My Position on Moraga’s Future
I have lived in Moraga for almost 20 years and in that time have served as a Town Council member and planning commissioner, as a coach of a variety of youth sports, and as a volunteer in our elementary, middle, and high schools. The affection I have for this Town has only grown stronger over the years, and is what led me to seek my position on the Moraga Town Council two years ago. I see my primary responsibilities as a Council member to be to do my homework thoroughly, to listen openly to public input, and to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of the Town as a whole. Based on my experience in the community and on the Town Council, I see the Council’s priorities to be as follows:
Our residents’ tax dollars should be spent carefully and wisely, particularly in these times when once-reliable revenue streams are uncertain and many are feeling economically insecure. We must be both transparent and accountable to our citizens. Over the past two years, the Town has tightened the fiscal reins, by, among other things, reducing reliance on costly consultants, identifying opportunities for and implementing expense reductions, bidding jointly on projects and sharing services with Orinda and/or Lafayette to achieve cost savings, and obtaining grant funding from outside sources for planning and public works projects. We should look for opportunities to further sharpen our pencils. And as we determine our funding needs, we should prioritize must-have projects over nice-to-have projects and, in so doing, address the Town’s immediate needs while also positioning ourselves for the future.
Moragans share a love for our undisturbed hillsides and ridgelines and our abundant open space. We moved here, and have stayed here, because of our Town’s semi-rural feel. There are unavoidable pressures from the State and elsewhere to continue to grow our housing stock. But by faithfully adhering to the Moraga General Plan and the Town’s rules that implement it, we can continue to welcome new families to our community while leaving untouched our hillsides, ridgelines and views. Any further development should focus on in-fill areas and be done in a way that does not create unmanageable traffic problems, compromise fire safety, or otherwise undermine the look and feel of this community.
We can have a vibrant retail environment without sacrificing our semi-rural character. There are at least two ways to do this. First, we can continue to improve the Town’s approval processes that in the past may have deterred and frustrated both prospective and existing businesses. We’ve recently simplified commercial land use regulations, the approval process for new businesses, and our sign ordinance. These initiatives were well-received by our business community. We should and can continue removing unnecessary hurdles to businesses while preserving the Town’s ability to enforce the letter and spirit of Moraga’s General Plan and design guidelines. Second, we should continue to implement the plan to create at the Moraga Center a vibrant live/work/shop community that blends harmoniously into our Town and offers amenities that our residents seek. This will not only be a convenience for Moragans, it will also allow the Town to capture sales tax revenue that would otherwise go elsewhere.
Expect the best, prepare for the worst. Repeated wildfires and power outages make us acutely aware of our challenges in the event of a catastrophic emergency. But the swift and effective responses of the community, MOFD, and Moraga Police Department to the recent Merrill and Buckingham fires showed how collaboration, planning and cooperation can protect us as a community. As the fire safety landscape changes, and based on our experience to date, we should continue to invest in the tools that our safety officers require, in communication and planning, and in encouraging and supporting neighborhood preparation and coordination.
We value drivable roads, safe crosswalks, attractive parks and Town amenities such as the library and Hacienda. Through grant funding, judicious use of local sales tax revenues, and careful planning and construction management, the condition of our roads has improved dramatically over the last few years. Recently, we have improved crosswalks on Moraga Road and near Joaquin Moraga Middle School to keep our schoolchildren and other pedestrians safe. We have also managed to handle our most urgent infrastructure needs, such as declaring as a nuisance and repairing a sinkhole on private gas station property, repairing and replacing Town equipment and facilities, maintaining our public storm drains, and improving our parks. To do so, we’ve had to identify all available sources of money and rigorously prioritize our immediate needs over projects that can wait. The need for a disciplined and thoughtful approach to investing our limited resources is more acute today than it was yesterday, and will be even more important tomorrow.
We enjoy the benefits of living in a community of informed, attentive, and civic-minded citizens. Community input and engagement improves the Town’s decision-making. And community input depends on our citizens getting good and current information about what’s going on in the Town. Transparency to the public has been a fundamental guiding principle in the Council’s decision-making process over the past few years. We’ve also provided the community with tools, such as Mobile Moraga and a revamped Town website, to make it easier in real time to learn about what our government is doing and to provide comments to Town staff and the Council. Likewise, the Council should welcome, and truly hear, what the community has to say. We should continue not only to invite citizen input but to treat it with dignity, respect, and an open mind.
We are fortunate to live in a Town where kids can bicycle to the park and families can walk their dogs at night. We also are united in a commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community, such as our elderly and our youth. Although the Council as a body typically does not have the opportunity to address directly issues of racial discrimination, economic inequality, bullying of LGBTQ+ youth, and other injustices, the Council can encourage and support efforts in our Town to address bias and inequity, and the Council itself can lead by example: by celebrating difference, treating everyone with respect, and speaking out when our community is tangibly affected by expressions of bigotry or intolerance in our Town or beyond.
These are the primary principles that I believe should guide the Council’s work. I welcome your thoughts and comments. And I would be honored to receive your vote so that I can continue to work tirelessly to preserve and protect all that we treasure and celebrate about this Town.