The essence of the debate over the Downtown Proposed Plan is simply whether Orindans want to accept the transformation of our commercial canyon into a high-rise, high-density, mixed use, BART condo village, without a vote in the matter. And make no mistake, that is precisely what is being proposed.
There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the Downtown Proposed Plan. What is the financial impact to nearby residential property value? Where is the traffic solution for a re-configured downtown? Where is a realistic parking solution, because 0.5 parking spaces per condo, shared with commercial parking is certainly not realistic?
Does high density mean 40 residential units per acre, a figure mentioned by the planning director at the May 25 planning commission meeting? What happens to the existing downtown businesses, when the rent goes up? The questions go on. As always, the devil is in the details. And the details are sorely lacking.
Also missing: The city has not hired an independent, certified urban planner to conduct a valid needs assessment of all Orindans, for the town's commercial district. The Downtown Proposed Plan is simply the self-serving vision of an elite, pro-developer few, who seek to put a process in place for fast-tracking high rise developers, without your vote.
Orindans need to examine this matter under a bright light. The lynchpin for high-rise, high-density condos is the part of the plan that calls for raising the building height limit.
In truth, Orinda's downtown commercial district could be "re-vitalized" right now, within the existing 35 foot building height limit and the existing commercial parking requirements, if that were really the issue. All that is required is the will of a commercial property owner, and consent of neighboring property owners, to do so. Clearly, the prize being sought is bigger.
Citizens of Orinda deserve an actual vote in this matter. Keep the existing 35 foot building height limit in the commercial district: Yes or No? The current approval process does NOT give citizens that vote. It's referendum time.