Oakland’s Sidewalk Saga


We come across them every day. Most of the time, we ignore them, but every now and then they jump up to bite us. I’m talking about raised sections of sidewalk that can catch a heel and send you tumbling to the turf. When it happened to me, the contents of my purse went flying and I lay there, stunned, as I watched my lipstick roll down the street. But when it happened to Adriana Giacomelli, it was much more serious. “I tripped and fell so hard that I had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital,� the retired realtor told me. And it happened in front of the Montclair Longs Drug, where a city-owned tree is apparently pushing up concrete. “My hands were full and I fell on my face,� she said, adding that she looked like she’d been run over by a truck. “And this is not the first time this has happened,� she said. A man who helped her that day said he’d seen at least 3 other people trip on the very same section of sidewalk.
Similar stories have come from the other side of town, where I’ve written repeatedly about the raised section of sidewalk in front of Montclair’s Blockbuster Video. At least 2 readers have reported falling there and the location has been reported to Public Works, with no visible results.
But having said all this, I’m cautiously optimistic that things will soon change. I’ve been told by Public Works spokesperson Jeanette Edgerly that repairs should be made to both sites this week. It’s just too bad it took so many calls and so many falls, not to mention a trip to the hospital, for someone to take action. So here’s the number, once again, to report pothole and sidewalk complaints to the city: 510-615-5566. And I hope that store owners and managers keep an eye out for problems, too. If we put our heads together we can tackle this problem.

Neighborhood Alert: I’ve had several e-mails from readers who say that people are rummaging through their recycling bins. It’s one thing to take bottles and cans, which rob the collection company of valuable revenue – but there’s also the possibility of identity theft. Resident Jeff Perloff says he called Oakland Police when he saw someone digging through his gray bin and was told it was out of their hands. Even the recycling company didn’t seem concerned. So the best advice is to put your bin out the morning of pick-up and shred any important documents, including credit card offers, before you recycle.

Reaching Out: Thanks to hills resident Rick Stuart (KFOG radio’s afternoon personality) for telling me about tomorrow’s Wheelchair Regatta at Encinal Yacht Club. Handicapped vets are being treated to a boat ride on the bay, lunch and entertainment. Rick is offering his boat and would like other powerboat skippers to volunteer too. If you’d like to help, e-mail Margot Brown at mjbjhb@aol.com.

Grape Crush: Winemaking in Montclair? Yum! Nils Cunningham and mother Jean have been making wine in their garage this month – and soon they’ll enjoy the fruits of their labor. “We had a bumper crop of grapes this year,â€� says Nils, who shares a one acre Gold Country vineyard with two other partners, including his mom. Nils’ girlfriend, Lisa Gifford, lives on the property and helps tend to the grapes, which are brought to Montclair by truck. The crusher and fermenter are in the Cunningham’s garage. And how good is their homemade wine? “I haven’t had to pour any out,â€� says Nils, who took weekend classes in vineyard management through UC Davis. But he doesn’t have aspirations of being a wine baron anytime soon. “It barely pays for itself and it’s more of a labor of love,â€� he admits. So for Nils, he’ll be keeping his day job – as a professional theatre stage hand. And his mom? After retiring as a flutist with the Oakland Symphony, Jean runs the Paramount Theatre pop music library. It seems all three elements are in place – wine, women – and song.

Speaking of grapes, artist Michael Grbich says someone near Broadway Terrace has a vineyard on their property. They’re actually growing grapes in their terraced back yard. With the price of land around here, you might as well get a little table wine out of the deal.
Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418 or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.

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