Where is San Pablo Creek?

          The headwaters of San Pablo Creek are in the Glorietta area.  It is joined by tributaries (the largest being Lauterwasser Creek) as it flows through Orinda, to San Pablo Reservoir and eventually out to the Bay.  Those going about their daily business in downtown Orinda are not likely to be aware of the creek because it enters a concrete culvert at Camino Encinas and flows under Moraga Way and Highway 24.  It emerges on the Orinda Village side behind the Chevron station and from there it flows above ground behind Orinda Way businesses and past the post office for approximately 1400 feet.  This is the section prime for restoration though currently one must visit the rear parking lots of businesses along Orinda Way and peer through cyclone fences in order to see it.  The creek then goes underground again under the Safeway parking lot and, except for a brief peek behind Phairs (Ave. de Orinda), is not visible until it reemerges under the old bridge over Orinda Way near Camino Pablo.  Click Here for a map of San Pablo Creeks and its major tributaries.

What exactly is creek restoration?

           Typically, creek restoration reestablishes natural creek hydrologic function and habitat enhancement along with traditional engineering goals of flood control and bank stabilization.  Restoration activities may range from removal of concrete, which inhibits natural stream function, to installation of green infrastructure such as permeable paving and swales to retard runoff.  Channel alterations  (sinuosity and slope) can aid the dissipation of energy and increase volume for high flows. Imagine a stream full of fish and amphibians, the stream winding through an ecosystem, meandering naturally.  Click here to read Wikipedia's article on Creek restoration.

Why Restore San Pablo Creek?

          San Pablo Creek runs adjacent to the downtown Orinda village between Chevron and Safeway. As a year-round creek it provides a natural opportunity to turn an unsightly, degraded water way into a significant community amenity by restoring the creek’s former beauty and ecological function.

          By restoring the creek and integrating it with a revitalized downtown, it will draw patrons to the area and encourage residents to interact with local businesses and nature. Employing San Pablo Creek to establish a connection between the surrounding recreational trails and downtown will impart the healthy lifestyle that appeals to residents and visitors to our community. 

          Businesses will embrace the creek instead of (literally) turning their backs on it: imagine a busy café beside a sparkling brook and a natural corridor connecting Bart, the Community Center and hiking trails.

Does the City of Orinda support Restoration?

           Yes! In October 2001 the Orinda City Counil voted to approve the Preliminary Restoration Plan.  Moreover, Section 2.1 (Development) of the City General Plan states: “Encourage property owners to make more intensive use of the San Pablo Creek sides of buildings...with public access parallel to the creek. ” and ”enhance and preserve San Pablo Creek with landscaping, pathways and other pedestrian amenities, consistent with its primary purpose as flood control.” In addition, City has assigned staff to work with Friends of Orinda Creeks on Restoration and its integration with the Downtown Revitalization Plan.

Is the Orinda Community in favor of Restoration?

           Yes!  Based on stakeholder interviews conducted in 2017, ULI - an outside consulting firm tasked with providing expert, multidiscipline advice and recommendations to Orinda regarding the future of Downtown Orinda – uncovered strong community interest in integrating San Pablo Creek into the planning of downtown Orinda and “converting the creek into a usable community asset.” ULI went on to say: “San Pablo Creek represents a huge opportunity for downtown.”



What about Flooding?

            Currently the damaged channel with its reduced capacity provides very limited flood control in heavy rain storms when runoff is high. Flooding has occurred in the past behind Safeway, Bank of America and the Vintage House. An engineering study done for the City in the 1990’s indicated the channel is inadequate for its design capacity. A correctly engineered restoration would increase the flood control capacity of the creek. 

What will the 30% Design Plan cost and when will it be completed?

          The Next Level Design Plan will cost approximately $53K and we have raised approximately $20K to date.  We plan to start the first phase of the 30% Design Plan in December 2018 and produce the final report by the end of 2019.  This phase will provide a topographical survey, data review, design and hydraulic modeling to maximize flood protection and to obtain agency approval. The findings will be presented to the City. Once this “30% Design” phase is complete we will qualify for state restoration funds. Private donations are also important for obtaining matching grants during this phase. Click Here for more info about progress on the the design plan.