New Map For Northern Montclarions

Every so often, a good samaritan attempts to define our slightly-confusing borders.  This time, neighbor Jonathan Ryshpan created a nice Google map overlay which shows Northern Montclarions exactly where they live — right down to the street level.

As you may know, Montclair’s divided into two separate parts.

Beat 13Y covers the northern reaches, roughly above Thornhill to Berkeley, and its safety concerns are represented by the North Hills Community Association (click here).  Beat 13Z encompasses the southern half, including Montclair Village, and is cared for by the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council (click here).

Fortunately, Montclarions mingle peacefully and we’re betting that many residents have no clue about these distinctions.  However it is good to be reminded that you belong to one of two tribes, at least from the City of Oakland’s police mapping viewpoint.

So let’s examine this dividing line between Beats 13Y and 13Z more closely.  While Thornhill is a good rule of thumb, it’s not valid as you head uphill.  It turns out that the border is far more circuitous:  Thornhill – Sobrante – Oakwood – Glen Oaks – Wild Currant – Thornhill – Snake – Skyline.

Click to Ryshpan’s map here, and see if you agree with this assessment.  It’s always been a little murky, but matters to those folks who may be (knowingly or unknowingly) living in no-man’s land.

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.

Wallaroos and Emus in the Oakland Hills

Quick! What’s the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaroo? The wallaroo is slightly smaller and a little stockier than its more famous cousin. The antipodal macropods are now frolicking with emus at the Oakland Zoo’s new Wild Australia exhibit.

You can see the new exhibit by taking a ride on the zoo train, which is now called the Outback Adventure Train. California’s climate is so similar to parts of Australia (consider the eucalyptus), would wallaroos and emus survive in the Oakland Hills if they escaped their enclosures?

New Shoes In The Village

News from the street:   Madison is turning into a full-service shoe store, while McCaulou’s shoe department is shutting down.  This news is connected because both locations are owned by long-time retailer David McCaulou.

Madison’s new shoes can be found at 2020 Mountain Avenue, replacing the women’s clothing there.  Soon you’ll find complete lines for men, women and children, along with nice handbags and wallets.  We watched McCaulou racing around the store and directing the transformation yesterday.  Assuming no snafus, he said the store should open this Saturday.

For years, Montclarions could buy shoes at McCaulou’s on Medau Place.  Their shoe department has been staffed by knowledgeable and attentive sales people, who even special order for you.  However the downstairs location always seems busy and cramped – and both problems are getting addressed now.

In Montclair, McCaulou’s and Madison offer essentials so you don’t have to traipse elsewhere.  There are nine McCaulou’s stores scattered throughout the North and East Bay, which keep the old-timey department store tradition alive and well.  Private owner David McCaulou also operates Madison, Hollyhock and David M. Brian shops.

At Today in Montclair. we’re unabashed Montclair Village boosters.  So remember to check out the newest entry as you make your local rounds.  We have a feeling that a good shoe store will be eagerly welcomed by villagers.

Top Ten Memorable Stops In Montclair

When you live in a place, it’s easy to forget what strikes visitors as unique, precious, entertaining or picture-worthy.  Most of the time, we end up showing our guests a few things from our tried-and-true list of memorable stops in Montclair.  Although this week’s tourists are aiming for San Francisco and Napa, at least we’re giving them a couple Oakland memories.

Top Ten Memorable Stops In Montclair

1.  Sibley Preserve – The volcano, mazes and seasonal flowers are crowd-pleasers.

2.  The Egg  Shop – Every village needs their old, traditional breakfast spot.

3.  Mayor’s Race – During elections, the candidates will shake paws at our Farmers Market.

4.  People Watch – Hitting one of the coffee shops at Mountain and Antioch is required.

5.  Shepherd Canyon – No time?  Torri Gate, on Escher Drive, provides a city-water view.

6.  Hills Drive – Taking any circuitous route through our narrowest streets, always memorable!

7.  Oakland Museum – When kids are around, we’re visiting those California exhibits.  (OL)

8.  Paramount or Fox – Getting tickets to anything (!) so you can oogle the ornate with guests.  (OL)

9.  Crogan’s – Just because it’s here, but steer clear if your guests are true foodies.

10. Library – Declaring “storybook” as you head past the library, firehouse and Fernwood area.

(OL) or Outside Limits:   Yes, yes, we know.  These two Oakland stops fall outside the Montclair District, but are included in the Top Ten Memorable Stops list…while visiting here.

We’ll Take Some Rumble Strips

Rumble strips are supposed to alert drivers, when regular warnings or signals just won’t do.  Come to think of it, we’ll take some strips to slow down Moraga Avenue speedsters leaving the Warren Freeway.  Nothing else has worked yet!

Unfortunately, new strips installed on the Oakland Bay Bridge haven’t been greeted with open arms.  “This is the last place you want to put rumble strips, because rumble strips cause very serious vibration,” declared Hassan Astaneh, a Berkeley mechanical engineering professor.  And vibrations contribute to possible bridge failures, like last year’s eyebar collapse.

According to ABC7 News, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney begged to differ.  “There’s nothing about the rumble strips that cause any type of damage to the east span of the Bay Bridge,” explained Ney.  “The addition of a 3/8 of an inch doesn’t cause any measurable short-term fatigue. ”  But we’re already fatigued, and will keep our fingers crossed.

P.S.  We weren’t kidding about rumble strips for Montclair arterials, like Moraga Avenue.

Worth The Hornet’s Tour

On a whim, we went down to the U.S.S. Hornet yesterday afternoon.  Getting the full tour is  completely worth your time!  When you are guided by old steam room workers and fighter pilots, active on similar-class ships during Vietnam, the experience comes alive.

You don’t need to be a war or ship buff to appreciate the magnitude of this vessel.  After walking below deck for a couple hours, it’s hard to imagine being stuck there for months.  One of the tour guides had worked six-hour shifts – that’s six hours on, six hours off – in the steam rooms.  Even without war-time threats to life and limb, we’re impressed.

The other guide had been a top-gun type, looking fit and ready to pilot a jet right now.  He showed us what took place throughout the upper tower, where the ship captain and flight controllers performed their duties.  We marveled at what it took to ensure that different sized-jets could take off or land safely, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

By combining two walking tours, you’ll get a bead on how things operated on commissioned ships.  We checked out an engine room, the kitchen and mess hall, marines-only munitions storage, a six-man brig and catapult operations below deck.  Above these warrens, we toured the ship’s bridge, air traffic control area, and ultra-windy flight deck.

Like all good tourists, we have to share some photos taken there – which can’t replace visiting in person!  Fortunately, the Hornet Museum operates with a large volunteer force who mans the vessel seven days a week, from 10am – 5pm.  Admission runs from $6/kid (ages 5-17) to $14/adult, and helps refurbish this military treasure.

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