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North Oakland neighbors pitch in for Creek to Bay Day

on September 24, 2013

Volunteers wielded rakes, shovels and trash bags to clear litter from creek beds and shorelines on Saturday as part of Oakland’s annual Creek to Bay Day at the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt.

Held in conjunction with International Coastal Cleanup Day, the Greenbelt cleanup was just one of 36 events held in Oakland, all of which were part of a global effort to corral more than 500,000 volunteers to clean up waterways around the world.

Leonora Sea, a neighborhood chair person, briefed volunteers on how to clear out invasive vegetation from the man-made creek that runs through the neighborhood behind the Department of Motor Vehicles on Claremont. Neighborhood volunteers wore muddy gloves and grins as they pulled out fistfuls of watercress and other weeds that choked the creek during the summer months.

The City of Oakland, in partnership with the DMV Neighbors Association, turned off the valves that pump water into the small creek to allow volunteers access to the creek bed. The city also provided a dumpster full of gardening tools for the event.

First time volunteer Paul Klein, a neighborhood resident, worked with a cleanup crew that included a few veterans of last year’s Creek to Bay Day like Adriana Jones and Morgann Reilly. Marcim Oqczarz and his nine-year-old son, Adrian, had also attended previous cleanups.

“It’s a great place to see your neighbors,” said Misty Groves, who lives just a couple blocks from the creek. Groves attended the cleanup with her 4-year-old son, Silas.

Despite an unusual late summer downpour at midmorning Saturday, volunteers stuck around, helping Sea pack up tools and paperwork.

Hugo Ramirez, a neighborhood resident, took cover under the DMV’s parking lot with his infant son, Ehecatl. Ramirez said he has been coming to the creek cleanup for nearly 18 years. His wife and two other kids continued to work well after the rain came.

Die-hard volunteers continued toiling in the creek despite the rain.

Taking shelter from the rain under a tree, other volunteers warmed up with coffee and refueled with cookies donated by local restaurant Bakesale Betty, while waiting for the city’s Public Works Agency to collect the 3-foot-tall paper bags filled with weeds.

Many volunteers said they planned to pitch in again next year.


  1. joe smith on September 30, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Lets give them police power to issue citations for driving while using your cell phone. There is plenty of that work to do around here.

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