How 2010 Fared For 94611

To celebrate the last day of 2010, we decided to peer over our shoulders.  Denizens of Montclair fared pretty well, because there were no major natural or man-made calamities.  After some intensive analysis, we noticed an even distribution of highs and lows worth recapping for you.

Was it the economy, stupid? The recession hit individuals differently and privately. The Village took hits more publicly, with longer vacancies. Eventually, a couple new eateries opened their doors to keep us local. Thefts in the hills became more creative, arriving in small and very concentrated waves.

In Village politics, non-canines ran but a dog won the mayoral race because we didn’t take risks. It was exciting to consider a rat or two, but the classic chocolate lab, Murphy, is now in charge.

Montclair was fairly quiet, except for the arts, family, food, and holiday street fests — and we still like this mellow place in the city.

Council Rep Schaaf Opens Shop Soon

In a year-end message, incoming District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf has invited everyone to the city-wide inauguration.  All the newly elected officials, including Schaaf, will be sworn in next Monday at 11am, at the Fox Theater.  The event is free and open to Oaklanders, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Meanwhile, the transition seems to be moving swimmingly.  Jean Quan is focused on staffing up the Oakland mayoral team over the holidays, effectively handing District 4 to Schaaf.  We have also seen Schaaf dipping her toes in the water, by addressing a safety matter or two on the local Montclair Safety & Improvement Council (MSIC) message board.

Starting January 3rd, Rep Schaaf will be located on the second floor at City Hall.  She’s available at or (510) 238-7004.  Her council aide, Jenny Feinberg, may be reached anytime at

Foreclosures Not Too Healthy

Our beloved zip code is showing a sign of real estate stress.  According to recent RealtyTrac data, there were 31 foreclosures which represented one foreclosure for every 595 homes.  At the same time last year, we recorded one foreclosure filing for every 1,216 units in Montclair and Piedmont.

Last year, our foreclosure rate was a third of the national average and now we’re starting to catch up with the rest of the country.  In November 2009, our 94611 zip code recorded only 0.08% compared to 0.24% nationally.  This past month, we doubled to 0.17% while the USA decreased to 0.20% overall.

The somewhat good news?  Current 94611 foreclosures fell well below numbers notched by Oakland and nearby neighbors.  In November 2010, our 0.17% rate compared favorably to 0.47% for Oakland, 42% for Alameda County and 0.43% for the State of California.

Statistics here aren’t damned lies, and the percentages and numbers are still very small.  For those 31 former owners of Montclair and Piedmont properties, however, this past year must have been rough going.

The Country’s Catching Up: Gay Rights

In the Oakland Hills, we have already evolved in our acceptance of gay rights.  A large percentage of our population is gay, relative to other parts of the country, and the idea that gays don’t have equal rights just seems backwards to us hills-dwellers.

Outside our bubble, the lame duck Congress repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this past week.  That’s a pretty big milestone, since homosexual military can just focus on their service to the country — and not carry the additional burden of hiding in clear view.

On today’s Good Morning America program, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden went another step further.  While he’s a known talker, Biden said a few words about anti-Proposition 8 rights that are hardly outrageous to us:  gay marriage is inevitable.

Watch the video interview between Biden and host George Stephanopolous.  Near the end, there’s talk of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and a segue to gay marriage.  “The country’s evolving,” declared Biden.  “I think there’s an inevitability for a national consensus on the subject of gay marriage.”

Of course, Biden quickly covered his tracks and added that it’s his opinion which may not reflect President Obama’s view.  Still, we’ll take this Christmas Eve gift as a sign of good things to come.

Superlocal Rain and Weather

When the severe weather arrives, we are always trying to gauge what’s happening right in the Oakland Hills.  Somehow reports from Oakland’s airport or other Bay Area locales doesn’t cut it.

The superlocal weather stations are currently reporting through Wunderground online.  Enter your address, and the site returns the nearest reporting location to you.

Or click to see live and historical weather at these locations:   Indian Way — Joaquin Miller — Piedmont Pines — Above Thornhill.

As you are probably aware, there’s a hazardous weather warning  issued by the National Weather Service for the Bay Area.  We assume you have already battened down the hatches.

Yes, the rains and floods do happen this time of year.  Remember to pay attention and clear nearby storm drains of debris and leaves — whether you have officially adopted a drain or not.

To protect your turf, come and pick up sandbags and plastic sheeting at the Public Works’ satellite office:  5921 Shepherd Canyon Road.  If you are experiencing storm-related damage, then make sure to call Oakland’s Public Works Call Center at (510) 615-5566 for emergency help.