Con: Low-Income Housing

Davis Walker, Head Photo and Graphics Editor

Over the last few years, several housing developments, including market-rate as well as low-income housing, have sprung up in and around Orinda. These include Wilder, Oak Grove, and Eden Senior Housing. These chain reactions of developments are all inter-related and all have probable negative impacts on current Orinda citizens and our schools. They’ve all been approved by our city council and they are all in various stages of construction.

Orinda is a small, semi-rural town that hasn’t had much fluctuation in population size since the 70’s. Part of this is due to the extreme topography of our town. We are nestled in the hills, our downtown is literally a canyon, and there aren’t many buildable lots. This all boils down to a limited amount of space for Orindans. Because of this, many are opposed to additions and changes to the city, and rightly so. The general plan for Orinda states that downtown is to serve our community members only, and not become a commercial center like Walnut Creek or Lafayette.

Most Orinda residents are very aware of the luxury hillside housing known as Wilder. Wilder was originally going to be an expressway between Orinda and Moraga, but that plan was dismantled, and Orinda decided to allow development of around 250 single family residences. Wilder is expected to bring approximately 1000 new kids into Orinda schools once completed. This alone would cause a huge increase in traffic and number of students at our schools. In addition to this, Wilder didn’t want to comply with the government established quota of low-income housing, so they opted out by writing a check to the city of Orinda which provided funding to build Eden Senior Housing, which is considered low-income. Although Eden won’t bring new students to our school, it will still bring more people to Orinda as well as cause parking problems, since each residence will only be allotted half a parking space.

Orinda Grove is another Orinda development, located on a 10 acre lot at 8 Altarinda Road. Pulte, a development company, acquired this property after they cut a deal with Orinda Union School District, providing them with a new district office and copious amounts of money. Orinda Grove is planned to contain around 73 single-unit homes, eight of those considered affordable. This will bring even more children into Orinda schools.

The problem with this many developments being built at once is that we have yet to see the effect it will have on our community and schools. Our school districts are some of the lowest funded districts in the state of California, and we rely heavily on parent donations. We simply do not have the resources to sustain this large of an influx of new students. Our schools’ population will increase suddenly and dramatically, we will be short of funding for  Visual Performing Arts classes like crafts and video production, and commuting across town before and after school will become even more arduous than it already is. In addition, parking will become even more crowded and the time it takes to get to and from school will skyrocket. It’s time to draw the line and stop these housing developments.