Funding is complete for the first phase of the Restoration of Downtown San Pablo creek and FOC has obtained all the necessary permits to begin construction this August 2022. Click here for details about the project. including which part of the creek will be restored. Special thanks goes to those recent contributors who helped us to meet this timeline, including the City of Orinda, Chevron, and Norman and Janet Pease.
The Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Committee awarded a $6,355 grant to friends of Orinda Creeks for the San Pablo Creek Restoration: Phase I Project on February 16, 2022. This generous contribution helps ensure that Friends of Orinda Creeks will complete the first San Pablo Creek habitat restoration project in downtown Orinda since the creek was channelized and concreted in 1958. Spearheaded by new board member, Suzanne Uhland, the application was well received by the Committee. The Committee receives half of the fine monies collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and distributes them to worthy habitat enhancement projects within the County. Friends of Orinda Creeks is greatful for the support, and the opportunity to dedicate these funds to the improvement of San Pablo Creek and the wildlife that depend on it!
Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan invited Friends of Orinda Creeks president Bob Stoops, Mayor Amy Worth, Vice Mayor Dennis Fay and Chamber of Commerce VP Juliet Don plus many others to the banks of San Pablo Creek to present $125,000 in State funds for the downtown creek on Nov 5, 2021. FOC initially requested the funds for restoration and trail design and a check will be issued to The City of Orinda. Click here to view the related press release issued by Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan.
Restoration of San Pablo Creek has been the vision of FOC for almost three decades. Downtown San Pablo Creek was put in a concrete straitjacket in 1958. Five years later the channel blew out in a storm leaving behind broken concrete, eroding banks, and a loss of flood protection (photo below, left.) It continued to deteriorate over the years, though riparian vegetation has managed to reestablish a foothold on the broken banks, in part due to the replanting by FOC (photo below, right.)
This gift presents a tremendous chance to make a permanent trail along the creek as we complete restoration design plans. Learn more below about our progress towards our Phase I Restoration preoject.
Years of effort are finally paying off as Friends launches the first phase of San Pablo Creek restoration in downtown Orinda reach. Having completed conceptual designs for the entire 1,400’ section of creek, Friends has now advanced final designs for a short section of creek behind the Vintage House.
Thanks to the generosity and cooperation of Contra Costa Flood Control District, and the excellent engineering design work of FlowWest Engineers, Friends has secured site control and engineering designs to conduct the first in-channel restoration of the Creek to occur since the downtown Orinda section of the creek was channelized and thoroughly destroyed in 1958.
Permit applications were submitted by Board member Michael Bowen. Final negotiations over the access agreement are being conducted, and Board member David Hop, the leading force of this effort, hopes the project will go to construction in summer 2022.
Found in this year’s budget was a delightful surprise for any friend of Orinda’s creeks. Assemblymember RBK secured $125,000 for the City of Orinda to conduct due diligence necessary to advance creek restoration and trail planning for downtown, consistent with ongoing planning efforts. This important funding has yet to be allocated, but it is sure to help Friends of Orinda Creeks and the City of Orinda work more closely and effectively together on our common vision of a restored and accessible San Pablo Creek in downtown Orinda.
In the past, volunteers at our annual creek cleanups battled poison oak, Himalayan blackberries, fallen trees and more. This year, thanks to member Tom Mackinnon, board member Tom Morehouse, and president Bob Stoops, volunteers enjoyed a beautiful walk along a cleared path extending from the BOA to Chevron. Though temporary, the trail provides an unobstructed vision of a beautiful section of creek, and an amenity for businesses located nearby. Check it out!
Chevron, a San Pablo creek side property owner, has made a second donation of $5,000 to the restoration effort. Thank you Chevron for your very generous contribution to our local creek and community.
Recognizing the need for a revitalized downtown facing a restored San Pablo Creek, the city is launching an important and ambitious planning effort known as the Downtown Precise Plan. As described in the Lamorinda Weekly, the city’s Request For Proposals (RFP) from consultants emphasizes the creek as a centerpiece of any downtown development. Friends of Orinda Creeks applauds city staff and the council for its leadership, and we look forward to continued coordination to ensure that the restoration plan under development by Friends of Orinda Creeks is incorporated into the city’s plans.
FlowWest is currently working on the hydraulic modeling required for the Next Level Design Plan. The modeling and designs should be ready for review by the City this summer.
Meanwhile, City planner Adam Foster wrote and submitted a grant application for Prop. 1 funds for creek restoration, which aims to use our 30% plan and take it to the 60% design level. Included is planning for a trail and green infrastructure. The application affirms our partnership with the City and their commitment to the project. Long-range future plans may include possible daylighting of the creek below Bank of America to the 1920 bridge.
In addition, Contra Costa County Flood Control has offered to transfer their creek lot to the City for restoration purposes. The City is starting the process of “due diligence” in order to accept the parcel.
The Restoration Project has received the official support of EBMUD. Click here to read their recent letter to Mayor Inga Miller regarding the alignment of the Downtown San Pablo Restoration Plan with EBMUD's own East Bay Watershed Master Plan which "strives to improve water quality, increase biodiversity and provide opportunities for the public to enjoy" the local watershed.
The Orinda Association's February edition of the Orinda News featured a nice column about the restoration based on an interview with Friends of Orinda Creeks' President Bob Stoops (note correct spelling) and Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary's Paul Bettelheim. You can read it by clicking here!
FlowWest out of Berkeley, CA has been selected to provide the engineering basis for a restored San Pablo Creek. FlowWest has worked on similar projects throughout California and has the experience and capability to develop what’s known as The Next Level Design Plan. This will advance the Preliminary Restoration Plan to a 30% design level and provide cost estimates for the final design, permitting and construction costs.
Importantly, the Plan will include three (3) concept level designs of creek and restoration alternatives to present to the City and adjacent property owners. Gentle meanders will most likely be a part of the final design in order to restore functionality. Click here for FlowWest's Example Design and here for their full proposal.
Friends of Orinda Creeks has released a request for proposals to advance the Preliminary Restoration Plan for San Pablo Creek (2001) to a 30% Design Plan. Design details at the 30% level shall:
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.”
The ULI report concluded “San Pablo Creek represents a huge opportunity for downtown…San Pablo Creek could someday become a defining feature of Orinda.”
FOC presented the Preliminary Restoration Plan for San Pablo Creek to the Orinda City Council in October 2001. The council voted to support the plan and to work with FOC in their implementation efforts.
A preliminary restoration plan for San Pablo Creek was commissioned by Friends of Orinda Creeks and funded by EBMUD in conjunction with the California Regional Water Board SEP program in July, 2001.
The Plan was developed by an engineer and hydrologist with Water Resources Institute (WRI). They used historical documents to calculate channel dimensions (capacity), equilibrium channel slope, valley slope and meander ratios with the goal of recreating a natural channel that is stable and provides increased flood control. The plan also included a creekside path and native revegetation.
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