Fire Prevention By The Professionals

When milestone years come around, people take notice:  it’s one score for the Oakland Hills fire disaster on October 20th, 1991.  To commemorate the destruction of our northern neighborhoods, Oakland held many events to share memories and fire prevention tips.  When Mother Nature strikes again, with her Diablo winds and fires, we should be able to reduce the damage.

Our favorite mitigation efforts are performed by goats annually.  The City of Oakland and East Bay Regional Park District engage the goat herders and their charges, who chew hillsides clear and also serve as goodwill ambassadors.  (Yes, the goat escapees provided additional entertainment this past spring.)

Less visible?  There are coordinated efforts among East Bay cities, park districts and fire departments, through the Hills Emergency Forum.  Every year, the Forum joins together and creates specific priorities to assess, prevent/mitigate, prepare and respond to fires.  Please click and read this PDF file!

Active members include Oakland and El Cerrito along with the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Moraga Orinda Fire Prevention District (MOFD) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB).  Of course, some 14 city fire chiefs are also members.

Hills fires happen regularly, with recorded events in 1923, 1931, 1933, 1937, 1946, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2002.  Along with homeowners and citizen group efforts, the Hills Emergency Forum needs to do their job.  We hope all these East Bay jurisdictions stay focused on their shared responsibilities for fire prevention and response — assuming they have sufficient funding.

Piedmont Pines: Patience Pays Off

Piedmont Pines neighbors have exhibited the patience of Job, while awaiting undergrounding of their utilities. The Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association (PPNA) first requested undergrounding some 24 years ago, and it looks like the work might take place…soon.

Some 251 homeowners, living at these addresses, are scheduled for phase one.  And there’s more good news for these residents, who will not be on the hook for electrical panel upgrades.  The PPNA worked with the City of Oakland and PG&E, and now the utility’s required to pay for all upgrades — effectively saving $2,500-$5,000 per homeowner.

We think all the pieces are in place, including approvals, financing and work plans.  But that neighborly patience could still come in handy, during months ahead.

Update: On Monday, October 24th, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony at Piedmont Pines. Current District 4 Council Rep Libby Schaaf and Former Rep Dick Spees will be there.

Montclair Village Asssociation Changes Guards

The Montclair Village Association (MVA) provides much-needed glue connecting Montclair’s denizens, merchants and the City of Oakland.  The group listens to all concerns, and its leader wears multiple hats including retail business developer, graffiti ranger, party host, urban planner and overall visionary.  Now we are changing the leadership.

MVA’s most recent administrator-director, Roger Vickery, did a great job herding all the constituencies.  We especially appreciated the practical and patient approach he used to improve life in the village.  Despite the elected dog mayors, he truly served as the de-facto Mayor about town.  We’re sure that Vickery will be missed after his retirement.

Tomorrow, the torch gets passed to long-time Oaklander Daniel Swafford.  We spent time with him when he announced and ran for District 4 council rep  last year.  With his enthusiastic leadership of Dimond’s safety group (like Montclair SIC) and the Oaktoberfest, we should be in different but very good hands.  Now that steins have been cleaned and put away, Swafford is ready to focus on all-things Montclair.

Please celebrate the changing of the guard, tomorrow.  After the regular MVA meeting wraps, around 7:15pm Wednesday, you’re invited to Italian Colors (map) for the celebration.  For those who have worked with Roger, come and raise a glass to him.  While there, you will also have an opportunity to meet Daniel as well as many caring Montclarions.  Stop by!