Where Restoration Plans Came True

This weekend, the Oakland Heritage Alliance offers a first-ever walking tour through Shepherd Canyon.  When the trains stopped running, decades ago, the State considered and abandoned highway development plans.  It’s time to imagine what might have been, and to appreciate how long-term, low-impact plans came true.

In 1975, the City of Oakland prepared the first Shepherd Canyon Corridor Plan and Environment Impact Report.  The documents covered a wide range of development and criteria for the canyon.  Some 12.6 acres were set aside for the Railroad Trail, along with another 5.4 acres allocated to the Shepherd Creek Trail.  There’s been slow, but steady, restoration progress since then.

Mother Nature has pushed projects along this year, especially to improve driving and walking conditions.  In 2011, the City has been installing necessary storm drains along with guard rails.  Some openings in the rails, for walker access, are getting cut soon.  Even with budget crunches, Oakland’s Measure B made this nearly three-quarter million spend possible.

The Shepherd Canyon Park and trails have come alive through local volunteers, like all of our Montclair nature-scapes.  Beyond the actively used soccer play fields, there have been efforts to remove trash, clear brush, build benches, install signs and create welcome gates.  The trails are (always) a work-in-progress, yet are very nice already.

The Oakland Heritage Alliance (OHA) has awarded Shepherd Canyon with a Partners In Preservation award, especially for its interpretative signs and improvements.  For their Saturday tour, they have asked Mike Petouhoff to lead a two-hour tour on the trails.  As Shepherd Canyon Homeowner Association (SCHA) president, Mike is our resident expert on all-things Shepherd Canyon — and you’re guaranteed to learn a lot!

More info: The Shepherd Canyon walking tour takes off from the Montclair Recreation Center (map).  You will need comfortable walking shoes, though it’s not a difficult trek.  This tour runs from 10 am-noon, and may end up with a lingering lunch in the Village.  Please show up a few minutes early to register.  As an OHA benefit, donations are requested:  $15/non-members; $10/members; $5/kids; free/kids under 10 years old.

Update: Our Oakland took the Shepherd Canyon walking tour and reported it here. Also check out all the accompanying photos.

Great Replacement For Wine And Jazz Festival

Since the Montclair Wine and Jazz Festival is but a distant memory, we offer a local replacement that sounds even better:  the first-ever Oakland Jazz Festival on Saturday afternoon.

This jazz concert takes place on the lawn, at Dunsmuir Estate (map).  Starting tomorrow at high noon and running all day, you may revel in the beauty and beats.  Elation will set you back about $60/head plus parking — and prepare to spend more on drinks and food, once inside the gates.

Here’s the line-up:

  • KEM — Blending Gospel, R & B and Jazz, KEM’s unique sound is sophisticated and hypnotic.
  • Boney James — Billboard ranked, as the No. 3 Top Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Decade.
  • Will Downing — A velvet voice, a sultry sound, and a vocal range of seduction.
  • Lalah Hathaway — Daughter of 70’s soulster Donny Hathaway, a “textured and layered” singer.
  • Ray Obiedo — Ray and his Latin Jazz band are guaranteed to get your hips and feet moving.
  • Lloyd Gregory — The Bay Area’s own ultra-talented jazz guitarist.
  • Rick & Russ Show — Spinning in-between each set, creating a real party atmosphere.

If you are in a musical frame-of-mind, then we think this variety of jazz singers and players is worth the money.  Don’t you agree?

Singing For Food, At Montclair’s Farmers Market

Today, things were hopping in Montclair Village.  Visiting artists displayed their works at the Fine Arts Festival, while farmers and bakers sold their edibles at the weekly Farmers Market.  We also heard some orphans made quite a scene.

Yes, Oliver and his fellow orphans left their Woodminster hillside home and ventured into Montclair Village for Food, Glorious Food!  See the photographic proof above, snapped by onlookers.

Woodminster Summer Musicals will soon kick off their 45th season with Oliver   The performances run July 7th (preview), July 8-10th, and July 14-17th.  They all begin at 8pm, so you should remember to bring layers for the evening chill.

You may buy reasonably-priced tickets online here, or else call 510-531-9597.  Remember kids are free with paying adults, which is always a good deal.  Beyond the Oliver!  performances, My Fair Lady plays in August, and Finian’s Rainbow wraps the season in September.

How can you go wrong with this Broadway-in-Oakland tradition?

Make Oakland Better Now Visits Montclair

Last year, concerned Oaklanders got together to discuss city priorities and raise questions for the mayoral candidates.  Since the election, this Make Oakland Better Now group has evolved and now focuses on the city’s fiscal situation and 2011-2012 budgeting progress — for the rest of us.

Make Oakland Better Now, or MOBN! for short, plans to make a special visit to Montclair this week.  MOBN’s Bruce Nye, a local lawyer, will describe the city’s budget options along with the latest activities in City Hall.  We like that Nye and other volunteers have taken time to understand and clarify options, as independent citizens with neither special interests nor axes to grind.

“Pencil in” this Thursday evening, to hear about the our budgeting progress and ask a couple questions if you’re so inclined.  Nye will meet with Montclarions on Thursday, from 8-9pm — at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive (map).

Many thanks to our local safety group, Montclair Safety and Improvement Council, which invited MOBN! to their monthly meeting.  Their regular safety meeting starts at 7pm, for those who are neighborhood watchers.

Thursday Night Open, In The Village

Everyone’s invited to Montclair Village this Thursday evening.  Why now?  After all, we’re not celebrating a holiday, wandering around a fine arts festival or eating our way through a fundraiser.

Village merchants are rolling out their red carpets for the first-ever “Shop Local Extravaganza.”  Stores are open late, so that we can pick up essentials or non-essentials before the Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s a perfect time for busy families to shop for seasonal specials and have fun in the process,” says Roger Vickery, director of the Montclair Village Association (MVA).

Village shops will stay open until 8:30pm, with their own special discounts and screaming sales.  To attract local shoppers and strollers, there will be additional lures of free food, refreshments, art and entertainment.

Yes, parking is also free after 6pm.  The La Salle garage stays open until 9pm.