Montclarions Settle In

Everyone agrees that Montclair is a stable burg, but why?  Sometimes this is hard to answer, so here’s more statistical proof.

Our Village is comprised of 80% homeowners versus 43% for Oakland overall.  Also the median time living here is 4.7 years versus 3.3 years for Oakland.  Yes, Montclarions settle in for a while.

We own homes as empty nesters or non-parents.  There’s an average of two people per household and just a quarter of homes with kids.

We don’t make much of a dent in the Oakland stats, because Montclair represents about one percent of Oakland by population size.   So you have to dig around to unearth our unique patterns.

This week, real estate site Redfin made these and other community stats available.  While the stats help buyers compare places to live, they also provide a window into what makes our Village tick.

The Birds of Tilden and Wildcat

Who needs the Telegraph Hill parrots?  In the East Bay, we have many more birds gracing our backyards and parks.

This summer, the East Bay Parks District has organized a photography exhibit to check them out – before you spot them all in the wild.

The exhibit showcases the work of Jeff Robinson, who photographed all the birds listed in the 1988 wildlife census for Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parks.  He also snapped photos of other wildlife commonly found here.

Through August, these images are displayed at the Environmental Education Center in Tilden Nature Area (map).  The Center’s hours are 10am-5pm daily (closed Mondays).  Photos are also for sale, to benefit the Regional Parks Foundation.

If you can’t make the exhibit itself, then take a look at this virtual gallery and run the slide show.  Robinson’s images are very special!

Counting Crimes In Montclair

When Montclarions hear about a single crime, they start thinking there’s a crime wave underway.  Will my car get stolen too?  Is that home for sale a prime target?

Our numbers seem fairly moderate and steady.  In the past three months, there were 82 crimes reported for the Montclair core and 352 crimes in the zip code.  People just want our stuff.

Within Montclair, some 17 autos were stolen or 21% of all reported crimes.  Burglaries represented 22% of crimes, while thefts added 35% to the total blotter.  The rest came from assaults, narcotics and vandalism.

Overall, the Montclair police beat contributed about 25% of all 94611 crimes.  Given the crime mix in both geographies, we live in a pretty safe place based on official reports.

For more information, visit the Oakland Police Department’s CrimeView site.  There you can select crimes by address, landmarks and more.  The results can be mapped by crime type as well.

Obama Rally At The Park, With George Lakoff

Check out the special Barack Obama rally at Montclair Park, which begins right after the Farmers Market – Sunday at 1:00pm.  At the rally, Obama will only be there in spirit.

Professor George Lakoff will be the main speaker, and he will focus on what the Obama candidacy means to Oaklanders.  He teaches cognitive linguistics at UC Berkeley, and also has been writing about differences between conservatives and liberals for years.

Alameda County has favored Obama since the Presidential primaries.  Back on February 5th, here’s how we voted for Democratic and Republican candidates.

During the primaries, Lakoff penned a Huffington Post article about the splintering Democrats and different “issues” between Clinton and Obama.  He applauded Obama’s progressive agenda and will likely have some interesting insights to share at the Sunday rally, too.

This Obama gathering hasn’t been that well publicized – and I just happened to notice a sign posted on the Thornhill 7-11 door yesterday.  I think that Lakoff will be the main draw, because he won’t deliver a regular stump speech.

Of course, the rally will include more typical things, like Obama campaign swag, voter registration efforts and a few baked goods to lure you.

Event Updates: The Montclarion reported that 250 villagers heard George Lakoff, who “supported Obama even before the senator decided to run for the presidency.”  In the Oakland Tribune, one attendee said she’ll vote for the Dem because “I like my president to be smarter than me.”

Seussical For Almost Free

Why not pay homage to the great Horton?  Seussical is now playing at Woodminster Summer Theater, and each paying adult can take two kids, 16 and under, free.  Performances start at 8pm, tonight through Sunday.

Now in their 42nd season, these Woodminster shows have become an authentic summer tradition.  The theater is located within Joaquin Miller Park (map), near the main entrance.

Paid tickets run $23-38 per adult, depending on where you sit. To ensure that your paid and free seats are together, I would hit the box office right before the performance.  Here’s more info about the bargain deal.

Seussical is perfect fare for all youngsters who love Dr. Seuss.  This musical brings Horton and other great Theodore Geisel characters to life.  Horton’s just a cool elephant who tries to do the right thing.

For a little inspiration before you go, you could pull out the tried-and-true books or watch some movie clips.  Also try this interactive Seussville game where you select scenes, cast characters and write their lines.

Kids of all ages can’t go wrong at Seussical, taking in the amphitheatre ambience too.  Remember to bundle up, since it gets “cold” at night in the hills – as you well know.

Get 15 Minutes Of Gardening Fame

How can you get your 15 minutes?  Apply for a coveted spot on the Bay Friendly Gardening Tour, where you can showcase your lovely back or front yard efforts.  Your garden does not have to be large, but it must be eco-friendly – which means all standard lawns and water-hogging flora are thumbs-down.

It’s time for Montclair gardens to shine.  Last year, some really cool gardens were featured from other places.  One Berkeley garden contained a mini-orchard along with salvaged junk-art.  There also was a nice yard in Alameda, which included a picture-perfect pond – proving that HGTV shows come true.

When I visit homes throughout Montclair, I’m amazed by the landscapes and sheer variety around places.  Some are quite verdant spots, with different flowering trees and plants.  Others are more natural settings in the woods.  Still others have very nice decks and views, but the plant life is far more sparse.

While the Tour site says there’s an August 1st deadline, we have confirmed that local gardeners may apply online through month’s end.  The tour organizers would like to include a range of Oakland Hills gardens, along with the Friends of Sausal Creek’s native plant nursery.

To make sure your entry’s received properly, please reach Jeanne Nader at or 510-891-6500.  Here’s hoping you get your 15 minutes of gardening fame, next spring!

Take An Oakland Port Cruise

To wrap up the summer, consider taking a free cruise through the Port of Oakland – the fourth busiest container port in the U.S.  This tour sounds like something fun to do with your kids, who should be thrilled to see the big cranes and container ships in our busy seaport.

The last summer cruise is scheduled for August 21st, from 10:30am-11:30am.  All passengers are asked to board the ferry boat a half-hour before departure from the Oakland Ferry Terminal, at Jack London Square (and Clay Street).

During the tour, there will be a guide who discusses Port operations and points out highlights.  The ferry sails around the Oakland estuary and harbor.

Unlike when you gaze from the Bay Bridge, this cruise allows you to view maritime activities from a very close vantage point.  It’s likely you will see ships unloading their cargo as well as other operations.

The boat also passes by the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, an oasis that’s adjacent to the marine terminals.  When you’re back on land, it’s the prime spot to continue gawking at the big rigs.

Spots for this final summer tour may fill up fast!  Reservations can be made online or by calling the tour hot-line at (510) 627-1188.

If you miss out, there are fall cruises on September 18th and October 16th, at both 10:30am and 1:00pm.  These days won’t work for school kids – but you can take a reconnaissance tour.