"Ghost Trail" Issue Reappears

YOU MIGHT CALL it a ghost trail. It’s a pathway that was promised to the people of Oakland 32 years ago. Meandering beside one of the longest stretches of free-running creek in town, the trail would have started below the Shepherd Canyon fire station and stretched to Scout Road — about a third of a mile.

It never materialized, and now the Shepherd Canyon Homeowners Association is suing to make it happen. What spurred their interest? The East Bay Regional Park District wants to transfer the deed for the land to the city of Oakland, evading a promise it made in 1975 when the district bought it for “a song” from Caltrans.

That’s how neighborhood activist Mike Petouhoff sees it, and he’s got an ally in attorney Steve Finley, who is handling the case for free.

“He took this on out of the kindness of his heart,” says Petouhoff, who doesn’t want another generation to pass before the trail dream is realized.

The parcel in question was one of two pieces of land that Caltrans “unloaded” when it dropped plans for a highway through Shepherd Canyon. The Shepherd Canyon Corridor Plan called for two public-use trails to buffer the development of more than 1,000 homes in the canyon. We did get one trail — the popular path that runs along what used to be the tracks of the Sacramento Northern Railroad between Shepherd Canyon Road and the village. But oddly, the creekside trail never materialized, and Petouhoff fears that a transfer of deed will mean death for the deal. “The scandal of Caltrans gas funds being used to extend a few private back yards has the potential to be swept under the carpet,” he claims, “as EBRPD washes their hands of the matter.”

Once again, it seems only a squeaky wheel gets the grease. The Shepherd Canyon Homeowners Association is making the noise. Let’s hope our elected officials are listening.

NEW NEIGHBOR: There’s been quite a hubbub over Jerry Brown’s move up the mountain to Montclair. A Realtor friend of mine says his new house was on the market for about nine months before Brown bought it, and has several levels of living and great rooms throughout. The house even has a retractable wall that opens to killer views of the bay. Talk about bringing the outside in!

LEMON ZEST: When life gives you lemons, start cooking. Reader Lynne Orloff-Jones is teaching a luscious lemon cooking class from 6:30-9 p.m. on Sept. 25 in the hills. The author of two cookbooks, the “Happy Cooker” is also a wine expert and will pair her three dishes with three wines to match. Such a deal! You can call her for more information at 510-406-2987.

STRANGE SIGHTING: I’ve seen my share of wildlife in the hills, but last week’s sighting of a giant brown snake takes the cake. The reptile was wrapped around a guy’s neck as he walked along Mountain Boulevard, as casually as if he were wearing a scarf. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised — after all, Montclair does have an animal mayor.


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