Town Crier: Oakland, please install metal grates around sidewalk


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Brian Wells, longtime bartender and manager of Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon in Jack London Square, played a prank on Town Crier columnist Ginny Prior. (Ginny Prior/For Bay Area News Group)

MONTCLARION: March 23, 2018

Most folks don’t walk with their eyes focused down — unless they are looking for money. Maybe they should. Montclarion Larry Hayden was strolling through Montclair Village recently when he fell in a tree well. Almost every city I’ve seen has those holes covered by grates that sit flush with the sidewalk — but not Oakland. And Hayden is hobbled because of it.

“I have had my mobility drastically reduced by having my entire leg in a cast for over two-and-a-half months and having to use a walker or wheelchair,” he says.

Hayden wants readers and the city of Oakland to be aware of this issue and the easy fix that seems to elude us — by installing metal grates around sidewalk trees like the ones in Berkeley, San Francisco, Orinda … and so on. Or is this just another case of Oakland chasing its tail and paying out settlements rather than being proactive?

Around town: Care for a little art with your pork pate? Montclair’s Fifth Quarter Charcuterie, 6464 Moraga Ave., is pairing with local artists to brighten up the boutique butcher shop. Artist Rick Wise’s metal prints come down this week but let shop owner Scott Brennan know if you’d like to see more local art on his walls.

Old tricks: Jack London would have loved the hijinks at Heinhold’s, the Oakland saloon that spawned so many stories. Sitting at the middle table this past week, I jumped out of my skin when a giant tarantula dropped from the ceiling. It was longtime bar manager Brian Wells pulling the strings that dropped the fake arachnid in front of me. I promptly moved to the bar, where I soon realized the floor is so slanted that sitting on the stools makes you feel tipsy. A good laugh and a tall craft beer for $5. It doesn’t get better than that.

Email bag: Readers are responding to last week’s blurb about the litter strewn across the Grizzly Peak pullout (just south of Fish Ranch Road). According to folks in the area, the overlook is a hangout for Acalanes High School students. And he may just be blowing smoke, but one reader suggests installing a trash can so pot smokers won’t throw their munchy wrappers and beverage cups on the ground.

And reader Vicki Martinson had this comment about my piece on the trusting nature of strangers who leave their dogs next to me on the bench outside Starbucks.

“As a fellow ex-Minnesotan, maybe it is that you are ‘Minnesota Nice’ and look open to engaging with strangers, like I do!” To that, I can only say “You Betcha!”

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