Take Survey: Your Real Estate Taxes

In Montclair, there’s plenty of chatter about real estate taxes but divergent opinions.  Some of my neighbors embrace their responsibilities, and say they should contribute to our city coffers.  Others are pretty much disgusted by all things related to taxes, which they believe flow one-way to the City of Oakland.

So we thought it was time to gauge how Montclarions feel, collectively, about their taxes.  Here’s a very short survey for homeowners called:  Your Take On Real Estate Taxes.

Survey Guy

In this Montclair survey, there are several questions about your attitudes towards homeowner taxes.  We’re curious about your feelings regarding parcel and ad valorem taxes.  We ask about tax increases, too.  And we wonder if your sentiments change as the years pass.

If you’re a local homeowner, then please take this quick survey soon!  Thanks very much.

December 1st Update:  Thanks for your interest and participation in the real estate taxes survey.  Here are survey results, Montclarions Miffed About Real Estate Tax Uses.

Where Oakland Ranks On Job Trends

We’ve been shaking our heads at the local unemployment level, around 17 percent, but didn’t understand how our recessionary experience compared to other places.  We just discovered the unvarnished reality – things are uglier for Oakland than nearly all the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Earlier this year, New Geography released Pepperdine’s job growth rankings for 336 U.S. metros as well as the largest 66 metros.  Let’s reveal the rankings for the three Bay Area metros.

Metro Rankings 2009 - New Geography

The rankings show that Oakland’s metro area, which also includes Fremont and Hayward, ranked 304 among all 336 metros and 62 among the 66 largest metros.  The numbers reflect both current and past trends in employment, as a predictor of economic futures – but don’t even take into account this year’s numbers yet.

Our Bay Area siblings did a lot better, with San Jose ranking 20th and San Francisco ranking 23rd among the 66 largest areas.  We were a little taken aback, and then noticed the mix of single and multiple-year job counts in the calculations (more here).  These places did better in the past decade, and that shows in the rankings.

What’s happening now?  According to New Geography, Oakland sank right along with Sacramento and San Bernadino to the “bottom ten” of large metros due to the housing bubble-burst and construction job evaporation.  The geographers actually pointed to State regulations constraining recovery as well.

We hadn’t expected to be in such dire straits – and have almost nowhere to go but up?!

What To Ask Chief Batts, Hills Edition

As Oakland Police Chief Tony Batts continues his inaugural Tour de Oakland, he plans to make a pit-stop in the hills.  He’s scheduled a Montera Middle School (555 Ascot Drive, map) appearance this Thursday, with refreshments at 6:30pm and the meeting at 7:00pm.

At this introductory event, you’ll have an opportunity to hear him live – and should have time to bring up your safety concerns too.  Although you might ask about the “same old stuff,” remember that Montclair and Oakland Hills matters are new for Batts.  Questions about burglaries and thefts bear repeating!

Welcome Oakland Police Dept

Everyone’s already learned what Chief Batts achieved in Long Beach, to reduce crime levels.  Recently a Long Beacher also described Batts as a fearless leader, and here’s a snippet:

Having worked for Chief Batts, I can say that if anyone is interested in being an agent of change in the City of Oakland, then you have finally found a true ally.  He will make you take a stand, get involved or get out of the way and he shares power willingly.

The downside is, most people are afraid to admit they are afraid to change, being comfortable with the status quo and in all likelihood will find a less sympathetic ear for doing nothing.

The first 6-12 months with the Chief are NO JOKE.  He will look for those who want to lead from the front, take appropriate risks and do the face to face thing with everyday people as well as the so called ‘leaders.’

[He’s] a guy who acknowledged that you can’t arrest your way out of every situation.   I can say that Chief Batts will not fail Oakland and, with any effort at all, Oakland won’t fail him.

Tony Batts is not a messiah, but at least we can expect changes…and that’s a good thing.  We have heard all kinds of positive rhetoric, but are looking forward to additional responsiveness and support by Oakland Police.

Stop Sign Of The Times

Our “center city” is located at La Salle and Mountain.  It’s where everyone goes for the weekly Farmers Market, and the intersection sports many banners and traffic signs.  Here’s how part of the intersection looked earlier today.

Stop Global Warming

What’s different here?  Well, there’s one new and improved stop sign which now reads:   Stop Global Warming.  We don’t know how long this sticker will remain, but you can’t argue with the sentiment.

On the corner of La Salle and Mountain, this new and improved stop sign now reads:   Stop Global Warming.

Look At Montclair’s Olden Days

Have you thumbed through some Arcadia paperbacks about Oakland before?  They publish city-wide and neighborhood books chock-full of old photos and recollections – including a great one covering our Oakland Hills.

Oakland Hills, by Erika Mailman

Author Erika Mailman penned this Oakland Hills version, starting with a chapter called “Montclair and Environs.”  We hadn’t looked at the print edition in a while, but just discovered and wanted to share this online access.

You can actually page through the complete Montclair chapter on Amazon.com, in a legible size.  It’s a great record of Montclair’s olden days, with images displaying a remote and rural-looking place.

The photos prove it!  The Medaus, who owned and farmed most of the current-day village, are posed outside their homestead.  The Hayes school is shown, followed by the Montclair firehouse which replaced it.  And the undeveloped hills are snapped, along with an observatory built to attract real estate buyers.

Anyway, it’s a pleasant surprise to see this live Montclair chapter – click to look inside.