The Future of Our Town

Do you see what I see? I borrowed this line from a popular Christmas song last week to ask a serious question.

Do you see the advent of more chain stores in the Village as a threat? Does it matter to you if Cold Stone Creamery moves in (a possibility that’s still up in the air) or if small shops struggle to survive in the environment we’ve already created?

Well, apparently I’ve struck a nerve, because the e-mail is piling up. Here are some of the responses:

Reader Don Mackey says the “chain environment I fear” has already arrived in Montclair. But he suggests we vote with our pocketbooks. “The landlord should have the right to sign leases with almost whomever he deems fit (taking into consideration that all codes and statutes are adhered to). It is the customer who then decides over time if that was a good business decision on behalf of the landlord and the tenant.”

Mackey says he doesn’t want to see any more national accounts in town. “Call me crazy, but I would like Montclair to be distinguishable from any other ‘strip mall USA.'”

Reader Marc Viale has a different perspective. “I welcome the arrival of new stores in Montclair Village,” he writes. But he thinks that Rockridge small business merchants have done a better job of providing unique and successful small businesses.

“Rockridge residents would not allow a major chain to enter as their needs are exceeded by the existing merchants,” Viale says. “If anything this is a wake up call for Montclair small business, as Montclarions want more.”

I’ll keep a running dialog (with more reader feedback) in future columns, as I strive to be the voice of the people. After all, that’s the job of a Town Crier.

Highway sentiments

Diane Hill has these comments on last week’s column update on Highway 13: “I was so pleased to see that Caltrans is considering a change in the form of the median — so plants can go in along even more of the highway than before.”

“I found it interesting that the reason, they claim, to put in an asphalt lane is to make highway cleaning easier,” Hill says. “I’ve noticed that areas that have a wide asphalt are not necessarily cleaner. So much for that argument.”

Holiday treat

No Christmas seems complete without the classic “A Christmas Carol.” While lots of theater companies offer it, the most talked about show seems to be at Moonlight Productions in Piedmont today (Dec. 10) through next Sunday (Dec. 19).

The children’s theater group is directed by Danny Buell, who has acted in “A Christmas Carol” every year since he was 4 years old! For more information, call 510-482-1569.

Flower power

Thanks to reader Jonathan Taylor for giving me the “dirt” on Oakland’s daffodil project. He says the idea “sprouted” from the almost entirely volunteer organization Keep Oakland Beautiful.

“Thousands of daffodils will bloom in public spaces all over Oakland,” he writes, “and dozens of volunteers have worked hard to bring the program to life.”

Taylor says his group looks for ways to keep Oakland beautiful, clean and green — especially involving children. It’s an official chapter of the national organization Keep America Beautiful.


Parking lots can bring out the best, and worst in holiday shoppers.

Reader Randa Peterson says she witnessed a verbal altercation over Thanksgiving that involved two senior men, arguing about a parking spot at the Montclair Safeway.

Each one had a spot, by the way, but that wasn’t good enough. They wanted the same spot, no doubt closer to the door.

It reminds me of the gray-haired motorist who thrust his middle digit in my direction at Albertson’s one holiday season. I can only surmise that the man hadn’t eaten — and was acting impulsively on an empty and rumbling stomach.


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