Orinda residents pave roads themselves

August 19, 2010 12:24:38 AM PDT
Out of 100 Bay Area cities, the affluent East Bay community of Orinda consistently ranks at the bottom for road conditions. Paving projects simply are not a top priority in an era of budget cuts. So, residents there are taking it upon themselves to pave the road in front of their homes.

There are tons of rough roads in Orinda, pitted with potholes and crumbling asphalt. But Crestview Drive in Orinda may soon be getting a facelift because residents who live along it are raising money, first through a garage sale and now, homeowners are being asked to kick in $1,000 each.

"I'm not happy about it of course, but in order to get anything done around here, we got to do it," says Orinda resident Mike Conley.

In fact, one resident resorted to taking bags of asphalt out of her trunk and filling in the potholes herself until the city stopped her. That's when she came up with this idea of "Pay to Pave."

"This is the neighborhood initiated road repair policy," says Public Works Director Chuck Swanson.

This week the city council's new policy permits neighborhoods to raise the funds while the city does the paving on their behalf.

"Our policy right now says if they can raise 50 percent of the estimated project cost, then we're going to turn it into a more detailed project. We'll do final design drawings, final estimates, and then put it out to bid," says Swanson.

Re-paving a two-lane residential street runs around $95 a foot.

"We're setting an example for the rest of Orinda because we don't have, through the city, enough funds to pave our streets so that people have to step up and pay for it themselves," says Orinda resident Bob Mills.

Some residents say they can't afford to Pay to Pave. Contributions are voluntary, but several other neighborhoods are looking to follow suit.

"You're asking people to make repairs to a road that in many respects should be a local government responsibility," says Swanson.

Officials say the new policy isn't exactly a desperate measure, but it certainly isn't desirable either -- it's just the only option that seems to work for now.


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