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Speaking Out!

Tom Trowbridge (Letter to City Council, February 4, 2018)

“Only a comprehensive planning effort will begin to address the fundamental issues of downtown’s decline. We all know that Orindans expect more from their downtown. A well-conceived plan is the surest way to fulfill that expectation.”


Arran Schultz (Letter to Orinda News, February 1, 2018)

“Change will inevitably come to downtown (and frankly, I wish it would). We can’t avoid it by sticking with an outdated, boilerplate general plan from the 80’s and simply shrugging our shoulders. . . Planning is good. The city council should not avoid or delay the process of downtown planning.”


Orinda Vision and What’s Up Downtown Orinda?  (Joint Letter to Orinda News, December 1, 2017) 

“Orinda (must) . . . chart its own course for downtown. Residents here are ​already frustrated with its ongoing decline. We should begin planning for a more convenient, fun and beautiful downtown . . . ”

ON.2017.12.01 OV WUDO

Tom Trowbridge (Letter to City Council, October 2, 2017) 

“The time has come for the City Council to give thoughtful guidance to Staff with respect to planning for a revitalized downtown Orinda. . . . Staff needs to indicate to the Council and the public that it is ready to proceed in the coming year with more than just the Streetscape Master Plan.”


Bob Burt (Letter to City Council, October 3, 2017) 

“The staff report is incomplete . . . staff should be directed to propose a design for a public process that will lead to a General Plan Update, with land use policies as part of a Downtown Specific Plan that includes new housing opportunities, in accordance with the City’s Strategic Priorities and as recommended by the ULI Technical Assistance Panel.


Ted Urban (Orinda News, July 1, 2017) 

“There have been several letters sent . . . . (that) decry that these changes will destroy our village character, lead to traffic congestion and undermine the quality of our schools . . . Don’t count me in as one of these naysayers.”


Jeff Violet (Orinda News, June 1, 2017) 

“The City of Orinda will not be spared the passage of time. And with time, comes change. Would you not want to have some influence on those changes?”

ON 2017.06.01 Violet

Dan Palmerlee (Lamorinda Weekly, May 28, 2017) 

“The task of ULI is to provide options. It is up to the citizens of Orinda and their elected representatives to decide which, if any, of these options are right for our city.”

LW 2017.05.28 Parmerlee

Tom Trowbridge (Remarks to Joint City Council & Planning Commission Meeting after the ULI Technical Assistance Panel Presentation, 4/11/2017)

“Change is now about to be thrust upon our downtown by marketplace realities. Orinda can embrace this change, and shape it to its own vision for the future. Or Orinda can avoid dealing with change, accepting the decisions of others whose vision may or may not be to our liking.

Fashioning a community vision and downtown plan are challenging and time consuming, but the opportunities for the well-being of the community are truly great. Indeed, an imaginative renewal of Orinda could be a model for how to go about improving a small city downtown in the 21st century.”

Trowbridge Remarks on ULI Presentation

Sharon Iversen (Lamorinda Weekly, 4/5/2017)

“As an Orinda resident of 50 years, I feel so fortunate to be able to live here and look forward to considering the ULI TAP’s concepts for rejuvenation.  This is an opportunity to be part of a creative and productive process and I welcome it.”

LW 2017.04.05 Iversen

Barbara Bennett (Orinda News, 4/1/2017)

“Please join me on April 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Library Auditorium to hear the (ULI) panel’s report, ask questions, and encourage the City Council and Planning Commission to create a process with broad community input that will address the dowdy and awkward character of our downtown.

ON 2017.04.01 Bennett

OrindaVision Input for Main Street America (Lamorinda Weekly, 2/22/2017)

“Tom Trowbridge . . . provided information on what [OrindaVision] believes is responsible for downtown Orinda’s underperformance . . . and suggestions for its revitalization”.

lw-2017-02-22-main-street-america  (see final paragraph)

Andy and Carole Amstutz, Bob Burt, Ethan Elkind, Mike and Ginny Ross, Rudy and Laurie Reich, Bill Waterman (Lamorinda Weekly, 11/2/2016)

“There is a clear choice in the city council election. This election finally gives Orinda voters the opportunity to send a clear mandate to the next city council to move forward with a community discussion on revitalizing our downtown.”


Bergen Kenny (Lamorinda Weekly, 11/2/2016)

“I appreciate that every candidate says they want to improve downtown, but two of those candidates opposed beginning a serious conversation on the subject at the city council. For me, that disqualifies them on this issue. That says they’re not serious about progress – they’re committed to the status quo.  Vote for Gee and Miller for city council.”


Mark Roberts (Lamorinda Weekly, 11/2/2016)

“Orinda needs and deserves city council members who have served their community with their good deeds and hard work, not just their words.”


Quotes (Orinda News, 11/1/2016)

“Maintaining Orinda’s small town charm should not mean being forever chained to . . .  a dowdy and dated downtown.” – Michael Nevitt

“Consensus at the September 6 City Council meeting was that something needs to be done about the state of Orinda’s downtown.  Both the written correspondence sent to the City Council and the speakers in the room were overwhelmingly in favor of downtown revitalization being a key priority moving forward.” – Laura McDowell, Ali Drasin, Laura Pavlovich, Emily Stoddard, Trudi Loscotoff, Darien Destino and Kirsten Larsen

“When we allow our downtown to atrophy, it affects everything from our property values to our quality of life,” said Laura McDowell, a founder of What’s Up Downtown Orinda.”      – Orinda Vision, What’s Up Downtown Orinda and Monica Fitzsimmons

“Orinda is at a critical point in its evolution and history, and Orindans need to seriously engage in the November City Council elections.”  – Chris Kniel

Bill and Nath Schmicker (Lamorinda Weekly, 10/19/2016)
“Inga and Darlene understand that it’s possible to create an Orinda for the future that will capitalize on its wonderful location, climate schools and people while retaining its small town charm.” 


Carol Penskar (Orinda News, 10/1/2016)
“Orinda is very fortunate to have . . . highly qualified candidates for Orinda City Council on the ballot this fall: Darlene Gee and Inga Miller.” 


Jeffrey Violet (Orinda News, 10/1/2016)
“(On attending the 9/6/2016 council meeting) (m)y conclusion was that Orindans have reason to be hopeful. The important ingredients are there: respectful tone, uniformity of purpose and full range of stakeholder involvement.” 


Drew Michel (Orinda News, 10/1/2016)
“With the right balance of housing, retail and open space, we could create a true “community center” . . . (I) support Darlene Gee and Inga Miller . . . it is with their leadership, and that of all council persons, that we can find a path to creating a thriving Downtown Orinda.”


Tom Trowbridge (Orinda News, 9/1/2016)
“A ULI Panel . . . would be an excellent way for Orinda to begin a community conversation that is focused and conducted on a professional plane.”

ON 2016.09.01.x Trowbridge

Bob Burt (Letter to City Council, 8/31/2016)
“Downtown renewal requires an effective community engagement process that is based on a solid understanding of market realities.”

City Council 2016.08.31 Burt

Michael Kaplan (Letter to the Planning Commission, 3/16/2016)
“I believe that the current proposal for 25A Orinda Way falls well short of what this site can provide . . .  Attached are a set a drawings which I prepared as an alternative design.”

PC 2016.03.16 Kaplan

Pete Hasselman (Address to the Planning Commission, 2/26/2016)
“My career was spent in the profession of architecture and urban design.  I would like to express a strong concern about constructing a massive, flat surfaced building directly across the street from Orinda’s civic center core.”

PC 2016.02.26 Hasselman

Hillary Murphy (Letter to the Planning Staff, 2/18/2016)
“I’m in support of downtown revitalization and development, but I think it’s so  so critical that we do it properly, with thoughtful purpose and not piecemeal . . . I would like to see . . . (a) redesign (of) the (25A Orinda Way) aesthetic to map to Orinda’s “village” character.” 

PC 2016.02.18 Murphy H

Tom Trowbridge (Letter to the Planning Commission, 2/17/2016)
“Orindans want to see the vacant lot across from the library developed.  We also want to see the first new downtown building in 30 years succeed . . . After meeting with the developer . . . I reluctantly conclude that this project has a low probability of success.”

PC 2016.02.17 Trowbridge

Pete Hasselman (Letter to the Developer, 2/12/2016)
“We hope for architectural excellence both for this project and for establishing a high standard for future downtown Orinda projects”

PC 2016.02.12 Hasselman

Pete Hasselman (Orinda News, 2/1/2016)
“Monteverdi has settled in.  Now that we have had the opportunity to live with the building we can better appreciate the nuances of the design in the context of the Orinda streetscape.  Sometimes, only the passage of time is needed to become comfortable with new buildings.”

ON 2016.02.01 Hasselman
Laura McDowell (Lamorinda Weekly, 12/16/2015)
“Some of the key downtown parcels are now starting to change ownership. We would like to see our community come up with a plan for what should replace them. If we fail to take this on, we will be at the mercy of private developers who will do their own planning.”
LW 2015.12.16 McDowell

John Wilson (Letter to Planning Staff, 12/11/2015)
It’s time to consider downtown residential condominiums and apartments for the many empty nesters who want to stay in Orinda but no longer need their three and four bedroom single family homes.”

PC 2015.12.11 Wilson
Terry Murphy (Orinda News, 12/1/2015)
Mr. Waterman is right, we need a new downtown plan, and I don’t care who is used to facilitate getting one, and Mr. Kniel is right when he suggests that Orinda is your town and you need to be involved in any process that will bring change to the downtown.”
ON 2015.12.01 Murphy

“Petition Reflects Orindans’ Wish to Improve Downtown” (Orinda News, 12/1/2015)
“Orinda resident Ethan Elkind [said], “We need a specific plan for downtown. Every other successful downtown in the Bay Area has clear rules. A clear public plan that really explains where things go, where the parking goes, what kind of planning design standards we want to have.”
ON 2015.12.1 Petition Reflects Orindans’ Wish to Improve Downtown

“Petition Highlights Burgeoning Demand to Improve Downtown Vitality”  (Lamorinda Weekly, 11/18/2015)
“It seems that the community’s changing demographics – at both ends of the spectrum – are fueling the demand.”
“We want a downtown that enhances our sense of community and opportunities to interact and engage with one another. A community that has vitality and vibrant elements while retaining our intimate village character . . .”
LW 2015.11.18 Petition Highlights Burgeoning Demand to Improve Downtown Vitality

“Orindans Urge Downtown Change” (Contra Costa Times, 11/12/2015)
CCT 2015.11.12 Orindans Urge Downtown Change

Tom Trowbridge (Orinda News, 11/1/2015)
“ULI panels are about enhancing the community planning discussion, not about “outsiders telling us what to do”.
ON 2015.11.01 Trowbridge

Petition Presented to City Council (City of Orinda website, 11/3 City Council Meeting Livestream)

Monica Fitzsimmons made her first presentation of the “Restore Downtown Orinda” petition to City Council on November 3, with a promise to return. In the audio or video recording at the link below, look for “Public Forum”, approximately 26:21 minutes into the meeting.

Comments in support of downtown renewal
(Petition, “Restore Downtown Orinda, as of 10/21/2015)
Nearly 700 Orindans have signed a petition asking City Council “to immediately commence development of a plan to restore Orinda’s downtown area”.

Petitioner Comments in Support of Downtown Renewal

Bill Waterman (Orinda News, 9/1/2015)
“We can and must preserve the unique character of Orinda . . . we owe it to ourselves and future generations to resume efforts to enhance the viability of our two downtown districts.”
ON 2015.09.01 Waterman

Tom Trowbridge (Orinda News, 9/1/2015)
“A [ULI TAP] is a cost effective way to garner the advice of experienced professionals . . . who volunteer their time to address the issues that the applicant city wants them to address . . . a big-picture perspective from experts who have dealt with issues like Orinda’s many times in the past.”
ON 2015.09.01 Trowbridge

Michael Kaplan (Lamorinda Weekly, 8/26/2015)
“ULI TAP members would be expected to recommend how Orinda can achieve a “vibrant community center” while at the same time preserving and enhancing the “village character” of its downtown.”
LW 2015.08.26 Kaplan

Pete Hasselman (Lamorinda Weekly, 7/29/2015; Orinda News, 9/1/2015)
Just like our roads, which were long ignored to our detriment, the time is long overdue to address our downtown.”
LW 2015.07.29 ON 2015.09.01 Hasselman

EnvisionOrinda21 (City Council, 4/15/2015)
“We are writing to support wholeheartedly efforts to invite the Urban Land Institute to provide a Technical Assistance Panel to assist our city in updating its General Plan.”

City Council 2015.04.15 EnvisionOrinda21


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