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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 being publicly maintained, the cost to maintain these small, lightly used, residential streets could be as low as $15,500 a mile. (The latest road condition report, P-TAP-23, projects that the entire 93 mile network can be maintained for $1.6 million ($17,200 per mile.)

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

- Resulting in a net cost of zero

* There is virtually no financial reason for the City not to allow private streets to either be dedicated to the City, and thus become public roads, or to enter into a road maintenance agreement in exchange for public access, making the streets de-facto public roads, thus gaining County return-to-source funding and garbage impact-fee funding only available to public roads.

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