Lamorinda Tri-Cities meeting focuses on projects, tax measures, development
By Lou Fancher
Long-term projects and planning matters dominated the annual Tri-Cities meeting of Lamorinda council members.
The meeting featured updates on local projects and partnerships, an overview of Lafayette's Downtown Congestion Study, and a report on a possible Contra Costa Transportation Authority countywide sales tax measure.
Moraga planning director Ellen Clark said three developments underway and a number of projects in various stages of approval represented a mild uptick in activity. With other, mostly grant-funded projects that include updating the zoning regulations for the Moraga Center Specific Plan, creating a bicycle master plan, and reviewing hillside and ridge preservation guidelines, Clark indicated that protecting open space remains a high priority in the community.
Interim Town Manager Bob Priebe said the town's "big news" is the recently completed council chamber, and council meetings that are now live-streamed and broadcast on Comcast.
Pavement improvements have pushed Moraga's pavement condition index from 49 to 70. Priebe said resurfacing projects scheduled to begin after the end of the 2015-2016 school year represent ongoing efforts.
Orinda's residential and commercial developments include the sale of 169 out of 245 home sites in Wilder, 73 Orinda Grove units sold and occupied, Monteverde's 67 senior affordable housing apartments fully occupied, and a proposed 18,000-square-foot commercial building at 25A Orinda Way, and 13 single-family homes at the J&J Ranch subdivision moving forward in the approval pipeline.
Additionally, Mayor Victoria Smith said a downtown parking study is underway.
Twelve percent of Orinda's public residential roads were reconstructed with Measure L and J funds during 2014 and 2015. For 2016, another $6,000 will be spent upgrading additional roads while completing the prior years' 23 reconstructions (four await improved weather conditions).
Joint efforts with Moraga will address Ivy Drive conditions fronting Miramonte High School; and design work for a White Oak Court project undertaken with Lafayette that is expected to be complete by the summer.
Lafayette Vice Mayor Mike Anderson outlined nine development projects in the city's downtown area and said a number of studies taken by the council in 2015 examined issues relating to new construction.
Signal operations on Pleasant Hill Road, parking ordinate updates, a trails master plan, the capabilities of the police closed-circuit television program and other matters were concerns he said "all circulate around the development in the downtown area and keeping it walkable."
Lafayette transportation planner James Hinkamp's detailed explanation of the results from the Downtown Congestion Study focused on two goals identified as the city's priorities: reducing congestion and enhancing quality of life.
Among the report's highlights are use of Big Data to provide trackable numbers for traffic volumes, patterns and habits, the number of participants and public outreach response to a two-part, online survey, and related traffic issues.
The study results, available online, will lead to "next steps" that include winnowing a long list of strategies and a detailed analysis of the top three "scenario packages." These culled results will be included in a second phase of the public survey process.
Lafayette Councilman Don Tatzin provided an update on CCTA activities. He said the region's Measure J projects will be 80 percent complete by next year and were largely on time. In some cases, due to the economic downturn having reduced construction costs, they were below budget.
A new sales tax measure is under consideration by the CCTA for the November ballot. Tatzin said a version of the measure will be circulated at the end of March to cities in the region for comment. Public comment and review will follow before a final version is presented in June or July.
High-profile projects that prompted voters to approve Measure J are not a part of the CCTA's upcoming efforts.
"We don't have something quite like the Caldecott Tunnel this year, or Highway 4 or eBART," Tatzin said.
Even so, he said feedback received by the CCTA had established the public's three, clear priorities: "fix it first," meaning repair potholes; improve flow on major streets; and provide more money for BART.