HO, HO, HO…. Orinda Watch Christmas Party

December 3, 2016

Dear Friends and Orindans,

Come join us for our annual Christmas Party

            When:      Monday, December 19, 2016

            Time:       6:00 to 8:00 pm

            Where:    Orinda Community Center, 26 Orinda Way, Room 8, Orinda, CA

           Bring:      Yourself and a friend, an appetizer & drink to share

            RVSP:      ktjenkins@sbcglobal.net or just show up

Wishing you and your family the best of the holiday season.

Your friends and neighbors at Orinda Watch.


Benefits for Some Bring Burdens for Others

November 26, 2016

Dear Friends and Orindans,

The voters have spoken. We have newly elected members on the Orinda City Council (OCC). Darlene Gee and Inga Miller were elected to the OCC. The downtown revitalization issue dominated our local election. We have a majority of OCC members who will likely vote to accept zoning flexibility and general plan changes in exchange for downtown revitalization which could affect other future development in Orinda.

On November 15, 2016, the OCC decided to award two contracts to two third-party consultants, National Main Street Center (NMSC) and Urban Land Institute (ULI), who will suggest ways to improve our City. Eve Phillips voted against the ULI contract. Darlene Gee recused herself from the discussion due to a conflict of interest issue between her employer HNTB and ULI.

It is the Orinda citizens and the private property owners that have determined what they will offer and support in their downtown to date. Economic vitality is not a goal unto itself and cannot be mandated. You can ask the citizen to pick from several choices of what business they would like to see in their downtown but the citizen will ultimately decide what they will or will not support.

Are we willing to accept less parking, more traffic, changing the general plan and potential loss of local control, loss of village character of our downtown in exchange for newer retail, new office space, and more housing units for more residents, for the purpose of improving economic vitality downtown, economic vitality for a few developers, or whatever the latest reason is – we’ll see.

Come join us for a lively discussion and share ideas on this and other matters at Monday’s meeting, November 28 at Orinda Community Center, Room 8 from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

Your friends and neighbors at Orinda Watch.


October 23, 2016

Dear fellow Orindans,

We are excited to welcome Save Orinda members to a combined Save Orinda and Orinda Watch meeting being held on Monday, October 24 at the Orinda Community Center from 6-8 PM, Room 8.

Elections, Tomorrow 10/24 is the Last Day to Register to Vote 
Some of us are still campaigning for candidates for Orinda City Council. By the looks of the number of brochures remaining, we think we have handed out over 4,000 brochures door-to-door during this campaign. This election is pivotal in restoring our City Council to rule 'for the people'. Make sure you register and VOTE.

If you attended the Candidate Forum on October 6th, the choice was clear between the candidates: 
• Bruce London and Linda Delehunt want to hear your ideas and will lead the residents in downtown update discussions
• Darlene Gee and Inga Miller want a consultant firm (ULI) to lead a downtown development plan for Orinda with no resident input that caters to a minority of residents who want Orinda to look like every other city that lacks character

Darlene Gee – was anointed a seat on the OCC by majority vote by the Council; not elected by the residents. 
K. Jenkins, an Orinda resident, was concerned about Ms. Darlene Gee over a conflict of interest issue between Ms. Gee’s employer HNTB and ULI and emailed the Orinda City Council and the city attorney recently, the following:

"City Council Members and City Attorney, 
Darlene Gee, V. P. of HNTB (an architecture, civil engineering consulting and construction management firm), stood out as a champion in the decision of Orinda downtown development work to award an Orinda city agreement to ULI. Various employees of HNTB participate on ULI Technical Assistance Panels (TAP) in the HNTB West Region (headed by Art Hadnett, HNTB West Division president presiding over Ms. Gee’s region). HNTB has many signature infrastructure projects in the West Division, serves 30 clients in nine states, including projects such as San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. HNTB is a Bronze Sponsor of ULI. HNTB obtains business opportunities through the ULI relationship.

Due to the financial interest that Ms. Gee has in HNTB and their relationship with ULI, this is a conflict of interest. Ms. Gee should not be using her position on the city council to participate in this decision processes."

Inga Miller – a real estate attorney, is someone no one has heard of. She applied for the OCC when the downtown development residents cast a wide net for anyone who would support ‘zoning leniency’ upon discovery that Victoria Smith was not defending her seat. She has attended zero OCC meetings and is backed by Orinda Vision and What’s Up Downtown Orinda.

Whose Real Property Is It? 
The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property. (Quote by - Karl Marx)

We heard comments at the September 6th OCC meeting from residents who claimed that the downtown property owners were ‘holding Orinda hostage’ due to the condition of their property.

• Question: How do we balance individual rights with the rights of the community? 
• Answer: The community has no rights under the US Constitution and is not protected under the US Constitution as the individual is.

We hope to see you at Monday’s meeting, during which we’ll meet some local candidates, discuss the downtown development topic along with other matters.

Your friends and neighbors at Orinda Watch

...and then there was Urban Land Institute

October 17, 2016

Dear Fellow Orindans,

Orinda Watch is a volunteer coalition of citizens whose purpose is keeping the people of Orinda, California informed on local affairs while fighting for local control of planning and governance.

We would like to draw your attention to the upcoming Orinda City Council (OCC) Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 18, 2016. Refer to the following link for review of the meeting agenda information; Agenda Item I-1:


We recommend you attend the meetings. If you cannot attend, there is streaming video on Orinda City Council (OCC) meetings here:


There are a couple of areas of development to observe during upcoming discussions on the continuation of the downtown planning process.

Downtown Planning Process - Citizen Input 
What we observed at the September 6, 2016 meeting is that the 2012 survey consisting of 4700+ citizen comments from the 988 citizens of Orinda about what they would like to have in their city and what they think could improve the city was permanently shelved. The existing members of the OCC implemented no action by our OCC as a consequence of this survey at that time (Amy Worth, Dean Orr, and Victoria Smith) and we assume no action will be taken in the future either.

Continuation of the Downtown Planning Process - No Citizen Input 
At the end of the September 6th meeting, Councilmember Darlene Gee, rallied around the prospect of hiring land use consultants Urban Land Institute (ULI) for 1.5 to 2 days to advise Orinda how to plan our downtown.

Urban Land Institute is a mega non-profit global firm specializing in sustainable URBAN development for cities on a national and international scale and in lockstep with Plan Bay Area on a regional scale and all about Transit Oriented Development (TOD) mixed-use development surrounding metro transit centers such as BART and bus transit to create walking/biking cities thus reducing our reliance on cars.

Did you notice that none of the questions asked by the OCC or Trowbridge of ULI contain the words ‘semi-rural’ or ’35 foot height limit’? ULI doesn’t do semi-rural development. ULI specializes in URBAN development. Should the OCC hire ULI, don’t be surprised with what ULI suggests. ULI will answer the questions as posed but judging by the way the questions have been phrased in the meeting agenda, we can guarantee that any ULI response to the OCC will require zoning changes in our downtown.

The outcome of the 2016 election for Orinda City Council is in our hands. If we want to keep Orinda a place to come home to, not a place to escape from and if you care to retain the semi-rural environment of our city, we recommend - VOTE for BRUCE LONDON and LINDA DELEHUNT who will defend it.