Town Crier: Access in hills remains a fire hazard


MONTCLARION: August 31, 2016

We’ve really been dodging a bullet. Oakland’s fire season has been tamped down by San Francisco’s famed fog — a phenomenon that can’t last forever. In fact, there are almost two more months of potential high temperatures this year as we approach the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Oakland firestorm.

The biggest concern isn’t the fuel. Homeowners seem to have a handle on that, and the city and the East Bay Regional Park District have been clearing their brush.

No, the biggest concern is emergency access in the winding and often clogged streets that traverse the Oakland hills. There are roads where a fire engine simply can’t pass — primarily because of parked cars. The simple solution is to use garages and driveways for parking, even if it means cleaning out the clutter and making space in the driveway for hired help and guests. (That includes guests who are renting out hills homes on Airbnb). If we do this, we can greatly increase our chances of staying safe when and if the next disaster strikes.

Memory lane: Elizabeth Norris is looking for classmates. The Skyline High grad is helping to organize a reunion for the class of 1986 — the 25th class to graduate from Skyline High. What does she remember? “We had a swim team but no pool! (Swam at Roberts Regional Park). And our senior play was ‘Mame,’ ” There were also some famous folks to come out of this class. Brian Johnson (San Francisco Giants) and Gary Payton and Greg Foster (NBA). And Tom Hanks was their commencement speaker. The reunion is Oct. 1 at the Greek Ascension Cathedral, and the website is

Email bag: Zion Lutheran’s recent marquee message reminds us that art is created by humans and nature comes from God. It seems art is getting the most attention lately, in Montclair. Reader David Zizmor says his daughter, Sophie, is one of the fans of the butterfly mural, around the corner from her kindergarten — Joaquin Miller Elementary.

“(She) is enthralled every time we pass by and she sees a new butterfly go up on the wall,” he writes, noting there are a growing number of art installations in Montclair.

Speaking of art: Montclair gets its own film festival this month with a series of 10 “shorts” that will be projected on a 50-foot screen outside Red Oak Realty from 8 to 10 p.m. Sept. 9. The films highlight life in Oakland, and the filmmakers will be there to introduce their films. What a cool idea — sponsored by the Montclair Village Association, Red Oak Realty and Crown Wine & Spirits.

Musical note: If you like Tower of Power, you should know about the tribute band Soul Power. They’ve got a concert coming up Sept. 8 at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Several Oakland musicians make up this great group, including drummer David Rokeach, who’s been on “The Tonight Show” and toured with Ray Charles. Don Beck (trumpet) and Ian and Scott Willson (tenor sax and bass, respectively) are also from Oakland. For a sample of their music, go to:

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


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