More Parking Meters, More Love

Did you hear about the extra parking meters that Oakland’s going to install in Montclair?  There will be 25 metered positions on Mountain Avenue, placed between Snake and Scout Roads, and another 25 units positioned on Moraga Avenue, over on the Montclair Park side.

It’s been a long time since Today in Montclair has touched on that touchy subject:  parking in the Village.  The last time we asked you about parking, rates were raised, and times were extended and later rescinded by Oakland’s City Council.  However concerns about our village vibrancy were never really addressed.

District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf has expressed her concern about these extra meters.   The decision to add these and other city meters happened last year, and Schaaf will protest them as unnecessary at the next Council Meeting:

Our office convinced staff to limit the Montclair meters to the east side of the street only.   While I must respect the need to generate revenues already budgeted for, I have many concerns about this proposal, which I’ll be voicing when this issue comes to the City Council this Tuesday, March 1st at 6:30pm.

Parking meters shouldn’t be [a] cash cow; they only make sense when part of a thoughtful policy of managing parking availability in support of our commercial districts.

If you want to hear the live Oakland City Council meeting, then plan to visit KTOP online or Comcast Channel 10 on Tuesday evening.  Also please check out out the upcoming Council Meeting Agenda, to figure out when the topic might come up!

Update:  Here’s a little good news.  At Tuesday’s meeting, Council Rep Schaaf was able to reduce the new meter count from 50 to 22, split by the two locations.

Don’t Forget Leona Canyon, This Year

All the bigger parks usually get our attention, but we did another full walk at Leona Canyon over the holidays.  You ramble through a beautiful canyon, complete with “babbling brook” sound effects.

Start at the southern Canyon Oaks trail head, right past the condos.  Now walk from this open area into the woods after a quarter mile or so.  This is the nicest wide trail, with a slight uphill grade as the canyon envelops you.  You could stop by the bench and return, for a quick 1.5 mile walk with the dog or kids.

Leona Canyon Map

There are other options, too.  Less than a mile in, you may turn right on an unmarked trail (Artemisia) that rises several hundred feet, ending near Skyline Blvd.  Or continue along and catch the signed trail (Pyrite) on the left, which meanders up the opposite canyon hillside.  Both of these trails are very good uphill workouts, and I highly recommend them.

If you keep going on the main canyon trail, then you will eventually head up and up to Merritt College.  The views make this out-and-back 2.7 miler worth it.  You feel so removed, yet are just tucked away from the surrounding ridges and civilization.

Want company the first time?  The East Bay Regional Park District has planned some special Leona Canyon events.  Learn about the indigenous peoples and how they lived among the berries and willows, appreciate the local birds, or else go for a nice walk with Fido and his friends in the canyon.  Here are details:

  • Sunday Stroll — February 20th, from 10:00am – 12:00pm.  Sara Fetterly will lead this moderate hike from Canyon Oaks trailhead to Merritt College and back.  Native American plant uses are highlighted along this scenic path.  This short stroll is great for families, and dogs are welcome.  No advanced registration is needed.  For more info, call (510) 544-3187.
  • Tuesdays For The Birds — March 15th, from 7:30am – 9:30am.  Enjoy bird life with guide Bethany Facendi, through Leona Canyon.  All levels of birding experience welcome.  Bring water, sunscreen and binoculars or scopes.   No advanced registration is needed, but call (510) 544-2233 for trailhead location.
  • Volunteer Day — Sunday, March 20th, from 10:00am – 2:00pm.  Help showcase the self-guided trail “Local Indian Uses of Plants.”  Protect and promote featured native plants by weeding and pulling non-native invasive grasses and shrubs, and selectively pruning native plants.  Lunch, tools and gloves provided by leader Mike Charnofsky, and volunteers ages 10+ are welcomed at the Merritt College trailhead.  Registration is required, by calling 888-327-2757 (option 2, 3) or online (program #26057).
  • Birding By Ear — Sunday, March 27th, from 9:30am – 11:30am.  Join Michael Charnofsky for this concert experience.  Yes, it does count when you identify a bird by its song. Learn to identify bird songs in this beautiful canyon.  Meet at the Canyon Oaks Dr. Staging Area.  No advanced registration is needed.  For more info, call (510) 544-3187.

What I like best about Leona Canyon is that it feels like an oasis, and isn’t well-known like the nearby Chabot, Joaquin Miller, Sibley, Huckleberry or Redwood Regional Parks.  It’s a small park, but there are those who love it.

Foxes Get Comfortable Too

We’re used to seeing deer, raccoon, skunks and occasional turkeys around our homes.  In the past few weeks, people living in the hills between Oakland and Berkeley have spotted a fox or two lounging right in their backyards!

Normally, the foxes are spotted running in stealth mode. I have seen them scurrying along, particularly on open hillsides in the East Bay Regional Parks. This photographic proof is fascinating, since the fox looks like some domesticated cat or dog.

Wild Life in the North Hills serves as our active repository for sightings, especially in the northern reaches of Oakland.  All neighbors are encouraged to take snapshots of mammals, birds, insects, plants and more.  The recent finds are uploaded for the month, and then categorized accordingly.  We’re impressed by Kay Loughman, an expert birder who faithfully oversees and maintains this great resource.

Oakland Responds To Shelterwood Water Main

East Bay MUD fixed the main.  The main broke.  Repeat.

The water main on Shelterwood Drive has broken many times over the past few years, as reported here back in June 2009 and June 2010.  We even lost interest reporting on the breaks, though they were certainly disruptive for those neighbors.

Finally, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan reports there will be a permanent fix:

EBMUD Bumps Up Fix of Old Water Main on Shelterwood: After a water main on Shelterwood Road off of Shepherd Canyon broke for the 5th time, causing headaches for residents, EBMUD announced that it is moving up plans for a permanent replacement from May to the end of this month.

“EBMUD manages over 4000 miles of pipeline and we budget 7 to 15 miles of replacement a year. Replacement criteria for aging pipes are based on a formula that takes into account age and breaks. Once a pipeline gets into a queue for replacement, the new pipeline has to be designed before the old one can be replaced. Staffing and resources for both design and replacement are an ongoing challenge and EBMUD must constantly revise priorities,” explained Michelle Blackwell, Community Affairs Representative.

We–and the residents of Shelterwood–thank EBMUD for acting quickly on this.

Yes, Shelterwood’s made the big time.  It’s about time.