Trees in East Bay hills will be El Cerrito Historical Society program topic

The El Cerrito Historical Society is presenting a timely talk about the trees in the East Bay hills on at 7 p.m. July 30.

The announcement from the society:

History program about the East Bay Forest will illuminate current issues

Trees are big news these days in the East Bay. Plans by the East Bay Regional Park District, the city of Oakland and UC Berkeley to remove thousands of eucalyptus trees because they pose a fire danger have outraged many tree lovers.

Opinions have blazed across the pages of local newspapers accusing Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf of planning the murder of squirrels by proposing to take away their habitat.

“When chainsaws decimate the vast forests which create their homes, reducing public lands once blanketed with their habitat to barren, empty hillsides, where, exactly, are these animals supposed to go?” one blogger demanded.

Proponents of the tree removal plan say it falls well short of clear cutting. According to the successful application for federal funds, the project, “would provide more effective protection over a large area by creating a continuous firebreak along the most vulnerable wildland-urban interfaces.”

“(The park district, Oakland and the university) propose to reduce fuel loads and fire intensity, primarily by thinning plant species that are prone to torching, and by promoting conversion to vegetation types with lower fuel loads. In many areas the proposed and connected actions would preserve oak and bay trees and convert dense scrub, eucalyptus forest, and non-native pine forest, to grassland with islands of shrubs.”

El Cerrito too has groves of eucalyptus trees, some of which help visually define such areas of our landscape as the Hillside Natural Area. The city also shares a large border with the East Bay Park District’s Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. Our city has many other trees that also present issues. Many of our trees are 50 years old and nearing the end of their lives. The city has already removed many.

To cast light on these issues and to get a deeper background the Historical Society, in conjunction with the city’s Environmental Quality Committee, is hosting Jerry Kent, former assistant general manager of the East Bay Park District. Kent’s talk, ‘How the East Bay Got its Forest,’ will take place Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. It is free and open to all and wheelchair accessible.

Of his talk, Jerry Kent writes: “Bay Area hills were mostly open grassland, with fringes of native trees in valleys when European settlers arrived in 1769. Large scale tree planting began in the West Bay in 1877 to forest Golden Gate Park, military posts, schools, and mountaintops.

“In the East Bay, one man began planting trees in 1895 to forest 13,000 acres for home sites in the hills and 3,000 acres for timber plantations. What became of his dream, and how do we deal with his legacy today, amid dense development, drought, changing climate, and wildfire risks?”
Kent retired after a 41-year career with the East Bay Regional Park District. A history lover, he has collected maps and photographs and researched many aspects of Bay Area nature and history. He will describe the history of large-scale tree planting projects, and discuss the benefits and responsibilities of owning planted urban forests.


El Cerrito: Former childhood home of rock greats Tom and John Fogerty is up for sale; open house on Sunday

fogerty house for sale

The earliest home where future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Tom and John Fogerty grew up in El Cerrito is on the market.
The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 7251 Eureka Ave. has an asking price of $729,000 according to the listing, but not because of its connection to music history, which isn’t mentioned.
The house has undergone extensive interior remodeling and exterior landscaping, including a backyard hot tub, since the Fogerty family lived there in the first years after the end of World War II and young John attended El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative.
fogerty 1947
Oakland phone book listing for the Fogerty family from 1947.
The family later moved in the early 1950s to a house on Ramona Avenue.
The Eureka Avenue location is scheduled for open houses on July 12 and 19, according to the listing.



El Sobrante dedicates streetside upgrades

el sobrante dedication
Mike Croda from the El Sobrante Historical Society, dressed up as a bartender from Ed’s, the oldest bar in El Sobrante, opened in 1938 at the dedication of streetside improvements July 8. County Supervisor John Gioia is at right, being interviewed. From the society webpage: “When Ed Banducci (Sr.) and his wife Teresa bought this place in 1938 it was already old. Legend has it that it served as a “road house” to travelers along the Dam Road (and before that, the San Pablo Creek Road). The couple quickly remodeled the structure and re-opened it as “Ed’s Tavern.” It was remodeled again in the early 1950s and has changed little since. It is located just west of the intersection at Valley View.” (Photo courtesy Sonia Bustamante)

Streetscape improvements on San Pablo Dam Road — including wider sidewalks, new bus benches and trash receptacles, landscaping and historic markers — were dedicated on July 8that businesses hope attract more visitors to the area.

The improvements cover about a 3/4-mile segment of the Dam Road between Appian Way and El Portal Drive and is the culmination of four years of planning. Four bus stops will also be relocated to improve transit access.

“The whole idea is to make downtown pedestrian friendly and encourage more people to use the downtown,” said Supervisor John Gioia.

The $2.3 million downtown walkability project was funded by Measure J, a county transportation tax approved by voters in 2004, and local county road maintenance funds. Planning for downtown’s face-lift started in 2011 and construction began a year ago.

The amenities will be shown off to a large audience when the El Sobrante Stroll is held on Sept. 20.

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One of the historic markers and some of the trash receptacles when they were still awaiting installation. (Photo courtesy Lyle Ziggy Miller, El Sobrante Historical Society.)

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This paver noting the location of El Sobrante Chevrolet service has now been installed. (Photo courtesy Lyle Ziggy Miller, El Sobrante Historical Society.)


El Cerrito: Learn about Del Norte BART station modernization plans

Bart Rendering 1

BART is holding an outreach event from 4-7 p.m. July 8 on plans for the Del Norte statio

El Cerrito del Norte Station Modernization Community Event

The community can hear about BART’s plans to modernize the El Cerrito del Norte station, view the conceptual redesign, learn more about the planned art for the station and the construction timeline at an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. The open house will be held at the station, San Pablo Avenue at Cutting Boulevard.

As part of the Station Modernization effort, BART plans to upgrade and modernize the station’s function, safety, capacity, sustainability, and appearance, and improve the customer and employee experience.

More details: http://www.bart.gov/about/planning/contracosta/elcerritodelnorte


UPDATED: El Cerrito hillside grass fire quickly contained — vegetation maintenance made a difference, official says


Neighbors look on as crews from the El Cerrito and Richmond fire departments knock down a small grass fire that broke out behind houses on Seaview Place in El Cerrito. Photo by Steve Crawford.

The El Cerrito and Richmond fire departments quickly extinguished a grass fire at 7:40 p.m. today on the hillside to the rear of houses on Sea View Place at Moeser Lane.
Steve Crawford, who took this photo, said it “only burned a patch about 100-150 feet across.”

A resident of the area tweeted, “Five minutes after the #MoeserFire is out, I hear more illegal fireworks going off. Really? Let’s protect our dry hills, folks!”

Here is the report on the fire from El Cerrito Battalion Chief Michael Pigoni:

Tonight at approximately 7:40 pm, E71, E64, E66, E65, T64, B71 and B64 (E72 was committed to a medical) were dispatched to a vegetation fire behind the houses in the 7400 block of Seaview Place off Navellier. A full structure response was sent based on the reports the fire was near the houses.

B71 arrived on scene first and could view the fire to the north of Seaview Place on the PG&E right-away. The extent of the fire was not totally visible from Navellier Street, but it appeared to be burning slow and not threatening the homes. B71 established Seaview Place IC and assigned E71 to Seaview Place to find access through the houses and establish a line on the upper portion of the fire and evaluate conditions. Initially E64 was assigned to make access through the gate to the PG&E right-away and stretch a hose lay up to the bottom of the fire. E65 actually arrived at the gate first, cut the lock and made access up the dirt road to the head of the fire that was slowly backing down the hill. They initiated fire attack with a pre-connected 1-1/2” hose line. E71 was able to made access with another 1-1/2” hose line from Seaview Place. E66 was assigned to assisted E71 and E64 was assigned to assist E65. T64 was cancelled on scene.

Captain 71 reported the fire was contained and that they could handle with E65. E66 gave E71 their water and then both E66 and E64 returned to service. The fire was contained to approximately a 50’ x 100’ area under the high voltage lines in mowed grass. FPO 7130 was in the area and was requested to start investigating the origin of the area. He spoke with the residents and the person that tried to extinguish the fire and then searched the area thoroughly but was unable to locate any source of the fire. He will return in the morning to look again in the daylight.

The cool evening and mowed grass contributed to the slow fire spread.


Richmond: Urban Tilth offering fresh produce market stand at Catahoula Coffee on July 5

Agriculture group Urban Tilth will host a market stand offering fresh locally grown produce and plant starts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 5 at Catahoula Coffee Co, 12472 San Pablo Ave.

Celebrate your independence day weekend by getting your share of our locally grown bounty! & thank you as always for supporting our non-profit.

Veggies: Lettuce!, Kale, Swiss Chard, Onions (YUM!), & Herbs

Plant starts: cabbage, kale, lettuce, sticky monkey flower, & echinacea

Garden products: herbal bath salt, lavender & sweet orange hand salves & our Garden Party Soap & our

Freshly harvested and made this week:


Get some of our special small batch jam while it lasts!

happy 4th!


Volunteers sought for Albany Hill work party on Saturday

Friends of Five Creeks sent this appeal:

Join Friends of Five Creeks and Friends of Albany Hill Saturday!
Sat., June 27, 9:30 am – 12:30 PM, F5C partners with Friends of Albany Hill to care for the wonderful urban wildland that reaches from creek to hilltop. Meet at El Cerrito’s Creekside Park, south end of Santa Clara Avenue (map here). Tools, gloves, water, and snacks provided.

All ages welcome — there’s a play structure for young kids at the park. If you want to work on the hill, wear long pants and long sleeves, due to poison oak.

You’ll have a choice of tasks — we need light work along the shady creek as well as work uphill removing invasive passion vine, that could smother the beautiful oaks!

No RSVP needed — just show up. Questions? Email f5creeks@gmail.com.


Bay Trail in Richmond to be featured on television segment

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The Bay Trail in Richmond will be featured on television this weekend, advises the Trails for Richmond Action Committee in an announcement.

On Sunday, June 28 at 6:30 PM, Doug McConnell’s “OpenRoad” program on NBC Bay Area will feature Richmond’s scenic Bay Trail. In his words:
“We’ll explore the longest protected shoreline of any city in the Bay Area……..on segments of the Bay Trail in Richmond. We’ll see where ships were built that helped win World War 2, where passengers on transcontinental trains once boarded ferries for their final leg to San Francisco, and where explosives were made that helped build the west. Along the way, we’ll also encounter a lovely habitat for birds rubbing shoulders with an oil refinery and an old landfill and giving way to glorious views of San Pablo Bay.”

NBC Bay Area is channel 3 for those on Comcast Cable. On Direct Satellite TV and over-the-air it’s on channel 11. Enjoy!

TRAC Steering Committee

bay trail 2


El Cerrito dining and game events on Thursday will support annual Relay for Life fundraiser


A pair of kickoff events for the upcoming Relay for Life in El Cerrito will be held on Thursday.

The Relay for Life team from Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is sponsoring a fundraiser from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. June 25 at the Panda Express at El Cerrito Plaza. Print and show the flier above and a “20% of your purchase (with flyer) will go toward Playland’s fundraising efforts to support the American Cancer Society.”

Organizers note that “It’s the perfect dinner for Playland’s After Dark evening from 6pm-10pm for Grown-Ups only ($10 per person)” that same evening at the amusement park tribute attraction at 10979 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito. Playland After Dark will feature board games, skee-ball, carnival games, arcade games and free play on more than 30 new and vintage pinball machines.

These and other events lead up to the annual Relay For Life of El Cerrito 24-hour walking fundraiser, set this year for 10 a.m. Aug. 1 to 10 a.m. Aug. 2 at Cerrito Vista Park, 950 Pomona Ave.


UPDATED El Cerrito: Air evacuation of injured bicyclist by CalStar helicopter from Cerrito Vista Park


A 25-year-old man riding a bicycle on the Ohlone Greenway received “moderate” injuries just after 6 p.m. this evening when he crossed Lincoln Street and was struck by a pickup truck that was unable to stop in time, an El Cerrito Fire Department official said.
The bicyclist was treated by fire Battalion 71 and then taken to Cerrito Vista Park, where the CalStar helicopter was summoned and flew him to John Muir Medical Center, said Battalion Chief Larry Carr.
The cyclist was not wearing a helmet, he said. The driver remained at the scene.
Carr said the injuries were such that treatment at a trauma center was justified, and that the lack of a hospital in West Contra Costa after the closure of Doctors Medical Center was not a factor in the decision.

Photos are by El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford.