Town Crier: Precautions still ignored 26 years after hills firestorm

Aerial view show the scope of devastation in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, California, Wednesday, October 11, 2017. (Karl Mondon/ Bay Area News Group)

MONTCLARION: October 21,2017

The horrific Napa and Sonoma fires remind us of our own Oakland hills firestorm 26 years ago this month. And sadly, it seems little has changed when it comes to lessons learned from our own disaster. Parked cars still hug the shoulders of narrow, winding roads, compromising the 14 feet needed for emergency vehicle access.

Local public safety advocate Nicholas Vigilante conducted his own inspection last month of 14 Forestland area streets — Saroni, Sayre, Paso Robles, Balboa, Gunn, Glencourt, Homeglen, Homewood, Ridgewood, Arrowhead, Woodrow and Southwood (East, and West). He noticed a “substantial increase in parked cars blocking or impeding the flow of vehicular traffic” and no “No Parking” signs on any of these streets. (A pilot program in the city of Oakland is trying inform residents and identify streets where “No Parking” signs are needed.)

Vigilante says he recalls former District 4 Councilman Dick Spees telling him, many years ago, that the parking issue was one of the most perplexing he had ever encountered in public service in Oakland. There’s simply not enough garage space for cars in the hills. Still, this is no excuse.

I give kudos to council members Kalb and Campbell Washington and the City of Oakland for trying to take on the problem,” he says, adding he hopes their will and persistence is strong enough.

Around town: Coffee stains. Think of the mess when thousands of cups are tossed, daily, into our city-owned sidewalk receptacles.The caffeine eats through the metal and oozes onto the concrete. Well, not any more in Montclair. The Montclair Village Association just power washed the sidewalks, got rid of the stains, and — this is key — bought 11 plastic trash can liners to replace the metal ones. Now, let’s do our part by putting our empty cups carefully into the trash.

Local art: The Montclair parking garage is getting more colorful by the year. Artists from Rock Paper Scissors Collective have been donating their time to “dress up” the otherwise nondescript walls of the city-owned garage on La Salle. Many customers like the new look, but at least one reader worries that the “urban art” will attract graffiti in the garage and the surrounding village. Let’s stay on top of this and report graffiti to the MVA at

Prayers answered: Montclair has long needed a butcher shop and Scott Brennan is bringing home the bacon — and a lot of other specialty meats. The Midwest-born chef with a passion for charcuterie honed his skills at Berkeley’s Cafe Rouge before achieving almost celebrity status at the local farmer’s markets. The Fifth Quarter is now open, Tuesday through Sunday, at 6464 Moraga Ave. with a meat counter and sandwich menu.

Animal tales: Congratulations to Krista and Martijn, the proud parents of a bouncing boy named Kito. He’s a bit on the homely side, but when his blond fur grows out, he should be a looker. This is the eighth baboon birth in four years at the Oakland Zoo — bringing the troop to 16 — one of the largest of any zoo in the country. Clearly, there’s been some monkey business in the baboon habitat.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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