WHAT'S UP DOWNTOWN was formed by a handful of young families who have chosen Orinda as the ideal place to plant roots and raise our kids.
Many of us grew up in Orinda. Most of us moved here from urban areas where we enjoyed neighborhood conveniences, yet sought better schools and a slower pace of life. All of us appreciate Orinda's charm, but know it can be even better. We welcome involvement from all Orinda residents. (And, just in case you'e wondering, we are not affiliated with any particular developer or political group).
5 Years in Orinda
"After meeting at Cal a million years ago, my husband -- who grew up in Lafayette -- and I spent what he refers to as a "nine year exile" on the East Coast. Its funny how so many of his friends have returned to Lamorinda. As much as I loved living in fabulous cities like Manhattan, there was never any question that we would end up in this area when the time came to choose a place to raise our family. I can remember telling a friend with whom I went to Cal that we were moving to Orinda and he said "I remember Orinda. It's one of those leafy suburbs on the other side of the tunnel." I think that's a nice description of our town. What better place to be? I love Orinda and I want to see it reach its fullest potential: Let's work together to improve on a great thing."
Raised in Orinda, moved back in 2008
"I loved growing up in Orinda and have many happy memories of eating pancakes with my grandpa at the diner in the current Coldwell Banker building, devouring milkshakes at Loards, and going on grocery runs with my mom to Blacks Market. I’ve lived in Boulder, New York City, Cambridge, and San Francisco, but when it came time to raise my own family, I wanted to be back in my hometown. Yet my Orinda pride only stretches so far: our downtown aesthetic and the types of businesses we have need improving."
3 years in Orinda
"Having grown up in Lafayette, I always knew that Lamorinda is a friendly, community-oriented place to raise a family - which is why we decided to move to Orinda after 12 years in San Francisco. I enlisted some help from my 5-year old to explain why Orinda has become such a magical place for my family. He said he likes to "go to the toy store, Orinda Community Park and get Loard’s with Grammie and PopPop.” I too love these special places where we feel a strong sense of community. I also know that we can enhance our downtown experience by improving our “main streets” with thoughtful planning for a revitalized setting that encourages walkability, more social interaction and an even greater sense of community."
Raised in Orinda, Moved back in 2011
"I have lived in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Paris and Oakland, but my fondest memories are of growing up in Orinda. My husband, also from Orinda, and I never had any doubt that we would raise our kids in the very town we grew up in. While the schools, the local community, and having lots of family nearby have lived up to our expectations, the downtown falls short. I love the idea of not just shopping locally and supporting small businesses, but also having a town center that invites families and friends to gather, stroll, and socialize. I am hopeful that a downtown Orinda restoration will appeal to the pride and nostalgia of new and long-time residents."
4 Years in Orinda
"I had the opportunity to live overseas growing up, with stints in Saudi Arabia and Austria, and was fortunate to travel extensively during my childhood. However, when it was time to raise my own three kids, my husband and I knew we wanted small town community and small town charm. We found that here in Orinda. We both had lived in the Bay Area before, but not in such a unique and charming community. I love everything about this town. I love our schools, our park, our local shops, our community, our location. I try and shop local ...but I think we really can improve downtown's offerings. It continues to baffle me that I need to leave town for most of my errands. I envision an Orinda Way that sports a gourmet market, a fun coffee shop, and a gathering place for all ages."
6 years in Orinda
"My husband was raised in Orinda and we moved out from the city in 2009. We love living here. In fact, we'd like to spend more time and money in Orinda - currently we have to go to Lafayette for just about everything. Given the booming economy all around us and Orinda's demographics, it's amazing we don't have more good stuff to choose from. I hope that with community involvement we can build on a great thing and make downtown wonderful."
11 Years in Orinda
"My husband and I are transplants from Southern California, and while living in San Francisco, we heard Orinda was an excellent place to raise our family. We trekked over the bridge and through the tunnel one weekend for a visit...and fell in love! Shortly after that, we bought a house and moved to the Glorietta neighborhood with our baby. We now have four children, ages 11, 10, 8 and 6. We feel blessed to have discovered and become a part of such a wonderful community. However, we consistently lament that our downtown areas do not reflect the quality and charm of our special town. I look forward to the day when Orinda can offer the shopping, socializing and dining experience that I currently am only able to find in neighboring towns."
7 years in Orinda
"When it came time to leave San Francisco, my husband Craig and I knew we wanted to raise our family in Orinda. Craig spent most of his childhood here and has shared many fond memories of growing up here. One of the things that continues to confuse me about our beloved city is the stark contrast between the high demand for Orinda housing and schools, and the utter lack of amenities available to the residents to keep the economy and infrastructure of our city strong. It's time to figure out how we can help encourage new businesses to view Orinda as a viable place to set up shop, and help those business owners who have already done so to prosper and stay! "