Town Crier: Traffic concerns expressed over new hills preschool plan

MONTCLARION: June 22, 2016

Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka once said: “If you’re not in the parade, you watch the parade. That’s life.” The steady march of cars commuting down Thornhill Avenue to Mountain Boulevard is a daily drive-time parade that already irritates the masses. Would the addition of another school in the neighborhood exacerbate the problem?

Readers I’ve surveyed seem anxious about plans to sell the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club to KSS Preschool. One reader (who wants to remain anonymous) says it’s already dangerous trying to navigate Mountain Boulevard during peak traffic.

“I have been rear-ended twice in the last four years by drivers creeping inch by inch to clear the intersection of Mountain and Thornhill,” he writes. “With two primary schools and three preschools within one mile of this confluence of arteries, there is simply no more room for another institution which will bring more people and cars into the neighborhood.”

Readers Chihoko and Richard Solomon agree. “The location cannot readily accommodate 70-plus more car trips in the (morning) and then again in the (evening),” they write. “Where and how will parents drop their kids off? Where will staff park their cars?”

Yet KSS Preschool owner Kurtis Pierce seems more thoughtful in his approach than the last buyer interested in the historic property. He says he met with his architect last week and they’ll present a plan to the city that includes changing the school’s start and end times so they don’t conflict with the two nearby elementary schools.

“From our observations, traffic is not bad once the school traffic clears out,” he tells me. “We will discuss the previous traffic studies with the city and go from there. We are also proposing the use of the back area for all pickups and drop-offs with an electronic sign letting people know how many spaces are available so they don’t get stuck in the driveway and cause a backup.”

Pierce says he wants to make sure that traffic generated from his school is handled safely and goes “virtually unnoticed by residents commuting through the area.”

Dining scene: Bourbon & Beef has a new sister restaurant in Berkeley. B&B Kitchen & Wine Bar at 2116 Shattuck Ave. opened last month and is already staking its claim with its signature steaks, coffee-braised short ribs, organic chicken and fresh daily seafood. My son and I loved the grilled octopus appetizers and made a surf-and-turf combo with my lobster and his steak. Next time we’ll bond over the Seafood Tower. Partners Abraham Masarweh and Julia Joslyn, along with the culinary expertise of chef Damien Jones, have a winner here.

Electric Avenue: The Montclair Parking Garage is going green thanks to a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. It’s one of seven structures to get EV charging stations in Oakland, which should attract more electric car owners. The three charging points will be ready in the fall.

Animal tales: The fur is flying over off-leash dogs on the Montclair Railroad Trail. Oakland laws prohibit loose dogs on this city-owned trail, but readers say they see scofflaws daily. The consensus on social media sites is that Fido can frolic at any number of parks (Sibley, Redwood, etc.) without running off-leash where children are riding their bikes. Ditto for Shepherd Canyon Park, where dog doo and soccer just don’t mix.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.”



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