Archive for May, 2010

30
May
10

Eucalyptus, As Political Hot Potato

Eucalyptus has become the newest political hot potato.  While the opinions aren’t exactly this cut and dry, there are three main camps:  folks who want to save the trees; others who call for selective pruning; and still others who want to cut them down.

We wanted to pay a little homage first, and walked in the hills today.  The eucalyptus are everywhere, standing sentinel on many hillsides.  We noticed these trees, below, while ambling along the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  Within East Bay MUD territory, these specimens were quite tall and there were a couple tree stumps here and there.

The Hills Conservation Network (HCN), which aims to save trees, filed a suit against the East Bay Regional Park District last Tuesday.  The group is looking to prevent any tree removals, until there’s sufficient environmental study about the 20-year impact of removing half a million trees.  According to HCN’s press release:

Large scale removal of pine, eucalyptus and acacia trees is a radical plan to restore the landscape to the way it may have looked 200 years ago.  Removal of thousands of trees eliminates their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, a main culprit in global warming.  This is poor forest management and ineffective fire prevention — and it harms the environment.

Meanwhile, there are concerns about limiting the impact of the next firestorm.  The hills are part of the Wildfire Prevention District where, like clockwork, the Diablo Winds fuel fires every two decades or so.  Ever wiser since the 1991 firestorm, we’re all trying to mitigate the fire fuels – whether on public or private lands.

Homeowners know the drill each summer, as we’re required to maintain “defensible space” between the greenery and our homes.  Everyone keeps things under control or else gets fined, and must adhere to very tight regulations.

The eucalyptus have become a real point of contention, with different opinions about whether or how to clear them on public lands.   Other plant species may or may not grow successfully near them.  Various chemicals might be acceptable or not, when clearing eucalyptus and other growth.  And some selective de-limbing and chopping might be useful.

To shake this all out, it comes down to what is best for supporting the natural environment and for reducing potential fire damage.  There’s plenty of human sparks coming from scientists, arborists, environmentalists and fire marshals who are debating here – and we’re curious where you stand.

30
May
10

Top Ten Memorable Stops In Montclair

When you live in a place, it’s easy to forget what strikes visitors as unique, precious, entertaining or picture-worthy.  Most of the time, we end up showing our guests a few things from our tried-and-true list of memorable stops in Montclair.  Although this week’s tourists are aiming for San Francisco and Napa, at least we’re giving them a couple Oakland memories.

Top Ten Memorable Stops In Montclair

1.  Sibley Preserve – The volcano, mazes and seasonal flowers are crowd-pleasers.

2.  The Egg  Shop – Every village needs their old, traditional breakfast spot.

3.  Mayor’s Race – During elections, the candidates will shake paws at our Farmers Market.

4.  People Watch – Hitting one of the coffee shops at Mountain and Antioch is required.

5.  Shepherd Canyon – No time?  Torri Gate, on Escher Drive, provides a city-water view.

6.  Hills Drive – Taking any circuitous route through our narrowest streets, always memorable!

7.  Oakland Museum – When kids are around, we’re visiting those California exhibits.  (OL)

8.  Paramount or Fox – Getting tickets to anything (!) so you can oogle the ornate with guests.  (OL)

9.  Crogan’s – Just because it’s here, but steer clear if your guests are true foodies.

10. Library – Declaring “storybook” as you head past the library, firehouse and Fernwood area.

(OL) or Outside Limits:   Yes, yes, we know.  These two Oakland stops fall outside the Montclair District, but are included in the Top Ten Memorable Stops list…while visiting here.

27
May
10

Got Safety FUD?

Got Safety FUD?  Do you feel a little fear, uncertainty and doubt about living safely in the hills?  These sentiments are often expressed by Montclarions who have experienced home break-ins, and are starting to be shared by their neighbors.

What we do know is there’s been a crime wave in the hills.  Since the perpetrators aren’t visible and ready to catch, our Oakland Police aren’t going to come running – there’s no threat to life and limb.  Let’s review a typical Montclair story, as reported through Montclair Safety’s Yahoo Board:

The police never responded to the call.  They got the first call right as the break in happened from the alarm company around 1:30 pm.  They got another call about 30 min. later from the alarm company.  I phoned them from the driveway 45 min later, when I discovered the shattered door, and did not want to go in alone.  I waited one hour, called again, then called my mom to come help me enter the home with a buddy.  At 7 pm, when the police still had not arrived, I phoned to cancel the 911 call.

Should you throw up your hands? That’s a typical reaction when your home has been burglarized and no police show up – whether your worldly possessions are intact or gone forever.  Still you should call in all hits, because keeping track of the activities enables police officers to connect the dots.

What if there are strangers around? This is so tricky, really.  One Monday-morning quarterback wondered if he should have called the police department when he saw suspicious folks, after learning they were likely perpetrators later that day.  It’s quite hard to know what to do.

Should you get armed? Well, you may exercise your Fourth Amendment rights and own a gun.  Keep in mind that most of our hills crimes happen when you aren’t at home.  Maybe an alarm, more crime-resistance door or dog would come in handy.

What’s apparent is that fears, uncertainties and doubts are rising lately.  These feelings are not only due to the crime wave but also the likely evisceration of the Oakland Police Department, to close our city’s budget gap.  While we won’t get 100% abandoned, more discussions about private security are starting to come up.

If you are concerned and curious, then pencil in the upcoming Montclair SIC Community Meeting:  June 3rd, from 7-9pm, at the Montclair Rec Center (map).  You’ll be able to hear from Area 1 Commander Captain Anthony Toribio and Beat 13Z Problem Solving Officer (PSO) Maureen Vergara.  Neighborhood Community Supervisor Jacque Long and Police Service Technician Eddie Smith will also be on hand.

At the very least, maybe some of your Safety FUD will dissipate.

More info:   KTVU Channel 2 aired a news report about the Montclair District’s crime wave – click here.

25
May
10

We’ll Take Some Rumble Strips

Rumble strips are supposed to alert drivers, when regular warnings or signals just won’t do.  Come to think of it, we’ll take some strips to slow down Moraga Avenue speedsters leaving the Warren Freeway.  Nothing else has worked yet!

Unfortunately, new strips installed on the Oakland Bay Bridge haven’t been greeted with open arms.  “This is the last place you want to put rumble strips, because rumble strips cause very serious vibration,” declared Hassan Astaneh, a Berkeley mechanical engineering professor.  And vibrations contribute to possible bridge failures, like last year’s eyebar collapse.

According to ABC7 News, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney begged to differ.  “There’s nothing about the rumble strips that cause any type of damage to the east span of the Bay Bridge,” explained Ney.  “The addition of a 3/8 of an inch doesn’t cause any measurable short-term fatigue. ”  But we’re already fatigued, and will keep our fingers crossed.

P.S.  We weren’t kidding about rumble strips for Montclair arterials, like Moraga Avenue.

24
May
10

Worth The Hornet’s Tour

On a whim, we went down to the U.S.S. Hornet yesterday afternoon.  Getting the full tour is  completely worth your time!  When you are guided by old steam room workers and fighter pilots, active on similar-class ships during Vietnam, the experience comes alive.

You don’t need to be a war or ship buff to appreciate the magnitude of this vessel.  After walking below deck for a couple hours, it’s hard to imagine being stuck there for months.  One of the tour guides had worked six-hour shifts – that’s six hours on, six hours off – in the steam rooms.  Even without war-time threats to life and limb, we’re impressed.

The other guide had been a top-gun type, looking fit and ready to pilot a jet right now.  He showed us what took place throughout the upper tower, where the ship captain and flight controllers performed their duties.  We marveled at what it took to ensure that different sized-jets could take off or land safely, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

By combining two walking tours, you’ll get a bead on how things operated on commissioned ships.  We checked out an engine room, the kitchen and mess hall, marines-only munitions storage, a six-man brig and catapult operations below deck.  Above these warrens, we toured the ship’s bridge, air traffic control area, and ultra-windy flight deck.

Like all good tourists, we have to share some photos taken there – which can’t replace visiting in person!  Fortunately, the Hornet Museum operates with a large volunteer force who mans the vessel seven days a week, from 10am – 5pm.  Admission runs from $6/kid (ages 5-17) to $14/adult, and helps refurbish this military treasure.

Continue reading ‘Worth The Hornet’s Tour’

23
May
10

Dappled Light From Lake Temescal

Yesterday, the Temescal Regional Rec Area was a place of dappled-light beauty.  Your faithful blogger decided to take a quick walk around our old-time swimming and picnicking area,  and tried to capture some magic with her trusty camera-phone in hand.

Lake Temescal started out as an engineering marvel, when Anthony Chabot constructed the earthen dam and water supply back in 1868.  The oasis became a popular recreation spot, baptized into the East Bay Regional Park District family by 1936.

It’s pretty easy to forget about Lake Temescal because its right here.  The 48 acres may be accessed through Broadway or Broadway Terrace entrances which are well-signed.  In this classic view shot, taken yesterday, you can almost pick out the Highway 24 and 13 arteries.

Still there are plenty of peaceful spots within the park.  With Saturday picnics underway by the lake, I decided to check out the more remote hillside area.  Earlier this year, the Oak Bay Trail played host to the Oakland Marathon runners – but it was empty yesterday afternoon.

You know when the light seems absolutely perfect?  Yesterday, I wandered through the spectrum of nearly pitch black, greens of all shades, and blinding sunlight.  It was just one of those beautiful sites to behold, right in our Montclair backyard.

22
May
10

Happy 80th Birthday, Montclair Library!

Today was an Oakland-weather day, sunny and perfect for a quick celebration.  Locals and a couple city dignitaries stopped by the Montclair Branch of the Oakland Library to honor our octogenarian:  the Montclair Branch itself.

At today’s event, District 4 Council Rep Jean Quan was on hand to thank Montclair Library Assistant Geremie Celli and Oakland Library Director Carmen Martinez.  My ears perked up when Director Martinez mentioned they intend to reorganize our library’s layout, though we didn’t hear details today.  Then Aurora School’s Head for the Hills race organizers proudly delivered a $275 donation, to wrap up the proceedings.  And we all dug into some nice, fruit-filled birthday cake from Lucky’s.

Throughout May, the Friends of Montclair Library organized and held a series of library programs honoring this 80th year milestone.  The history presentation by Kathleen diGiovanni, an Oakland Heritage Alliance member and city librarian, was very interesting.  We also heard the other book readings and events were pretty well-attended too.

In these times, at least we can celebrate our local library!  Good ‘ole Measure Q requires minimum funding levels for city libraries, though the system did cut back service days last year.  Our Montclair Library is now open five days a week:   Tuesday (12:30 pm – 8:00 pm); Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (10:00 am – 5:30 pm); and Friday (12:00 pm – 5:30 pm).

Montclair’s storybook library has been welcoming locals since the district started getting settled, and expanded over the years as well.  While it caters to kids, this blogger likes getting lost in the travel books and recently-arrived fiction.  The place is comfortable and inviting, not to mention properly de-molded last year.

So remember to stop by the library this summer to read a paper, check the aisles, hop on a computer or just read in a quiet place.  Besides the weekly story times, there’s a a knitting class for kids (May 26th) and lawyers in the library (June 8th) ahead – just check upcoming events.




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Welcome to Montclair, Oakland

We live in the city yet are invaded by nature - or perhaps it's the other way around. Stop by often, and find out what's interesting to 94611 denizens.


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