No Longer Welcome In Montclair

We are no longer welcoming visitors to Montclair Village these days:  our southern “Welcome to Montclair” sign is not there!

Remember when there was a graffiti hit on the village, in early December?  This very same sign, located on the corner of Mountain and Park Boulevards, was broken as well as spray-painted back then.  We noticed the welcome got fixed in record time – within days.

Welcome to Groundhog Day, here in Montclair.  Fast forward three months, and our well-worn sign was attacked once more.  Apparently it’s just too weakened to be repaired quickly and has been removed, temporarily.

Montclarions are deluging Roger Vickery, who serves as the Montclair Village Association (MVA) director, about the sign’s disappearance and status.  Here is his pre-emptive response:

Yes, the Montclair Village Welcome sign…has been removed for repairs and repainting.  Vandals, you may recall, smashed the top of the sign last December.  We made a repair on site but the vandals returned and tried to break off the top again last week.  And, in our attempt to remove some graffiti late last year, we removed some of the paint on the sign.

So, we’ve asked Dave Strong, of Strong Signs in Oakland, to take the sign back to his shop so he can do a proper fix and repaint the sign.  Dave is the guy who created this sign as well as our Welcome sign in the MSIC Shortline Pocket Park on the other end of town.

We hope to have the sign back in place in the next couple of weeks.

We understand the refurbishment is in safe hands and getting done, but still couldn’t resist the symbolic removal of our red-carpet welcome.  Keep in mind that Montclarions took immediate notice, yet visitors wouldn’t know they missed anything.

And here’s hoping the second time is a charm.

Oakland’s Old College Try

Check out this anti-graffiti message, elegantly placed on a Montclair Village light-pole.  It’s one of many similar prohibitions by the City of Oakland, placed on poles that are otherwise clean and green.

Oakland Public Works is giving things the old college try, by declaring:  Signs and graffiti prohibited.  Violators will be prosecuted.  OMC Section 5.06.020.

While this warning won’t scare off all the nefarious spray-painters, like our “SNS tagger,” it might be a deterrent for other decorators.  At least I would think twice when confronted with this message, and even pause to consider the consequences.

But I’m not speaking directly for the vandals, armed with aerosol cans.

Your Interests Changed This Year

At least your online search interests changed this year vs. last year, when we peered into search terms used to discover Today in Montclair, 94611.  The people have spoken!

During 2009, everything we could unearth and share about the Oakland Bay Bridge was hot stuff.  All the changes, disruptions, accidents and new construction captured so many dependents living here.  Next on the list was the local graffiti, which definitely created a depressing buzz when the latest round hit hard:  “SNS” tags, anyone?

This year, the virtual art shows also were very popular.  Pixs from our local sidewalk festival artisans and grade schoolers created the most traffic.  There was plenty of searching for Bert Monroy, who creates photoshop realism, as well as Marisa Muliadi-Kleiber and Janette MacKinlay.

On a newsier front, we covered Oakland Police Officer Murray Hoyle’s funeral and FC Gold and Olympic Soccer Star Tiffeny Milbrett’s appearance – and you keep searching for them today.  By contrast, our top searches were all about Hans Reiser last year, when he fully confessed about killing and burying his almost-ex, Nina.

During 2008, Montclarions were more focused on fires, crime, voting and home values.  A year later, we hadn’t experienced major flames, above-average burglaries, another U.S. prexy election, or more precipitous declines in real estate prices.  Ergo, your interests and searching activities also mellowed out.

What’s stayed the same?  Despite the 2009 recession, you are still shopping online and remain quite tuned into all the places closing or opening in Montclair Village.  You still love your pizza, and that need for the quick and easy feed makes sense.

Finally, we witnessed Hollywood’s hold on our collective zeitgeist.  As proof, Brad Pitt’s plans to film in Oakland created feverish pitch and then died down quickly.  Plus one little Pixar flick, Up, caused an uptick in anything mentioning Fentons Creamery and the Merritt Bakery’s Hamburger Cake – and we expect that to continue forever.

Checked Out Mountain’s Graffiti

As promised, we decided to share a handful of spray-painted locations in Montclair Village.  These four photos were taken this afternoon, while checking out some graffiti along Mountain Boulevard.  The vandals certainly took a bit of moxie, not to mention climbing ability, to decorate these top spots.

Just who or what is “SNS,” which was recently sprayed throughout town?  These initials have certainly gotten our attention, starting with the Montclair Village guide next to Lucky’s Supermarket as well as a private building across the street.

On two other private buildings, you see a days-old red graffiti adorning a side wall as well as older blue and black markings on a brick wall.  They are located on exposed reaches between buildings.

We also discovered a completely racist remark sprayed on one of the local street-lights near Montclair Park, but decided the words and image were both too inflammatory for this (or any) site.  You may walk right by and read it at nearly eye-level, though.

During today’s stroll, we opened our “graffiti  radar” for smaller examples.  There are subtle markings in odd places like the back side of Lucky’s behind the big Montclair Park trees, the top of the windows at Montclair Physical Therapy, and the back of buildings visible from the parking garage.

So we wonder what happens when this graffiti lands on private property.  We know it can be reported and that’s fine.  What will motivate all the building owners to clean up after the mess?  Will the owners have to keep cleaning up, over and over?  What a pain, huh.

Response To Graffiti Attacks

We wanted to make sure that Montclarions heard some “official reactions” to the recent graffiti attacks on Montclair Village.  You really can’t miss the spray paint when you see the defaced welcome sign and then drive north into the village – and this vandalism creates an awful first impression.

Montclarions should expect the most egregious graffiti to be wiped clean, as many times as necessary.  Kudos to the Montclair Village Association for their responsiveness on the welcome sign, as repairs are getting done quickly.  We understand a couple other places are getting fixed, and will check ’em out later.

However, we can’t rely on the powers-that-be when it comes to graffiti.  Locals are asked to participate in the ongoing solution, by reporting findings around the village streets.  Then we keep our fingers crossed, depending on the public or private property owner!

Please take a look at this morning’s email sent out by Roger Vickery, who directs the Montclair Village Association (MVA).  As you likely know, this merchant group maintains and spices up our faire village district.  Vickery reports on the latest happenings and shares some advice from Nick Vigilante, who chairs the Montclair Safety & Improvement Council (MSIC).

Graffiti in the Village

From Roger Vickery, MVA Executive Director

Greetings!  As you may know, last weekend the Village was hit with graffiti quite extensively, on private and public property.  The most visible instance of it was on the “Welcome to Montclair” sign near the corner of Mountain and Park Boulevards.  The sign had been vandalized and repaired just a week before by Dave Strong of Strong Signs (thanks, Dave, for the quick response), and subsequently subjected to this past weekend’s graffiti.  The MVA asked our maintenance company, Peralta Services, to power wash the sign, and paint over small areas in the Village where they could (parking kiosks for example).  That work has been completed, but it seems like an on-going task.

In light of these recent incidents, Nick Vigilante, chair of the Montclair Safety & Improvement Council (MSIC), has written on their Yahoo Group the following:

Vandalism, a crime, is defined as the act of changing, modifying or defacing public or private property. Graffiti is a crime because it a form of vandalism.  To enhance reporting and recording graffiti crimes in Montclair, here are the procedures to handle it:

1.  Report Graffiti in-progress:

If graffiti is seen in-progress on either public or private property in Oakland, immediately call 911 from a landline, or 777-3211 from a cell phone.

2.  Graffiti on city property (after it occurred):

One should contact either the Public Works Agency (PWA) and/or the Oakland Police Department (OPD) to report graffiti.  Contact the Public Works Agency (PWA) – 615-5566, or send an email to  Or, contact the Oakland Police Department (OPD) – 238-4703

Regardless of which Department you contact, the contact ends up at the PWA for the clean-up. If OPD is called, they refer the calls to PWA for the clean-up. If you think the graffiti is gang-related, the OPD number should be called so OPD can examine the graffiti and the location of it, to see if it is linked to gang and/or illegal drug and alcohol use. If someone does not know if the graffiti is gang-related, then contacting both Departments is probably the best way to handle it – make it clear to both Departments that you do not know if the graffiti is gang-related. If the graffiti is not gang-related, contacting PWA is the best way to handle it for the clean-up purposes.

3.  Graffiti on private property (after it occurred):

Contact the Oakland Police Department (OPD) – 238-4703

4.  In addition to #2 or #3 above, file a police report on the graffiti:

Graffiti reports do not always end up in the OPD crime reporting data base.  The monthly reports I send out on our MSIC Yahoo! Group will verify this.  Therefore, I recommend you file a Citizen Crime Report for each incident of graffiti, whether it be on public or private property.  This can be done via computer and on-line at the Oakland Police Department web site at

Reporting graffiti this way helps bring the graffiti problem to the attention of OPD; gets it into the OPD crime reporting data base to keep track of it; helps raise graffiti problems with Montclair’s Problem Solving Officer for patrol, investigation, enforcement, and prevention activities; and helps get the graffiti removed (clean-up) on city property.

There are three points I’d like to add to Nick’s very complete information:

Some graffiti ends up on PG&E or EBMUD property, so they must be contacted to address it:

  • Report any graffiti you see on PG&E property by contacting them on-line:  click here or call 1-800-743-5000.
  • Report any graffiti you see on EBMUD property by contacting them on-line:  click here.  (Although graffiti is not one of the topics on the list, use this form anyway.)

Regarding graffiti you see on private property in the Village, in addition to notifying the OPD, please let us know at the MVA office at  We are working with Village property owners on this regularly and can use the extra eyes of the community to catch graffiti when it happens.

Finally, those of you who are parents of school-age children (or any kids that might be doing this) let them know this kind of vandalism is expensive to address and contributes to making the Village a less attractive place to visit…and, of course, it’s illegal.  We have our private security folks and the OPD alerted, so they are running the risk of getting caught.

Sorry to be providing such a downer at the beginning of the holiday season, but we need to stay on top of this…we know that graffiti that is allowed to remain draws more graffiti, and the appeal of our Village is seriously affected.