Town Crier – 10 years and counting

     MONTCLARION: August 6, 2010

     When I started this column some ten years ago – (yikes!) it was a place to put news that didn’t make headlines. It was, and still is, about tying the community together – even if we disagree on things.

     Without getting preachy, we really are blessed to be living in the hills, near park land and canyons and our own small town village. But Montclair is changing and merchants are suffering, as taxpayers get hammered at the federal, state and local levels. It doesn’t leave a lot of money for shopping, and the end result is that small business suffers (see today’s front page article on the changing face of Montclair).

     Lately, readers have been venting about higher parking fees and aggressive enforcement of meters in Montclair. “The parking meter attendants are acting like kids in a candy store and all candy is free,” says longtime merchant David Sarber. “It is no wonder that our customers are rebelling,” he says, “but please do not take it out on us.”

     Sarber makes a good point. If we want Montclair to survive – to thrive – then we need to keep shopping in the Village.

     If you don’t want to pay the price at the meter – there are several alternatives to driving. You could walk or take your bike on the Village trail. Or, how about lobbying for a little mass transit? I’ve noticed that Broadway has its own shuttle, now, between Grand Avenue and Jack London Square. What about a free Montclair shuttle, from several spots in the hills to the Village and back on the hour and half hour? No money, you say? Well, somehow the City found money for the Broadway shuttle and the case could be made that Montclair has a right to its fair share of tax dollars too.

     Finally, if that doesn’t work, I have it on good authority that the Oakland Zoo is getting rid of its old sky ride. Wouldn’t that be a sweet way to get down to the Village and back? So European.


     Email bag: Reader Nancy Safford is still licking her lips from a trip to a yummy new restaurant in Oakland. She says Bay Leaf (2000 MacArthur Blvd) is southern/soul/comfort food cooked by a mom named Lydia and served by her lively and attentive children. “I treated myself to shrimp with cheesy grits,” she writes, saying they were heaven – with sides “to die for” and warm peach cobbler for dessert.

     Meanwhile, State Farm agent Cynthia Blumgart says “It was so great to see you mention Lily and her Lucky Center Cleaners. You’ve probably heard from others that she is the owner, AND a great seamstress.” You have only to look on Yelp to see how popular Lily has become.

     Crime time: The latest scam being discussed on the Montclair Safety and Improvement listserv involves Fed Ex and UPS deliveries. There have been reports of thieves following delivery trucks in Oakland, only to steal packages they leave behind. One way to avoid this potential problem is to leave a note asking that no packages be left without your signature.

     Oakland Art: One of our treasured artists, Rosemary Allen (wife of renowned bird sculptor Wheatley Allen) is being featured at the Pro Arts Gallery at Frank Ogawa Plaza this month. Her paintings of local construction workers show the people behind the progress being made in transforming the warehouse district and Jack London Square. “They are noble workers of California,” says Allen, “and we should be proud of them.” See for a list of artists and exhibit hours.

     Animal update: Remember the fawn that reportedly got clipped by a car near Broadway Terrace, last month? Neighbor Gay Parker says she saw a fawn limping in her yard on Harbord Drive, the other day. It appears our little friend has more than one life – much like a cat.

     Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by email at or on the web at Follow Ginny on Twitter at


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