Orinda is taking a second stab at persuading residents to help fund fixes for old roads, drains and water pipes in a special election on June 5.

The bulk of the $58.6 million Measure E would go toward the city's roads, two-thirds of which are rated in poor or very poor condition. The rest will go to staving off flooding problems by fixing drains and to upgrading water pipes to bring them up to today's firefighting standards.

Voters turned down the similar $59.1 million Measure Q in November, but officials are banking that this time they've answered critics' concerns.

"Most people recognize we have a problem," said Mayor Steve Glazer. "The issue really is, do they trust the council, do they trust the city to spend Measure E money wisely."

Supporters are hoping that -- with a Citizens' Oversight Committee written into the bond, as well as a broad infrastructure funding plan with revenues from multiple sources -- the answer will be yes.

Many Measure Q supporters said that bond, which garnered 64.4 percent of the vote when it needed 66.6 percent, fell victim to a contentious city council race, where questions were raised about the city's past spending practices.

Resident Clyde Vaughn was one of the most vocal opponents of Measure Q, and he doesn't see any difference in the current measure.

"I think it's unfair for them to expect the citizens to dig down in their pocket while they squander their money on luxuries like the new city offices," he said. "It seems to me that the city council is fascinated by image projects rather than necessities."

But bond supporters contend that there are differences.

Measure E is "more comprehensive in its scope" than Measure Q, Glazer said. It details how the city in the next 33 years will spend $95.9 million, which includes a $2.5 million contribution from city reserves, $1.2 million from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, $3.4 million from the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, and about $30.2 million in annual road maintenance funds.

The city has also appointed a Citizens' Oversight Commission to be the 'citizens' eyes and ears on the expenditure of all our infrastructure dollars," he said. That group will work with staff members to prepare the infrastructure plan for each year, he said.

The city's aging roads are ranked among the worst in the Bay Area. Orinda's water pipes are maintained by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which replaces them when they leak, but fire district officials say they need to be replaced sooner to help meet fire-fighting needs. About 30 percent of city hydrants fall below the national water flow standard of 1,000 gallons per minute.

"There's no question that the roads need fixing," Vaughn said. "But the question is, how do you pay for it?"

He says the city should find other revenue sources, such as new property taxes from developments like Gateway and Pine Grove or a private fundraising campaign like the one mounted to help fund the new library.

Another bond opponent, Ed Coyne, said that he believes the bond money will only go to roads traveled by at least 500 vehicles a day.

"You're going to make those people who live on the residential roads mad because they're not getting any money," he said.

That charge vexes bond supporters, who have set up a Web site at http://www.fixorindaroads.com to answer critics that includes a section called "Fact vs. fiction."

In fact, Glazer said, the city specifically excluded the 500-trips-a-day requirement from Measure E.

"I'm disappointed that the opponents have decided to put out such falsehoods and misinformation to the residents," he said. "It's frustrating they can get away with making such outlandish claims."

That criteria was part of Measure Q, but even then, residential roads weren't going to be ignored, he said: The bond money would have been used for arterial roads, freeing up annual pavement maintenance funds for residential roads.

The Measure E bond money could be used for all public roads, he said.

Resources

  • Lafayette road parcel tax Measure C supporters' Web site: www.lafayetteroads.org

  • Orinda road bond Measure E: www.fixorindaroads.com

  • The Metropolitan Transportation Commission's 2006 "State of the System" report on Bay Area transportation: www.mtc.ca.gov/library/state_of_the_system/index.htm.

  • Orinda has some of the worst roads in the Bay Area, according to the Pavement Condition Index of Bay Area roads. Figures are from 2005, the latest year that data is available: www.mtc.ca.gov/library/state_of_the_system/2006/pavement_condition.pdf

    Report a pothole

  • Report state highway and freeway repairs to Caltrans: http://www.dot.ca.gov/maintform.html

  • Lafayette Public Works maintenance hotline: 299-3259.

  • Orinda Public Works: 253-4231 or e-mail orindapublicworks@ci.orinda.ca.us.

  • Moraga Public Services Department at 925-376-2521.