ORINDA -- Outrage over a long-range growth plan for Bay Area cities is continuing to build in Orinda, where some residents are demanding city leaders address the plan before it transforms their "semirural" city into a "stack and pack" hell.
In response to their concerns, the City Council is holding a special meeting Monday to take public comment and consider writing a letter to the regional agencies overseeing Plan Bay Area.
At a council meeting last week, more than a dozen residents aired their frustration with the plan, which calls for integrated regional transportation, housing and land use planning. The blueprint is an outgrowth of One Bay Area, a collaboration of agencies including the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transporation Commission responding to state mandates outlined in Senate Bill 375. That bill calls for environmentally-friendly transportation and housing growth and a "sustainable communities strategy."
The divisive grant-funding plan includes requirements that cities and towns zone for a variety of housing, including some near transit.
The plan has stirred anger among some Bay Area residents who fear such mandates will bring more high-density, low-income housing and diminish local government control.
Some cities have pushed back. Officials in Corte Madera voted last year to end their membership with ABAG; Danville residents have also urged their town to leave ABAG over the zoning requirements.
In Orinda, residents say the plan could usher in towering apartment complexes, strain infrastructure and tax emergency services while forever altering the city's character. Some have called on the council to respond to the draft plan and its environmental review before a Thursday deadline for comments -- and consider rejecting them.
"We believe in order for the city to fulfill its obligations to the citizens, it needs to review the plan and submit comments by the deadline date," said Rusty Snow of Orinda. "At a minimum, we believe the city should comment to the EIR that it elects to have no project."
Others at the May 7 meeting asked whether council members had even assessed the plan, questioning why they weren't submitting any comments on behalf of residents who have asked them to address the plan.
"I am deeply concerned that this is the last City Council meeting before the deadline for cities and communities to respond to ABAG about it, and yet it wasn't on the agenda at all to be reviewed," said Heather Pruett.
Because residents spoke during public comment on a non-agendized item, council members couldn't respond, explained Mayor Amy Worth. But she said the city hasn't designated a "priority development area" as part of Plan Bay Area. Priority development areas are locations in cities near jobs, transit, shopping and services where housing can be developed.
Worth also said the city had already submitted formal letters about Orinda's housing requirements outlined in the plan. In 2011, the city disputed housing numbers in a study preceding Plan Bay Area that said Orinda could add 1,920 additional households by 2035; the city argued it could only develop about 340 to 375 dwelling units downtown.
The special council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Orinda library, 26 Orinda Way.