Summer picnic to raise cash for elementary school

Bring the family out to enjoy good food (and some of the, uh, lovely summer weather we’ve been having) at the Picnic in the Point next week.

Funds raised at the event will benefit Washington Elementary School. The day will include food and drink courtesy of the Up & Under Pub and Grill, live music, carnival games, mini sport tournaments, crafts, old-fashioned foot races and various contests for kids and adults.

Advanced tickets are $20 (which gets you $30 worth of food, beverage or game tickets), and can be purchased at three locations:


  • The Up & Under Pub and Grill, 2 West Richmond Ave. or 510-778-1313.
  • Smith Office Solutions, 51 Washington Ave. or 510-231-4787.
  • Point Richmond Art Collective, 121 Park Place or 510-778-1480.

El Cerrito: Remembering “John Fogerty Day” in 1986

This is the uncropped shot of John Fogerty being presented with the city proclamation by Mayor Chuck Lewis by David Toerge. A cropped version appeared in the Times.

Since John Fogerty was a headline performer Sunday at the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, we decided to take a look back at a pivotal time in the career of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer from El Cerrito.
Last year Fogerty toured extensively for the 25th anniversary of the release of his 1985 album “Centerfield.”
The album has become a classic, earning a Grammy nomination, as well as a Bammy (remember those?) for outstanding album of 1985.
Fogerty performed the title song at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. on July 25, 2010.
This past July 15 was another 25th anniversary for Fogerty, marking the day officially proclaimed “John Fogerty Day” in El Cerrito.
At the time of the proclamation Fogerty already had a well-honored track record as the writer and interpreter of a string of hits with Creedence Clearwater Revival in the late 1960s and early ’70s
So an honor from his hometown might not seem surprising.
But it’s often forgotten that “Centerfield” was Fogerty’s comeback album after 10 years away from writing, singing and publicly performing. At the time of its release the album was not an assured hit.
The album’s quick success and acceptance were too hard for the El Cerrito City Council to ignore and at its July 7, 1986 meeting the council declared that July 15 would be “John Fogerty Day” in the city.
Fogerty, who was living in town at the time, was presented with the proclamation at the meeting, but it wasn’t as high-profile an event as you might think.
“About 25 family members, friends and fans turned out to see the rock star honored for his musical achievements,” the Times reported. The turnout did include a fan who drove down from Oregon and a San Francisco videographer hired to create a tape of the ceremony for a fan from Louisiana.
Fogerty had kind words for his hometown at the meeting, the Times reported.
“I feel strongly about growing up in El Cerrito and living in El Cerrito,” he said, citing the area’s small town feel. “That’s why I’m still here. That’s why I raised my kids here.”
Seems like there would have been a good promotional opportunity in making the day an annual event.
Here we present the Times archive photos by David Toerge of the ceremony, only one of which appeared in print.

Fogerty listens to the reading of the proclamation.

Fogerty leaves the council dais at old El Cerrito City Hall with the proclamation.


El Cerrito postpones hearing on animal ordinance

The El Cerrito-based group Self-Sustaining Communities has circulated this World War II era poster showing a time when the federal government promoted and encouraged "two hens in the back yard for each person."

The city last Tuesday, made official what disappointed advocates of an animals ordinance had heard a week earlier: El Cerrito was postponing its scheduled hearing on revisions to its ordinance “related to keeping animals including domestic pets, chickens, other fowl, bees, goats, pigs and other animals in El Cerrito.”
Animals are already being kept in residences where neighbors have no objections, but nothing is officially sanctioned without a revised ordinance, noted one advocate, saying “We’re being forced underground.”
The city blames the state move to dismantle or extact funds from local redevelopment agencies for the delayed hearing on the ordinance. A presentation on the city’s options for redevelopment is scheduled for Aug. 15, the date originally planned for the animal ordinance hearing.
“The El Cerrito City Council will consider the proposed Revisions to the Animals Ordinance at a future date,” the city announced, advising those interested to check the city website for updates.

The text of the city’s announcement on the postponed hearing:

Due to other pending matters, the El Cerrito City Council will not consider making revisions to the City’s Animals Ordinance on August 15, 2011 as noted in the recent city newsletter and other materials.
El Cerrito and other cities are facing tough decisions as a result of the State’s attempt to eliminate redevelopment agencies in California. The California state budget approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor included AB 1X 26 that eliminates redevelopment agencies and AB 1X 27 that allows agencies to continue to exist if they agree to pay their share of $1.7 billion this year and $400 million annually through the life of its redevelopment plan. In El Cerrito’s case, the “ransom payment” is $1.84 million this year plus annual payments estimated nearly $500,000 every year through 2025.
Cities must decide before the end of September whether to accept elimination their redevelopment agencies or make the required payments. El Cerrito is still attempting to make that determination and staff will make a presentation to the City Council at the August 15, 2011 City Council meeting.
The El Cerrito City Council will consider the proposed Revisions to the Animals Ordinance at a future date.
The “Animals Ordinance” is part of the El Cerrito Municipal Code related to keeping animals including domestic pets, chickens, other fowl, bees, goats, pigs and other animals in El Cerrito. With the recent growth of the sustainability movement, the local food movement, consciousness regarding other environmental issues, and the general downturn in the economy, there has been a renewed interest in keeping chickens, bees, goats and other animals that can be raised for sustainable purposes and food production.
After community input received by both the Environmental Quality Committee and the Planning Commission, the City Council discussed proposed revisions to the Animals Ordinance at a study session in March 2011. At that time, staff had planned to come back to the Council with proposed revisions for the Council’s consideration in August, and staff promoted the meeting to the community on the city’s website and in materials such as the recent “News and Views” newsletter.
If you have questions or comments related to keeping animals in El Cerrito, or the proposed changes, please contact Planning Division Staff at (510) 215-4330 or email planning@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.
If you have questions or comments related to redevelopment, please contact the Economic Development Department at (510) 215-4380.


Richmond rolls out some tantalizing treats for good causes

The big ticket items in the live auction at the Taste of Richmond event at Brickyard Cove on Friday were three insider tours for four of the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, which fetched more than $1,000 each.
Bids on a lunch with former state Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown brought in nearly as much as the price for a Pixar tour.
The well-attended gala, a prelude to the annual Richmond Regatta, was held by the Richmond Yacht Club as a benefit for the Bay Area Rescue Mission, the Richmond Food Pantry, Rubicon Programs and Youth Enrichment Strategies.
Freddie and the Freeloaders played jazz and local food and drink establishments shared the best of their wares.
Not to mention that this really cool fabricated car was parked in front when we left, with sort of an MG-meets-the-1960s-Batmobile thing going on.


Throng shows up for opening of new El Cerrito Safeway center

Top, Store Manager Karl Moore cuts the ribbon opening the new Safeway in El Cerrito. Above, El Cerrito Mayor Ann Cheng speaks at the dedication of the 64,730-square-foot Safeway store, which also has 16,622 square feet of additional retail frontage along San Pablo Avenue, including spaces already earmarked for a Pet Food Express and a Supercuts. Photos by John Stashik

Eager shoppers from El Cerrito and Richmond turned out Thursday afternoon for the preview party and dedication of the new El Cerrito Safeway store at San Pablo Avenue and Hill Street, enticed by curiosity, free food samplings and a one-day offer of 10 percent off their grocery bill.
Cars filled the lot of the site, formerly a Target store, and many shoppers parked on adjacent streets.
One Safeway official called the new center a “world class supermarket” and another said the chain “would be very happy if the parking lot was always this full,” which it was Saturday morning.
The new store is 2-1/2 times the size of each of the stores it replaces and contains large deli, butcher and bakery sections, as well as a pharmacy, a U.S. Bank branch, a Starbucks and a florist.

Some of the colorfully decorated cakes in the new bakery department. Photo by John Stashik.

By contrast, the parking lot by the closed Safeway store at Moeser Lane was largely empty Thursday, even though the lights were still on and occasional people continued to approach the entrance expecting the doors to open.

By Friday morning all the identifying signage and markings had been removed from the Moeser store and the closed Safeway on Macdonald Avenue in Richmond.

The only activity in the lot of the Richmond store on Saturday was at the independently operated recycling buy-back kiosk.


“Les Miserables” at El Cerrito High School

Check out local student actors and the Oakland Civic Orchestra in a production of “Les Miserables” this week at the El Cerrito High School performing arts center.

Thirty-two performers between the ages of 13 and 18 will take part in the play put on by Stage Door Conservatory.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m.  on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday.

General seating tickets cost $15 for youth and seniors, and $20 for adults. Reserved seating is $35, and sponsor seats are $75. Tickets can be purchased online.

Need more info? Check out the ticket link above or call 510-521-6250.


El Cerrito Safeway opening is Thursday, not Friday

The opening date on this announcement and coupon book that began arriving in mailboxes on Monday is wrong, according to Safeway. The official opening will be at 4 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 11).

Households in El Cerrito and Richmond were receiving mailers this week inviting shoppers to the opening of the new Safeway store at the site of the former Target store at San Pablo Avenue and Hill Street in El Cerrito.
The opening date of Aug. 12 (Friday) is given on the mailer and on fliers that had been posted at Safeway’s existing stores on Macdonald Avenue in Richmond and Moeser Lane in El Cerrito, but the actual opening will be at 4 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 11).
“There was an error on the promotional mailer,” responded Todd Paradis of Safeway’s Northern California Division Real Estate Department. “The store will open on Thursday at 4 p.m.” with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Even the tabloid racks at the checkout counter were empty Monday at the Moeser Lane Safeway.

As for the stores the new center is replacing, “The existing Richmond and El Cerrito store will close at about the same time as the new opening,” Paradis wrote.
How has the supermarket business changed over the years?
Consider that the pre-1971 Safeway in El Cerrito (now the Guitar Center, but up for lease) was about 11,000 square feet. Plans for the current Safeway at Moeser Lane announced that the store would have 24,000 square feet when the center opened in 1971.
The new store will contain a 64,730-square-foot Safeway store and 16,622 square feet of additional retail space along San Pablo Avenue, according to the city.

The new store will have more than 2.5 times the square footage of either of its predecessors and the center will offer another 16,622 square feet of additional retail space that "will open in a few months," according to the chain."


El Cerrito Del Norte, a look back, part 2

The interior of the center, which featured top-of-the-line Brunswick equipment when it was built, is shown in the 1989 El Cerrito Journal photograph by Mark Koehler.

The interior of the center, which featured top-of-the-line Brunswick equipment when it was built, is shown in the 1989 El Cerrito Journal photograph by Mark Koehler.

With the opening of Golden Gate Lanes about a month away, this ad appeared in the Oakland Tribune.

With the opening of Golden Gate Lanes about a month away, this ad appeared in the Oakland Tribune.

At the time Kenneth “Quee” Prentice announced his plans to build a bowling center at the north end of in El Cerrito 1960, the pastime was reaching the peak of its popularity.

“Huge Local Boom In Last Five Years,” was the headline in August of 1961, in a column that called Alameda and Contra Costa counties “The country’s bowling hot bed!’

The article noted that 13 of the 29 bowling centers in Alameda County in the previous five years, while Contra Costa had added 12 “pin palaces.”

So it was hardly a surprise when Prentice, the operator of two Richmond alleys who was popularly known as Quee, said he was going to build a larger modern center in Richmond — and finance the project by selling shares in the $1.75 million venture.

Leagues were springing up, bowling balls were being engraved, team bowling shirts were being embroidered.

There were 17,000 men and more than 10,000 women registered in the two largest bowling associations in Alameda County. West Contra Costa had a men’s association with more than 2,000 members and the Richmond Women’s Association more than 1,200.

“The Golden Gate Lanes bowling alley, planned for erection at San Pablo Ave. and Hill St., will be financed through a time-payment stock plan,” the Tribune reported in April 1960, adding that “investors will be able to purchase stock in amounts as low as $300 with payments spread over 12 months.”

Prentice, an avid bowler himself, was already the owner of Uptown Bowl and the operator of Richmond Bowl.

It took more than two years and a lot of stock before the project was ready to open. Construction started in June 1962 and as late as a month before the opening “Invest in bowling” ads in local newspapers were trying to sell shares in Recreational Enterprises, Inc., the venture set to open for the fall league season.

The opening of Golden Gate Lanes is announced in an ad from the Oakland Tribune on Sept. 7 1962.

The opening of Golden Gate Lanes is announced in an ad from the Oakland Tribune on Sept. 7 1962.

The big day came on Sept. 8, 1962 and ads the day before touted the 32-lane alley that had parking for 250 cars, dining at Rod’s Hickory Pit built into the facility, cocktails and dancing in the Marina Room and a “completely equipped” children’s play room.

The center, at least at the time of its grand opening, planned to be “open 24 hours … 7 days a week.”

News articles noted that the center would have folding bleachers for seating during tournaments (Golden Gate Lanes hosted many in the 1960s) and a closed-circuit camera system aimed at key lanes.

“To Quee Prentice his richly appointed new bowling center is the realization of a dream he has had for 20 years,” the Tribune wrote. “It was that long ago that he acquired his first little fourlaner in a dingy basement in Lodi, his home town.”
The new enterprise was quickly popular and attracted national tournaments as early as 1964, a year earlier the Prentice had predicted.
But tragedy struck the facility in May of 1967, when Roddy Cotton, an avid bowler, partner in the venture and proprietor of Rod’s Hickory Pit, was shot and killed during a holdup by two men as Cotton was getting into his car in the parking lot.
Cotton was a popular restaurant operator who had opened his first Hickory Pit on 23rd Street in Richmond in the 1930s.
Soon after the killing, a sign was put up in front of a parking space in front of Rod’s Hickory Pit reserving it for Cotton’s widow, Margaret. The sign was placed by El Cerrito police officers out of respect to Cotton and his family.

The original sign, which once had Quees Golden Gate at the top, had been shortened by the time Mark Koehler took this photo for the El Cerrito Journal in 1989.

The original sign, which once had "Quee's Golden Gate" at the top, had been shortened by the time Mark Koehler took this photo for the El Cerrito Journal in 1989.


El Cerrito Del Norte, a look back, part 1

Golden Gate Lanes in El Cerrito, 1989. West County Times staff photo by Herman Bustamante Jr.

Golden Gate Lanes in El Cerrito, 1989. West County Times staff photo by Herman Bustamante Jr.

As the opening of the new Safeway store in El Cerrito approaches (looks like it will be Aug. 12), we want to offer some earlier looks at businesses that used to be on the site it will call home and the Del Norte area in general. (A tip of the hat to Roxy Miravalle and our other friends at the Facebook group “Growing up in the Bay Area” for the idea.)
We’re starting with a view of the front of Golden Gate Lanes, the local bowling alley that opened in 1962 and had a popular run before it was claimed by redevelopment for the Target Store project, which began construction in 1991.
If you have any photos or memories of the area as the series progresses, please feel free to participate (ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com).