Orinda is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 17,599 at the 2000 census. The town is located just east of the city of Oakland and home to many affluent professionals who commute to downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek. The city is well known in the area as one of the most desirable addresses in the East Bay due to its excellent public schools, high-priced real estate and naturally scenic landscape. While the city is in close proximity to nearby urban areas, it has maintained a very intimate, small town atmosphere. Much of the city is very hilly and dotted with multi-million dollar custom homes.
Present-day Orinda was 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 1800s, the land was named by Alice Marsh Cameron in honor of the poet Katherine Philips, who was also known as the "Matchless Orinda".
In the 1880s, the United States Surveyor General for California, Theodore Wagner, built an estate which he named Orinda Park. The Orinda Park post office opened in 1888. The post office's name was changed to Orinda in 1895. 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.
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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.6 square miles (32.7 km²), of which, 12.6 square miles (32.6 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.32%) is water.
As of the census 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.
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)., 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.
Starting in 2002, Orinda began hosting the Orinda Film Festival, an annual regional film festival taking place at the historic Orinda Theatre. 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.
In August 2009, the California Independent Film Festival announced they will be making the Orinda Theatre their new home. 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 will be the first time the festival is held in Orinda, opening on April 22nd, 2010.
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.
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. 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 (Silver: 2000 Olympics, 2008 Olympics; Bronze: 2004 Olympics), and Michael Sharf (NCAA All-American, 2007 US National Team Member).
The cities of Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga are collectively known as "Lamorinda".