Roads, roads, roads.
There's a common theme among the goals Lamorinda's new mayors have for 2011.
The economy continues to batter local governments, although the mayors credit prudent fiscal management for sparing the three cities from having to make drastic cuts.
But they all include finding a way to fix aging infrastructure among their top priorities for the new year.
The Sun sat down with Lafayette Mayor Carl Anduri, Moraga Mayor Karen Mendonca and Orinda Mayor Victoria Smith and asked them about their goals and concerns for the coming year.
'Everybody's going to have to compromise'
Lafayette's new mayor has a big goal for 2011: Develop a plan for fixing all of the city's failing roads, and find a way to pay for it.
It's a solvable problem, said Carl Anduri, but it won't be easy.
"Everybody's going to have to compromise a little bit to get it done," he said. "People will have to agree to some things they wouldn't want to do, including me. But we're all going to have to do it to get it done, because it's just been too long, way too long. It's just not fair to the people who live on the failed streets."
Coming up with a plan will be a communitywide effort, but Anduri already has some ideas.
The city's reserve is well over its required funding level, he said, and part of that money can be used to keep the road maintenance budget steady over the next couple of years.
With the city budget lean -- the council approved $500,000 in reductions last week -- Lafayette must find new revenue if it wants to completely solve the roads problem, Anduri said.
"And we've learned from the discussion of the charter tax that you've got to have a very straightforward, clear story," he added.
He said a parcel tax, under $100 and for a set period of time, would be the best approach.
Anduri said he also hopes to focus on providing more services to seniors, especially housing, and finding ways to preserve open space in Lafayette's hillsides.
'What do we want to do as a community?'
Finding a way to fix road and storm drains, maintaining a balanced budget and continuing partnerships with Saint Mary's College and the New Rheem Theatre are among Karen Mendonca's goals for Moraga in 2011.
But much of the year will be spent talking with residents to find out what they feel is the best way to achieve some of those goals.
"We have a really high-spirited town," she said. "Most people passionately care about the town and to me that gives me great hope for accomplishing a lot of the goals."
The town's revenue enhancement committee determined new sources of revenue are needed to fix Moraga's infrastructure, and a survey found most residents would support a new tax or fee if the need was clearly shown.
The upcoming year will be a time to figure out what that really means, Mendonca said, by asking residents what they are willing to pay in order to improve the town's infrastructure.
The same mentality also holds true for Moraga's struggling retail sector. With the guidance of the economic development team and new Town Manager Jill Keimach, the town must engage residents on what types of stores they would like to see in the Rheem and Moraga shopping centers, Mendonca said.
"Whether the economic environment is a positive or negative one, externally we can still ask ourselves those questions: What do we want to do as a community? And I think this community will answer those questions," she said.
'Continuing the path that we're on'
Orinda's new mayor would love to say 2011 will be a time for grand plans or big improvements.
"But I doubt that that's going to happen," Victoria Smith said. "I think it's more a question of continuing the path that we're on. And the foremost thing we're going to have to do is maintain a prudent budget, which the council has always done."
Of all three Lamorinda cities, Orinda's roads situation is the most dire. Its streets consistently rank among the worst in the Bay Area, and the price tag for fixing them is about $73 million.
But when it comes to paying for those fixes, Smith doesn't believe the time is right to ask residents for a new tax.
Orinda can continue seeking grants, like federal stimulus dollars, she said. And the city has a program through which neighborhoods can raise part of the money to fix their streets themselves.
"Those are kind of piecemeal attacks on the road problem but "... I don't foresee a permanent solution, a large-scale solution, until we get to the point where the community can afford, can support a tax measure," Smith said.
The city will also continue to work with residents on a vision for the downtown, she said.
While everyone would like to see some change in the downtown, Smith said, nobody wants a large Walnut Creek-style shopping center.
"So I think the community is trying to come up with a plan that incorporates a small town feel but offers more amenities and services," she said.
Contact Jonathan Morales as 925-943-8048. Read the Lamorinda Sun blog at www.ibabuzz.com/lamorindasun.