Orinda, California

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City of Orinda
The hills of Orinda
The hills of Orinda
Location in Contra Costa County and the state of California
Location in Contra Costa County and the state of California
City of Orinda is located in the US
City of Orinda
City of Orinda
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 37°52′58″N 122°10′47″W / 37.88278°N 122.17972°W / 37.88278; -122.17972Coordinates: 37°52′58″N 122°10′47″W / 37.88278°N 122.17972°W / 37.88278; -122.17972
CountryUnited States
CountyContra Costa
IncorporatedJuly 1, 1985[1]
 • MayorDean Orr[2]
 • State SenatorSteve Glazer (D)[3]
 • State AssemblyCatharine Baker (R)[4]
 • U. S. CongressMark DeSaulnier (D)[5]
 • Total12.87 sq mi (33.33 km2)
 • Land12.85 sq mi (33.29 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.04 km2)  0.12%
Elevation495 ft (151 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total17,643
 • Estimate (2016)[7]19,470
 • Density1,514.82/sq mi (584.86/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code94563
Area code(s)925
FIPS code06-54232
GNIS feature IDs1659313, 2411334

Orinda is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 17,643 at the 2010 census, and was estimated in 2012 to have increased to 18,342. In 2012, Orinda was ranked the second most friendly town in America by Forbes.[8] The city is located just east of the city of Berkeley and is home to many affluent suburban professionals who commute to larger cities in the Bay Area such as Oakland, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek. Its location provides for a more rustic landscape, and Orinda's many parks and trails make it a destination for many Bay Area hikers and naturalists.


Present-day Orinda is located within four Mexican land grants: Rancho Laguna de los Palos Colorados, Rancho Acalanes, Rancho El Sobrante and Rancho Boca de la Cañada del Pinole. The area was originally rural, mainly known for ranching and summer cabins. In the late 19th century, the land was named by Alice Marsh Cameron, probably in honor of the poet Katherine Philips, who was also known as the "Matchless Orinda".[9]

In the 1880s, the United States Surveyor General for California, Theodore Wagner, built an estate which he named Orinda Park.[10] The Orinda Park post office opened in 1888.[10] The post office's name was changed to Orinda in 1895.[10] Orinda was also the site of Bryant Station, a stop on the failed California and Nevada Railroad around the turn of the 20th century. In later times, the area around Bryant Station was known as Orinda Crossroads.[10]

Orinda's popularity as a year-round residence grew after the 1937 completion of the Caldecott Tunnel, which provided easier access to the west. Bisected by California State Route 24 and framed by its rolling oak-covered hills, the city of Orinda was incorporated on July 1, 1985. Its first mayor was Richard G. Heggie. The city has a station on the Antioch–SFO/Millbrae line of the Bay Area Rapid Transit.

While Orinda is marketed as a quaint and quiet ‘semi-rural’ city just outside of Oakland and Berkeley, there are significant issues with noise from leaf blowing and construction. With the "semi-rural" topography of rolling hills, the sound is inescapable as it echoes throughout the neighborhoods. There was an attempt made to ban leaf blowing beginning in 2010 with ”Quiet Orinda”, which was covered in a feature article titled, "Blowback" by The New Yorker magazine. [11] A group of residents sought to ban the use of leaf blowers citing the terrible noise and harmful effects to the environment from the exhaust.

Despite strong citizen support, the Orinda City Council refused to enact a ban on leaf blowers in 2010. The "Quiet Orinda" group attempted to seek a compromise in 2011[12], but the Council refused to make changes with the Councilwoman Amy Worth telling the San Jose Mercury News ,“We spent a significant amount of time reviewing (the leaf blower issue), hearing testimony last year, and I guess my position remains the same...I think we worked very hard several years ago to craft a noise ordinance that sought to seek a compromise between the various perspectives.”[13] In fact the Council did little to address the issue and limit use, allowing leaf blowers to be used Monday-Saturday from 8AM-6PM. 


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.7 square miles (33 km2), of which 12.7 square miles (33 km2) of it is land and 0.015 square miles (0.039 km2) of it (0.12%) is water.


The area is characterized by a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) with cool, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. It is located in the Chaparral biome. Because Orinda is located in a hilly area, microclimates often dominate temperature differences in short distances. The Oakland hills often block the cool foggy conditions that can be seen in Oakland and the innerbay. In the summer, fog can spill over the Oakland hills, cooling off the area. Heatwaves from the inland areas can be felt much more in Orinda than in Oakland and the innerbay during the summer. In the winter, Orinda often sees more precipitation than surrounding areas because of its higher elevation. Snowfall is rare but not unheard of. A dusting of snow may occur in any given year because of the elevation. During stable conditions in the winter, mornings can be rather cold and frosty in downtown and lower-lying areas, while the higher hills surrounding the area may be several degrees warmer.

Orinda, California
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Climate data for Orinda Bowman, California (1944-1960)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 69
Average high °F (°C) 54
Average low °F (°C) 34
Record low °F (°C) 15
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.99
Average rainy days 11 9 10 5 4 1 0 1 1 4 7 11 64
Source: Western Regional Climate Center[14][15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201619,470[7]10.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]


The 2010 United States Census[17] reported that Orinda had a population of 17,643, The population density was 1,389.5 people per square mile (536.5/km²), The racial makeup of Orinda was 14,533 (82.4%) White-American, 149 (0.8%) African American, 22 (0.1%) Native American, 2,016 (11.4%) Asian-American, 24 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 122 (0.7%) from other races, and 777 (4.4%) from two or more races, Hispanic or Latino of any race were 807 persons (4.6%),

The Census reported that 17,600 people (99.8% of the population) lived in households, 6 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 37 (0.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 6,553 households, out of which 2,361 (36.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 4,673 (71.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 370 (5.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 159 (2.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 138 (2.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 58 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships, 1,127 households (17.2%) were made up of individuals and 695 (10.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69. There were 5,202 families (79.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.03.

The population was spread out, with 4,512 people (25.6%) under the age of 18, 729 people (4.1%) aged 18 to 24, 2,741 people (15.5%) aged 25 to 44, 6,111 people (34.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 3,550 people (20.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.

There were 6,804 housing units, at an average density of 535.8 per square mile (206.9/km²), of which 6,553 were occupied, of which 5,876 (89.7%) were owner-occupied, and 677 (10.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.2%. 16,010 people (90.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,590 people (9.0%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 17,599 people, 6,596 households, and 5,243 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,398.2 people per square mile (539.7/km²). There were 6,744 housing units at an average density of 535.8/sq mi (206.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.6% White, 0.5% Black, 0.15% Native American, 9.24% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 2.84% from two or more races. 3.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,596 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.3% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.5% were non-families. 16.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 3.2% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 32.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $187,637, and the median income for a family was $192,531. The per capita income for the city was $65,428. About 1.1% of families and 1.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.1% of those under age 18 and 1.5% of those age 65 or over.


In 2017, Orinda had 13,915 registered voters with 6,643 (47.7%) registered as Democrats, 3,574 (25.7%) registered as Republicans, and 3,228 (23.9%) decline to state voters.[19]

Since 1992, Orinda has been a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry Orinda was George H. W. Bush in 1988.

Orinda vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Democratic Republican
2016 74.2% 8,557 19.9% 2,295
2012 62.8% 7,158 34.7% 3,958
2008 67.5% 7,864 30.8% 3,594
2004 61.5% 7,025 37.2% 4,245
2000 51.5% 5,515 44.3% 4,746
1996 46.4% 4,778 45.1% 4,642
1992 42.6% 4,719 37.5% 4,163
1988 39.0% 4,163 59.9% 6,384


(Public) primary and secondary schools[edit]

Orinda has four public elementary schools: Sleepy Hollow Elementary, Wagner Ranch Elementary, Glorietta Elementary and Del Rey Elementary. Orinda Intermediate School is the only middle school. Together, these five schools comprise the Orinda Union School District. The town's only high school, Miramonte High School, is a part of the Acalanes Union High School District.

Both districts are noted for their academic excellence. Each district is the highest ranked in California in its category according to the state Academic Performance Index (API).[20],[21] Miramonte High School also features strong athletic teams and has produced NFL players as Ken Dorsey, Drew Bennett and Bryan Barker, as well as several Olympians like women's waterpolo player Heather Petri. Miramonte consistently has a high graduation rate of 99%-100%. The community support for education allows the high school to attract and retain very qualified teachers. The annual average teacher salary for the district is $74,135.[22] The average principal salary for the district is $130,819.[22]

(Private) primary and secondary schools[edit]

Orinda is home to three private educational establishments; Orinda Academy, Holden High School, and Fountainhead Montessori School. Out of these three private schools two of them (OA & Holden) are private high schools while Fountainhead Montessori School services Kindergarten through fifth grade.

Public libraries[edit]

The Orinda Library of the Contra Costa County Library is located in Orinda.

Sports, recreation, and the arts[edit]

The Orinda Theatre at night

Film festivals[edit]

Starting in 2002, Orinda began hosting the Orinda Film Festival, an annual regional film festival taking place at the historic Orinda Theatre managed by Randy Holleschau. In 2005, actor William Hurt attended the festival to promote the film The Blue Butterfly in which he played a leading role. The festival was last held in 2005. The bright lights of the theater are visible for miles around during the night.

In August 2009, the California Independent Film Festival announced they will be making the Orinda Theatre their new home.[23] CIFF held its first event in Orinda on September 18, 2009, in which a screening of The Birds was attended by actress Tippi Hedren. The 12th Annual California Independent Film Festival was the first time the festival was held in Orinda, opening on April 22, 2010.

The California Shakespeare Theater[edit]

The internationally known California Shakespeare Theater, (a.k.a. "Cal Shakes"), performs from June to October at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater (located on land leased from EBMUD in the hills north of Highway 24). The Theater's conservatory operates throughout the year, featuring programs for children, teenagers, young actors, teachers and adults. The current artistic director is Jonathan Moscone, son of the late San Francisco mayor.

Swimming and water polo[edit]

Several Orinda summer-league swim teams compete for a championship cup in mid-August every year. Over two thousand individual swimmers typically participate. Orinda is also home to the popular year-round swim team, Orinda Aquatics. Orinda has raised numerous competitive swimmers (and waterpolo players) from Orinda have gone on to compete for major colleges and in the Olympics. Notables include Kirk Everist '86 (US Olympic Team '92 and '96), Heather Petri '96 (Gold: 2012 Olympics; Silver: 2000 Olympics, 2008 Olympics; Bronze: 2004 Olympics), and Michael Sharf (NCAA All-American, 2007 US National Team Member).

Tilden Regional Park[edit]

Orinda borders Tilden Regional Park, a 2,079 acre park that contains hiking trails, a golf course, Lake Anza and a Merry Go Round. The park is accessible via the Wildcat Canyon Road exit off of Camino Pablo (when traveling West).

Notable people[edit]

Neighboring cities[edit]

The cities of Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga are collectively known as "Lamorinda".


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on October 17, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  2. ^ "City Council". The City of Orinda. Archived from the original on April 24, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  3. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  4. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  5. ^ "California's 11th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  6. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jun 28, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Census.gov. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  8. ^ Brennan, Morgan. "Orinda, CA - pg.3". Forbes.
  9. ^ History of Orinda, Orinda Historical Society
  10. ^ a b c d Durham, David L. (November 1998). "Part Five - San Francisco Bay Region". California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Word Dancer Press. p. 676. ISBN 978-1-884995-14-9. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
  11. ^ "Blowback". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  12. ^ "Orinda's leaf blower foes return". The Mercury News. 2011-09-30. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  13. ^ "Orinda's leaf blower foes return". The Mercury News. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  14. ^ "ORINDA BOWMAN, CALIFORNIA Period of Record General Climate Summary - Temperature". Wrcc.dri.edu. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  15. ^ "ORINDA BOWMAN, CALIFORNIA Period of Record General Climate Summary - Precipitation". Wrcc.dri.edu. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  17. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Orinda city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  19. ^ http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ror/ror-pages/ror-odd-year-2017/politicalsub.pdf
  20. ^ "Achievement - Test Scores". Orinda Union School District. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  21. ^ "AHUSD Ranks First in California". Acalanes Union High School District. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  22. ^ a b "2010‐11 School Accountability Report Card". Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  23. ^ "CIFF Newsletter". Caiff.org. 2009-08-19.
  24. ^ Richards, Sam (2010-07-08). "John Hampton, co-founder of Toys for Tots, dies at 103". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  25. ^ Michael Steven Green. "Hans Kelsen and the Logic of Legal Systems". Scholarship.law.wm.edu. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  26. ^ Daniels, Lee a (24 September 1992). "William P. Mott Jr. Is Dead at 82; Directed the National Park Service". Nytimes.com.
  27. ^ "Nicolle Wallace » About Nicolle". Nicollewallace.com. Retrieved 23 January 2018.

External links[edit]