Home NEWS Local Scene Moragans No Longer Feeling “Semi-Rural”

Moragans No Longer Feeling “Semi-Rural”


Old Timers and veteranos remember Moraga’s orchards, chicken coops, horses clopping through town. Newbies are seeing excavators, the orchards all but gone, horses replaced by SUVs and the few chickens still around looking over their shoulder in case there’s a town inspector in the neighborhood.

In fact, the sound of clip-clopping horses ridden by singing vaqueros and hired for a local wedding some years back brought out many locals for a long, wistful last look – inspiring an almost dreamy reverie for what used to be. For many standing along St. Mary’s Road that day, the horses were a reminder that the very thing that drew them to the area in the first place – its rural appeal – is fast disappearing in the face of advancing construction and growth.

There are those who applaud the building, for whom a hillside scraped bare by excavators is the portent of new homes, tax revenue, a breath of new life in an old town.

Others, many of them those Old Timers we mentioned early on, see only the end of a way of life that lives on now only in the sales brochures, a promise of a home in a semi-rural environment free of the problems of big – or at least bigger – city life.

We said years ago that the battle lines were forming on the issue, and would no doubt harden as more excavators come, more developments planned, the roads get harder to navigate and the schools fill up with kids for whom Moraga’s rural past will only be experienced in history books. The City Ventures development along Moraga Way and other approved construction already underway has added fuel to the fire and locals, tired of merely shaking their heads as the earth movers rumble by, are taking their struggle to the people.

Some locals are canvassing the neighborhoods and organizing petition drives in an effort to scale back the development they are beginning to see today. They need 1,000 signatures and the petitioners plan to be available for people who wish to sign both before and after classes at Los Perales Elementary today, June 8.


  1. How much do they want to scale back development? How much are residents willing to pay to finance the inevitable lawsuit, which they will lose, if growth is slowed too much? It’s fine to limit growth to a reasonable pace but make sure you don’t go the path that Pleasanton did. It’s very costly.

  2. They took all the trees
    Put ’em in a tree museum
    And they charged the people
    A dollar and a half just to see ’em

  3. This story was certainly making the rounds yesterday! My neighbor was reading it when I invited myself in for our usual morning coffee. I think property owners have the right to develop their properties as they see fit but I also think that some property owners have absolutely no idea about how to go about doing that. Money will drive this market as it always has. There some (very expensive) land here and a lot of money. Look for more monster houses. But I was pleased to see that the John Muir Trust had managed to take some real estate off the market in Moraga recently. That’s the best way of preserving the land – buy it and keep it out of the hands of developers.

  4. I disagree that property owners should be able to do as they please. I know a family that lives right next to that hideous structure. I’m guessing the poor judgement of that owner probably cost them a huge amount of money. Would you want to live in the shadow of that? In the same way my right to throw a rock stops at your right to have a window. The builders and agents have done a spectacular job here of manipulating the story so that if you don’t support more development, then you are against the Constititution. Nonsense. Reminds me of how Bush and company got us into Iraq saying if you are against the US invasion, you are unAmerican. Its all about the money.

    • Morning, Nap… we’d be more than interested in hearing from the neighbor you mention and we get your point. The argument we hear most often is that the bigger homes increase the value of all nearby homes – we hear that quite a lot. But we have our doubts. Firsthand input from someone actually living in the shadow would be interesting to us. Perhaps it’s true, perhaps not. We’d like to know! Thanks for writing, as always…

  5. I probably will see them in two days for a school event — their kid knows my kid which is the relationship. I will ask them if I see them but it might be a bit late for this particular discussion.

    • Never too late for a discussion, Nap! We’d like to hear what they have to say as firsthand accounts are best. They’d be welcome to post under a nom de plume if necessary, given the situation, as long as no trash-talking is being done. It would just be great to hear what they have to say.

  6. I think having several homes in your neighborhood that are 50% bigger and nicer than your home is unambiguously positive for your property value. Having a mansion NEXT DOOR that is 500% bigger and nicer, probably does NOT increase your property value.

    The moral force of the “Pro Property Rights” crowd depends on the rights and reasonable expectations prevailing at the time the land owner bought the property. I have little sympathy for owners who speculate that they can buy land and change the rules after the fact, but fail to do so. But, reciprocally, I have a TON of sympathy for people who had a reasonable exception of a certain use (based on rules and precedent in place at time of purchase) only to have the anti-growth mob force gov’t to change the rules retroactively. The latter case feels like a “taking” to me.

    If the majority wants to strip owners of property rights, they ought to vote to increases taxes to fund compensation for those hurt by anti-development rules.

  7. I think I agree with most of that. The only debate remaining would be where to draw the lines exactly, but rather than going into details, I’d rather just be in agreement in general.

  8. Mr. News: Unfortunately I couldn’t get those parent’s opinion on the house. Only saw them briefly in a very crowded ceremony, and it did not seem right to say ‘congratulations on your kid’s graduation, how’s your house price holding up?’ Will have to wait for another day. At least I can speak for myself and there is no way I would buy next to that Ramada Inn if I had a choice. And I think those hideous mini-mansion/Ramada Inn wannabes above dog park seriously degrade the park experience there also.

    • Not a problem, Nap… we just thought it would have been interesting to get their thoughts. Funny you mention the “Moraga Ramada,” another writer used a very similar though slightly more disparaging moniker and, sadly, we knew exactly which residence they were talking about before the specific location was brought up. If you see your friends again just let them know our comment stream is always open to them – and any other user – should they wish to express an opinion. Keep rocking!

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