ORINDA

Housing element opponents rally

Opponents of a plan to accommodate future housing in Orinda have started a petition requesting officials withdraw the city's housing element recently sent to the state for certification.

According to the online petition, the group Orinda Watch is asking the city to only rezone properties for high-density housing that will fulfill state requirements and to refrain from rezoning properties downtown among other requests.

City staff has said in meetings on Orinda's housing element that they have no plans to request rezoning the downtown commercial district or change building heights limits. The city's general plan allows a maximum housing density of 10 units per acre and 38 units per acre for senior housing. Building heights can't exceed 35 feet without an exception.

Officials have said they do plan to rezone a parcel of church-owned land on Santa Maria Way to permit a minimum of 20 units of residential housing per acre there per state requirements that will allow for the first time certification of the state-mandated housing element. More information about downtown planning and housing is on the city's website at www.cityoforinda.org.

MORAGA-ORINDA FIRE DISTRICT

Director interviews; land purchase to be discussed

Fire officials who have decided to fill an empty board seat by appointment are expected to interview candidates at a special meeting Monday that will also be fire Chief Randy Bradley's last.


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Three applicants submitted letters of interest for the seat vacated last month by former director Frank Sperling who oversaw District 1, which includes Moraga.

The applicants are former MOFD public information officer Bob Bratton; Alameda County deputy District Attorney Kathleen Famulener and Nathan Bell, CEO of Richmond-based ContainerTrac, Inc. All are residents of Moraga.

Board members have said they will call for an election should they fail to make an appointment.

Directors are also expected to discuss exercising an option to purchase a Lafayette property on which they hope to build a new fire station, and the appointment of an interim fire chief who will replace Bradley.

Bradley's last day is Monday.

Lafayette

Smoking ordinance amendments approved

Officials this week took another look at proposed regulations that will be included in an update of the city's smoking ordinance.

The city council approved Monday adding new rules that would ban smoking inside all new multifamily units constructed after a certain date. They also greenlighted a ban on smoking inside all multifamily units upon new tenancy after a grace period.

But they rejected adding bans on smoking throughout downtown and on public sidewalks; the city currently prohibits smoking inside downtown businesses and on city-owned property.

City staff will now work on writing an updated ordinance for council adoption.

Rent control request; farmers market signs

A request by a resident that city leaders implement rent control was heard by the council this week but elected officials declined to pursue it, stating they need more information before deciding whether it makes sense in Lafayette.

City leaders also considered a request by another resident to allow the use of temporary directional signs by the organizers of the Lafayette Farmers Market. Supporters have argued the city's comprehensive sign ordinance is having a negative effect on market attendance.

After hearing from the city attorney, the council said it could not make exceptions for the farmers market that would allow them to use prohibited A-frame signs. City leaders also discussed the possibility of a special events ordinance and said the market is allowed to use two banners to advertise the market but only at the market site.

Market organizers can also advertise in windows of businesses, city staff said.

Children's class at Lafayette Community Garden

The Lafayette Community Garden is hosting a story and craft hour for children of all ages Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. The program runs through Aug. 6. The garden is located at 3932 Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

For information, visit http://lafayettecommunitygarden.org.

MORAGA

PD's 'Kid's Day' Saturday at the New Rheem

The Moraga Police Department is once again teaming with the New Rheem Theatre to sponsor a "Kids Day" from noon to 3 p.m. July 13 at the New Rheem Theatre, a fundraising event to benefit the Special Olympics Northern California.

The event will consist of a special matinee showing of the kids movie "Despicable Me" (starting at 11 a.m. for $5 per ticket), plus a festival of fun activities, including a bounce house, balloon animals and face painting, carnival games with prizes, kids fingerprinting, food, a raffle of prizes including items donated by local businesses and more. Moraga police officers will staff the activities.

Everyone is welcome. -- Jennifer Modenessi and Sam Richards

walnut creek

Bluegrass social at Ruth Bancroft Gardens

Enjoy country music and dancing until the sunsets at the Ruth Bancroft Garden's "Bluegrass, BBQ and Beer" event on Aug. 23.

The sunset social for the entire family will be set in the succulent garden. The Alhambra Valley Band play urban bluegrass and Willowstone Catering will offer BBQ along with drinks by Pyramid Brewery in Walnut Creek. The event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. and costs $15 per person. The garden is located at 1552 Bancroft Road. For reservations call 925-944-9352.

Summer concert series at Broadway Plaza

Broadway Plaza's 2013 Summer Concert Series is about to kick off. Every Thursday in July the outdoor shopping center will host free summer concert. The series will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 18, 23, and Aug. 1.

The three concerts will be held in the Stanford's Parking Lot, located next to Broadway Plaza's five-level parking structure.

Usually a jazz series, this year's concerts include different genres of music, such as R&B, the oldies and pop.

-- Jennifer Modenessi and Sam Richards