Background: It has come to our attention that Orinda Vision, a local development-centric group pushing multi-story housing in downtown Orinda, is actively attempting to stop a school for young children from coming to downtown Orinda. Don't believe it? Read on and click on the attachments.
Here's what we think citizens should know:
*To be sure, Orinda Watch has no vested interest here except to allow a market-centric approach to work naturally and to protect the property & individual rights of our citizens.
*It appears that Orinda Vision had a heads-up before the citizenry that such an application would be coming before the Planning Commission. If this is true, what gives Orinda Vision the right to hear about such items coming before the Planning Commission before the average citizen?
*See exhibits attached, a couple of which are directly from Orinda Vision, which appear to be an attempt to prevent the Montessori School from coming to downtown Orinda.
*Fountainhead Montessori is proposing to move into the long-vacant property at the old Phair's site on the corner across from Orinda Motors and the Orinda Country Club. For years, no one has been willing to take over the Phair's space, and now there is potential for, what appears to be, a beneficial tenant.
*Montessori would construct a 2-story property, which would provide for a school and for a retail space (see the agenda attached and here are the staff reports for tonight's meeting), which would in turn pass sales taxes along to the city and its residents.
*This is a much less drastic alternative than the multi-acre, multi-story development that we have heard at least one group has been pushing for this property and surrounding properties, which would require more than one property owner to sell their land, has the potential to displace viable businesses (after all, if they weren't viable, wouldn't they have already closed down?), could potentially require messy lawsuits, and for sure would be accompanied by massive public outcry. What's not to like?
*More importantly, this appears to be a free-market transaction--who are we to say that the owner of the Phair's site shouldn't take the risk on a lease to a school or that the owner of Fountainhead Montessori shouldn't be allowed to take the risk on their perceived need for such a school in downtown Orinda?
*Are we sure, given so much effort and pushback from Orinda Vision, that this group only has interest in maximizing land-use for Orinda? Are we sure there is no other direct or indirect vested financial interest here guiding this group's agenda to build multi-story units above retail in downtown Orinda? We do not have hard evidence in either direction...we are merely suggesting that citizens begin asking tougher questions.
Conclusion: Let this be another piece of evidence that all does not appear to be as it seems in our beloved city and we should be awakened to the possibility that there are improprieties here. Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Orinda Watch