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What are your top stories for 2010?

We’ve got our list of the top Lamorinda stories in 2010. You can read it here. But we’re interested in your thoughts. What do you think made the biggest news this year? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Under: election, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Roads, Schools, Sports | No Comments »

Table 24 co-owner talks valet parking

I was unable to connect yesterday with Table 24 co-owner Michael Karp for my article about valet parking in downtown Orinda, but I spoke with him for a few minutes this morning about the restaurant’s plans.

Table 24 is talking with parking companies, including Douglas Parking, which manages the Theatre Square parking garage, Karp said, and hopes to begin offering valet service in a couple of weeks.

The restaurant would validate its customers’ parking tickets to give them a discount on valet service, Karp said, and is open to partnering with other downtown businesses to share the cost. The city’s policy requires valet service be available to anybody, regardless of where they plan to shop or dine.

“We’re excited to sponsor (the valet) and to manage it and to have it as an added amenity to downtown Orinda,” Karp said. “We think that we’re part of  hopefully a growth or the next steps in what it’s going to take to develop that downtown retail comm, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

And for the record, the valet parking policy is to allow for the use of city streets for the valet service. As several pointed out at last week’s council meeting, Casa Orinda offers valet parking to its customers, but does so on-site and thus does not require a permit to do so.

Posted on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
Under: Orinda, Restaurants, Roads | No Comments »

Christmas traffic in Lamorinda

The Lamorinda area experienced some major traffic on Christmas, as Highway 24 backed up in the eastbound direction.

According to the California Highway Patrol, two cars collided on eastbound Highway 24, near the Acalanes Road exit, around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Both cars experienced major damage, and there was at least one injury reported.

The two right lanes were blocked on eastbound Highway 24 as a result of the accident and backed up traffic. The lanes were reopened by 4:00 p.m., and the traffic soon subsided.

The weather, particularly the rain, also played  a part in creating holiday traffic in the area.

Posted on Sunday, December 26th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Roads | No Comments »

Lamorinda week (ish) in review: It’s a Festivus miracle!

festivusCouple of items from this week and a little from last week. If you’ve got a problem with that, save it for the airing of grievances.

The Lafayette council finalizes $500,000 in budget reductions. They also talk a lot about the sidewalks by CVS/Diablo Foods/Trader Joe’s.

Burton Valley homeowners appeal the Planning Commission’s rejection of their second-story addition.

A woman was pinned by a car at the Lafayette post office Tuesday.

Longtime Orinda teacher Sue Johnson dies.

Lamorinda’s new mayors say roads are a big priority for 2011.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Christmas weekend!

Posted on Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Roads | No Comments »

Lafayette council notes LIVE!

It’s cupcake night in Lafayette.

Carl Anduri was appointed the city’s mayor, replacing Brandt Andersson. Carol Federighi was appointed vice mayor. Andersson was sworn into his second term on the council. Don Tatzin was sworn into his 1,356th term (roughly).

Council is now discussing the final 2010-11 budget, including about $500,000 in cuts.

Council members and staff (and reporters!) have been here since 4:30 p.m., when the council began discussion potential “streetscape” (don’t call it a sidewalk upgrade, says city engineer Tony Coe) improvements along Mt. Diablo Boulevard between Oak Hill Road and Mountain View.

Pretty much all of the debate centered on the south side of Mt. Diablo between Mountain View and Dewing. The property owners of the shopping center worried, among other things, that a proposed wall — designed to better separate the pedestrians on the sidewalk from the parking lot — would negatively impact their parking lots. And a number of residents were worried about a proposal to ban U-turns on westbound Mt. Diablo at Happy Valley.

The council directed staff to move ahead with designing the improvements for everywhere but the aforementioned section. On that section, they asked staff to come back with more barrier options as well as more options for the Mt. Diablo/Happy Valley intersection.

Timing is important on this project, Coe said, because the city must have the design approved by the beginning of February in order to be eligible for some $1.3 million in federal grants.

Posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Roads | No Comments »

Mt. Diablo Boulevard sidewalks getting upgrade

UPDATE 12/13: Per City Engineer Tony Coe, the city will spend $350,000 from its downtown streetlights replacement reserve fund to meet its matching funds requirement.

The sidewalks in Lafayette are going to get a whole lit more spiffy. The city has won a $1.2 million federal Transportation for Livable Communities grant to upgrade the sidewalks on Mt. Diablo Boulevard between Lafayette Circle/Oak Grove Road and Mountain View Drive.

The grant will pay for the removal of the old concrete sidewalks and replace them with brick paving. The design will also include stone planters, street furniture, decorative billboards, Victorian-style street lights and public art.

Portions of the street, in front of the Lafayette Mercantile Building as well as the Town Centre shops across the street, already have some of those improvements. The new sidewalks will replicate much of what is already in place, said City Manager Steven Falk.

“It will provide a little more integration and coherence to the downtown,” Falk said.

The city hopes to finalize the project design shortly after the first of the year and have construction begin sometime next summer, he said.

The City Council will receive an overview of the plan at a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Lafayette library.

Posted on Monday, December 6th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Roads | 1 Comment »

Repaving work in downtown Orinda on Saturday

Orinda is speeding up its repaving project along Moraga Way and Bryant Way in response to requests from downtown business owners and residents, according to the city.

Assistant to the City Manager Monica Pacheco just sent out a news release with details of what will be going on and how to navigate the downtown.

The work will take place on Saturday along Moraga Way and Bryant Way, weather permitting.

They’ll start with the section of Bryant Way and Moraga Way from the Highway 24 on-ramp to the Moraga Way/Brookwood Road intersection. To get to eastbound Highway 24, use Northwood Drive and Davis Road.

The second phase will be along Moraga Way from Brookwood to Camino Pablo. Use Camino Pablo and Brookwood to get to eastbound Highway 24.

All day parking restrictions will be in place, according to the city, and pedestrian access to the entire downtown will be available during construction.

Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010
Under: Orinda, Roads | No Comments »

Orinda candidates run into state sign laws

UPDATE #2: Orinda City Clerk Michele Olsen said she called Caltrans about signs along the freeway after receiving about 10 complaints from residents about the signs.

Candidates for public office sign a document when they file saying they will not place campaign signs on Caltrans land, Olsen said.

The city does not enforce freeway campaign sign regulations, she said, but will report violations to Caltrans when there are complaints. She said she has also given out Caltrans’ phone number to some residents, so its feasible the department received some direct calls from Orindans.

This all being said, who reports the violation is in some ways a moot point. State law prohibits campaign signs alongside landscaped freeways. Thus, if a sign is on the freeway, it is in violation of the law and anyone — the city, a resident — has a right to complain about it.

The problem for candidates is it’s difficult to tell where the freeway ends and city roads begins. Caltrans Regional Director Robert Songey acknowledged it’s a complicated issue. So the question then becomes, who is responsible for educating candidates about where signs are and are not allowed? The city? Caltrans? Or do candidates have the responsibility to educate themselves?

UPDATE: Tyson Krumholz said the Caltrans representative he spoke with told him the city called twice about signs near the freeway. Waiting to hear back from the city on this.

Orinda won’t enforce it’s sign regulations (or at least those pertaining to campaign signs) but that doesn’t mean Caltrans won’t.

That’s the lesson local candidates learned when they discovered signs they had placed at the corner of Camino Pablo and the Highway 24 west offramp had been removed.

But the city didn’t take the signs down; the state Department of Transportation did.

Here’s a picture provided by Orinda school board candidate Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert of the signs at the Caltrans facility in Walnut Creek.

CalTrans candidate signs cropped.pjg

The partially obscured green sign is for Orinda council candidate Scott Zeller. I’m not sure who belongs to the slogan, “Less Talk, More Action.”

According to California Business and Professions Code article 8 section 5440:

… no advertising display may be placed or maintained on property adjacent to a section of a freeway that has been landscaped if the advertising display is designed to be viewed primarily by persons traveling on the main-traveled way of the landscaped freeway.

State law defines “landscaped freeway” as one that has been improved on at least one side with trees, plants or other vegetation. There are exceptions to the no sign rule, but none of them apply to campaign signs.

How are candidates to tell what falls under Caltrans jurisdiction? The freeway right-of-way will be delineated by a fence, said Regional Manager Robert Songey. Signs cannot be inside of that fence or attached to the fence, he said.

In the Orinda case, Songey said, Caltrans responded to a complaint from an Orinda resident. But he said Caltrans workers will also take down signs if they’re working in an area and notice them, and are especially vigilant during campaign seasons.

Orinda school board candidate Tyson Krumholz said the city should provide more information about where city land ends and state land begins.

“Where that starts and stops, the city should truly define that so CalTrans doesn’t have to waste its time,” he said.

Posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
Under: Orinda, Roads | No Comments »

Tracy man says medical condition led to fatal 2007 Lafayette collision

David Caspillo is charged with felony vehicular manslaughter in the death of Walnut Creek resident Dale Zenor. Read the full story here.

Posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Under: Crime, Lafayette, Roads | No Comments »

Drill, baby, drill

Here’s Denis Cuff’s story from this morning about the tunneling getting under way on the Caldecott fourth bore.

And here’s the nifty video the CCT shot of the occasion:

Posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
Under: Orinda, Roads | 1 Comment »