Moraga’s Rural Character Needs Protection

The Oakland Tribune

The Oakland Tribune

Beck Chambers and Samuel Ganten

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Development: It brings congestion, environmental damage, and homogenization. As a town resident for 15 years, I hate to see construction in places that were once open and free.

Our community of 16,000 is already straining the natural environment in which it is nestled.  The hilly terrain allows for only so much roadway infrastructure, and traffic during the morning and afternoon rush hours is already intolerable. More home building will only intensify this problem.

There are no roads in our hamlet wider than 2 lanes. Existing property lines do not allow for expansion. Simple math tells us that more cars on the same roadways means greater congestion. But there are other problems too.

The idyllic town I grew up in is disappearing. Replacing it are cookie-cutter houses and chain stores.

The countryside ranch land was once owned by Joaquin Moraga. Moraga founded a small and friendly community that was understanding of nature’s value. There were cows and crops of signature pear trees in abundance. This vision is no more.

According to the Town of Moraga’s Planning Department, 10 new projects have been approved since 2010. In the short span of 8 years, the floodgates have opened. Our town’s leadership is so focused on increasing tax revenue and encouraging business that it has forgotten its obligations to the people that already live in the town.

The proposed housing development threatens the serenity that once embodied the spirit of this town. Once, the golden hills of the wild called to me– they now are silent. “McMansions” now litter the landscape where wildlife was once bountiful and the sun shined brightly. Even if development brings economic prosperity, it will continue to cost us our spiritual well-being.

The current direction of our community is killing species, making the landscape ugly, and making the town totally indistinguishable from other suburban communities.

An example of this decline is the housing project on Rheem Blvd. The developers had to tear up the soil and kill the indigenous plant life to make the area suitable for building. And what are they building? The same generic housing we see across the region and the state.

Every time a new project is approved, Moraga loses more of its unique rural character and becomes like every other suburb. Approval for additional housing projects should be paused. More land should be allocated to our parks and to wildlife trusts.

I am not opposed to maintenance of our current infrastructure. But all our decisions need to be thoughtful, well debated, and dedicated to preserving the spirit of our community. If a plan violates these reasonable principles, then we must reject the plan.

Campolindo students can, if they are of age, vote for councilmen that agree with protecting the environment.  They can also protest against new projects, and attend planning meetings in order to force the leadership to listen to the needs of the town. When students speak out, the government must listen.

In my life, I have been concerned by the rampant and irresponsible development I have seen from London to the Dominican Republic. These places have lost their unique identity, their nature, and their spirit.  Moraga is currently headed in the same direction. Moragans must reject the culture of development and embrace the identity that our city’s founder envisioned

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