Archive for August, 2011

28
Aug
11

Neighbors Share Their Service Providers

In the olden days, you might have turned to neighbors to ask about the most humane bee remover or least intrusive roof repairer.  Nowadays you likely start by searching online, at places like Angie’s List, Service Magic, or even the Berkeley Parents Network.

But there’s nothing like asking a trusted someone.  The North Hills Community Association (NCHA) has an open forum, where locals share all kinds of topics, ask for advice and get responses quickly.  With so many recommendations, the group recently decided to issue their handy service providers list.

Check out the wide range of service providers:

Air Conditioning (Portable), Appliances, Arborist, Auto Repair, Awnings, Bees, Bookkeeping, Cable & Wiring, Carpet Cleaning, Caterer, Chair Caning, Chimney Sweep, Chiropractor, Contractor, Dentist, Dog Trainer or Walker, Drain Cleaning, Drainage, Dryer Duct Cleaning, Elderly Living, Electrician, Elevator Repair, Energy Audit, Exterminator, Fence Builder, Furnace, Garage Doors, Gardener, Gutters, Handyman, Hardwood Floors, House Cleaner, Insurance Broker, Internet, Landscaper, Leak Specialist, Mailboxes, Movers, OB/GYN, Painter, Paving, PC Repair, Pest Control, Pet Care, Plumber, Roofer, Sewing Machine Repair, Shingles, Skylight Repair, Solar Heating or Panels, Structural Pest Inspector, Tile, Transportation (Airport), Upholstery, Veterinarian, Welder, Window Cleaning, Window Replacement and Windshields.

While this service provider list isn’t comprehensive, it seems very useful.  These recommendations have been made by your neighbors, who also offer color commentary about their experiences.  We like the altrustic and ever-changing nature of this list, too.

If you have any requests, then please join the Open Forum here — and trust the answers.

23
Aug
11

Identity Crisis: Oakland Has No Daily News Presence

The Oakland Tribune will soon be transformed into The East Bay Tribune.  According to the Bay Area News Group (BANG), our city paper and several other Alameda County dailies will get integrated into one masthead.  The planned November change tries to please all, but may please few.

This newly-named paper doesn’t actually cover the whole East Bay.  More importantly, it wipes out Oakland’s unique presence in the daily news cycle.  In 2010, Oakland ranked as the 47th largest U.S. city with nearly 391,000 residents.  Shouldn’t there be some identification of our metropolis?

It’s all dollars and sense.

Sure, newspaper economics have changed for good.  As circulation and ad revenues continue to decrease, it’s not surprising that print editions are merged and staffs are reduced.  Marketing and branding decisions impact results too, and we don’t understand why leaving all that Oakland awareness and goodwill makes economic sense.  (BANG executives likely have their rationale.)

In the digital era, we do know that it’s important to coordinate off-line and online identity.  You attract traffic by focusing on your targeted readers, geography and beat expertise.  Since the Tribune gets re-directed to Inside Bay Area, Oakland has been downplayed for a while:

If you clicked, then you didn’t see any Tribune links.  And the “Oakland” results could improve if the brand lives, the domain (online address) changes, and archives are available to index.  Online audiences may not save the print business, but it’s possible to attract more traffic and related online revenues.

Like all news junkies, we are saddened by our reduced local coverage.  Plenty of people want to know what’s happening in Oakland versus the half-East Bay.  Our neighbor cities can still get covered as editions.  In our humble opinion, removing Oakland’s news identity doesn’t seem to pass marketing or financial muster.

Update:  On October 27th, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) announced their decision to keep publishing The Oakland Tribune.  Good move.

22
Aug
11

Some Fresh Fish, Please

Remember when the Montclair Village Association (MVA) asked shoppers and merchants how to fill our store vacancies?  Well their results have been tallied, and everyone seems to want a fish monger or great butcher in the Village.  Our desires revolve around all kinds of food, dining and cooler shopping options.

Here are the top shopping desires:

  1. Hardware store – just left, we want and need it back
  2. Bakery – a good one, to augment donuts and bagels
  3. Organic grocery store – pretty please, there’s demand
  4. Butcher/Fish store – good stuff that we’ll pay for
  5. Fun restaurant with music – some hang-out for younger folks
  6. Improved Village look and events – a place to be, and spend

It’s not surprising that folks leave the Village to shop for food.  We conducted a everyday food survey years ago, which supported the lack of options here.  Current survey respondents cry out for an organic-type supermarket within spitting distance.  Since Lucky’s and Safeway seem fairly stable, there’s no obvious spot for that Molly Stones, Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Looking over their shoulders at nearby neighborhoods, Montclarions also like the idea of having smaller shops featuring fresh fish, butchers and bakery goods. One respondent hit the nail on the head:  “I think every time I walk through the deserted Montclair Plaza building that it would make a great spot for a Market Hall-type setup, with fresh pasta, seafood, butcher, bakery, produce, etc.”

We all know the Village is pretty set in its ways, which can be a good or bad thing.  “People today want an excuse to hang out and spend time where they shop and can socialize in a trendy setting,” said one Montclarion.  Both the Sunday Farmers Market and new First Thursdays provide some draws, and are a nice start.

The Village should hereby be called the little engine that could.

17
Aug
11

Walking Our Stairways, This Sunday

Oakland Urban Paths is coming to our Village this Sunday morning, to introduce and share our hidden charms with all Oaklanders.  Even if you already use your local stairs, here’s a chance to learn more about them.

Paul Rosenbloom, a tireless advocate of Oakland’s bipeds, has organized this tour up Oakland’s steepest and woodsiest stairs.  He told us the stair hike features the multiple cases from Thornhill through Lower and Upper Merriewood, as well as the risers from Mountain to Cabot. Shepherd Canyon also makes a brief appearance, as an optional trail loop.

We know you can get exercise from ascending these stairways, so wear study shoes.  The walk meets up at Montclair Library (map), and runs from 10:00 am through high noon.  It’s a great way to jump-start your Sunday.

13
Aug
11

Ode To Montclair School Renovations

As you know, Montclair Elementary School is getting an $18 million makeover.  Renovations began this summer, and continue through next year.  Most notably, two painfully-old portable classrooms and the cafeteria have been demolished.  Good riddance!

While the original school footprint is a nice deco-style building, the school campus has seen far better days.  It’s a top-notch school, filled with teachers who educate kids really well.  But the overcrowding is palpable.  When asked to envision and paint Montclair Elementary, one fifth grader simply created a portable classroom.

John Esposito, senior project manager for Oakland Unified School District, has overseen this summer’s activity.  He does have plenty to get done before the school year begins, and here’s the project schedule for this week:

1.      Fencing
2.      Installation of portable landings and ramps
3.      Cleaning and waxing of portable floors
4.      Moving of earth quake container
5.      Testing of new gas line to old portables
6.      Waiting for PG&E’s change out of existing gas meter for old portables – no date as yet from them
7.      Architect/other consultants preparing their punch lists – corrections, items missing
8.      Installing basketball poles

In only two weeks, all Oakland public schoolers head back to school.  Although Montclair Elementary’s a work-in-progress, students will return to an operational campus.  Their new building, which houses ten classrooms and a rec room, gets built next.

And let’s hope that students view their school differently, when the transformed campus emerges (fingers crossed) in 2012.

More info:  Check out the school expansion Q&A, new building, architectural renderings and group updates.




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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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