ORINDA -- A historic adobe believed to be Contra Costa County's oldest residential structure will be restored, following years of vandalism that has left the vacant building marked with graffiti and stripped of the brass plaques designating it a historical landmark.

But instead of transforming the Joaquin Moraga Adobe into a museum, as suggested by a group of Moraga and Orinda residents, its owners have decided to move forward with a plan to use the structure as a recreation center for residents of a future subdivision surrounding the site.

In October, the Orinda planning commission will take a look at plans to place 13 lots on a 20-plus acre site owned by Danville-based developers J & J Ranch. Commissioners were scheduled Tuesday to consider granting a tentative map approval of a major subdivision and a tree removal permit for the project, which would allow the adobe to remain on a 39,254 square foot "common space area" at the center of the development. However, that hearing was canceled after the property owners asked for a continuance.

In addition to the single-family home sites, the project includes two roadways, a bio-retention basin and several paths. It also calls for a raised boardwalk, underground utilities and landscaping. Additionally, a nearly-8-acre stretch of open space would serve to buffer the site from the nearby Del Rey Elementary School, the Lavenida Lane subdivision and existing homes, according to city data.


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In July, members of the group Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe told the city council they would like to see the historic building owned by a public or nonprofit organization, and said they envision it as a museum and learning center focusing on the California rancho and land-grant era. They outlined restoration and funding of the adobe, and Moraga resident and town council member David Trotter said it would be a "travesty" if the adobe remained in private ownership as a homeowner's association meeting room.

Orinda council members took no action at that meeting and suggested that the Friends reinitiate a conversation with the developers about the adobe's use. In the meantime, planner Emmanuel Ursu said the city would process the developers' application.

The continued hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9.

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