White Elephant Sale Celebrates 50th

2011 Sale Update: Yes, the 52nd Annual White Elephant’s alive and well, and it’s called the Wild, Wild WES.  The preview sale takes place on Sunday, January 30th from 10 am – 4 pm.

Ticket prices have increased this year, running $20 at the door.  In advance, you may buy a $15 preview ticket by snail-mailing this form (through the 25th) or by visiting the Oakland Museum’s reception desk (through the 29th).

Of course, you can chance it and wait for the main sale which doesn’t charge admission. But cool your heels, since that takes place on Saturday and Sunday, March 5-6th, from 10 am – 4 pm.

Oakland White Elephant

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2010 Sale Update: Yes, the 51st Annual White Elephant’s alive and well. The preview sale takes place on Sunday, January 31st from 10 am – 4 pm, and costs $15 at the door. Then the main sale doesn’t charge admission, and takes place on Saturday and Sunday, March 6-7th, from 10 am – 4 pm.

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In Oakland, the best-known White Elephant Sale is about to celebrate its 50th birthday!  There’s a preview sale tomorrow, followed by the full event in March.

The Oakland Museum Women’s Board (OMWB) organizes this annual extravaganza to raise funds for the museum.  They raised only $500 back in 1959, the first year the sale was held.  Fast forward, and the OMWB hauled in a whopping $1.28 million last year.

When’s the event?

The official White Elephant Sale takes place on March 7-8th, and admission is free.  However true aficionados know they can pay for earlier access, during this Sunday’s preview sale.  For a $15 entry fee/person, you get “first dibs” at this huge rummage event.

Doors are open from 10 am – 4 pm tomorrow, down at the White Elephant Warehouse – 333 Lancaster Street (map, directions).  Kids under 12 are free, but strollers must be checked at the door.

There’s some paid parking at the Fruitvale BART station or you can take BART.  There will be a shuttle running between the station and warehouse, which begins an hour before doors open.

What will you find?

Some 17 different departments of goods are presented in the 96,000 sq ft warehouse.  The sale depends on donations from Oaklanders and other East Bay residents, which are collected all year.  There are estate items along with all kinds of cast-asides (see photos), plus strict guidelines about items not accepted too.

Last year, the Women’s Board reported that furniture, jewelry, art and books/photos/music were the four largest departments, which jointly contributed over a half-million to the total $1.28 million sales.  Who knows, this could be your chance to discover a future Antiques Roadshow winner.

Yet this White Elephant draws attendees from the entire Bay Area, because you can find practical things you want or need too.  There’s a huge array of household items, which can help furnish your apartment or house.  Of course, loads of adult clothes and kids stuff are available as well.

What’s great is that all the proceeds are for the Oakland Museum – so you can’t go wrong here.

Mountain Lions Traveling North

Okay, get ready for the mountain lions to make their appearance in the Montclair Hills soon.  They seem to be traveling north these days.

Last Sunday, there was a lion sighting in Hayward.  The Hayward Daily Review reported that residents watched the lion in the grass near little league playing fields.  According to Carolyn Chew, “I was watching it and was just fascinated.  It was watching three deer. The deer ran and got away. I felt like I was in a National Geographic movie.”

KTVU News reported another mountain lion sighting today, this time near Keller Avenue.  They interviewed a witness who watched a lion lounging in a tree for a while – but this feline disappeared before Oakland’s animal control folks showed up.

Mountain Lion Warning

It’s not the first time there have been lions visiting Oakland. According to the Tribune, there was a sighting near Broadway Terrace in December 2004 and several appearances right on the Mills College campus during mid-2003.   Yet these creatures aren’t usually parading around our neighborhoods.

Typically the lions just hang out in more rural reaches, including the protected areas nearby.  East Bay Regional Park officials believe the lion population is doing well, as many local hikers have spotted and reported the cats over the years.  In addition, there’s a strong supply of deer and even feral pigs available for their meals.

Back in 2007,  Redwood Park Ranger Dee Rosario explained that “none of the rangers have seen [lions] because we are always working or making noise.”  Still the warning signs are there for a good reason, because the felines are nearby and ready to surprise park visitors.

Lions don’t understand park boundaries when pursuing prey, however.  They could set their sights on the deer roaming our hills, but we’ll have to see what happens.  Welcome to Animal Planet, Montclair edition.

Thornhill Eats Too

Did you know there are FIVE places to nosh or pick up food on Thornhill Drive?  As you pass by, it’s easy to blink and miss what’s sitting in this small commercial section of town.

There’s enough to sustain Thornhill neighbors, who don’t have to drive “all the way” into the Village for a quick breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner or bottle of soda.  Here’s the official scoop on what you can consume in Montclair’s northern reaches.

Viva Voce Cafe

* Italian: Viva Voce Cafe – 5761 Thornhill, 510-339-0990 – Yelp

Order some terrific soups, pizza, pasta and more.  It’s a very nice and cozy spot for dinner, even for special occasions. Viva Voce has been open a few years, and really should be a destination spot for all Montclarions.

* Thai: Thai Bai – 5736 Thornhill, 510-339-8030 – Yelp

Pick up your homemade thai dinner.  Of course, all the favorites you crave are available, and there are specials daily.  Try the ginger-type dishes for a change.  The place has been around for years, serving up healthy and quick fare.

* Coffee: Thornhill Coffee House – 5772 Thornhill, 510-339-8187 – Yelp

Make the daily run for good eats, coffee and friends.  It’s a comfy “third place” to hang out, filled with parents who dropped their kids off (at school) and other regulars.  Owner Thyda always makes you feel loved, offering a taste of this or that.

* Pizza: MG’s Pizza – 5736 Thornhill Dr, 510-339-1300 – Yelp

The newest spot on Thornhill, which entered the pizza wars.  They offer traditional rather than designer pies, and  should keep tinkering with the recipes a bit more.  Most importantly, they deliver pizzas to your doorstep.

* Junk: 7-Eleven – 5741 Thornhill, 510-339-9123 – Yelp

Trust the chain, sometimes.  We’re pretty happy that essentials are nearby, day and night.  There’s no need to traipse to the markets, when cravings strike.  They actually stock some decent stuff like nuts, pasta and um, Ben & Jerry’s.

Waiting For Caldecott Environmental Review

Due to our state’s budget ills, the fourth bore construction funding has been delayed for the Caldecott Tunnel – at least until mid-February or perhaps far longer.

We wondered whether this delay impacted the Fourth-Bore Coalition (FBC) and its efforts, and the quick answer is no.  The FBC continues to push for a full environmental review, including the construction-related pollution that would impact Montclarions living near Highway 24.

Fourth Bore Coalition

“Our major concern, at the moment, is that the governor would like to exempt the Caldecott improvement project from CEQA, so the project can move forward quickly.  We feel this is a very short-sighted move, ” declared Ann Smulka, FBC chairperson.

FBC brought suit against the California Dept. of Transportation, saying that it violated environmental reviews required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The Alameda Superior Court hearing took place on November 5th and Judge Frank Roesch will be handing down a decision soon.

There are many legal briefs you can read at the Fourth Bore site, and here’s a choice quote:

Caltrans does not have the kind of discretion that, at one time, was practiced by absolute monarchs.  Rather, CEQA requires that its provisions be interpreted in such a manner as to afford the fullest possible protection to the environment within the reasonable scope of the statutory language.

Smulka said “the health and safety effects of the project could be relatively easily avoided by Caltrans through project modifications.  The cost of mitigation would be very small in relation to the $420 million cost of the project.”

On a practical level, the Coalition wants Caltrans to “acknowledge and mitigate the project’s impact on nearby schools, residents and parks.  We are particularly concerned about the impacts of Oakland’s Claremont Middle and Anthony Chabot Elementary schools which, given their proximity to the highway, are already subjected to hazardous air and noise pollution.”

Now our neighbors living by the Tunnel wait for the court’s clock to count-down.  Judge Roesch is required, by law, to deliver his ruling by early February.  If the review is approved, it represents another twist – right along with the funding freeze and delayed schedules.

Winter Bad Air Settles Here

Yesterday was really hazy, and declared a non-breathable  Spare The Air Day in the Bay Area.  Today is another bad-air day, which means that it’s illegal to burn wood of any kind.

Based on the Bay Area’s air quality forecast, it looks like the seasonal bad-air will settle here for the next few days.  Notice the poor air quality in the Coast and Central Bay area, which includes Oakland and the Oakland  Hills.

Spare The Air Forecast

Yesterday was an official alert day.  The air quality was called “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” and all active kids or adults with respiratory problems like asthma were advised to limit outdoor exertion.

While haziness has cleared a bit today, more bad-air days are ahead.  The alert level is moderate this week, which means “unusually sensitive” people should watch out at this point.  It’s still illegal to burn wood now.

What’s with the wood?  Unbreathable days are caused by particulates, and wood-burning can contribute significant levels.  According to the Bay Area Air Quality folks, wood fires contribute up to one-third of all particulates on a winter’s night.

These pollution declarations are a new thing, based on new wood-smoke regulations passed last year.  The Bay Area Air Quality Management District began its alert program this winter season and, counting yesterday, there have been seven official alert-level days.

Anyway, don’t wait for the cops to follow your smoke trail – just keep your wood-burning fireplaces and stoves turned off this week.