Breakfast with the Mayor at WP Fangirl & Ignyter

One of the events the Oakley Chamber of Commerce sponsors is a monthly Breakfast with the Mayor. I’ve been to just about all of them and have learned a lot about what’s happening in Oakley. I mentioned in my post on the breakfast that the UPS Store sponsored in March that I didn’t expect to play host at one, but I changed my mind after seeing that the attendance was usually modest enough to fit comfortably in my living room, and we signed up to host the September Mayor Breakfast.

Our Breakfast with the Mayor advertised on the Civic Center Plaza marquee. It may be pointless to blur out the address, but just in case…

Our Breakfast with the Mayor advertised on the Civic Center Plaza marquee. It may be pointless to blur out the address, but just in case…

 

Since it was only two days after the Vintage Parkway painting effort and Kevin Romick and I had both been there, one of the topics was whose responsibility it is to maintain fences in housing developments. I’d heard some of the volunteers commenting that we were doing the city’s job for them. Apparently the residents, through their homeowners association if they have one, are supposed to contribute to the city’s maintenance and landscaping fund, and then the city uses that money to pay for the appropriate upkeep.

The HOA in our particular subdivision is still arguing with the city about that, so we didn’t do any painting on this side, though actually the fences don’t seem as run down. (There’s not as much street-facing fence over here, though, so one can’t really tell.) We do know that the fees our landlord pays are modest compared to what homeowners associations in most condo complexes charge, and probably wouldn’t cover much. (But someone, somewhere, paid for all those extra speed bumps.)

Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick explains how funding for maintenance and landscaping works. Kevin, a man after my own heart, drinks Diet Pepsi for breakfast.

Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick explains how funding for maintenance and landscaping works. Kevin, a man after my own heart, drinks Diet Pepsi for breakfast.

 

We also talked about the ongoing Carpaccio and Main Street construction. One thing I hadn’t heard was that the owner of Carpaccio ended up declaring bankruptcy to get out of his obligations to the City of Antioch, which had reacted badly to his decision to relocate here. This is not expected to delay the planned opening of the restaurant in November.

Though you can’t tell from the photo, which I took at the beginning of the event, we ultimately had 14 people, which is a good turnout. There were a couple of new chamber members there as well as the regulars. Everyone was very impressed with Stefan’s office, which he showed them while I was out getting the coffee. (Note to anyone thinking of hosting an event such as this: arrive at Caffino with at least 20 minutes in hand so they have time to brew your java box.)

The event was definitely a success and I’m glad I did it.

Vintage Parkway Beautification

Hosted by City Of Oakley

Vintage Parkway in Oakley is home to three different housing developments. I live in the one called California Isle. The homeowners’ association dictates the colors you can paint your house and insists that your front yard has to be made up of at least 50% grass, which is plainly ridiculous in California since it requires the use of sprinklers all but about 4 months of the year. If it were up to me, I’d put drought-tolerant plants in the front and reduce the water bill, but no one asked me. One person on a neighboring street actually laid down AstroTurf.

Anyway, in the year since we moved in, we haven’t seen the homeowner’s association do much besides double the number of speed bumps. Since there were rather too many of those anyway, it’s a very irritating development. I hadn’t actually noticed that anyone was speeding along Walnut Meadows Road before, though no matter how slowly you drive, you’re likely to have to stop for the kids playing basketball in the street. (I guess the park at Vintage Elementary is too far away, though even I can walk there.)

The folks on the Delta side of Vintage Parkway don’t have a homeowners association, as I learned when I showed up on September 8th for the Vintage Parkway Beautification event. The fence along Vintage, and also along Big Break Road, has been falling into disrepair. It makes the neighborhood look disreputable.

Once she realized just how bad things had gotten, long-time resident Karen Harrington decided to take matters into her own hands and enlist the neighbors to clean up the trash, repair the broken boards, and paint the fences. There have been several of these events to date, and the City of Oakley has gotten involved. They invited the Chamber of Commerce to participate and I decided to go along and find out what was what. There I met Karen and her husband Cliff and learned more about their initiative.

Karen Harrington, who has lived in this development since it was built in the 1980s and started the beautification initiative. Photo from the City of Oakley Facebook page, because I forgot to put the card in my camera, even though I brought it.

Karen Harrington, who has lived in this development since it was built in the 1980s and started the beautification initiative. Photo from the City of Oakley Facebook page, because I forgot to put the card in my camera, even though I brought it.

I hadn’t really been intending to paint on account of problems I’ve been having with my right shoulder and arm, but I did actually spend an hour brushing off and painting the trim areas around a section of fence a few yards long. By the time I finished that, my arm was worn out and other people had taken all the paint rollers and the paint tub, so it seemed like a good time to knock off.

According to the nice thank-you note sent to the Chamber of Commerce, there were 72 volunteers and we went through 90 gallons of paint. That was just for part of the fence. The wood is so dry that it sucks paint up, and it’s not easy to cover with a brush or roller. The city had a sprayer out on Big Break Road, but with so many gaps in the fence, you have to check with the residents to make sure you won’t be splattering anything on the other side with your sprayer.

Thank-you note from the Vintage Parkway Beautification project to the Oakley Chamber of Commerce.

Thank-you note from the Vintage Parkway Beautification project to the Oakley Chamber of Commerce.

See the city photo gallery on Facebook for more pictures, including before and after shots of the fence. There’s still plenty of painting left to do, so I’m sure we’ll be having more such events in the future.

Oakley Cityhood Celebration

Hosted by City Of Oakley

Oakley has been around since the 19th century, but only incorporated as a city in 1999, making it California’s youngest city. Cityhood is something worth celebrating: among other things, it keeps Brentwood from encroaching on our territory.

The evening concluded with a rather nice fireworks display, which helped compensate for the fact that Wednesday’s fireworks in Antioch were delayed by a fire started over on Kimball Island. (Probably by illegal fireworks. I am not even sure where Californians buy illegal fireworks, but Delta residents certainly seem to have a lot of them, and I’m not talking about bottle rockets, either.)

So we saw lots of emergency vehicles rushing down to the shoreline, and lots of other unofficial fireworks, but got tired of waiting and came home. (The moonrise as we were driving back was the most impressive sight of the evening.)

Oakley’s Chamber of Commerce sponsored two booths at the Cityhood celebration, one selling glow bracelets and one selling hot dogs and hamburgers. Proceeds from both go to the chamber’s scholarship for Freedom High School, whose soccer field was the locus of the event. (We are very patriotic out here in the Delta. Everything seems to be Freedom this or Liberty that.)

I am a bit vague on the details of this scholarship; if they were provided with my member packet, I must have skipped that part. I know the students have to compete pretty hard for it. In any case, it supposedly justifies charging $5 for a hot dog, a packet of crisps, and a soda, which any booth at a fair would probably do anyway, because they have a captive audience and those places are always rip-offs. Giving away the money is typical of this chamber of commerce, which is open-handed and broke.

The fireworks are certainly just as good as the ones at the Marin County Fair or anywhere else I’ve seen them lately, and you get a good view sitting in the soccer field. (We even had chairs from the booth, without having to haul them from the car.) The event itself is free; a wristband for rides for young children, if you have them, is all of $5. (The Euro-Bungy, which is a sort of swing set made of bungy cords, and the pony rides appeared to be most popular.)

I don’t have any photos of the fireworks because I don’t know enough about my camera to try to make it do that, and anyway, fireworks are not as much fun from behind a camera lens. And there aren’t any photos of me serving hot dogs because we were all too busy working to take any pictures by then.

Breakfast with the Mayor at the UPS Store

Hosted by The UPS Store

I work from home, but don’t want to hand out my home address to all and sundry. That’s where the UPS Store comes in: I rent a mailbox there to use as my business address. That way there’s always someone to sign for packages. El Cerrito’s UPS Store earned my ire by failing to forward my mail after I moved (and then overcharging me when they finally managed to send something on), but so far the Oakley UPS Store has been great, despite the number of huge packages my husband and I have inflicted on them.

A few months ago a delightful Indian couple, Kajal and Shalendra, bought the franchise for our UPS Store. They joined the Oakley Chamber of Commerce about the same time I did. This morning they hosted the March Breakfast with the Mayor for chamber members, where we got an update on the planned changes to Main Street as well as the construction associate with the new Carpaccio’s/La Costa building.

As I understand it, the idea is to create (or perhaps re-create) an actual downtown area for Oakley, starting with the area around City Hall and Carpaccio’s. That means narrowing the street and adding a center divider and some angle parking and potted trees, with the aim of slowing down automobile traffic and encouraging more foot traffic. The hope is that the trucks that whip past at high speed—as we all noticed during the groundbreaking ceremony—will use the former Bypass Road (now officially Highway 4) instead of coming down Main Street.

What I want to know is why they didn’t start using the Bypass Road from the minute it was built. It’s a better, faster, road, as long as you’re going where it takes you. Surely some of the trucks must have started using it before the handover ceremony, and the ones that are still driving down Main Street have another reason to do so, unless it’s just habit. (The desire to eat at La Costa and the Black Bear diner, maybe?)