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The Essentials of the Orinda “Private” Road Issue



* There are 123 miles of roads in Orinda: 29 miles of arterials and collectors; 94 miles of residential streets providing paved access to private residences.

- 64 miles of the residential streets are publicly maintained and open to anyone who wants to use them.

- The remaining 30 miles are privately maintained.  Most are also open for public use and some are required to be open for public use as a condition of their development agreement.

- All residential streets serve the same purpose; paved access to private homes by the residents and their service providers, including emergency services.


* The privately maintained roads are designated “private” roads, implying an exclusivity which, for most, does not exist.


* The current condition of the “private” roads is officially unknown, but indications are that 85% of them are in good condition, PCI greater than 50 (which for years was the definition of a residential street in good condition).

- Conversion to public road may or may not include public acceptance of deferred maintenance costs.

- Options include the owners paying for deferred maintenance, funded by a Benefit Assessment District which is repaid over time by the property owners, not the City.

* The cost of maintaining the existing 93 miles of public streets is partially offset by revenue sources based on the number of miles of publicly maintained streets:

(1) $1.2 million of garbage impact fees equivalent to $13,000 a mile.

(2) $250,000 from the county sales tax (“return to source”) equivalent to $2,500 a mile.

     $15,500 per mile of revenue to offset maintenance cost of publicly maintained roads.


* Definition of a Public Road

- “any road or street under the jurisdiction of and maintained by a public authority and open to public travel”

- Pursuant to 23 USCS § 101 (27) [Title 23. Highways; Chapter 1. Federal-Aid Highways]


* If private streets were made public, by being made open to public travel and publicly maintained, the cost to maintain these small, lightly used, residential streets (about $20,000 a mile):

- would be offset by $15,500 per mile of new revenue

- net cost of $4,500 per mile

- $135,000 per year if all 30 miles of "private" streets become public


* In its first full year of operation, Measure R:

- generated $3.7 million of revenue

- $850,000 more than projected

- 20% of Orinda residents live on "private" roads

- 20% of $850,000 is $170,000, more than it would cost to maintain all 30 miles of "private" roads.

- Measure R is an Essential Service Tax.  One of the Essential Services is road maintenance.

- The City Council allocated $2.45 million of Measure R's revenue for public street maintenance, averaging $26,000 per mile.

- If $26,000 a mile of Measure R revenue can be allocated for existing public streets, shouldn't new public streets, which serve the same purpose as existing ones, be allocated $4,500 per mile?

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