Home NEWS Government MORAGA: The Lawsuit As Cudgel, Locals Question Town Center Development

MORAGA: The Lawsuit As Cudgel, Locals Question Town Center Development

Signs of growth in Moraga have residents concerned.

Lately, a “Develop – and Carry a Big (Legal) Stick” mentality appears to have emerged as the strategy of choice as developers – and some homeowners – deal with obstreperous small-town governments and citizen groups opposed to the development in question.

The threat of a lawsuit, a scary prospect for cities and towns unable to afford a prolonged legal skirmish, is being increasingly brandished by developers and some homeowners intent on bringing their vision of the future to The Numbers.

Where “We’ll see you in court” may have been the parting verbal shot fired during a contentious planning department or city council hearing, the legalistic broadside of “We’re seeking any and all relief” has recently been fired at civic groups, government agencies and local governments who express opposition to proposed construction.

Lawyers for City Ventures, LLC, a development company in Newport Beach, earlier this month raised the possibility of legal action after encountering resistance to their plans to build on a bare patch of ground adjacent to Station 41 on Moraga Way. Their “Big Stick” was directed at MOFD after the district raised concerns about building a residential housing development next to its fire station and training center.

Moraga Center Town Homes, as the project is known, had met with initial approval from town planners and design review commissioners and appeared headed for groundbreaking – until the project’s story poles went up and residents began to question the project’s scale and impact.

A citizen’s group filed a formal appeal citing their concerns with the project – namely its height and mass, what the group believes are inadequate setbacks from the street, potential traffic impact on the surrounding area, and what they say is negative impact on the Moraga Way Scenic Corridor.

The Moraga-Orinda Fire District also questioned the wisdom of putting homes next to a training center known for its night drills, hissing hose and hydraulic lines, and other noisy offshoots of firefighter training. In a 2008 letter from the district to the town, MOFD stated flatly: “The station’s operation and noise may not be compatible with the proposed residential use.”
All parties are expected for a final Town Council hearing on the Moraga Center Town Homes appeal, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Joaquin Moraga Middle School auditorium.

We’ll see what happens, and how big a stick the prospect of a lawsuit really is, on Wednesday.


  1. A timely letter to the Editor of the Lamorinda Weekly just raised concerns about the increase in traffic flooding Orinda. So add to that the plans for other housing developments, add that the council wants to turn the Hacienda into a hotel, add that they want to put two traffic roundabouts within feet of each other at the end of Rheem, and add that I’m still stunned that after neighbors to St. Mary’s complained about the dramatic night-time increase in noise and lights from their athletic fields, the council apologized to St. Mary’s that there had been complaints. Is there some way we can petition to have Lafayette annex Moraga and run it as part of Lafayette?

  2. In the context of community relations, I can’t really see the developers suing the local fire department as a beneficial PR gesture.

    If that scenario develops, and there’s a legal fund for MOFD (or anyone else caught in the litigious crossfire), please let me know where to send some fat checks.

  3. It sure seems to be the way things are getting done right now. The Wight House in Lafayette the terraces in Lafayette, or whatever that is being called now. If you can’t pass city and community review – sue. I thought the ridges were protected.

  4. So I looked into the annexation issue for Lafayette or Orinda to acquire Moraga, and there is a set of procedures set up with the unfortunate acronym LAFCO, Local Agency Formation Commission.
    Now, I do not have the resources to do much with this, but perhaps someone in Lafayette government might read this and think about it. Do you guys really want this tsunami of cars to hit you with all of this development? Are you aware of how unhappy many Moragans are with their civic leaders? Show some vision. Reach out. You might be surprized.

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