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DOWNTOWN PRECISE PLAN ● EXISTING CONDITIONS (DRAFT – MAY 2020)

CONTENTS Setting

5

Community Profile & Economy

12

Project Area

16

Adopted Policies, Regulations, & Plans

27

Circulation

48

Natural Features & Infrastructure

58

Appendix

66

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LIST OF FIGURES & TABLES Figure 1. Regional Setting.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6 Figure 2. The Village and Theatre District – Major/Key Features ........................................................................................................................................................11 Figure 3. Project Area........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 17 Figure 4. Project Area - General Plan Land-Use Classifications........................................................................................................................................................ 18 Figure 5. Project Area - Zoning Districts ......................................................................................................................................................................................................19 Figure 6. Vacant Parcels ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 21 Figure 7. Downtown Orinda – Commercial uses (and vacancy) and their share of ground-floor retail space. ................................................................ 22 Figure 8. The Village and Theatre District – Commercial Uses Square Footage ........................................................................................................................ 23 Figure 9. The Village and Theatre District - Type 1 and 2 Spaces ..................................................................................................................................................... 37 Figure 10. Wildfire Evacuation Route and Fire Hazard Severity Zones ........................................................................................................................................... 47 Figure 11. General Plan - Roadway Classification ....................................................................................................................................................................................50 Figure 12. Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements – Existing and Proposed ...................................................................................................................................51 Figure 13. Downtown Orinda – Parking Spaces ........................................................................................................................................................................................53 Figure 14. The Village - Weekday Parking Utilization by Time of Day ..............................................................................................................................................54 Figure 15. Theatre District - Weekday Parking Utilization by Time of Day ................................................................................................................................... 55 Figure 16. Downtown Orinda - Transit Routes and Stops ...................................................................................................................................................................... 57 Figure 17. Downtown Orinda – San Pablo Creek (day-lighted portion) ............................................................................................................................................59 Figure 18. Downtown Orinda – Flood Risks ..................................................................................................................................................................................................61 Figure 19. Downtown Orinda - High Voltage Transmission Lines ......................................................................................................................................................64

Table 1. Jobs in Orinda ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................15 Table 2. Existing General Plan Policies (Select) ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 29 Table 3. Existing DC Uses and Permit Requirements .............................................................................................................................................................................36 Table 4. Existing DC Development Standards ..........................................................................................................................................................................................38 Table 5. Existing DO Development Standards .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 40 Table 6. General Plan - Roadway Classification .......................................................................................................................................................................................49

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SETTING Orinda is situated within a group of secluded valleys surrounded by a distinctive backdrop of rolling hills and matures trees. Its unique, semi-rural setting is approximately 15 miles east of San Francisco, and transitions into neighboring communities of Moraga and Lafayette, which are located immediately to the south and east, respectively. Collectively, these three jurisdictions make up the tri-area known as Lamorinda. Beneath the cover of trees, the city encompasses approximately 13 miles and is characterized by large lots and a rural street system. Today, Orinda is home to a population of 19,009 (California Department of Finance, 2020).

Orinda is admired for its natural features and semi-rural character. Image Source: Mark Holtzman - West Coast Aerial Photography, Inc. via East Bay Times.

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Figure 1. Regional Setting

Source: City of Orinda Planning Department

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Downtown Orinda Located at the geographic center of the city, Downtown Orinda is split by California State Route (SR) 24 and the Orinda BART Station. The city’s downtown comprises two distinct districts: “The Village” and the “Theatre District.” The Village makes up the northern portion of Downtown Orinda and encompasses about 24.10-acres. The Theatre District makes up the southern portion of Downtown Orinda and encompasses 13.08-acres. The Village has a more suburban development pattern within the City’s Downtown Commercial (DC) District and is abutted by the City’s main civic spaces, including the community center, library, and city hall. The Village also consists of two affordable senior housing projects. A channelized and partially culverted San Pablo Creek, fenced off from public access, flows behind the businesses located in the Village. In contrast, the Theatre District has a primarily traditional “main-street” look and feel. The Theatre District is anchored by the Orinda Theatre and associated Theatre Square outdoor retail/office complex and parking garage.

Downtown Orinda is bifurcated by State Route 24 and BART. Image Source: City of Orinda Planning Department

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“The Village” The Village is characterized by service and convenience retail, office and surface parking along Orinda Way and Camino Sobrante. Safeway, located near the intersection of Camino Pablo and Camino Sobrante, is the city’s only grocery store. The easterly side of Orinda Way, contains the city's main public spaces and buildings, including Orinda Community Park, the community center, the library, and city hall. A few churches, two affordable senior housing projects comprising a total of 217 units (150 - Orinda Senior Village; 67 Monteverde), and some office buildings can also be found on the eastern side of Orinda Way. The library includes an auditorium used for events and public meetings. A plaza with a small cafe (Cafe Teatro) connects the library to the community center. Collectively, these public spaces are often referred to as the “civic center.” Between April and November, a portion of Orinda Way in front of the Orinda Community Park is closed each Saturday for the Orinda Farmers Market. Similarly, every Thursday between February and October, the parking lot serving the Orinda Community Center is closed off from the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to host the Thursday night food truck event. The event is operated by Taste of the World Market (TOW) and has been well received by the community since the pilot program commenced in mid-2017.

Located in “The Village,” the Orinda Library is a prized community possession. Image Source: facebook.com/TheOrindaLibr ary/

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“Theatre District” (The Crossroads) The Theatre District is characterized by a mix of entertainment, service, convenience, and office uses. This area generally contains smaller-scale buildings in a traditional downtown setting. This part of downtown has a more pedestrian-friendly environment with sidewalks that make the area more conducive to walking than other parts of Downtown Orinda. The buildings are adjacent to the sidewalk with no setbacks, creating a more interesting downtown experience for the pedestrian. Most notably, the Theatre District is anchored by the mixed-use Theater Square complex that supports retail, restaurants, and office. Generally, adjacent uses include the Orinda BART Station to the west, office and single-family residential to the north and east, and a multifamily residential complex to the south. In addition to the 1941 Orinda Theater, the Theatre District also has the Casa Orinda bar and restaurant which has been in business since 1932.

Casa Orinda is one of the oldest East Bay restaurants. Image Source: https://www.facebook.com/Casa-Orinda-155692327780656/

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The Theatre District (aka “The Crossroads”) generally contains smaller-scale buildings in a traditional downtown setting. The area has a more pedestrian-friendly environment with sidewalks that make the area more conducive to walking than other parts of downtown Orinda. The buildings are adjacent to the sidewalk with no setbacks, creating a more interesting downtown experience for the pedestrian. Theatre Square and the iconic Orinda Theatre serve as the core to “The Crossroads” area of downtown. Image Source: cityoforinda.org

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Figure 2. The Village and Theatre District – Major/Key Features Source: Orinda Planning Department

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COMMUNITY PROFILE & ECONOMY Population Characteristics According to the most recent demographics data from the Census Bureau (2018 American Community Survey [ACS], released in December 2019), Orinda has a population of 19,806, an increase of 11.6-percent since 2010. The median age in Orinda is 48.4, significantly higher than the median age of California (36.3) or the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland region (38.1). Almost 30percent of Orindans are aged 60 or older, and a quarter are under 20 years old, reflecting both an aging population and a trend of new families settling within the city in recent years. The racial makeup of the community is 76.4-percent white, 15.5-percent Asian, 1.3-percent black or African American, and 6.8-percent “other.” About 6-percent of the City’s population identifies as Hispanic, and 16-percent of the population is foreign-born. Orinda’s population is distributed between 7,093 households (201418 ACS data). Ninety-three percent of households are headed by a married couple, 5-percent by a “female head alone,” and 2percent by a “male head alone.”

Orinda’s population is distributed between 7,093 households. Image Source: http://www.whatsupdowntownorinda.com/

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Housing Characteristics Orinda contains 7,403 housing units, of which 90-percent are owner-occupied. According to ACS data, the 2019 median home value in Orinda was $1.4 million (with 38-percent valued at over $2 million) and the median gross rent is $2,404. The ACS data also indicates that 4-percent of homes in Orinda are vacant as compared with a 6-percent vacancy in the region. The average number of rooms per house in Orinda is 7.4 as compared to 5.1 for the region. Fifty-seven percent of the housing units in Orinda were constructed before 1960, 34-percent were constructed between 1960 and 1989, and 8-percent have been constructed since 1990. Ninety-five percent of Orinda’s housing consists of single-family homes. The city’s multi-family units are located downtown and comprise of the two low-income senior projects at 2 Irwin Way (Monteverde Senior Apartments and 20 Irwin Way (Orinda Senior Village) as well as a condominium complex (73 Brookwood Road) near the Theater District.

The Monteverde Senior Apartments project has received notoriety for its design, which responds to the terrain and the community’s aesthetic. Image Source: aia.org

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Income and Education Characteristics At $210,288, the median household income in Orinda is not only among the highest in the Bay, but the nation as a whole. Broken down by age, Orindans between 25 and 64 have a median income of $250,000, whereas those 65 and older have a median income of $112,222. Twenty-three percent of the working Orinda population report self-employed income. Fifty-nine percent of Orindans participate in the labor force (meaning they either work or are looking for work), and the unemployment rate is an extremely low 2-percent. To get to their place of employment, 65-percent of Orindans drive, 21-percent take public transportation, 2-percent bike or walk, and 12-percent work from home. Overall, nearly a fifth of the workers work and live in Orinda. The average commute time for all workers is 36 minutes. Levels of education attainment in Orinda are also among the highest in the Bay Area, with 83-percent of those over 25 years of age having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher (as compared to 44-percent for the region). Of those with higher education, 28percent have master’s degrees, 14-percent have professional (e.g., law or medicine school) school degrees, and 7-percent have doctorate degrees. Over 90-percent of Orinda children in grades K-12 are enrolled in public schools and 97-percent are enrolled in private schools at the preschool level.

Over 90% of Orinda children in grades K12 are enrolled in public schools. Image Source: https://www.gen7schools.com/

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Jobs in Orinda According to Projections 2040, the most recent available data from the Association of Bay Area Governments, approximately 5,495 people work at businesses in Orinda. The largest employer in Orinda is the Orinda Union School District. Major employers within the study area include the City government, Safeway, Bevmo and larger firms occupying office space in locations such as the Pine Grove Center at 4 Orinda Way. Table 1 shows a breakdown of the jobs by category. Note: This data does not reflect the disruptions and impacts caused by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In the wake of COVID-19, financial markets across the globe have suffered major losses, and unfortunately, the economic devastation is expected to rise as the disease spreads across the United States. Table 1. Jobs in Orinda Source: Projections 2040 (Association of Bay Area Governments)

6,000

5,495

Number of Jobs

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,230 1,860

2,000

800

1,000

-

A g r i cu l t u r e a n d Natural R e s o u r ce s

390

195

20 F i n a n ce a n d Professional S e r vi ce s

Health and E du ca t i o n Services

M a n u f a ct u r i n g and Wholesale

Ot h e r

Retail

T OT A L

Employment Category

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PROJECT AREA The 146.3-acre Project Area for the Downtown Precise Plan (DPP) does not include the Orinda BART station, which is anticipated to be analyzed as part of a future planning effort. The City’s General Plan (1987) includes the following land-use classifications for downtown. 1.

Business and Professional Offices;

2. Community Business; 3. Public and Semi-Public; and 4. Residential: Multi-family. The focus of the DPP will be the Business and Professional Offices and Community Business land-use classifications, which correspond to the Downtown Office (DO) and Downtown Commercial (DC) Zoning Districts, respectively. Together, the DPP’s focus area comprises a total of approximately 60 acres.

Orinda’s Downtown Precise Plan will focus on about 77 parcels, which total to approximately 60 acres. Image Source: ESRI; City of Orinda Planning Department

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Figure 3. Project Area

Source: Orinda Planning Department

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Figure 4. Project Area - General Plan Land-Use Classifications Source: Orinda Planning Department

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Figure 5. Project Area - Zoning Districts Source: Orinda Planning Department

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Ownership & Vacancy Many of the properties in downtown have been owned by the same families for generations. In some cases, the resulting trusts controlled by multiple family members, may complicate, or suppress any interest to activate change. As seen in the Project Area figure, the parcel sizes and shapes vary considerably, and that too could pose a challenge for market-based zoning. Avenida de Orinda contains the only vacant parcel and vacant building in downtown, located at 20 and 10 Avenida de Orinda, respectively. Formerly the Phair’s department store, the vacant structure is approximately 14,850 square feet in size. Interestingly, the Phair’s parking lot, located at 10A Avenida de Orinda, is on the opposite side of Avenida de Orinda and still gets used for parking. This separate legal parcel is currently under the same ownership as the parcel where the Phair’s structure sits. This inventory does not include the vacant parcel at 25A Orinda Way. The property at 25A Orinda Way was approved for development in 2016 but has yet to break ground. Any active entitlements for the site are set to expire on June 6, 2020. Meanwhile, the current property owner of 25A Orinda Way, Belle Oaks of Orinda, LLC, submitted a new proposal on January 7, 2020 with the hopes of delivering a more viable product. The revised project proposes a 2.5-story structure with ground-floor retail and restaurant uses whereas the upper levels would include a mezzanine with flex office or retail uses and offices at the upper most level. A total of 36 off-street parking spaces, to be located in a subterranean garage, are proposed and parking would be open to the public during building operations. As of April 2020, the latest project application has not been deemed complete, and therefore, it is safe to assume the project may go through further iterations.

On January 11, 1994, the Orinda City Council designated the Pharis building as a historic landmark. Image Source: https://mhsmirador.com/

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Figure 6. Vacant Parcels

Source: Orinda Planning Department

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Major Land Uses Commercial Uses As of January 27, 2020, approximately 314,723 square foot of ground-floor commercial space has been identified in downtown. Including the vacant Phair’s building, this ground-floor commercial space has a current vacancy of approximately 11-percent. Rent for the ground-floor commercial varies between $1.50 per square foot for older properties to approximately $4.00 per square foot for spaces in Theater Square. Figure 7 notes the different use categories along with their total square footage. Presented as a “treemap,” Figure quickly informs us how much the downtown market the different uses capture. Additionally, Figure 7 details the different use categories currently serving Country Club Plaza, the Theatre District, and The Village. Figure 7. Downtown Orinda – Commercial uses (and vacancy) and their share of ground-floor retail space.

Note: This chart does not include vacant parcels within (10a and 20 Avenida De Orinda; 25A Orinda Way) the DPP Project Area. Source: Bruce Burrows; Orinda Planning Department

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Figure 8. The Village and Theatre District – Commercial Uses Square Footage Source: Bruce Burrows; Orinda Planning Department

12,923

Auto

4,187 14,320

Bank

14,145 22,063

Food

32,423 31,727

G r o ce r y

O f f i ce

1,700 15,878 9,216

P o s t O f f i ce

44,016

Retail

34,411 21,428

S e r v i ce

10,099

Theater

V a ca n t

The Village Theatre District

10,000 17,820 4,010 Vacant 17,820

Theater

Service 21,428

Retail 44,016

4,010

10,000

10,099

34,411

Post Office 9,216

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Office 1,700 15,878

Grocery 31,727

Food 22,063

Bank 14,320

Auto 12,923

32,423

14,145

4,187

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Competition This section examines nearby commercial areas with respect to size, type, age, condition, access, tenant mix, and level of activity. Lafayette Of the three cities that comprise the Lamorinda community, Lafayette has, by far, the liveliest and most robust downtown commercial core. The City’s downtown has an advantage due to its centralized location within the Lamorinda market area, and centralized downtown along one thoroughfare, Mt. Diablo Boulevard. For means of access, the downtown is within five miles or 10 minutes of most of Orinda. The downtown includes a mixture of chain and localized retail and restaurant options. The chain operations include Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Chipotle, whose market area typically exceeds that of a city the size of Lafayette. The presence of these “larger chains” suggests a regional draw (Lamorinda area) and any additional location in the area would detract from the existing establishments in Lafayette. Therefore, it is unlikely that these chains would select Orinda for a new location, especially given the short distance from Lafayette to downtown Orinda. Moraga The Town of Moraga’s downtown core is roughly the same as Orinda’s Downtown. Like Orinda, Moraga’s downtown has two focal points: 1) The Moraga Center and 2) The Moraga Commons. The Moraga Center features approximately 220,00 square feet of retail, dominated by Safeway, and approximately 200,000 square feet of office space. In terms of the urban fabric, the Moraga Center resembles the Orinda Village area as a post-war pattern of shopping center development. Similar to those Orinda residents who live close to Lafayette’s downtown, some residents of Orinda live closer to downtown Moraga than to Orinda’s own downtown. The Moraga Commons is located approximately one mile to the northeast and features a streetscape-fronted retail pattern resembling the Theatre District in Orinda. Both the Moraga Commons and the Theatre District are centered around a pre-war, single-screen theatre. Like Orinda, Moraga has identified retail leakage as an issue and the Moraga Center Specific Plan (2006) notes that 75-percent of the taxable purchases made by Moraga residents were out of town. Given this perspective, and the similar types of primarily locally serving businesses, Moraga can be viewed as a peer competitor with Orinda for attracting new businesses. Rockridge (Oakland Neighborhood) The Rockridge area is a community business district located within the Rockridge neighborhood of the City of Oakland, approximately 3 miles west of Orinda. Similar to Lafayette, the commercial heart of Rockridge is centered along one main

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thoroughfare, College Avenue. Rockridge features more than 80 restaurants, cafes, and retail stores, most of them boutique and locally serving. There are relatively few chain-type retail or restaurant establishments in Rockridge. Given the locally serving tenant mix and distance from Orinda, in comparison to Lafayette and Moraga, the Rockridge commercial business district would not be categorized as a primary competitor with the downtown commercial district of Orinda. Walnut Creek Walnut Creek’s primary downtown commercial center is located near the junction of Highway 24/I-680, about seven miles due east of Orinda. Unlike the Lamorinda and Rockridge downtown centers, Walnut Creek is a regional-sized commercial location, and features large-scale national chain stores in addition to locally-serving retail establishments and restaurants. The downtown center features Broadway Plaza, an upscale regional mall with approximately 776,000 square feet of retail floor area, including such national retail chains as Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus, as well as national restaurant chains like PF Changs. The downtown also features large national chain retail and restaurant options, including Target and The Cheesecake Factory, as well as auto dealerships. The downtown also features an 18-screen Cinemark theatre chain; this represents the only large multiscreen cinema offering in the region. The scale of Walnut Creek’s downtown is large, and therefore, not a direct peer competitor in terms of size and or desired retail and restaurant options as Orinda.

Office Uses The City’s data on office uses was last updated circa 2016; and therefore, it may not reflect the most current conditions. Having said that, the City has little reason to believe that there has been a material change in office use occupancies. The Orinda office market is limited in size and scope. Located primarily in the Downtown Office (DO) zoning district, office uses are concentrated along Santa Maria Way and Altarinda Road in the Village and along Moraga Way, Vashell Way, and Davis Road in the Theatre District. The prominent Theatre Square complex in the Crossroads features second-floor office uses on top of the ground-floor retail and restaurant uses. The office uses are primarily local serving and are concentrated in the medical and dental professions, as well as tax and accounting services, real estate and brokerage firms, and related business services. Generally, the office uses are within 0.5-mile of the Orinda BART Station, making them readily accessible for both auto and transit commuters. With respect to office space Building Class (quality of construction), Orinda does not have any office buildings designated as “Class A”. Class A designations are typically reserved for steel-frame constructed buildings with steel pan/concrete flooring. However, the office class designation is somewhat subjective. An example of this expanded designation would include a codecompliant building with newer generation office improvements (Class B+), as compared to a building that may not have completed building code-compliant upgrades and/or has older generation office finishes (Class B-). Older residential properties that have been converted to office uses are typically designated as Class C, and the subclass is characterized as “Office

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Conversion”. A number of downtown properties feature second-floor office spaces over ground-floor retail spaces. In these instances, the square footage of the office spaces has not been verified. Architecturally, the office buildings in downtown reflect the “semi-rural” characteristics of the city and are generally two and three-stories in height with at-grade parking in most locations. However, several larger buildings have parking structures attached. In addition to office uses in the DO District, there are numerous office uses and locations within the DC District. Based on the most recent data (2016), there is 172,663 square feet of office space within the DC district, all of it either designated Class B or C space. The office uses are sometimes located in two-story, mixed-use buildings, where retail uses are located on the ground floor, and office uses are located on the second floor. Approximately 41,100 square feet of second-floor office use is located in Theatre Square. Additionally, the most recent iteration for the project at 25A Orinda Way (located in the Village) proposes 9,675 square feet of Class B/B+ office uses on the second floor to complement the 9,675 square feet of retail and restaurant uses proposed on the ground floor. The project also proposes a 4,800 square-foot mezzanine space that would serve as flex office or retail. The physical condition of office space in Orinda is relatively good. This is primarily a function of the current high occupancy, whereby current owners and tenants maintain the property in optimum condition. A couple of tenant-improvement projects have taken place in the last few years. For instance, office buildings on Brookwood Road and Altarinda Road have been improved to reflect tenant changes that include mostly medical-related office uses. The office buildings themselves are physically attractive and the low building height and density is in scale with the adjacent downtown retail uses. The buildings are a mixture of Spanish, ranch, and contemporary designs, though some incorporate mid-century elements, including flat roofs and a mixture of wood and stucco finishes, in terms of both their style and construction dates. Given the limited size of both the DO and DC zoning districts, and the fact that most of the current office space within these districts is occupied, there is little room for substantial office growth in the Project Area. This limited potential is further impacted by the City’s existing downtown development standards, which limits building heights to 35 feet and requires substantial offstreet parking. Additionally, irregular lot configurations and natural features (i.e., San Pablo Creek; transmission lines), and easements (i.e., PG&E transmission lines) leave little room for physical growth. Additionally, the City’s land-use policies, discussed later in this report, strongly favor retail, restaurant, and related-commercial uses (“Class A” uses) as opposed to office uses (“Class B” and “Class C”) in the DC District.

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ADOPTED POLICIES, REGULATIONS, & PLANS Both the existing Orinda General Plan and the existing Orinda Zoning Ordinance support mixed-use development in downtown. Mixed use (upper-floor residential over ground-floor retail or office uses) is explicitly allowed by the Zoning Ordinance in the DC District. The DPP will continue the planning efforts for downtown to determine the type, extent, and density of housing that would be appropriate in the Project Area. Concurrently, the DPP will also explore the types of zoning standards that could facilitate such development.

General Plan Orinda’s General Plan: 1987-2007 is the first general plan to have been developed within the community of Orinda after its incorporation in 1985. The General Plan was adopted to give local citizens primary control over land-use planning and community development to preserve Orinda’s semi-rural character. The General Plan contains policies and objectives that serve as the foundation for regulations that govern Orinda’s development. These development regulations are implemented through the Orinda Municipal Code (OMC). Orinda’s General Plan has three primary functions: 1.

To document agreement between the Orinda Planning Commission and the Orinda City Council concerning long-range development policies.

2. To provide a basis for judging whether specific private development proposals and public projects are in harmony with the policies. 3. To allow other public agencies and private developers to design projects that are consistent with City policies. Orinda’s General Plan consists of state-mandated elements organized into four sections: 1.

Land Use and Circulation (includes Land Use, Circulation, Open Space, Parks, Schools, and Utilities elements);

2. Housing; 3. Environmental Resources Management; and 4. Conservation, Safety, and Noise.

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As the consensus “blueprint” for future development in Orinda, the General Plan was intended to cover the 20-year period from 1987-2007. Since its adoption in 1987, Orinda’s General Plan has undergone minor revisions and the state-required updates to the Housing Element. While the spirit and intent of the General Plan may continue to resonate with the community, some of its policies may not fully reflect and respond to today’s needs.

Land-Use Element As noted earlier, the focus of the DPP will be the Business and Professional Offices and Community Business land-use classifications. The General Plan states that development in the Business and Professional Office land-use designation should take on the “village character” and provide “office suites suitable for office uses supporting local community residents and business, rather than regional offices.” Similarly, the General Plan states that retail stores and services in the Community Business land-use designation should primarily be locally serving.

Housing Element Starting 1969, California requires that all local governments adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as “housingelement law.” This law acknowledges that to adequately address housing needs, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for housing development. Orinda, like other local jurisdictions, is required to update its Housing Element every eight years to move towards meeting the state’s total and affordable housing goals. The City’s current Housing Element was adopted in 2015, as part of the fifth housing cycle covering the years 2015-2023. The deadline for the next (sixth cycle) housing element update is January 2023.

Downtown Policies Orinda’s City Council has set the future of Downtown Orinda as a high priority. As such, the community will have an opportunity, through the DPP process, to revisit the existing General Plan policies in the interest of updating the downtown development standards. Furthermore, as a small, mature, “semi-rural” community straddling a major transportation corridor, it is likely that Orinda will need to respond to the State’s pressure for change. Table 1Table 2 highlights some of the more pertinent existing downtown policies, some of which may be implemented or furthered through the DPP, and others which may warrant amendment or replacement in conjunction with the DPP adoption. The

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Housing Element policies can only be changed in conjunction with the next cycle Housing Element (i.e., in 2022.). Please refer to this report’s appendices for a more thorough list of the existing General Plan policies pertaining to downtown. Table 2. Existing General Plan Policies (Select) Source: City of Orinda General Plan (1987 – 2007)

General Plan Element

Section

Policy Number

Policy

Land Use & Circulation

Land Use: Guiding Policies

2.1.1 - C

In downtown Orinda, new commercial development shall be limited to providing goods and services for local use and other small specialty retail stores.

Land Use & Circulation

Land Use: Guiding Policies

2.1.1 - D

In downtown Orinda, new office development shall be limited to offices generally supporting local residents and businesses.

Land Use & Circulation

Land Use: Implementing Policies

2.1.1 - I

Consideration should be given to the adoption of a density transfer ordinance.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Guiding Policies

2.1.3 - A

Enhance the "village character" of downtown. Large, highly visible parking lots characteristic of strip shopping centers are inconsistent with village character.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Guiding Policies

2.1.3 - B

Favor retail services needed frequently by residents by limiting the amount of office space in predominantly retail areas. Office space in retail areas should serve Lamorinda uses and generally not exceed retail space on any one lot.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Guiding Policies

2.1.3 - D

Maintain current boundaries between commercial and residential areas as indicated on the Downtown Inset General Plan map. The Plan does not envision any expansion of the land area designated for commercial or office use.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Guiding Policies

2.1.3 - F

Businesses that generate heavy traffic such as financial institutions should front arterial streets. Small buildings should buffer adjoining residential areas.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Guiding Policies

2.1.3 - H

Site proximity to the BART terminal should not be used to justify a reduction in the standard requirement(s) for onsite parking, unless a Transportation System Management contract is made with the City.

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General Plan Element

Section

Policy Number

Policy

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - A

Enhance architectural compatibility in each sector of downtown by establishing design districts that provide guidelines and a review process for site layouts, architectural design, alterations, landscaping, and signs. Sloping roofs are encouraged on new buildings in districts where such features are common.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - C

Enact regulations that will ensure small-scale low-lying buildings by limiting height to 35 feet (generally not more than two stories) and total floor area to a limited percent of lot area.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - D

Enact regulations that will ensure retail or specified service occupancy of space within the retail shopping area now occupied by those uses, by all new ground-floor space, and by all office uses which convert to retail.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - E

Enact regulations that will ensure that the central business area will be predominantly retail and which permit only a limited amount of offices that favor local use needs.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - G

Public parking structures are a permitted land use in the downtown provided that they are adequately screened from public view.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - J

In cooperation with the merchants and property owners, develop a plan for Orinda Way that will consolidate driveways, include a landscaped street median if feasible, and enrich the street's landscape character.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - K

Encourage property owners to make more intensive use of the San Pablo Creek sides of their buildings by designating a "private street" with public access parallel to the creek that would provide an alternative connection for shoppers who must turn on and off Orinda Way and/or enhance and preserve San Pablo Creek with landscaping, pathways, and other pedestrian amenities, consistent with its primary purpose as flood control.

Land Use & Circulation

Downtown: Implementing Policies

2.1.4 - P

Pursue formation of a parking assessment district.

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General Plan Element

Section

Policy Number

Land Use & Circulation

Open Space and Parks: Guiding Policies

2.2.1 - D

Retain creek and wildlife access corridors as open space for preservation of natural resources, consistent with flood control.

Land Use & Circulation

Circulation: Guiding Policies

2.3.1 - A

Permit new development only when adequate transportation systems and parking are provided.

Land Use & Circulation

Circulation: Implementing Policies

2.3.2 - S

Where structures are permitted, they shall be designed to blend with and permit the natural environment to be maintained as the dominant visual element.

Land Use & Circulation

Utilities: Guiding Policies

2.2.4 - A

Work with PG&E to prepare and implement a long-term program for reducing the impact of power transmission towers and distribution poles on Orinda's landscape. Apply high standards of quality and design to all housing development in the city. Where multifamily or mixed-use housing is constructed, it should respect the context of the site and its surroundings and make a positive contribution to the character of Orinda.

Housing

New Housing Production

1.2 - Design Quality

Housing

Downtown

Action 3.A

Housing

Housing Opportunity Sites

3.3 - Mixed-Income Housing

Housing

Housing Opportunity Sites

3.4 - Downtown Residential Use

Housing

Housing Constraints

4.1 - Development Standards

Environmental Resources

Safety Element: Implementing Policies

4.2.2 - E

Policy

Study the feasibility of mixed-use development at appropriate densities. Encourage large scale residential developments to include a mix of unit types, including smaller units and units that are affordable to lower and moderate-income households. Continue to allow multi-family residential uses above the ground floor within Orinda's Downtown Commercial zoning district Ensure that the development standards expressed in the City’s zoning regulations support the types of uses and activities listed as permitted or conditionally permitted in the Zoning Ordinance, including housing. Land development shall be consistent with the natural carrying capacity of nearby creeks, streams, and other waterways.

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General Plan Element

Section

Policy Number

Housing

Housing Constraints

4.4 - Development Flexibility

Consider flexibility in development standards, such as reduced parking requirements for senior housing, in order to accommodate additional affordable units and reduce housing costs.

Housing

Fair Housing

5.1 - Equal Housing Opportunity

Continue to promote equal housing opportunity for all Orinda residents and others seeking housing in the city, regardless of race, religion, marital/family status, ethnic background, or other arbitrary factors.

Environmental Resources

Conservation Element: Guiding Policies

4.1.1 - N

Encourage the undergrounding of power lines and replacement of utility towers with single poles.

Environmental Resources

Conservation Element: Implementing Policies

4.1.2 - E

Preserve drainage easements along creeks in order to protect adjacent buildings from flooding and to preserve valuable riparian vegetation. Where riparian vegetation has to be disturbed for construction, re-vegetation with local riparian species is required. The City shall develop design policies for development near creeks.

Environmental Resources

Safety Element: Guiding Policies

4.2.1 - C

Development shall be located away from flood-prone areas unless flood risks can be mitigated.

Growth Management

Implementation Policies and Program for Capital Projects

5.4.3 - D

All new development projects shall contribute to or participate in the improvement of the parks, fire, police, sanitary, water, and flood control systems in proportion to the demand generated by project occupants and uses as determined by the City.

Policy

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Zoning Regulations Intent The City’s zoning regulations, Orinda Municipal Code (OMC) Title 17, were adopted in 1999 with miscellaneous amendments approved since that time. Downtown is covered by OMC Chapter 17.8, which includes the following statement of intent: A. Create every opportunity for the downtown area to function as a vital, thriving yet traditional Main Street area, serving local needs and providing for specialty retail activities, consistent with the general plan; B. Create a vibrant community center by encouraging a variety of businesses which will create pedestrian interaction and pedestrian-scale activities. Emphasize uses which involve pedestrian spaces, including outdoor dining, garden settings, walkways and seating areas; C. Encourage areas of distinctive character by identifying preferred uses and development standards unique to these locations; D. Regulate development so as to achieve a vibrant community center over time. All development, including incremental development, small building additions or increases in intensity of existing land uses, shall be consistent with this goal; E. Establish incentives, such as additional building height, higher floor area or broader range of permitted uses to help achieve a vibrant community center; F. Discourage and eventually terminate nonconforming office uses in retail spaces; G. Establish development standards which define desired character, but which allow and encourage flexibility in how this character is to be achieved, including standards involving building heights, setbacks, site planning, building bulk/mass, landscaping, parking, lighting and architecture, as presented in the downtown design guidelines; H. Protect adjoining residential areas from inappropriate or disruptive commercial or office activities; I.

Encourage parking solutions which will serve long-term needs and will minimize the adverse effects of parking, traffic and circulation on the function and viability of downtown;

J.

Encourage activities and development which will showcase the creek, where possible, for low-intensity pedestrianoriented activities and strolling;

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K. Provide for multifamily housing, including affordable housing, in downtown areas, consistent with the housing element of the general plan.

Downtown Commercial (DC) District The DC District is adjacent to the DO, PS (Public Service), PR (Parks and Recreation), RM (Residential Multifamily), and RL-20 (Residential Low-Density—20,000 square feet) districts. For a more detail, please see Figure 5. Project Area - Zoning Districts

The DC District corresponds to the Downtown - Community Business” land-use and the General Plan states that this classification “includes retail stores and services needed frequently by residents, a very limited amount of personal service offices, and small specialty retail stores. Retail services are defined as businesses primarily serving the local needs. Types of establishments to be permitted are to be determined by ordinance.” Source: Orinda General Plan (1987 – 2007) [Chapter 2: Land Use and Circulation]

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Uses Retail- and office-uses are allowed by right in the DC District. Temporary uses are allowed with a Temporary-Use Permit as detailed in OMC Chapter 17.37. Government offices and facilities are allowed with a Use Permit as detailed in OMC Chapter 17.31. Multi-family dwellings are also allowed with a Use Permit, provided that the dwellings are built at a density that does not exceed 10 units per acre and are part of a mixed-use development. All other uses are prohibited. Additionally, excluding tenant improvements, any new construction, additions, and replacement construction in the DC district require a Use Permit to assure compliance with the intent of OMC §17.8.1. Table 3 summarizes the three general classes of non-residential uses in the DC District where those uses are permitted by right, permitted only with a discretionary Use Permit, or prohibited. Generally, OMC §17.8.5 encourages retail and restaurants on the ground floor throughout downtown and encourages service uses to be located in secondary areas (i.e., areas that do not have frontage on primary retail corridors), and requires most office uses to be located above the ground floor. Medical and real-estate offices are allowed on the ground floor in secondary areas with a Use Permit. For more information on specific uses and use restrictions, please see OMC §17.8.5 (G) and §17.8.5 (H).

Per OMC §17.8.4., multi-family dwellings are allowed in the DC District with a Use Permit, provided that the dwellings are built at a density that does not exceed 10 units per acre and are part of a mixed-use development. Image Source: City of Orinda Planning Department

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Table 3. Existing DC Uses and Permit Requirements Source: OMC Title 17

Use Class

Description

Retail sales and restaurants, restaurants with takeout, and restaurants with outdoor dining. Class A

Class C

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Type 1 (Ground-Floor Retail): Permitted Type 2 (Secondary Ground Floor): Permitted

Take-out restaurants and outdoor dining are subject to additional regulations set forth in OMC §17.8.5(I).

Class B

Space Utilization & Permit Requirements

Personal care, personal development services (excluding health care), and business and automotive services, including service stations, if the use will tend to create substantial pedestrian interaction with surrounding businesses (including but not limited to beauty parlor, barber shop, fitness center, dry cleaners, travel agency, dance, music and martial arts studio) and retail financial institutions such as banks, savings and loans, credit unions and free-standing automatic teller machines.

Office uses compatible with a village atmosphere such as medical and professional offices, real estate sales and financing.

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Type 3 (Non-Ground Floor Retail): Permitted

Type 1 (Ground-Floor Retail): Use Permit Required Type 2 (Secondary Ground Floor): Permitted Type 3 (Non-Ground Floor Retail): Permitted

Type 2 (Secondary Ground Floor): Use Permit Required Type 3 (Non-Ground Floor Retail): By Right


DOWNTOWN PRECISE PLAN ● EXISTING CONDITIONS (DRAFT – MAY 2020)

Figure 9. The Village and Theatre District - Type 1 and 2 Spaces Source: OMC Title 17; City of Orinda Planning Department.

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DC Standards The following table specifies the development standards prescribed for properties in the DC District. Table 4. Existing DC Development Standards Source: OMC §17.8.6

Item

Standard

Lot Area

10,000 square feet (min)

Lot Width

80 Feet (min)

Lot Depth

80 Feet (min)

Front-Yard Setback

10 Feet (min)

Side-Yard Setback

10 Feet (min)

Side-Yard Setback (Corner)

10 Feet (min)

Rear-Yard Setback

10 Feet (min)

Building Height

35 Feet (max)

Stories

2.5 (max)

Site Landscaping

20 Percent (max)

Lot Coverage

50 Percent (min)

Downtown Office (DO) District Like the DC District, the DO District is adjacent to the PS, RM, and RL-20 Districts. Additionally, the northwestern boundary of the DO District boundary abuts Orindawoods, which is a PD (Planned Development) District consisting of townhomes. The specific purpose of the DO District is to provide sites for professional uses that offer services primarily to the needs of Orinda residents and visitors and for businesses at appropriate locations, consistent with the general plan and subject to development standards that ensure consistency with adjoining land uses.

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The DO District corresponds to the Downtown – Business and Professional Offices” landuse classification, and according to the General Plan, “type of offices to be permitted at specific zones are to be determined by ordinance.” Source: Orinda General Plan (1987 – 2007) [Chapter 2: Land Use and Circulation]

Uses Offices for all forms of business, for the services of licensed professionals, and for government offices and facilities are permitted in the DO district by right. Limited manufacturing is permitted as an ancillary use in medical and dental practices. Temporary uses are allowed with a Temporary-Use Permit as detailed in OMC Chapter 17.37. Clubs and other private associations, educational facilities, residential congregate care for elders, convalescent facilities, and day care facilities are subject to a Use

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Permit as detailed in OMC Chapter 17.31. Commercial marijuana land uses and outdoor cultivation of marijuana are a prohibited use in the downtown office district. DO Standards The following table specifies the development standards prescribed for properties in the DO District. Table 5. Existing DO Development Standards Source: OMC §17.8.9

Item

Standard

Lot Area

15,000 square feet (min)

Lot Width

100 Feet (min)

Front-Yard Setback

20 Feet (min)

Side-Yard Setback

10 Feet (min)

Side-Yard Setback (Corner)

15 Feet (min)

Rear-Yard Setback

10 Feet (min)

Building Height

35 Feet (max)

Stories

2.5 (max)

Site Landscaping

20 Percent (max)

Lot Coverage

40 Percent (max)

Signage Commercial signage in the downtown area is regulated by OMC Chapter 17.8 (Signs). The Downtown Design Guidelines, which are described later in this report, also offer design guidance on signage type and installation. Per OMC §17.18.2, the objectives of the sign code are as follows: A. Reduce traffic and safety hazards through proper location and design of signs;

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B. Conveniently direct persons to various activities and enterprises in the City; C. Prevent uncontrolled sign competition which is costly to business and visually unattractive to the community; D. Enhance the appearance and economic value of the community by regulating the quantity, size, type, location, design and maintenance of signs; E. Encourage signs that are compatible with adjacent land uses and that preserve the semi-rural character of the City; F. Encourage high-quality design with a minimum of clutter; G. Encourage signs that are well designed and pleasing in appearance; and H. Provide a reasonable and constitutional system of sign control. The sign code is fairly complex, however some key metrics are: 1.

A Type 1 sign permit is ministerial and must be granted within 10 days of application, whereas a Type 2 requires a discretionary approval.

2. A Type 2 sign permit is a master sign program for a multi-tenant building, and for certain single-tenant buildings. 3. A Type 1 sign permit is required for a sign that conforms with a previously-approved master sign program, and for certain single-tenant buildings. 4. Freestanding signs may not exceed a height of 6 feet and an area of 20 square feet in area. 5. Wall signs may not exceed 6-inches in thickness. The maximum area for ground floor wall signs may not exceed 0.5 square feet for each linear foot of building frontage except on a secondary frontage, where the maximum is 0.25 square feet per linear foot of frontage. Above the first floor, every 1 square foot of signage is counted as 1.5 square feet of the total permitted sign area. 6. One projecting sign is allowed per tenant or occupant, with a maximum of 5 square feet, 3-foot height limit, 4-inch thickness, and a projection of no more than 3.5 feet from the building face.

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Downtown Design Guidelines The City’s Downtown Design Guidelines (DDG) were adopted in 1990 and incorporate general recommendations for both architecture and, to a lesser degree, streetscape and signage, with specific recommendations for different “districts” throughout downtown. The purpose of the DDG is to “assist property owners, developers, and designers in creating projects which are consistent with a character the community wants to preserve and perpetuate.”

An excerpt from the City of Orinda Downtown Design Guidelines. Source: Downtown Design Guidelines (1990)]

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Streetscape Plans Over the course of its history, the City has embarked on a few planning efforts to improve Orinda’s downtown streetscape, including the 2000 Orinda Way Streetscape Master Plan and the 1998 Crossroads Beautification Plan. A portion of the Orinda Way plan was completed in 2001, with the help of grant funds, as part of the “Heart of Orinda” project. In addition to these streetscape plans, in 2011, the City adopted a Bicycle, Trails and Walkways Master Plan which includes some discussion of the downtown area. Adopted on November 19, 2019, the Downtown Orinda Streetscape Master Plan—ConnectOrinda—is the City’s latest planning effort pertaining to downtown streetscape improvements. ConnectOrinda was the summation of a year-long community process to identify streetscape and transportation projects that beautify, improve travel through, and preserve the uniqueness of downtown for people traveling by all modes. The goal of ConnectOrinda was to identify projects with broad community support, particularly those that can be delivered in the next five years. Its main objectives were to: •

Connect the two sides of downtown for all users.

Support future pedestrian access along San Pablo Creek.

Preserve Orinda’s unique sense of place.

Beautify downtown Orinda.

Build consensus for the final plan through robust community engagement.

Produce grant-eligible projects.

In addition to recommending near-term projects and streetscape design guidelines, ConnectOrinda investigated, albeit at a high level, eight long-term transportation infrastructure improvements to make walking and bicycling between the Village, the Theatre District, and to the BART station area safer and more convenient and inviting. ConnectOrinda calls for a comprehensive transportation study to understand how all modes of transportation move through downtown as well as BART. The study would consider the needs of all modes of transportation and recommend improvements that would create a desired balance between each for transportation efficiency. In this way, ConnectOrinda is an important piece to the DPP.

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An excerpt from the ConnectOrinda Plan highlighting the community’s thoughts on which streetscape beautification projects to pursue. Source: ConnectOrinda Plan (2019)

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Public Art The Art in Public Places Committee (APPC) promotes public artwork in Orinda by sponsoring loaned artwork, providing educational workshops hosted by the artists, and taking tours of artists’ studios and workplaces to appreciate how the artwork is developed. APPC also raises funds for the purchase of some artwork. The art is displayed in public spaces in both the Village and Theatre District areas. On the Village side, the art is displayed in the civic center area, immediately east of the study area. Public art is managed via the APPC’s “ArtSPace Orinda” program. Artwork is typically loaned for a one-year period, and is sometimes acquired for permanent installation by the City. As of March 2020, the inventory includes 18 works owned by the City and 15 works on loan.

“Whirly Wheely Peacock” by Patricia Vader. This exhibition is displayed at the Library Plaza. Image Source: City of Orinda Planning Department

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Fire Safety Regulations According to the Moraga-Orinda Fire District (MOFD), Camino Pablo to State Route (SR) 24 is the wildfire evacuation route through Downtown Orinda. In the event of an evacuation, all lanes of Camino Pablo north of SR 24 would be unidirectional in a southerly direction and all lanes of Camino Pablo south of SR 24 would be unidirectional in a northerly direction. In 2009, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) designated the Contra Costa County lands (unincorporated area) east of the Project Area and city limits as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ). Also, in 2009, via Ordinance 2009-01, the Moraga-Orinda Fire District (MOFD) designated the area just east of the Village District, between Camino Pablo and the city limits as a VHFHSZ. MOFD’s designation also included portion of the Orinda BART Station. On May 20, 2020, MOFD will reintroduce and adopt a first reading of Ordinance 20-02 (Item 3.1), which would designate most of Orinda, including a significant portion of the Project Area, as a Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area (WUI). Neither the VHFHSZ nor WUI designations prohibit development; however, both designations trigger heightened fire-resistant building code standards for new structures. Figure 10 shows the wildfire evacuation route as well as the VHFHSZ and WUI designations in relation to the Project Area.

Wildfire protection and disaster preparedness is a leading priority for the community. Image Source: https://www.mofd.org/

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Figure 10. Wildfire Evacuation Route and Fire Hazard Severity Zones Source: MOFD; CAL FIRE

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CIRCULATION Access Regional access to Downtown Orinda is provided by State Route (SR) 24, a designated Scenic Highway. Local access to downtown is provided by Camino Pablo, Orinda Way, Moraga Way, Santa Maria Way and other local roadways. The main commercial streets are Moraga Way in the Theatre District and Orinda Way in the Village. The Land Use and Circulation Element of the City’s General Plan provides roadway classifications for public roads. Table 6 and Figure 11 present the roadway classification within the Project Area. Figure 12 shows the existing and proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements based on the City’s Bicycle, Trails, and Walkways Master Plan (2011) as well as the City’s proposed capital improvements. Additionally, the City’s Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 to 2023 includes a couple of projects that affect the Project Area. For instance, the Camino Pablo Bicycle Route Corridor Improvements project1, which is currently in the design phase, would improve, upgrade, and complete gaps in bicycle facilities along the Camino Pablo Bicycle Route corridor through Downtown Orinda between El Toyonal to the north and Moraga Way to the south. Specifically, the improvements would include installation of bike loop detectors; signal improvements; reduction of a concrete island and extension of the existing Class II bicycle lane on Camino Pablo and Orinda Way to; an upgrade to the bicycle lane between SR 24 off-ramp and the Orinda BART Station from a Class III to Class II; application of “green paint” to conflict zones; and installation of sharrows at the Theatre Square area leading to and from the Saint Stephen’s Trail. Another project that would benefit the Project Area is the Orinda Way Pavement Rehabilitation project.2 This project would perform pavement rehabilitation/maintenance of Orinda Way through the Village District, specifically between Camino Pablo to the north and the Orinda way cul-de-sac to the south, near the Pine Grove Business Complex and Shell Gas Station. The improvements would also involve required upgrades for ADA curb ramps and ADA parking spaces. Construction could begin as early as summer 2021 but is subject to other programming.

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1

Project #4128 as specified in the Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 to 2023.

2

Project #4138 as specified in the Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 to 2023.

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Furthermore, although outside of the Project Area, the proposed traffic calming improvements3 along Camino Pablo between Monte Vista Road to Bear Creek Road would encourage motorists to travel at the speed limit as they enter into Downtown Orinda and make their way to Wagner Ranch Elementary. Specifically, the traffic calming improvements would comprise of modifying lane markings to reduce width of travel lanes, create buffer between bicyclists and vehicles, and improve bicycle transition at intersection approaches. The proposed project would also consider high visible crosswalk markings. Table 6. General Plan - Roadway Classification Source: City of Orinda General Plan (1987 – 2007)

Street

3

From Location

To Location

Classification

Altarinda Drive

Santa Maria Way

Orinda Woods Drive

Collector

Brookwood Road

Camino Pablo

Moraga Way

Minor Arterial

Brookwood Road

Camino Pablo

Spring Road

Collector

Bryant Way

Moraga Way

Davis Road

Minor Arterial

Camino Pablo

Bear Creek Road

Moraga Way

Principal Arterial

Camino Sobrante

Camino Pablo

Orinda Way

Minor Arterial

Moraga Way

Camino Pablo

City Limit (south)

Principal Arterial

Moraga Way

Bryant Way

Camino Pablo

Minor Arterial

Orinda Way

Santa Maria Way

Camino Pablo

Minor Arterial

Orindawoods Drive

Altarinda Road

East Altarinda Drive

Collector

Santa Maria Way

Orinda Way

Altarinda Drive

Collector

Southwood Drive

Moraga Way

Tara Road

Collector

Project #TBD3010 as specified in the Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 to 2023.

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Figure 11. General Plan - Roadway Classification Source: City of Orinda General Plan (1987 – 2007)

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Figure 12. Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements – Existing and Proposed

Source: Bicycle, Trails, and Walkways Master Plan (2011); City of Orinda – Proposed Capital Improvements.

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Parking Street parking in and around downtown is free (no meters) and time-restricted anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, the exception being some residential areas near downtown with no time restrictions. In addition to increasing enforcement of on-street parking hours, the City recently launched two parking permit programs: 1.

The Brookwood Road Residential Parking Permit Program (started in 2018); and

2. The Altarinda Road Pilot Employee Parking Permit Program (2019). Both programs are intended to address BART commuter overflow parking into the downtown and single-family residential neighborhoods as well as the limited availability of parking for downtown employees. The Orinda BART Station has 1,302 parking spaces, all of which are surface parking spaces. BART estimates that the parking at the Orinda BART fills at 7:30 a.m. during weekdays. To accommodate various modes of travel, BART recently converted a small amount of vehicle parking to motorcycle and motorized scooter parking. The motorcycle and motorized scooter parking is well utilized and BART may consider converting more vehicle parking to motorcycle and motorized scooter parking. Thirty-six BikeLink bike lockers provide secure, on-demand bike parking at the station. This parking is also well utilized. Between the Theatre District, the Village, and BART, there are 3,232 vehicle parking spaces in downtown. While the parking lot at BART is quick to fill up on weekdays, off-street parking tends to be readily available on both sides of downtown. A 2018 parking utilization study conducted for the ConnectOrinda Briefing Booklet found both on-street and off-street parking in the Village to be less than 85-percent during peak hours (85-percent parking utilization is a threshold commonly used as a maximum for ideal parking efficiency, transportation system efficiency, and parking availability). The Theatre District off-street parking utilization was also found to be below 85-percent; however, on-street parking utilization exceeded 85-percent around peak lunch hours and in the early afternoon (the parking occupancy study did not count occupancy after 5 p.m.). The City’s recent increase in onstreet parking enforcement may be resulting in additional parking availability in the Theatre District, but a follow-up study has not yet been conducted to quantify any change that may be occurring.

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Figure 13. Downtown Orinda – Parking Spaces

Source: ConnectOrinda Briefing Booklet (2018); BART (2020)

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Figure 14. The Village - Weekday Parking Utilization by Time of Day Source: ConnectOrinda Briefing Booklet (2018)

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Figure 15. Theatre District - Weekday Parking Utilization by Time of Day Source: ConnectOrinda Briefing Booklet (2018)

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Transit County Connection’s Bus Route 6 services Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga between 5:45 a.m. and 8:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, with peak/off-peak intervals of 20 and 60 minutes, respectively. More limited weekend service is also available, with the route running every 120 minutes Saturday and Sundays. The Orinda BART station is served by the Yellow line, which runs between the Antioch and SFO/Millbrae BART stations. On weekdays train service in Orinda starts at 5:15 a.m. and concludes at 12:54 a.m. Weekend service runs every 20-25 minutes, starting at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays and running until 12:30 - 1 a.m. each night. Meanwhile, Orindawoods, a planned-unit development east of the Village, operates a BART shuttle for its residents.

Based on monthly ridership data for January 2020, a weekday average of 2,781 riders entered the Orinda BART station. Image Source: City of Orinda Planning Department

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Figure 16. Downtown Orinda - Transit Routes and Stops Source: County Connection; BART

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NATURAL FEATURES & INFRASTRUCTURE Downtown Orinda is located in a small valley formed by San Pablo Creek and surrounded by steep terrain to the east and west. To the south, downtown is bounded by East Bay Municipal Utility District’s (EBMUD) Siesta Valley Recreation Area. There are trails extending through this property which are accessible to the public with a permit. To the north, well-established residential neighborhoods border downtown. As a result, there is not much opportunity for downtown expansion beyond the current commercial and office districts. Further, key constraints to development in downtown include San Pablo Creek, Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) high-voltage electrical transmission lines, and aging infrastructure. The following subsections provide a more detailed discussion on how these elements challenge the DPP.

San Pablo Creek San Pablo Creek is an urbanized perennial creek that flows through the DPP Project Area. In 1958, the creek was straightened out and channelized to accommodate the construction of Camino Pablo, which connects Orinda to SR 24 and the City of El Sobrante. San Pablo Creek is culverted below SR 24 and Camino Pablo. The creek daylights for approximately 1,500 feet, near the intersection of Camino Pablo and Santa Maria Way, before entering a culvert (behind Bank of America) that continues under the Safeway parking lot. A noticeably short segment also daylights just northwest of Avenida de Orinda.

During the ConnectOrinda planning process, the community expressed a strong and frequent desire to have access to a restored San Pablo Creek in the Village. Image Source: City of Orinda Planning Department

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Figure 17. Downtown Orinda – San Pablo Creek (day-lighted portion) Source: City of Orinda Planning Department.

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In 2019, the City Council established a strategic priority to work toward the long-term goal of daylighting and restoring San Pablo Creek from Santa Maria Way to the historic Orinda Way Bridge and design for pedestrian access throughout. The City has been working closely with Friends of Orinda Creeks since early 2018 to map a path forward to realize this goal. There may be many challenges to restoring San Pablo Creek, but the most immediate is land ownership—the daylighted portion of the creek traverses through nearly a dozen private properties. So to restore the creek, beyond its existing, straight alignment, and provide public access, the City would need to acquire land or negotiate easements to achieve the much desired public benefit. Therefore, unless there are major incentives for downtown property owners to redevelop, it could take decades to restore the creek and pedestrian access would likely need to be phased. Furthermore, the OMC classifies San Pablo Creek as a “Type I” water channel and, depending on the slope of the creek bank, requires a structure to be setback anywhere from 35 to 45 feet from top of bank.” In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies the creek and its immediate surround as a regulatory floodway. Based on FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer, all of the parcels in the Project Area that are between Camino Pablo and Orinda Way are in either Flood Hazard Zone AE (100-year flood plain) or Zone X (500-year flood plain). In sum, the water-channel setbacks and the flood hazard zones may not only pose a challenge when it comes to siting buildings, but they may also make it difficult to satisfy the existing required lot coverage, which is a minimum of 50-percent for parcels in the DC district.

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Figure 18. Downtown Orinda – Flood Risks Source: https://msc.fema.gov/

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Special Geographic Features In addition to the San Pablo Creek described above, the EBMUD Watershed open space, located west of Camino Pablo, and is considered a special geographic feature. It is clearly visible from many parts of the Village and from the Orinda BART Station.

Power Lines There are two sets of high-voltage electric transmission lines running through downtown. These transmission lines ultimately connect to the Sobrante (Bear Creek Road) and Moraga (Lost Valley) Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) substations. While the exact details are to be confirmed, it is estimated that PG&E maintains an easement that starts from the centerline of the transmission lines and extends approximately 20 to 25 feet on either side. Due to North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) safety regulations, nothing may be built below the transmission lines and within PG&E’s easements around those lines. Vegetation height is also severely limited. Given such constraints, the City explored the option of undergrounding the transmission lines. Based on conversations with PG&E, undergrounding would cost at least $10 million per mile per transmission line. Besides the aesthetic enhancement, the cost and effort to underground would provide little value because nothing could be built on top of the undergrounded wires. Additionally, at the April 29, 2020 Downtown Subcommittee meeting, the community expressed other thoughts and ideas on how to address the transmission lines that currently cut through the Project Area. For instance, one iteration of the idea would involve relocating the PG&E lines and associated infrastructure west of Camino Pablo, adjacent to East Bay Municipal Utility District’s (EBMUD) Siesta Valley Recreation Area, between the intersections of Camino Pablo and Santa Maria Way and Camino Pablo and Camino Sobrante. This idea would also involve undergoing the lines on Camino Sobrante between Camino Pablo to the west and Orinda Way to the east before reconnecting above ground at the Orinda County Club golf course. The ideas discussed in this report, as well as any other ideas, would need to be further discussed with the appropriate agencies and vetted to understand their feasibility from a technical standpoint. Furthermore, a closer study of the ideas and/or proposals would provide the community with a better sense of the costs associated with the endeavor. More importantly, once the associated costs are understood, the community can start to discuss how the endeavor would be funded (i.e., development fees, special district, etc.)

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Undergrounding PG&E transmission lines in the Project Area would come at a substantial cost— and it would still limit development. Image Source: Google

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Figure 19. Downtown Orinda - High Voltage Transmission Lines Source: PG&E.

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Utilities Utilities in Orinda are provided by PG&E (electricity and gas), Contra Costa Central Sanitary District (sewer), and EBMUD (water). Said agencies do not have offices in downtown Orinda. A more detailed description and analysis of the existing utilities will be provided in the Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR), which will be prepared by the City’s environmental consultant.

Public Roadways and Storm Drains When the City incorporated in 1985, it took over approximately 93 miles of paved publicly-maintained roads and roughly 17 miles of publicly-maintained storm drain pipes and culverts from Contra Costa County (County). With available funds, primarily Gas Tax, County Sales Tax Return-to-Source, and grant funds, the City was able to repair and maintain the most heavily-travelled roads (arterials, collectors, and school routes) in a generally good condition. However, by 2004, most of the City's residential roads had deteriorated badly, and it was clear that available funding was insufficient. As a result, the City established what is now known as the Citizens’ Infrastructure Oversight Commission (CIOC) to study the problem and recommend solutions. In July 2012, a ten-year, multi-phase funding plan was approved by the City Council and real progress on improving the residential roads began in 2013, with voters approving a half-cent sales tax in November 2012. Based on the City’s current paving program schedule, it is anticipated that all of the city’s public residential roads will be repaired by the end of 2021. Similarly, it is anticipated the city’s arterial and collector roads will be repaired by the end of 2024. Having said that, the half-cent sales tax approved in 2012 is due to expire in 2023, which means the City will need to find a replacement source to maintain its roads. For additional information, please refer to the City’s Road and Drainage Repairs Plan (December 17, 2019). In January 2017, the failure of a culvert under Miner Road resulted in a sinkhole. Altered by the incident, the City started to assess storm-drains and associated rehabilitation work as quickly as possible. Using ESRI’s ArcGIS (Geographic Information System) tool, the City has started to build a robust database that contains information from recent storm-drain studies, assessments by City staff, and estimated repair costs for each individual pipe. These estimates show that roughly $30 million will be needed to repair or replace public storm-drain pipes that are likely to fail over the next 10 years. Of that estimate, approximately $9.6 million will be needed over the next 3 to 5 years to do needed CCTV inspections and to repair or replace the storm-drain pipes found to have the highest risk of failure.

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APPENDIX 1.

ESRI – Community Snapshots (2020)

2. ConnectOrinda – Downtown Streetscape Master Plan (2019) 3. Capital Improvement Plan – Fiscal Years 2019 – 2023 (2019) 4. Road and Drainage Repairs Plan (2019) 5. National Main Street Center – Data Summary & Transformation Strategy Recommendations (2017) 6. Urban Land Institute – Technical Assistance Panel Final Report (2017) 7. Housing Element & Transportation and Circulation Section (2015) 8. Bicycle, Trails, and Walkways Master Plan (2011) 9. Orinda Retail Leakage Study (2010) 10. San Pablo Creek through Downtown Orinda: Preliminary Restoration Plan (2001) 11. Downtown Design Guidelines (1990) 12. Downtown General Plan Policies (1987 – 2007)

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Profile for City of Orinda

Downtown Precise Plan - Existing Conditions Report (DRAFT - May 2020)  

This draft report provides a discussion on the existing conditions within the Downtown Precise Plan (DPP) Project Area. Particularly, in an...

Downtown Precise Plan - Existing Conditions Report (DRAFT - May 2020)  

This draft report provides a discussion on the existing conditions within the Downtown Precise Plan (DPP) Project Area. Particularly, in an...