Bureaucrats want $20M to Fix Orinda Roads?

OrindaIn a survey of Orinda voters commissioned by the Orinda City Council, “[s]even in 10 voters would initially support a $20 million bond measure” to fix Orinda roads (Lamorinda Weekly, Feb. 12). The results of the survey were presented to the city council on Feb. 4. The survey was conducted by the FM3 company, located in Oakland.

The key question is this: Is any kind of bond measure needed to fix Orinda roads?

According to an Orinda environmental group, Orinda Watch, sufficient money is already being collected from gasoline taxes to fund Orinda’s bad roads. Orinda Watch argues that Orinda does not need a bond measure for road repair.

Orinda Watch, in a statement released on Feb. 12, says that Plan Bay Area, a project calling for the construction of high-density, high-rise housing in Orinda and elsewhere, “takes massive amounts of public funds from gas tax revenues that should go to road maintenance and diverts them to mass transit subsidies . . . ” The statement adds: “These diversions of gas tax revenue have been practiced by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) for many years . . . ”

MTC is a regional governmental transportation agency whose directors and officers have not been elected directly by voters. MTC’s chairperson is Amy Worth, who also sits on the Orinda City Council.

MTC has not been shy about disclosing its intentions. In a report issued on May 10, 2010, MTC said that automobile pollutants (often called greenhouse-gas or GHG emissions) can be lowered. In the report, MTC stated: “Most of the GHG reductions that can be realized will result from how successful the region can be in moving toward more dense/mixed use transit oriented development and implementing creative ways to price the transportation system to adequately reflect the true costs of a limited resource.”

It appears that MTC, rather than voters, is deciding how gasoline-tax money is to be spent.

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  1. Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette says

    Since everything the any government touches gets a higher price and poorer quality work, the citizens of Orinda should take their streets private. This is what I told the residents of Birdhaven Court. They raised the money themselves. Then asked the City of Lafayette for permission. The City took their money and paved their street with Bond money, plus the residents money. With the government involved, the rebuild cost twice as much. . Birdhaven Court has been rebuilt 3 times. The citizens of Lafayette are still paying for the first rebuild.. Orinda is merely following in the footsteps of their corrupt neighbor. Soon Orinda will have a $400,000 a year City Manager too.
    Poor pavement and lack of street parking, is not hurting the price of Orinda’s homes.

  2. says

    To Bruce: The Sales tax was a band aid and not even a sufficient band aid. I have been following and analyzing the road situation since the Infrastructure Committee released its report in 2006. There has never been a proposal by The City for any comprehensive plan which will repair then maintain the roads. This is a complex situation and no 300 word statement, other than a sour-grapes “don’t do it” could do justice to the situation. I published a web site, http://www.orindaroadfacts.virb.com, but few tuned it; too much information. People want to trust their “leaders” but the “leaders” are leading them down a path which will never fix our roads or keep what is fixed in repair. They are looking for the “quick fix” answer to put on their resume’ before they move on to greater glory.

    To Brian: You got it. It takes $2.5mm per year just to maintain the roads at their current level, and even with the new sales tax producing 50% more revenue than projected, the city has less than $2mm meaning money for repair is going to be chewed up by maintenance needs. In addition, it would take $40mm today to bring our roads up to reasonable standards (not perfect). With inflation we will need $60-80mm over the next 8-15 years to fix the roads and an ever increasing amount to maintain them. No one is coming to Orinda’s aid for this; not MTC or MOFD or the Feds. The Orinda residents need to pay for their own roads and our “leaders” need to be straight with them on what it will cost. And considering we are protecting the value of almost $10 billion in real estate and that Orindans earn, in aggregate, about $1 billion per year, we can afford this.

    To Bruce: I agree that a bond is not the answer, especially one with a thirty year life; way beyond the life of the roads being fixed unless it is coupled with a tax which steadily increases which will provide maintenance forever like a sales tax 2-3 times the current amount or a real estate transfer tax like they have in Piedmont, Berkeley and Oakland.

  3. Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette says

    Some things are impossible. Fixing Orinda’s roads to perfection is one of them. The ground under the roads is always moving. So is the ground under many of Orinda’s homes. No matter how much money is thrown at Orinda’s roads, it will never be enough. Going into debt like Lafayette did in 1995, is stupid. The debt has lasted longer than any of the roads. Lafayette’s Boyer Circle is just like many of Orinda’s roads. It’s on it’s third rebuild. The first rebuild has not been paid for yet. If no one bothers to write an opposing argument, expect the bond debt to be approved by the ignorant, misinformed voters.. The administrators will receive a raise. Then within a few years, they will ask for more money for roads. Richard Colman will still be carrying on and on about ABAG and MTC., while the debt for roads piles up.. ..

  4. Jack Weir says

    There’s an important lesson here for other cities who are skimping on routine road maintenance in order to have money for personnel salaries and benefits. The cost of reconstruction is 10-20X that of proper maintenance, not counting the added expense of interest to be paid on long-term bonds.

  5. Richard Colman says

    The board of directors of MTC is not elected. This is not the American way. If bureaucrats want to spend taxpayers’ dollars, the people running MTC should stand for election by members of the public. Otherwise, MTC ought to be abolished. Why does MTC — and its partner in malfeasance, ABAG — insist on building high-density, high-rise apartments (“stack-and-pack” housing) in Orinda and elsewhere? MTC wants individuals to ditch their cars and move out of their homes. Why does MTC plan to spend $180 million on a new headquarters in San Francisco? Why can’t taxpayers vote on such insidious proposals as stack-and-pack housing and MTC’s reckless expenditures? It’s time certain Orindans and others stopped apologizing for MTC and ABAG. Orinda needs $60 million to repair its roads. MTC ought to release gasoline-tax money for these repairs. Orindans and others do not need social engineering from unelected bureaucrats.

  6. Brian says

    Wow, just wow – is this a joke? Do you have any idea how much money it costs to rehabilitate roads, and how much money Orinda is getting from the Gas Tax? A responsible journalist would start by looking at those two numbers.

    For 2014 there is roughly one million dollars from the Measure L gas tax to spend on pavement rehab. Are you aware of how far that gets you? Or are you just a rabble rouser with nothing better to do than accuse small town mayors of corruption? FYI, there are about 5 streets getting rehabed with that money, and only segments of those five streets!

    And yes, MTC is deciding how to spend other parts of gas tax dollars, because, guess what – that’s their job! If you want to voice your opinion, contact your elected official! Every decision they make does not go through the voters, that’s never how this country has worked.

    As for Bruce’s comment that “all media is corrupt” wouldn’t that include this page?

  7. Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette says

    Orinda had such an easy time passing the sales tax that was supposed to go for roads, why not hit the comatose public again for roads? As far as I know, there was no opposing argument filed for the Orinda or Moraga sales tax elections. It’s so easy to write a 300 word argument against tax measures. I was surprised that no one else wrote an opposing argument on the Acalanes or Lafayette parcel taxes, that will be on the May ballot. I have until Friday the 21st to submit my rebuttal arguments. My main theme is the corrupt politicians and their media friends.. All media is corrupt..