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Lamorinda Councils Get Together, Compare Notes

Annual get-together of Orinda, Moraga and Lafayette governments looks at issues that bridge Lamorinda.

The leaders of the two cities and one town of Lamorinda are getting together to compare notes.

An annual tradition of a joint meeting of the councils of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda continues with a Thursday meeting. The joint meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Sequoia Room of the Lafayette Community Center, 500 St. Mary's Road. Lafayette.

In an email, Lafayette City Manager Steve Falk provided an example of comparing notes: "After the councils indicated an interest in working together to provide regional emergency response, the three cities jointly purchased a backup radio system and also jointly hired a consultant to study and revise our emergency plans to ensure that they were consistent with each other."

On this year's agenda:

  • Fire and medical emergency response services.
  • Potential for bidding capital projects together to capture economies of scale.
  • Update on land use developments.
  • Senior Village Concept in Lamorinda.

Senior Village refers to a concept popping up in various areas where members sign up for a group that provides support for senior citizens to stay in their own homes.

Kathleen February 21, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Piedmont Patch recently featured an article on the Village movement, which is just getting started in Lamorinda. http://piedmont.patch.com/articles/group-seeks-to-help-seniors-remain-at-home-eb477467
just one voice February 21, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Lamorinda councils should discuss how to oppose the regional take over of power by unelected bodies like MTC, ABAG among others. The One Bay Area Plan will transform all of these towns into high density stack and pack villages destroying the local charm. The people of Lamorinda want local control over how their cities grown. Read this article about how regionalists want to abolish city and county government. http://peninsulapress.com/2013/02/08/bay-area-should-model-itself-after-city-states-hong-kong-and-singapore-futurist-says/
Informed Citizen February 21, 2013 at 11:22 PM
We are in an environment where essential services, like Police, Fire, and basic infrastructure/road repair funding is being depleted by out of control Public Pension scams and exploding budget shortfalls due to underfunding thereof. Our roads are (intentionally) neglected, fire stations are closing, and retiring public servants are unable to be replaced. It is a time to pull in our belts and focus more on needs rather than "wants". In low income communities, seniors have true need. However, in communities like Lammorinda, seniors are demographically the wealthiest age group by assets; and the second wealthiest group by income. Which is another way of saying that the vast majority of seniors around us can afford all basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing & transportation. Yes, health care also. Fewer than 4% of our seniors live at or near the poverty line. So when we expand senior programs in wealthy communities, like subsidized entertainment and transportation, we are catering to a well-healed class that is happy to take the handouts; but we do it because it "feels good". Government moves into and expands these programs for political appeal, and to grow their power and size. The more the collective takes over private functions, the larger, wealthier and more powerful they become. The public becomes more "invested" in them, and dependent upon them. They are, by their nature, hugely inefficient and provide more ways to hide finances from the public.
Kathleen February 21, 2013 at 11:43 PM
You may want to read the articles about the Village movement. It is not a government program; it is a membership program, supported primarily by member fees, volunteer participation, and -- sometimes -- grants and donations. Even in Lamorinda, many seniors need help with day-to-day activities that can help them stay independent in their homes.
Informed Citizen February 22, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Kathleen, I strongly support voluntary support of private organizations, charitable giving and people's freedom to unite and associate in such groups for their common good. That, however, is hardly what local governments are about. Rich communities like Piedmont and Lamorinda fund senior programs in their Community Centers, and provide for tax-payer funded transportation and other freebies to a very wealthy class of voters. (Let's not forget that seniors are very reliable voters!) The thrust of my comment is that there is a widespread misconception that seniors in these communities are poor; unable to provide for themselves and their own lifestyles. I'm simply saying that when you look at the published demographic data, seniors make up the first or second wealthiest class of residents. It helps that their homes (median value back up to $1Million+) are predominantly owned debt-free. I need help with my "day-to-day activities" too. I'm a few short years from Social Security (not holding my breath!) and Rossmoor would have welcomed me some years ago. But the things that I can't do any more I hire out. I'd like to stay functional and ambulatory for many more years. If I can't, I don't feel its right to put those burdens on my neighbor's tax bills. Our town governments are more than happy to get in the middle of all this and grow more and larger tax-funded programs. It works well for politicians and staff.
lovelafayette February 22, 2013 at 05:08 PM
The take home message for me is Lafayette must join the Moraga-Orinda Fire District today! I have attended all 3 recent fire protection related meetings: ConFire Chief Louder conducted a public meeting to justify closing station 16, last weeks Parks meeting featured a ConFire battalion chief and LPD Chief discussing protection of the Lafayette Community Park, and this tri city meeting devoted 2 hours to fire protection. I found Chief Louder to be ineffective and financially inept, I questioned revenue and he admitted they have ambulance charges billable to insurance companies but HAVE NEVER BILLED! The battalion chief was dismissive of Lafayette's concerns ( "other cities have daily fires, you ONLY had 2 last summer...). Louder's scheme to build a fire house to serve ConFire and MOFD will not pass muster at the Board of Supervisors.Clearly ConFire needs Lafayette $ to fight the daily fires in Antioch and Pittsburg, but Lafayette does not need ConFire. The Lafayette City Council should abandon all talk of sharing facilities and take up the invitation to join in a tri city district. We have much more in common with Moraga and Orinda than we do with the cities served by ConFire.
Scott February 22, 2013 at 07:08 PM
What Lafayette residents fail to understand, but their City Council is acutely aware of, is the steep discount they were receiving from CCC Fire to staff and maintain three fire stations. The taxes collected in Lafayette, and allocated to fire services, is far below what is needed. The truth of the matter is that Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, etc. were truly paying for that third station in Happy Valley. Only now that Lafayette is down to two stations is that cash drain being reversed. If Lafayette residents want that third station, much less ambulance service as provided by MOFD, they are going to need to dig deep to get it.
lovelafayette February 22, 2013 at 07:21 PM
@ Scott. Thank you for adding another reason for dumping ConFire. If Lafayette residents want a third station they should join MOFD. MOFD CURRENTLY has plans to replace the Orinda station nearest to Lafayette, which now serves Lafayette/Happy Valley through mutual aide. Last night we were told to expect a 2 year wait for ConFire, Supervisors, design..to BEGIN construction with ConFire/MOFD joint firehouse venture. This is a last ditch effort by ConFire to retain Lafayette, but it is too little too late. It is possible that ConFire made a decision to allow station to deteroriate (rats and mold) so it could be taken out of service in June 2012 to save $. I am an occupational health professional and know that allowing a workplace to become a health hazard serious enough to attract OSHA attention shows either willful violation of OSHA laws, or mismanagement at the highest levels. Lafayette should have abandoned ConFire based on that health and safety issue alone instead of rolling over and accepting the closure.
Chris Nicholson February 22, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Getting back to the original topic, based on the article linked by Kathleen (thanks), the Senior Village concept sounds very interesting. At long as self-funded, it seems like a win-win for all involved. Frankly, given that some local seniors DO have significant assets, I would expect the project to collect significant up front donations as well as "planned giving" pledges.
Scott February 23, 2013 at 06:58 AM
I can assure you that 16 was not allowed to degrade as an excuse to close it. Station 15 in downtown Lafayette and Station 17 on St. Mary's Road are in need of serious retrofit work too. CCC Fire has allowed far too many of their engines get behind the times. They have no serious capital replacement plans. In my prior post I was referring to the annual operating costs to maintain three stations. There are serious capital costs that would be required to bring those stations up to par and purchase apparatus on top of it.
lovelafayette February 23, 2013 at 04:16 PM
@Scott. Please clarify how you can "assure" us re: station 16 closure. Are you Confire management? employee? union rep? What has been done to station 16 since it was closed? Was the building demolished, or has it become a rat condo? Any firepersons care to comment on what it was like to live with the rats and mold?
lovelafayette February 23, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Senior village spokesperson at meeting stated $800-1000 annual fee to enroll and access some services. She was a little unclear about fees for couples in the same house. The village would serve as a clearing house to screen vendors like plumbers and arrange discounts, but members still pay for those kinds of services. The intent is to augment not duplicate our very limited city sponsored services.
Steve Cohn February 23, 2013 at 04:47 PM
A few facts about emergency services costs and revenues. What does it cost to pay for a firefighter and how much tax do Lafayette taxpayers provide to ConFire? According to the Orinda Task Force report (www.OrindaTaskForce.Org) Orinda and Moraga taxpayers pay $17.4 million in taxes for a force of 19 firefighters per shift. That equates to $915,000 per firefighter position. MOFD is $800,000 in the red this year so maybe the that should be increased to $960,000. Lafayette taxpayers are paying approximately $57 million in ad valorem taxes this year. 14.1 percent is allocated to ConFire but the 2009 LAFCO report says that this is reduced to 13% because of redevelopment agency reallocation. This gives Lafayette $7.4 million for emergency services. Based on MOFD's costs, that would pay for eight firefighters. Not quite the nine they had when they were served by three stations but more than the six they have now. And about equal to the 7.5 they would have if they shared a station with Orinda.
Scott February 25, 2013 at 04:47 AM
True, it was a rat trap. Mold too. It was supposed to be a temporary building, seeing how it was a modular, until CCC Fire rebuilt that station. The problem is that modular was dropped on-site about 20+ years ago and they never got their act together. It's classic move for them. No dedicated capital revenue stream, no capital replacement plans, no real leadership. Let's see - The most expensive real estate in the entire district and significant tax collections, highest probability of massive fire, spread and value loss and yet the administration, and the Supes, sell them down the road. Lafayetters need to wake up and tell Louder and the Board of Supes they want the hell out of their mess, but they need to do it eyes wide open so as to avoid the sticker shock.

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