Town Crier: The sunny side of the street


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – July 17, 2009

IT WAS OCT. 26, 2001, when I first wrote about Bud and Dina Means. The bud and dinaMontclair couple had found their own sunny side of the street, turning a dusty little triangle of city-owned land near their house into a respite for hikers and happy hour aficionados.

The other day, I went back to that spot at the corner of Gaspar and Snake for the first time in eight years. Bud and Dina were there, sipping wine in the shade of the two healthy oaks they’d planted as sticks when they first adopted the spot.

“There was nothing here but a eucalyptus stump and a pothole,” remembers Bud. “It was a big mud pie.”

They convinced the city to dump some gravel and they found some railroad ties to dress the place up and then Bud, a contractor, built a nice little table with benches on top of the stump.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of sunsets later, the couple continues to enjoy their little island in the road, with views of the bay and surrounds. Neighbors drive by and wave, hikers stop to take a break, and Bud and Dina soak it all up.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

E-mail Bag: If you’re a bike rider, check this out: It’s a free safety course sponsored by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition that even a veteran rider can appreciate. Reader Michael Sherwood says he’s been riding all his life and he learned quite a bit from the course, which includes three hours in the classroom and six

on the streets.”They teach the legal rules of the road, pedaling safely in traffic and urban settings, emergency stops, turns and avoidance and so forth,” says Sherwood, who adds that he definitely feels safer now on his daily commute through downtown Oakland. Sign up at www.ebbc.org.

About Town: It’s getting a little lonely in the Village Arcade on La Salle, what with the departure of Movie Express and Score. That’s a lot of empty square footage that doesn’t exactly make the rest of the business district look prosperous. Maybe the MVA could put up a little artwork to decorate the windows, like they do with the empty storefronts down at Jack London Square?

On the bright side, the owner of Mailboxes Etc. and the UPS Store, Charlie DeWitt, has something to celebrate. He and wife, Lori just had a baby boy named Liam. Longtime customer and Town Crier “mole” Chuck Harrison says he suspects “the UPS Stork arrived by priority male.”

Meter Miffs: Readers are reacting to the new meter rates and parking enforcement hours in Oakland ($2 an hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). It appears no one is happy, and many think it will drive even more business to Emeryville and Walnut Creek. Then there’s the matter of the meter box zones, which make permits from other blocks or zones invalid. That means you can’t move your car and use the same parking permit, even if it still has time on it. Reader Emmy Fearn says she “can’t believe that our city councilpersons haven’t demanded resolution to the parking issues in Montclair,” saying “the kiosk parking zone situation seems to be a blatant attempt to generate more tickets.”

Animal Tales: It sounds like a bad sci fi movie. Reader Greg Saucedo says he was up late, working on his laptop, when suddenly a band of robotic computer bugs started swarming his screen. They gobbled up his content and ravaged his hard drive, but thankfully his tech-savvy dad, George, was able to fix it.

Bugs of a different color caused a kerfuffle for a reader in Moraga. Yellow jackets set up housekeeping in her satellite dish, shutting down Internet service to her rural abode. Technicians came out and eradicated the nest, restoring service and saying, proudly, they’d dealt with a new kind of computer bug.

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