Trying to Stop the Stoplight

Eat it. It’s good for you.” Those are the pearls of wisdom “Mother Oakland” is dispensing as she tells us to take Montclair’s new stoplight, like it or not. Despite the opposition, and it is considerable, the signal at Mountain and La Salle is slated to go up in mid- 2009. The good news, says Derek Liecty with the Stop the Stop Light Ad Hoc Committee, is “this gives us some time to strategize.”He anticipates “a nasty fight,” and says “an injunction against the city may be the only way to go.” To that end, he’s looking for people to help with expertise and money.

“I believe that it is indeed time to organize public comment before the situation gets totally out of hand,” he says, knowing he’s in it now for the long haul.
Reader Mike Petouhoff sees it as the ultimate irony. “We have funds for a stoplight with little support, but no funds for something which everyone agrees we need.”

That something is an expanded parking lot at Shepherd Canyon Park, which is overrun with soccer players many nights and weekends. The Shepherd Canyon Homeowners Association has done the grunt work, providing a traffic and pedestrian safety study, including a pro-bono site survey, soils report and parking lot layout. They had eucalyptus trees removed and worked with the Montclair Soccer Club to raise $30,000, even finding a contractor that met the budget.

How did the city react? Petouhoff says they spent taxpayer money to revise the studies then ran out of money. “The city wants us to hold a bake sale to come up with more money now,” he says in frustration. Meanwhile, cars continue to line the road, forcing families to walk on the shoulder of an increasingly busy route. Talk about liability.

GREEN DAY: A botanical block party has taken root in the Lakeshore District. Reader Odette Pollar says her early October plant exchange was such a success, she’ll do it again in March.
“The idea started when I had extra plants that I needed to remove for a backyard project,” she shares. Not wanting to waste them, she came up with a plant exchange and got Comcast cable and Grand Lake Ace Garden Center involved. In the end, 95 people brought plants, big and small, from as far away as San Francisco. You can come to the next one by contacting Odette at

BULB GIVEAWAY: I’m talking fluorescent light bulbs, not plant bulbs. Reader Dagmar Serota says PG&E is giving away free compact fluorescent lightbulbs at her citywide service day for the planet from 9:30 a.m. until noon Sunday in Dimond Park. Serota founded the Penny Roundup Program in the Oakland schools, and is launching a new project now — sprucing up Dimond Park with a new community garden. Bring your shovel and pitch in.

WATER WORKS: What’s in your drinking water? Just ask the students at the Oakland Hebrew School, who have been monitoring our water quality this fall. It’s part of a nationwide government grant to hundreds of Jewish schools in the United States and Israel — geared toward water quality education. It’s a reminder, too, that clean water is a basic human right — despite the popularity of bottled water in this country.

HAPPY HAUNTING: Just in time for Halloween, there are reports of a ghost at one of my favorite haunts, La Taza de Café. The stately old upper Grand home has housed many a restaurant over the years, and at least one ghost — an old lady who floats through the kitchen area in the wee hours when the prep work and cleaning are done. She’d have a lot more fun if she showed up during La Taza’s famed Salsa dance classes!


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