really expect it to be any different going forward, especially given the current Council, and current senior city staff, with their track record of being disingenuous and even untruthful with the Orinda public?

The wording of the Measure J Bond ballot initiative is open-ended and allows the City Council to spend the money on Road Infrastructure as they see fit and pretty much anything they claim as a road “safety” requirement. Who’s to say how this City Council might determine how to allocate the $20M in bond proceeds? What is the scope? What roads are to be fixed? Might there be new and improved roads in the downtown? Might there be roads to undeveloped properties or properties to be redeveloped? Could one reason for this utter lack of accountability in the Council’s use of the funds be a desire to have a $20M slush fund? Perhaps a slush fund they can use to enhance the profitability of their developer friends’ hoped-for 100 unit luxury condo project for the north end of town when those developers bring that project to the Council and staff for approval? Just watching this Council’s reactions if this proposal comes forward will be priceless: “who could have known such a project was being considered for our downtown?”

We can all speculate, but the point is (1) we don’t know why the Council insists on such unlimited discretion in their use of the bond proceeds, and (2) reasonable management protocol demands that buyers (of the Measure J bonds—us, the taxpayers through increased ad valorem taxes—know before we vote what we are getting for our money. Under the City’s approach with open-ended wording of Measure J (whether by carelessness or by design), we taxpayers do not know what we are getting for $20 million (+$12 million of interest). You wouldn't hire a contractor and pay him up front, with his only plan being, “I'll make your house look nice, just trust me,' would you?" You wouldn’t do this with any contractor, but you most assuredly would not do so with a contractor like this Council who had a track record of deceiving you in the past, as we will detail in the next section below.

Most of us who have worked hard for our income and savings would NOT enter into such a contract—regardless. While this deficiency alone is a showstopper, it’s not the only problem with this flawed and unacceptable bond proposal.

2 - Trust is NOT Warranted

Compounding the flawed business approach discussed above, we have the profound issue of trust—or more specifically—the lack thereof. This point, questioning the City Council’s trustworthiness, is discussed in some detail in the second talk at the end of this Newsletter. It is an extremely important point—perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT point on why sensible citizens should VOTE NO on Measure J.

The lack of trust on the part of Orinda residents of the city’s senior staffers and this City Council was reinforced at the May 6, 2014, City Council Meeting where the Staff tried to surreptitiously introduce a change to the municipal code building height measurement which would have effectively raised the code for aggregate building height measurement in many locations from 35’ to 45’. This proposed change was included in the 35-page municipal code revision (Item H-2 of May 6, 2014 CC Meeting) that was proposed for a variety of updates and edits. It was even recommended that the “Ordinance Revising portions of Title 17 ‘Zoning and Land Use’” which included the building height change, be approved “by title only, waving reading the full text of the ordinance.”

Fortunately for the residents of this city, a key participant in the Save Orinda citizen group discovered this deceptive tactic and wrote to the Council objecting to it. Orinda Watch issued a Newsletter shortly thereafter which alerted Orinda residents who then rose to the occasion and objected. At the beginning of the City Council Meeting on May 6, City Manager Keeter said the inclusion of the height adjustment (which everybody in Orinda knows is a bombshell issue), was a mistake and “not intended by staff”—oops! It defies all credulity to believe that the City Council Agendas are issued without the Mayor’s approval and for certain they require the City Manager’s approval. Hence we suspect this covert attempt by staff to quietly modify the city’s building height limit, presumably to help enhance the profitability of their developer friends’ hoped for 100 luxury condo project for the north end of town, could not have been advanced without the full complicity and assent of at least some members of the Council.

Sadly this action, combined with others discussed in the second Rotary talk, confirmed our worst fears. Orinda residents simply cannot assume trustworthiness from this City Council or members of the Senior Staff—and in fact their track record suggests that the contrary may be the wiser course. We’ve concluded that handing over $20 million without a Definitive Plan to someone whose competence and trustworthiness has been proven questionable time and again, is ill-advised and irresponsible.

There are many other reasons why the City’s approach and Measure J warrant a NO VOTE, but let’s outline a better approach for Orinda’s residents.

3 - A Better, Faster, more Cost Effective Way

If, as we expect, Measure J fails to get the required two thirds approval—and perhaps fails by a wide margin despite generally agreement on the part of most city residents that something must be done, and soon, to fully fix our roads—the first step in developing a better, faster and more cost effective way to fix Orinda’s roads and drains is to recognize we are dealing with a major capital improvement project. The project is probably in excess of $100 million, but the City doesn’t know yet because they haven’t determined the total scope or prepared a total estimate. This entire road/drainage program is not a maintenance program. We don’t want to “keep fixing” Orinda’s roads as the signs prepared by Measure J proponents suggest—suggesting a “drip-drip” approach that never accomplishes the end goal of a fully-functioning, well-maintained city road network. We want to “fix” Orinda‘s roads (once and for all) and get it done —cost effectively, in a timely fashion, and then maintain them. What baffles us to no end is that this Council, almost all of whom who’ve been in office for the past ten years while our roads have deteriorated so alarmingly, has never proposed a comprehensive workable solution to the problem, and in fact, doesn’t appear to have ever even contemplated doing so.

In discussing a better project approach with Measure J supporters, an Orinda Watch member was told by one of the CIOC members that if we approached the roads as a capital improvement project (as discussed herein) it would take only 6 to 8 years to fix all of Orinda’s roads. Interestingly, Orinda Watch has been saying less than 8 years. By contrast, the City’s/CIOC approach is 10 years and counting—and with the Council and CIOC’s fatally-flawed approach, there is no assurance that our road problems will ever truly be fixed.

The Orinda Citizens’ Road Plan

A workable approach to fixing Orinda’s roads and drains (outlined in more detail in the following Rotary talk) necessarily must start with a proper Definitive Engineering Plan (DEP). The key components to a Definitive Engineering Plan for a major capital improvement project are:

I. Executive Summary – narrative discussion, policy, overall parameters, milestones, cost and schedule summary 
II. Design Criteria (see discussion in Rotary talk) 
III. Definitive Scope of Work (roads to be fixed and to the specified level of quality, PCI; scope for the drains, maintenance scope for roads and drains)
IV. Total Project Estimate (four broad categories of cost estimates -roads, drains, and the maintenance of each, targeted for plus or minus 10% accuracy) 
V. Funding Plan – discussion of financing options, with contractual obligations to the definitive scope of work, contingency 
VI. Project Execution Methodology – planning, schedule, organization, execution discussion, project control, project audits, progress reports …

A possible way to get started on a Definitive Engineering Plan (DEP) would be to form a Citizens Road Committee (CRC) to develop a well structured, 10 page DEP outline along with a top ten Action Items for 2015 implementation. For example, to recruit a “well-qualified Engineering Project Manager Roads” to develop the DEP, determine the definitive engineering scope (not detailed drawings), and manage the project’s execution would be a top ten priority item. Another priority item would be clarification and agreement on the project’s design criteria as discussed in the Rotary talk.

We believe proper preparation and development of the DEP along with project execution support will require outside engineering-construction services which would also be on the top ten list. There are many advantages with a sound project approach, which is the way most well-run organizations undertake a major capital improvement program. For example, part of the DEP effort could include alternative assessments on optimal contracting approaches. The City currently undergoes a piecemeal annual contracting program. A better approach might be to let multiple-year, multiple-location contracts that coordinate subsurface issues with utilities and drainage facilities. Perhaps have one execution contract on the North side of town and simultaneously another on the South side of town. With proper planning and management, rather than this Council’s ho-hum and ultimately ineffective annual maintenance type of approach, there are many ways to execute the work better, faster, and cheaper.

Road Definitive Plan Outline—the Orinda Citizens’ Road Plan—Could Be Endorsed by City Council Hopefuls

As discussed above, an early Fall deliverable from a successful Citizens’ Road Committee (CRC) could be a well-structured 10 page DEP outline along with the top ten Action Items for 2015 implementation. This deliverable, prepared with or without Council and city staff participation (they of course would be invited to participate) could be used as a platform position by prospective City Council candidates in the November election. Three City Council positions are up for election and a fourth may be moving to a different job in 2015. We would think election discussions re the CRC recommendations would be a strong positive for the community.


To conclude, we’ve tried to summarize why the City’s approach to fixing our roads and drains warrants a NO VOTE FOR MEASURE J.

The key points are: 
1- Measure J represents a fatally flawed approach.

2- Trusting this City Council with $20,000,000 is inappropriate and not warranted.

3- Fixing the roads requires an understanding of scale. We are faced with a major capital improvement project, which is different from day-to-day maintenance. The goal is to “fix” the roads— not “keep fixing” them.

We’ve outlined an approach on how to proceed if Measure J fails. Such an alternative approach, which follows business norms, will meet Orinda’s needs while the City’s Measure J, even if it passes, will not. The Orinda Citizens’ Road Plan discussed above would benefit residents, taxpayers, and the community in the short and longer term.

We are all frustrated with the poor roads. But just “getting started” by Voting for Measure J would be a major mistake for our community. As we have outlined above, there is a better, faster, cheaper, and more professional way.


Following are two talks Opposing Measure J presented to The Rotary Club of Orinda on April 30, 2014. Both provide more details on problems with Measure J along with solutions to “Fix” Orinda’s roads.

III. Chris Kniel Talk to The Rotary Club of Orinda 
Opposition to Measure J’s $20 million in Road Bonds 
Orinda Community Center 
April 30, 2014 12 Noon

“Measure J’s $20 million—Taking a Closer Look.”

Good afternoon and thank you for the invitation. As mentioned in the Intro, the Title of our talk is, “Measure J’s $20 million—Taking a Closer Look.”

Our goal is: THAT you vote at the June 3, election and you vote as an informed citizen.

I will summarize a few fundamental problems, and suggest how a professional approach to the repair of Orinda roads should be undertaken.

Then I’ll provide specific observations about the Bond measure, and finally recap the issues.

There are several fundamental problems with the City’s approach and the proposed bond measure:

1st A demand for Taxpayer funding BEFORE a Definitive Road Plan is in place

2nd Meaningless Design Criteria that fails to address the Project’s objective

3rd A piecemeal approach that lacks Full Disclosure of the Project’s costs and dimensions

4th Open Ended language in the bond measure

Who are we and what is our perspective?

1- Bruce London and I are both long-term residents of Orinda and care deeply about Orinda and its future. We favor fixing the roads. We understand doing so incurs substantial cost, and we want to see road and drain repairs completed responsibly and cost effectively in a reasonable period of time.

2- We appreciate this is a very big problem for Orinda. We also appreciate that the same City Council has been ineffective in dealing with this issue for many years. Fixing ALL of Orinda’s roads and drains to an acceptable or better condition in a reasonable period of time (which we think should be less than 8 years) is a major capital improvement project. Those working closely with the Citizens' Infrastructure Oversight Commission (CIOC) tell us it is more than a $100 million project. A major capital improvement Project is not merely an expansion of the road maintenance function THAT HAS heretofore BEEN MODESTLY FUNDED and minimally successful. What do I mean when I say, “It should NOT be considered as merely an expansion of the road maintenance function?

Let’s draw an analogy to the City’s stated intent to repair, upgrade and replace our 50-year-old roads and drainage systems to that of a family’s desire to improve (or renovate) their 50-year-old house. If the owners go to Orinda’s Planning Dept. and request a permit to remodel their home, the Planning Dept. requires definitive engineering plans that describe the extent of the remodel, with enough specificity to define the scope of work. If the Planning Dept. approves the owners’ definitive engineering plans, then the homeowners with their permit, definitive engineering plans, and a project estimate go to a bank to secure financing for the remodel, assuming they don’t have a half million in cash readily available. This is how the process works. The broad steps are: Definitive Engineering Plans, Permit, Estimate, Approved Bank Financing, then construction. It works in that order. The Financing comes AFTER Definitive Engineering Plans, AFTER the APPROVED Permit, AFTER the Estimate. This sequence is required by the bank as part of normal due diligence. The bank will not loan the owners a half million dollars based on promises of process.

We think the same rationale should apply to the city program to fix our roads and drains. TAXPAYER APPROVAL of the loan, or bond in this case, should be subsequent to this list of preliminary key steps.

The engineering definition for the road fix should include a complete listing of ALL of Orinda’s Roads (there are 476 road segments in 93 miles) showing the Pavement Condition Index, a qualitative measure of the road’s condition (PCI) now, and the PCI at the completion of the Road and Drainage Fix Program. We are NOT talking about detailed design drawings and specifications for the entire road program at a point prior to bond approval. – but rather a listing of all of the road segments to be fixed, and the quality level, (PCI) at program completion along with definitive scope for major drainage repairs. Doing this involves updating the Street Saver Computer Program in accordance with meaningful design criteria with engineering input for all roads.

3- We think Orinda’s road plan must start with meaningful DESIGN CRITERIA. Design Criteria is an engineering amplification of the Project’s objective that provides specific engineering requirements. Fixing the AVERAGE Pavement Condition Index (PCI) to 70 as the current plan (and all previous revisions) stipulate, is neither a meaningful nor appropriate design criteria.

We don’t drive on average roads. An average 70 PCI criteria for all of the city’s roads could include arterial and feeder roads at a high-condition and most local roads at a very low, unacceptable condition, or all kinds of combinations. Further, there are at least three ways of computing an average PCI of 70. (Is it a straight numeric average based on 476 road segments? Is it weighted based on miles of road or SM per segment? Is it weighted based on traffic usage?)

Consequently, the current stated design criteria is vague and thereby lacks credibility. It is clearly NOT A SOUND BASIS for a major project.

A meaningful and appropriate design criteria might be:

• The minimum PCI for any road in Orinda: 50

• The minimum PCI for Orinda’s 15 miles of collectors: 70

• The minimum PCI for Orinda’s 11 miles of arterials: 90

Taxpayers should question, if the design criteria is meaningless, what does that say for the balance of the plan?

4- We believe the program to fix and maintain Orinda’s roads and drains should be developed in total, not piecemeal, and presented and explained to include meaningful design criteria, scope of work, schedule, execution approach and financing to the residents in a manner that fully informs them of what they are getting over time for the investment of their tax dollars.

What we have in the so-called current Plan (the one just approved by the CC on 22 April) is mostly a narrative approach. It has some discussion of policy, funding phases, and some projected annual expenditures but its deficiencies are so egregious that our citizens are deprived of any guarantees that what they most desire - what they should expect from a road and drain project of this size and expense - will actually come to fruition.

We further believe fixing Orinda’s roads and drains should be based on comprehensive planning, and approached professionally, with outside engineering help, and a real public process for input and deliberation.

The key Elements for a “Definitive Engineering Plan” (DEP) 
for a plus $100 million Capital Improvement Project should include at least the following.

I. Executive Summary – narrative discussion, policy, overall parameters, milestones, cost and schedule summary 
II. Design Criteria (as discussed) 
III. Definitive Scope of Work (roads to be fixed and to the specified level of quality, PCI; scope for the drains, maintenance scope for roads and drains)
IV. Total Project Estimate (four broad categories of cost estimates -roads, drains, and the maintenance of each, targeted for plus or minus 10% accuracy) 
V. Funding Plan – discussion of financing options, with contractual obligations to the definitive scope of work, contingency 
VI. Project Execution Methodology – planning, schedule, organization, execution discussion, project control, project audits, progress reports …

As per the earlier analogy with a home remodel, a professional and proper sequence for KEY MILESTONES to fix Orinda’s roads and drains is: 
- Establish meaningful Design Criteria 
- Prepare Definitive Engineering Scope 
- Prepare a complete project estimate 
- Develop financing alternatives 
- Obtain TAXPAYER approval for various methods of financing. 
- Develop detailed Project Execution methodology 
- Execute and control the work

Again note the order of the steps and that approval for financing comes AFTER Appropriate Design Criteria; AFTER Definitive Engineering; and AFTER THE ESTIMATE.

The notes further expand upon the contents behind each of these headings.

This is the responsible and Professional way large projects are accomplished and it has numerous advantages for the Orinda taxpayer and for the City.

We believe if the Road Fix were properly developed, planned, and executed as a project, and not an expansion of the maintenance program, as discussed earlier, the effort could be completed in eight years.

Further, It helps to prevent painful outcomes with quality issues, cost overruns and schedule overruns like the recent Bay Bridge fiasco. It’s better, faster, and cheaper.

5- Missing in Bond Measure J is any obligatory language that links taxpayer financing to the specific road and drain repair scope of work. This omission is unacceptable. Crucial to the repair of Orinda's roads and drains is a contractual guarantee that financing will be applied exclusively for the repair of roads and drains as specified in a Definitive Engineering Plan (DEP). Why would any Orinda citizen agree to approve a Measure that carries no contractual agreement between both financing and specific performance?

In the limited time to address this subject, I have provided only the most critical of considerations in trying to bring light to how a professional approach to the repair of Orinda roads should be undertaken.

Let’s now turn to a few specific observations with regard to the $20 million bond Measure J, and the proponent’s statements as reflected in the voter statements. (MAKE A REMARK ABOUT OUR HANDOUITS.)

1. Measure J is being presented and marketed as a done deal. As a result of a Council developed Voter Survey in January (Jan 16-26, 2014) in which 400 people were polled, we constantly hear that 70% of the voters would vote “Yes” in favor of a $20 million bond measure to fund road improvements….

The actual survey results on page 13, DEMONSTRATE OTHERWISE. In fact only 38% said Definitely yes to a $20 million bond measure to fund road improvements….

This 38 % is a big difference FROM THE WIDELY BANDIED 70% YES.


The survey also says the level of support remains fairly stable after pro and con messages. One wonders, what were the con measures?

1. YOU WILL RECEIVE voter pamphlet summaries with your ballot. The SUMMARIES INCLUDE A Primary Argument FOR the bond measure J WHICH WERE signed by the Mayor and Council Member Smith. THIS Primary Argument FOR says, "Homeowners will pay an average of approximately $110 annually to secure $20 million worth of infrastructure improvements.” (It’s actually only $19.5 million worth after the financing fees are deducted.)

While this AVERAGE $110 AMOUNT PER YEAR may be mathematically correct, the use of average here is misleading as actual annual payments would vary significantly based on a homeowner’s assessed valuation. It is quite conceivable that two neighbors with homes of identical market value might pay a difference of to 600% which over 20 years or more adds up to many thousands of dollars.

The initial rate of the accelerated bond repayment of the Measure J Tax is $16.33 per hundred thousand of assessed valuation.

BECAUSE OF A so-called accelerated repayment, the annual payment increases about 4.5% each year. TO GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF A CONSTANT AMOUNT OF TAX PER $100,000 OF ASSESSED VALUATION, The CITY COUNCIL decided to assume that the tax base OF TOTAL ASSESSED VALUATION itself would ALSO INCREASE BY THAT SAME amount each year due to turnover.

Page 100 of Orinda’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, (an excellent and informative publication) shows that property taxes levied and collected actually decreased 31% from 2007 to 2009 and after a 10% rise in 2010 have remained about constant for the four years 2010 to 2013.

1. The primary argument FOR also says: “importantly, numerous safeguards are in place to ensure the money is spent as promised.” The Reality is: By its own text, Measure J gives the City Council a blank check as to how and for what roadways and drains to spend the bond proceeds Tax Payers would ALREADY HAVE approved. CLEARLY, the only limit IS that the VOTER APPROVED municipal improvements MUST BE for roadways and storm drains, or measures “that improve safety on Orinda’s streets.”

The voter pamphlet statement [quote] “numerous safeguards” is bogus.

The exact ballot language says, “to repair failing roads and storm drains, restore and upgrade other roadways and storm drains, fix potholes, and improve safety of Orinda public streets.” That is ALL it says about the scope of work.

Sensible questions might be what roads? Upgrade what other roadways? And the safety clause is completely open ended. Safety issues could mean bicycle paths, lighting, pedestrian walkways, perhaps retaining walls…

Even the finance community that buys the bonds usually requires some specificity in the bond language— like a list of specific streets, etc. The city needs to be more specific.

1. Lastly, turning to the rebuttal to the argument against, it says, “None of the rebuttal arguments have merit.”

And it goes on to say, ”The opposition agrees Orinda has serious road problems but presents no plan to solve them.” Just the opposite is true.

The facts are, we’ve argued long and hard, time and again for a real definitive engineering plan as stated here today.

We said “the scope language is too broad and open-ended.” We said, “the bond initiative demands thorough disclosure that details what specific roads the Project Plan designates for repair, the quality of repair, scheduling, and cost estimates tied to the scope of work.”

We also said, “the city is disingenuous here about the full cost of repairing Orinda’s roads.” And that “this piecemealing out the solution rather than being honest with the public about the true costs and dimensions of the problem is wrong.“ [close quote]

It goes on so please read the voter pamphlets.

To recap, when we take a closer look, we find that the City Council has bet on a questionable survey, but has not made the time to develop or cause to be developed, an appropriate and comprehensive Definitive Plan to fixing our roads.

Their approach is piecemeal and lacks full disclosure of the Project’s costs and dimensions. The City wants the taxpayer’s money BEFORE they’ve put together a Definitive Plan.

After more than two years developing their plan, they have not even put forth meaningful design criteria. How can there be merit to a Plan that lacks the most important first step—meaningful design criteria?

The bond language is way too open-ended. Why would any Orinda citizen agree to approve a Measure that commits him to >20 years of payments but carries no contractual agreement between both financing and specific performance?

We’ve tried to point out why we believe Measure J deserves a NO and to bring light to how a professional approach to the repair of Orinda roads should be undertaken.

Once Orinda’s taxpayers understand the serious shortcomings, we doubt even a majority will support Measure J.

Thank you for your attention.

III. (cont.) Bruce London, M.D. REBUTTAL Statement to The Rotary Club of Orinda 
Opposition to Measure J’s $20 million in Road Bonds 
Orinda Community Center 
April 30, 2014 12 Noon

Good afternoon and again we appreciate the opportunity to provide our perspective to Measure J and the City’s Plan to fix the roads.

You have heard claims from the proponents of the $20 Million Measure J that:

▪ We have a Plan in place
▪ We have a process with CIOC to select the roads
▪ 70% of the voters support the bond
▪ We have to do it Now
▪ That we don’t offer a plan
▪ It goes on

Chris, in his presentation has already spoken to the facts behind those claims which we believe are either false outright or seriously inadequate. We believe the facts overwhelming demonstrate that there are so many serious problems with the City’s approach and Bond Measure J, that Orindans will REJECT THE MEASURE.

What I have to say in response to the opposition’s position is:

Bond Measure J contains absolutely no specifics about which roads will be repaired and in what order. In fact, the initiative itself even states that the bond proceeds can be used to restore and upgrade other roadways and storm drains besides failing ones, ... and improve safety on public streets. Lack of a definitive engineering plan as described earlier by Chris is City Council’s way of saying “trust us” to decide which streets will be worked on and exactly what type of work will be done. Trust is something that must be earned.

During the past year, I watched our City Council very carefully. In June of 2013, City Staff submitted a Housing Element draft to the Department of Housing and Community Development without any public input. A few observant citizens discovered this severely flawed draft and the entire community was alerted. Hundreds of outraged Orindans completely inundated the next few council meetings and scores made public comments. My observation was that the most emotional speakers or letter writers were not affiliated with Orinda Watch, but were other Orinda homeowners who said that they felt betrayed by our City Council. Twelve hundred Orinda residents signed a petition demanding specific changes to the Housing Element. Two painfully detailed letters requested multiple edits. At first, City Council and staff entirely ignored these public outcries. Next they tried to marginalize us by characterizing us as misinformed. As the Housing Element deadline neared, Council and Staff eventually stated that they would, indeed, incorporate some specific edits and boasted about the degree of community input. 
However, the final, adopted draft was essentially the same as the June draft. That’s not only my opinion, but was stated in writing by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

While the public was ignored, several personal e-mails between our current mayor and a developer regarding a desirable property in Orinda dated March of 2013 were uncovered and publicized. 
I don’t have confidence that City Council will make road repair decisions that prioritize the average Orinda homeowner over special interests. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

The public was not even allowed to read written minutes or hear audio recordings of the two-council member subcommittee chartered to craft the way survey questions were asked—no public records of at least 4 such meetings exist.

Regarding oversight by an independent CIOC, an email between a City Council member and a developer dated March 6, 2013, specifically mentions each Planning Commissioner by name regarding their upcoming vote on an application and recommends that the developer reach out and help educate the two newest Commissioners. I can only conclude that, in Orinda, Commissions do not operate with autonomy.

Since there is no definitive engineering plan with contractual obligation in Measure J, all we really have is a request for funding before a Definitive Plan is in place. I have no choice but to vote no.

IV. A Citizen’s Statement on Measure J:

Lastly, following is a brief commentary from an Orinda Watch member:

Voting NO for Measure J (phase2) is necessary so we can get all roads repaired in a timely and cost effective manner! The city’s plan is to have voters pass Measure J this year and then pass Phase 3 & 4 in future years. Sounds good, but here are the barriers to achievement. First, Measure J needs two-thirds majority to pass. Second, each phase will be competing with other needs such as school funds. Third, if Measure J is approved then fewer voters are likely to approve the next phase because their roads have been repaired, thus the required two-thirds majority will not be achieved. The proposed approach leads to getting very few of the roads repaired. The best approach is to have the total need for repair provided as a Measure. This way all citizens know their road repair needs will be accomplished. The piecemeal approach that the proponents of Measure J propose leads to a lot of uncertainty and doubt that the total job will ever be achieved. As a retired civil engineer with 35 years of experience in the National Forests in California I say with confidence, Measure J is NOT the way!

V. Road Bond Website: Orinda Road Facts www.FixOrindaRoads.info