Everyday Food in Montclair: Vote Now

It’s time to survey the crowd about everyday food in Montclair, and you are an opinionated bunch.  What are your top spots for coffee, grocery shopping, pizza and chocolate?

Please take a minute or two to respond:  click here to vote

Before launching Today in Montclair, I conducted a survey for a now-defunct zip code blog.  Back then, I asked for favorites located right in the Village.

The results?  We were in a heated battle about Peet’s, Nelly and Royal Ground.  Cybelle’s was the main pizza option, while Le Bon Bon was for chocolate lovers.  Both Safeway and Lucky’s had their advocates.

However many Villagers hit spots nearby.  To reflect all your everyday food preferences, I wanted to re-open the survey with more options.  Plus a whole year has gone by and your patterns might have changed.

Please vote early but not often – and I’ll share results soon with everyone.  Thanks!

Never Enough Baby Clothes

Montclarion Lisa Klein has been busy the past few years, organizing and distributing 10,000 pounds (!) of baby clothing and blankets to new mothers.  While that seems like a substantial accomplishment, she’s only getting started.

The premise is simple but requires time, energy and money.  Klein prepares and donates “boy” and “girl” boxes to local hospitals, so underprivileged mothers can take care of their newborns with fewer worries.

Today, Klein’s Loved Twice non-profit group gets its day in the sun.  We wanted to pile onto the publicity bandwagon from Comcast Channel One and the Oakland Tribune.  After all, Lisa is a Montclair mother and hometown hero who has done more than her share of good works.

To help the cause locally, you may donate financially or drop off clothing at Cool Tops Cuts for Kids (in Oakland or Lafayette).  While Klein has been able to help 1,000 mothers in Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, and even New Orleans, she continues to need donations and assistance.

Loved Twice has been organized with a larger mission.  By sharing details about conducting clothing drives, Klein would like to encourage other good samaritans to pick up the mantel in their cities too.

Safety Boost For Shepherd Canyon

The long-awaited Shepherd Canyon parking problem is finally going to be solved.  It’s generally an accident waiting to happen, if you drive down the Shepherd Canyon Road while soccer games are in progress.

Through a combination of public funding and private donations, a new parking lot will be constructed over the next few weeks.  The City Council approved 29 spaces, a wooden fence and five redwood trees planted as a visual barrier.

According to the resolution, the construction will be mostly financed by City District 4 and At-Large City Pay-Go funds.  The gap was closed through these private donations:  $30k from the Montclair Soccer Club; $7k from the Friends of Oakland Parks & Recreation; and $5k from the Montclair Safety & Improvement Council.

I’m not complaining, but with our City budget in shambles how come everything isn’t put on hold?  I don’t pretend to understand why current budget allocations are sacrosanct.  In any event, we are moving forward on this small construction effort in Montclair.

The City requires work to be completed rather quickly, because there’s a rainy season moratorium that kicks in by October 15th.  Bids were already requested and received back in August, in anticipation of this construction timetable.

It’s been a long while since the original plans were created for Shepherd Canyon Park, and the need for decent off-road parking was identified five years ago.  Soon we can cross this safety item from the list.

Farmers Stick Around Until 2pm

The Montclair Farmers’ Market is one of our success stories.  Farmers conduct business here every Sunday, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, and we’re faithful shoppers.

Tomorrow the farmers will test extended hours until 2:00 pm.  If we show up, they will be there permanently.  I think its a safe bet because many folks appear right before closing time.

We all seem to like this compact market, which requires one walking loop on LaSalle.  While I’m not a chef, it’s still nice to pick up fresh-picked fruit, veggies or nuts.  I typically buy a small sweet potato pie which seldom makes it home.  Sometimes I try a few oysters, because the shucker’s hard at work there.

The freebies are the real draw.  Most recently, the lush peaches have been sliced for sampling, much like a wine-tasting event.  How come this isn’t done at a standard supermarket, organic or otherwise?

Not For Tourists cynically called the weekly market “Rich People and Fresh Veggies,” but went on to explain that “It’s still pretty cool.  Every Sunday, the fresh veggie peddlers and the go-getting entrepreneurs with their recipes…do their thing.”

During market hours, you experience the small-town feel of Montclair Village.  There’s usually live music, mayoral dog campaigns, various fundraisers, political canvassers of all stripes, and our city rep, Jean Quan, holding court monthly.

It’s the only time when locals get out and actually commune with each other.  Maybe I’ll grab an Indian curry and hang out tomorrow, now that the hours are longer.

Annual Creek Cleaning, Sat Morning

Get up early tomorrow to clear brush from our nearby Sausal Creek parks, and join a worldwide movement!  The International Coastal Cleanup takes place in all 50 states and 90 countries, to maintain or restore waterways everywhere.

Oakland supports this global event by declaring its very own Creek to Bay Day, with 20-plus projects scattered throughout the city.

Montclarions can help restore the Sausal Creek Watershed (map), which starts in our hills and ends in the Bay.

There are three local parks where you can lend a hand on Saturday.  Even though you may have driven by them many times, take a few minutes and learn more about these places:

Just show up at one of the parks tomorrow, and be ready to work from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon.  In return, you will be given a nice tee shirt along with psychic rewards.