Town Crier: The future of Montclair Village

MONTCLARION: March 8, 2012

It was 1988 when my husband and I moved to Montclair. We were so smitten with the Village — with it’s little storybook library and fire station, western-themed park and baseball field.

We came here for the same reasons you did — the shopping, the nature, the small-town feel just minutes from the city. A lot has changed in 24 years, not the least of which is the shopping district. We’re seeing more banks and realtors and fewer Mom-and-Pop shops. Reader David Cloutier says it’s been a concern in his circle of friends for some time.

“We do talk about this situation a lot in our local block parties and book clubs, ” says Cloutier, who says, in a nutshell, that Montclair has too many service-oriented businesses and not enough good restaurants and cute shops. The parking costs are another problem. “We refuse to pay $1 to park for a $1 coffee,” he says, adding it took just one parking ticket to convince them to go elsewhere.

On the flip side, buildings sit vacant and the Montclair Village Association wants them occupied. We all do. But the economy hasn’t exactly been vibrant lately.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about Red Oak Realty’s bid to move into the long-vacant Wachovia Bank building at 6450 Moraga Ave. I talked about the objections of some, who think this will open the floodgates to more erosion of retail. Kevin Hamilton, Red Oak’s owner and chief financial officer, disagrees.

“There is no erosion here,” he writes.”There is however, the addition of an active and locally owned business to the Village, the elimination of a vacancy and a beautification of the space to fit in well with the existing ambience of Montclair Village.”

He says service businesses attract thousands of clients a year to Montclair. “Clients that eat lunch, grab a coffee, go shopping, buy gifts and contribute to the general “vitality” that benefits the community.”

And so the debate continues — and now is the time to weigh in. Let me know what you’re thinking, and we’ll keep this discussion alive until we find the answers — together — for our town.

Around town: You’ve probably seen the signs offering an eye-popping $1,000 reward for a lost boxer named Keira. She belongs to Louisa Tallarida, who says the outpouring of support in the hills has been wonderful. Keira is a brindled color with white on her muzzle, chest and paws. She has erect ears and a docked tail and was last seen off Park Boulevard on El Centro. If you spot her, email

Hot ticket: If you’ve never heard Justice Carol Corrigan speak, she is as witty as she is wise. The Rockridge resident who serves on the California Supreme Court is the guest speaker April 26 at the Oakland Elizabeth House luncheon at the Claremont Country Club. Her talk alone is worth the donation, but there’s also a preluncheon boutique and a live auction featuring a week’s stay at a Montana Dude Ranch. Tickets can be ordered at

Animal tales: Everyone loves a good barbecue — but some guests are simply not welcome. A friend was grilling on the deck of a friend’s new home when he spotted an intruder. The long-tailed avenger leapt onto the rail and right for his glass of red wine. Luckily, he has quick reflexes and was able to save the precious liquid and avoid being bitten — all in one swoop. From this day forward, the roof rat is known as Merlot.


One thought on “Town Crier: The future of Montclair Village

  1. Ginny — glad to see the concerns over Montclair. I miss Montclair Antiques, Raimondi’s, the hardware store, and even the old Montclair Children’s Shop, which you may not remember. Losing Simon’s Montclair Fitness is a blow. The Montclair demographic is aging – that’s a function of high real estate prices, which scare off the families with kids, and well-off people just not moving. Not the best demographic for thriving retail — most of us already have what we need.
    So what can we do? People should support Lucky’s — we so need its free parking. So often I see the lot full, but not that many people in the store. i dearly hope merchants are not parking there. People should support the local schools — give to the PTAs, even if we do not have kids in the school — keep the schools strong to get parents who do have the resources to move in. I’d also like to see even more bike racks, somewhere public where they could be monitored or at least have a lot of traffic that would notice if people who should not be, are tampering with bikes. I’d like to see a water fountain, and one low one for dogs. Some police presence in the late afternoons when the kids from Montera congregate would also help. We don’t need more cute, but a local hardware store would be good, possibly a Gap. Seeing the McCaulou’s on the street, and the shoe store has been great. So have all the on-the-sidewalk tables. And we should remind ourselves that a real-estate office, especially in the out of the way World Savings location, brings in people who need lunch — much better than an empty storefront.


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