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Archive for July, 2010

Lafayette recognized for solar energy efforts

The Northern California Solar Energy Association held its NorCal City/County Solar Awards Celebration tonight to honor the cities and counties leading the way in solar energy.

The City of Lafayette was honored at the awards celebration as a result of having the third highest amount of solar energy installations per capita among small cities last year.

Contra Costa County was honored for installing the second highest amount of solar energy watts among counties.

For more information about the Northern California Solar Energy Association, visit

Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Lamorinda election filing update

Here’s an updated list of who has pulled papers for the November election. The list does not reflect all candidates who may have pulled papers today. I’ll continue to update the list as needed, so keep your Internet box thingy pointed to the Lamorinda Sun blog for all the latest news from the Lamorinda Sun Election Center.

One important distinction to make clear: If someone has pulled papers that does not mean they are running. A person becomes an official candidate when they return the papers to the city clerk’s office, or in the case of the school and fire boards, the county elections office. If a candidate’s name is listed under “filed,” that means he or she has returned his or her papers and thus is officially on the ballot.

An asterisk (*) denotes an incumbent, as well as the fact that they set the home run record in a 162-game season.

Lafayette City Council (two seats)
Pulled papers: Brandt Andersson*, Don Tatzin*

Moraga Town Council (two seats)
Pulled papers: Dave Trotter*

I’ve been told incumbent Mayor Ken Chew, who has already held his first campaign fundraising event, plans to pull papers Thursday.

Orinda City Council (three seats)
Pulled papers: Tom McCormick*, Amy Worth*, Sue Severson*, Dean Orr, Bob Larsen, Scott Zeller, Richard Newman

Orr is currently the chairman of the Planning Commission.

Acalanes Union High School District board (three seats)
Filed: Susie Epstein, Tom Mulvaney*
Pulled papers: Richard Whitmore*

Epstein was the co-chair of the Measure A campaign. Current board President Vanessa Crews just sent me an e-mail saying she is not seeking re-election and is endorsing Epstein, Mulvaney and Whitmore.

Lafayette School District board (three seats)
Pulled papers: Art Kapoor*, Theresa Gerringer*

Current board president Ann Appert has told me she is not running for re-election.

Moraga School District board (three seats)
Pulled papers: Kym Rhodes Leserman, Kathleen T. Ranstrom

One of the three seats up for re-election is current vacant.

Orinda Union School District board (three seats)
Pulled papers: Juliane Stone Rossiter, Sarah Genn Butler

Incumbents Jack Bontemps and Riki Sorenson have told me they will not run for re-election.

Moraga-Orinda Fire District board (three seats)
Pulled papers: Frank Sperling*, John Wyro*, Dick Olsen*

Olsen was appointed to the seat vacated by former Director Pete Wilson.

Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | 2 Comments »

Orinda will hold workshops on downtown plan

Orinda residents’ demands to have more input on the proposed downtown plan seem to have been heard at City Hall. The city announced today that  it will hold a series of workshops on the topic this fall.

The dates of the workshops have not yet been set and will be announced once they are determined.

The workshops will be designed to allow for greater participation by residents and more in-depth discussion of the proposals, city officials said.

“After careful consideration and based on the recent public Planning Commission meetings, the process that the city is currently going through to review the (Planning Process Review Task Force) Report recommendations for downtown is not resonating with the community,” City Manager Janet Keeter said in a statement.

The Planning Commission meeting scheduled for July 27 has been canceled to give the city time to prepare for the workshops, according to the city.

The commission has been devoting its second meeting every month exclusively to the recommendations, the most controversial of which is a proposal to increase the height limit in some parts of the downtown to 55 feet (while at the same time lowering the height limit at streetfront from 35 to 27 feet).

Residents have packed the meetings, many opposed to the changes and demanding workshops and even a voter referendum on the proposal.

You can read more about the recommendations on the city website here.

Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Under: Orinda | No Comments »

Summer concerts update

Orinda’s Summer Concerts in the Park continue tonight with the classic rock band, Stone Soup. The Orinda Idol finalists will perform a variety of songs next Tuesday, July 20. All of Orinda’s concerts are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Orinda’s Community Park.

Moraga’s Summer Concert Series continues Thursday with quite possibly the most famous band to ever grace the concert series. This Thursday’s show will feature Moonalice. Moonalice’s first album was produced by T Bone Burnett, who was nominated for the Producer of the Year award at the last Grammy Awards. The band’s second album, “Free,” is being released online only and is free for anyone to download through their website

Posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Under: Moraga, Music, Orinda | No Comments »

Lafayette property values go up as others fall

The property values in Lafayette rose an average of 0.97% from their values in 2009 to now, according to the Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office. Lafayette and El Cerrito were the only two cities in the county to see a rise in value.

While Moraga and Orinda property values both declined in the past year, they declined less than the county average. The property values in Moraga declined an average of 1.72%, while the property values in Orinda declined an average of 0.35%.

The average drop in property values for Contra Costa County was 3.4%, while some areas saw property values drop beyond 5%.

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda | No Comments »

Happy election filing month!

It’s city clerks favorite time of year. The filing period for candidates for local offices began today and continues through August 6. I’ll be keeping track of all eight jurisdictions in my beat, so keep an eye turned here at for updates on who’s running for city councils, school boards and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District.

For more information about the election, visit

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Picking fruit for charity

A group of Miramonte high school students is currently in their second year of picking fruit for local food banks. The students go around the area to homes where residents are willing to donate the extra fruit growing on their trees.

Last year, the students donated over 1,200 pounds of picked fruit during their two-month project.

If you have fruit trees and are willing to donate the fruit, email or call 925-631-6635. The volunteering students will pick the fruit and donate whatever you don’t want.

Students who would like to participate in the project are welcome and should contact the group using the same information.

Posted on Sunday, July 11th, 2010
Under: Lamorinda, Orinda, Schools | 1 Comment »

Green Screen Film Night on Tuesday

The Lafayette Town Hall Theatre will be screening the next film in Sustainable Lafayette’s Green Screen Film Nights this Tuesday, July 13. The film shown will be the documentary “Living Downstream” about the connection between cancer and the environment, narrated by Dr. Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and cancer survivor.

The film will begin at 7:00 p.m. Appetizers and wine tasting will be available before the screening, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for the screening and reception or $8 for only the screening. Students are $5. Tickets can be purchased online at Sustainable Lafayette’s website. Tickets purchased at the door are an extra $2 each.

Posted on Saturday, July 10th, 2010
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Ibrahim gets jail time

Haithem Ibrahim, 21, of Lafayette, received a sentence of 45 days in county jail and three years of probation for his part in the hazing death of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo freshman Carson Starkey in 2008.

Ibrahim was charged with misdemeanor hazing causing death, which he plead no contest to a month ago.

Ibrahim must also participate in anti-hazing education at Cal Poly as part of his sentence.

Starkey died as a result of alcohol poisoning following a party at the fraternity he was rushing, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Ibrahim and other members of the fraternity made Starkey drink a large amount of alcohol as part of their hazing.

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010
Under: Crime, Lafayette | No Comments »

Lamorinda weekend reading

Short week, slow week, highlighted by possibly the shortest regular Orinda City Council meeting in recent history. Here’s what else went down, in case you missed it:

New street signs have popped up around Lafayette directing bicyclists to the city’s bikeways.

Orinda police found a missing teen two hours after the boy punched out the window of a moving car and jumped out.

The Lafayette Book Store is moving to a new, more mobile business model.

Sad to get this news: John Hampton, a retired Marine who helped found Toys for Tots, died Sunday at the age of 104. I had interviewed Hampton for an article in the Times a couple months ago.

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Orinda | No Comments »