Get your car washed Saturday morning by members of Las Lomas High’s championship wrestling team! These DFAL champs and 9th place winners at the NCS competition will apply their strong team work ethic to making sure your car gets the championship car wash treatment.
Where: Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ideal Miles Plus Gas Station, corner of Ygnacio Valley Road and Civic Drive
Sales of donuts, homemade baked goods, and refreshing drinks sweetens the experience.
All proceeds benefit the up and coming Las Lomas High wrestling program.
May 10, 2013
April 21, 2013
Back in May 2011, Laura Milstead, a woman I got to knew during my time as editor Walnut Creek Patch, heard some pretty devastating news.
A mammogram revealed two small lumps in her right breast, signaling she had Stage 1 cancer. “I've never known such fear,” said the wife, mother and elementary school teacher. “I found it a living hell for awhile, with periods of optimism, followed by crushing fear.”
After surgery to remove the lumps and four lymph nodes, she underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, then radiation and will continue to take medication for the next five years. The news now is positive: “I’m now in excellent health and am happy!”
Understanding the shock, sadness and terror that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis, Milstead has created a weekend retreat in Yosemite May 17–19 for women like her who are recovering from breast cancer treatment. “There is nothing like being with others that have suffered as you have,” she says. “There is a serious lack of mental help for cancer patients—especially post-treatment.”
The retreat will take place over three days and in the powerful and majestic surroundings of Yosemite, a setting that can inspire an appreciation of health, wellness, physical exercise and a desire to let go of fears and the past and start fresh. “If you don’t find inspiration in the great outdoors, you aren’t alive!” Milstead said.
The retreat, organized through the nonprofit, Boarding For Breast Cancer (B4BC), will feature yoga, hikes around Yosemite, including Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, sunset walks and the companionship of other women. Accommodations will be at Evergreen Lodge, an historic hotel nestled in the woods bordering Yosemite National Park.
Given that not all women with cancer can afford such a wellness getaway, Milstead is raising funds to grant 14 breast cancer survivors the chance to attend. She’s halfway to raising the $7000 needed.
“The outdoors just promotes movement and exercise,” she says. “It just makes you want to move! I don’t think true healing happens without the comfort of nature. That’s whant happened to me. I can’t wait to share it!”
For more information at the retreat or to donate so that other breast cancer survivors can attend, visit the Board for Breast Cancer website.
Posted by Martha Ross at 8:34 AM
April 17, 2013
Early Sunday morning, I woke up from one of those very yucky dreams. In it, I was crying out to someone, maybe to my husband: “I’m unhappy! I hate my life! I hate myself!”
Yes, yuck. Because I don’t want to be unhappy, hate my life or hate myself. In fact, I’ve been feeling this rather strongly lately, this will to live welling up inside me at very surprising moments, but also in reaction to recent ruminations on death and the possibility of my own. I understand such ruminations are normal around the time one turns 50. I also wonder if they hit me more than they would otherwise because of my irregular heartbeat, diagnosed in October 2011 when my heart Just. Stopped. Beating. Diagnosed suddenly, quickly, I went into surgery to get a pacemaker, which seems to keep everything ticking along just fine. But, yes, I’ve been thinking about my heart lately.
And, I’ve been very sad this past week that the CineArts Dome movie theater is closing. I can’t entirely explain why, but I feel this loss pretty deeply. Well, so do a lot of people around here. I’m angry about it, which is why I’ve gotten involved in efforts to question the process by which Pleasant Hill city officials approved its destruction and replacement with a chain sporting goods store.
And, then on Monday, the day after my bad dream, comes the tragic bombings at the Boston marathon, another national horror—following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the much more recent December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary—that we need to get our collective minds around. Reading about the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, and how his sister mother suffered serious injuries in the blast—well, my own concerns about personal or local issues pale in comparison.
At the same time, we all have things we’re muddling over and through, challenging us to various degrees. And, we’ve heard the past few days about the resilience of the people of Boston, rushing in to help the injured right after the blast, opening their homes to relatives of the injured, going back to work yesterday and not letting the attack upset their daily routines.
As I’ve been contemplating this notion of resilience, even before the Boston terrorist attack, I happened to come across a line from Quartets, a famous set of poems by T.S. Eliot: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”
Eliot began writing the set in 1936 and struggled to finish the work as World War II was raging in Britain. Quartets is described as a meditation on our relationship with time, the universe and the divine, mixing philosophical and spiritual ideas from both Western and East religions.
In the poem “Coker,” which starts with the line, “In my beginning is my end,” there is a lot about how the world is a complicated, uncertain place. The future is uncertain, the past is behind us, time is mysterious, elusive, and there is so much in our lives that is outside our control.
“As we grow older, the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated …
"Not the intense moment/Isolated, with no before and after/But a lifetime burning in every moment.”
There is only the moment. The now, I interpret Eliot as saying. And if we ultimately can’t control the future or the actions of others, what do we have left? We can’t give up and throw up our hands. We have this moment, now, and we have to keep going.
"There is only the trying."
Posted by Martha Ross at 10:44 AM
April 10, 2013
We filed the appeal with the city's planning department on Monday but SyWest Development received a demolition permit (right) and, technically, could start knocking down the theater before then, public information officer Martin Nelis told Pleasant Hill Patch.
The appeal basically says that SyWest Development's proposal to replace the Dome Theater with a Dick's Sporting Goods is inconsistent with the city's own laws, policies and goals on historical and cultural preservation, promoting the arts and quality of life in Pleasant Hill, providing services for seniors, and creating an economically vibrant
Here is the appeal's introduction:
As it states in its 2003 General Plan, Pleasant Hill is a vital, progressive, suburban community. The many admirable goals stated in this plan, drafted with the consensus of a citizens’ task force, express a desire to promote an image of a city that offers a high quality of life, nurtures a thriving economy, promotes diverse cultural offerings, supports the arts, cares for its seniors and honors and celebrates its past.
We of Save the Pleasant Hill Dome believe that the historically rich, culturally vibrant and iconic 46-year-old CineArts Dome Theater satisfies a number of these General Plan goals and policies.
On the other hand, the proposed SyWest Development to demolish the Dome Theater and replace it with a big box-style retail store is inconsistent with many of these goals, programs, strategies and objectives. A Dick’s Sporting Goods is simply the wrong project for that location. We also raise serious questions about whether the city violated its own General Plan and Municipal Code in its process for determining whether the Dome merits designation as a historical resource. We also show that numerous relevant General Plan goals, policies, and programs, including some with which the project is inconsistent, were not considered as part of the Planning Decision’s March 26, 2013 approval of the project. For these reasons, we contend that the commission’s approval should be overturned.
As we consider the many ways the Dome enriches the community, as it approaches its half-century mark, we can consider the General Plan’s concept of the Gateway.
Gateways, the General Plan states, are important to establishing the image of this 8.2-square-mile suburban town. Gateways “give people a sense that they have left one place and come into another,” the Plan reads.
There is no more visible gateway for Pleasant Hill than the CineArts Dome Theater. The dome rises nearly 50 feet on the eastern side of town, above Interstate 680. It is at the confluence of the two main freeway entrances to Pleasant Hill’s downtown, Contra Costa and Monument boulevards. Pleasant Hill’s other great landmark, the World War I Monument, rises on the left as you enter the city from the south.
The Dome is the Dome. Among residents of Pleasant Hill and surrounding communities, it has a singular identity, whether they only saw big-blockbuster movies in its 895-seat stadium Theater or they are among the growing number of educated and discerning film-goers and arts lovers who are making Pleasant Hill and surrounding communities their home.
Like any notable feature of a landscape, such Mount Diablo, the Dome helps people situate themselves in place. You often hear people around Pleasant Hill using the Dome in conversations as a guidepost, or to give directions: “I live in the neighborhood behind the Dome,” “Meet me at the Starbucks at the Dome,” “City Hall is across the freeway from the Dome.”
We who care about saving the CineArts Dome Theater agree it could use a makeover. Yes, it’s looking a little funky and it’s not quite at the peak of its style, as it was when a champagne gala was held on Feb. 21, 1967, to commemorate its opening, with a screening of the screen epic Dr. Zhivago. But architectural consultants hired by the city say the building possesses physical integrity and merits serious consideration as a local landmark.
And, it could be a state-of-the-art beauty again – a retro chic Mad Men-esque homage to the aesthetics of an age that was guided by Apollo space travel, the post-World War II suburbanization of the American dream, and the figurative and pop art visions of artists as varied as David Hockney, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol.
Of the goals outlined in the General Plan, the building can satisfy a fair number of them, as we describe in the following document. The Dome could be the answer to several of Pleasant Hill’s concerns about creating a culturally and economically vibrant community.
Meanwhile, Dick’s Sporting Goods may be a fine addition to the city, but not in that location and not at the cost of the Dome Theater.
We also have genuine concerns about the number of ways that the SyWest development proposal is inconsistent with the General Plan, and how the process for considering this development and the Dome’s historical value was not carried out in accordance with the city’s Municipal Code.
We are submitting this appeal not just because we want to save a venue where we can see our favorite foreign movies or documentaries that only show during Academy Award season. We believe Pleasant Hill and its neighbors are losing an incredible opportunity to embrace a true treasure in their midst, a treasure that has long-term cultural and economic value to the community.
The Dome is a landmark of culture and cool, and it can continue to put Pleasant Hill on the map and make it a destination for people who live and work here, or visit, wanting to enjoy a kind of cinematic and cultural experience they can’t get anywhere else in the East Bay suburbs.The full text of the appeal is about 22 pages long, but cites numerous General Plan goals, programs, policies and strategies and city Municipal Code sections that, we believe, were insufficiently considered by city leaders in considering this development proposal.
Among issues we cite: the Planning Commissioners commissioners failed to engage in any thoughtful discussion regarding the city-commissioned architectural study, which concluded that the theater “retains a good degree of physical integrity" and is eligible for consideration as a historical resource.
The architectural study states:
… the Dome theater is associated with an important period of development in Pleasant Hill’s history, and is one of a diminishing number of buildings that serve as visible reminders of that period. With few alterations, the functioning theater is also the best remaining example of the distinctive domed movie theater building type in the East Bay. For these reasons, the Dome Theater at Pleasant Hill appears potentially eligible for local listing.
Posted by Martha Ross at 9:38 AM
March 29, 2013
Today I meet with some crazy suburbanites like myself who are fervent in their desire to Save the Dome. I offered to write an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision – a document that needs to be ready by late next week. I’ve never written this kind of document before, and feel like I the lack basic background to do so. I'll do a pathetic job. Being a lawyer might help. Or an urban planner. I’m just a journalist who has done some reporting on city government issues and seen development projects go through the process, so I have only rudimentary knowledge of how all this works.
I feel pretty rag tag and out of my element. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on something like this. I have other projects due – the kinds that help me and my family pay the bills. I don't have the deep pockets and staff of SyWest, the developer that wants to destroy the Dome and replace it with a 73,000-square-foot DICK's sporting goods store.
But I tell my husband I have to do this. I realize that the destruction of Dome CineArts movie theater may be a “done deal,” as City Council member Jack Weir so famously said. City planners, city staff and SyWest say they have been at this project for years and years, and SyWest, which owns the Dome property and first built the theater in 1967, likes to say it has struggled mightily to figure out how to develop that southern end of the long neglected shopping center – struggled with certain legal limits on the space and with restrictions having to do with tenants and the other owners of the properties of the shopping center.
So, I realize the Dome’s demise is probably inevitable, but I have to do what little I can to fight that threat. And stand up with all the other people in Pleasant Hill and surrounding communities who agree that this is just a wrong, cynical, sinister, short-sighted and culturally backwards thing to do.
The other Dome lovers are similiarly rag tag. You could see them by the dozens at the protest outside Pleasant Hill city hall before Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting. They include long=time Pleasant Hill residents who have been taking themselves, their children and grandchildren to see movies at the Dome for nearly half a century. They include men and woman who appreciate that the Dome is not just a commercial enterprise but an arts venue showing one of the 21st century most popular forms of art: film. They appreciate that the Dome is the only venue in the East Bay suburbs and on this side of the Caldecott Tunnell showing the kinds of films that are the alternative to the usual CGI, action, blow-em-up blockbuster.
These are the independent, art-house films that the movie industry actually recognizes as having its own demographic and strong following among educated, discerning, and financially influential consumers.
The other Dome fans may not have lots of financial influence just yet but they are in the demographic that movie makers and retailers (like DICK's) like to go after. They are in their early 20s and just started out in their lives. They are young hip, sophisticated, and highlight educated Pleasant Hill natives who grew up going to movies at the Dome CineArts. Some maybe had their first jobs in high school there, and have moved away from Pleasant Hill as they pursue their college education at UC San Francisco, San Francisco State and other colleges. Giorgio Sassine, who started the Change.org petition, signed by more than 2200 people, is a Pleasant Hill native who is studying law at UC San Diego.
By the way, SyWest, in the kind of opposition research usually reserved for the nasty underbelly of presidential political campaigns, submitted a report to Pleasant Hill’s Planning Commission claiming that Sassine is “not even a resident of Northern California.” I showed that report to his father, who attended the Planning Commission meetings. “That’s bullshit,” he said. “Geirgio’s addres is Pleasant Hill.
A group of college students at the protest were on spring break, but were taking their time off to go see movies at the Dome, like the critically acclaimed indie hit Spring Breakrrs. And then they took the time to join the protest. Students from Diablo Valley College were also in attendance, including a young woman reporting on the Dome’s proposed demise for DVC’s Inquirer student newspaper. As much as she was trying to do an objective report on the Planning Commission meeting, she expressed surprise and shock that anyone would want to destroy the Dome. She echoed the sentiments of many in the crowd of protesters, “The Dome is Pleasant Hill." She added it’s a popular movie-going destination for DVC students.
Yes, it’s the most distinctive building in town and it does carry an almost indescribable amount of meaning to thousands of people across the region.
Some say it is an eyesore. Well, SyWest Development hasn’t exactly done much with keeping the Dome looking as fresh and new as it good be.
The Dome has its own amazing, unique beauty, much more than the generic, big box looking DICK's sporting goods store that would replace it.
I’m sorry, DICK’s may have 500 stores across the country but here, its effort to replace a beloved cultural icon is nothing short of dickish, and all that this phallic imagery implies. DICK's has those big green signs with big white letters announcing “DICK’S. It became clear in Tuesday’s planning commission meeting that the phallic imagery of the word DICK’s so highly visible on the sign was very much on the minds of planning commissioners as they tried oh--so hard to phrase their use of the word DICK's carefully in their discussion of sign size so that it wouldn't hang in their air in some sort of embarrassing, giggle-producing double entendre.
Meanwhile, you have the Dome, which has its own retro aesthetic. The Dome is indeed the coolest place in town and one of the coolest places along the Interstate 680 corridor. It’s Man Men chic. It's go-go boots and flower power and Laugh-In and the Summer of Love. It's the Apollo moon landings. It is totally Space Age and it holds everything of US aspirations of that post-war era to create a better world.
The Dome with its beautiful white roof – which, yes, could use a good power washing.
I am utterly disheartened that a city wouldn’t do more to try to save this building, when it is only four years shy of being eligible for listing as a California Historical Resources. I am also dismayed by the city’s willingness to rush through this project when it finally became public in December, and despite the thoughtful misgivings of one commissioner, Jim Bonnato, who voted against SyWest proposal:
“I think this particular project meets the letter of the law but it doesn’t give Pleasant Hill the quality of a shopping center it should have," he said.
"The Dome has been imploded,” he declared. “Meanwhile, the Dome’s replacement involves a Dicks’ sporting goods store brightly displaying its four “Dick’s” signs."
"I think we have deserve a lot better," Bonnato continued. “I’d love to see the developer go back the drawing board and get more creative and give Pleasant Hill an updated center. I don’t think this is updated. We should see something better."
If only Bonnato's fellow commissioners had that much discernment. Thank you Bonnato for having the courage to speak up.
I am disgusted by SyWest, despite President Bill Viera’s expressions of sympathy and the crocodile-tear-like emotion he displayed when talking about how SyWest’s parent company, Syufy built the Dome, and the Syuyfy family has a lot of attachment to it.
I am embarrassed for the leaders who Pleasant Hill, who fail to appreciate an icon in their midst, who are willing to sacrifice it for yet another sporting goods store that may or may not succeed in that space and that may or may not bring those sales tax revenues the city is so eager to accumulate. They see DICK’s as some kind of golden ticket to a more attractive, profitable shopping center. I see it as yet another strip mall coming to Pleasant Hill--a city that has long struggled, next to its more defined neighbors, to create a brand, an identity.
Pleasant Hill has long been looking for its There. Well, it has its There in the Dome, and now it wants to destroy its There for a DICK’s.
Without the Dome and the cultural delights it offers inside, Pleasant Hill--as one of those rag tag Dome supporters said--becomes just a town you pass through on the freeway.
The other rag taggers, who are even more new than me to the labyrinthine, legal process of city planning, are full of passion for the Dome, and full of wonderful ideas for making it an even more lively, exciting venue that would put Pleasant Hill on the map. But the word is that they are much too late. The big giant bulldozer destruction lurks just beyond city limits.
Too bad I and the other rag-taggers didn’t dutifully follow the City of Pleasant hill website all these years—as any reasonable person would if they didn’t have a million other things going on their lives—to find out when the next commission hearing would be on such usually well-attended topics as set backs and parking demand, as they relate to Sub Area II – the area of the shopping center where the Dome is located. Hey, maybe we’d be more up to speed with this project, even, though, according to city documents and senior planner Troy Fujimoto himself, the plan to destroy the Dome didn’t become public until December.
But by then, it was apparently all too late. City staff and SyWest no doubt had been discussing the DICK’s plans for months outside of public purview, as cities and developers tend to talk amongst themselves. By the time the Dome's destruction proposal was finally on the table and supporters of the Dome started to gather signatures and develop their rag-tag movement of students, film lovers and retirees dedicated to its preservation – well, too bad about their efforts, from the perspectives of the city and its friends at SyWest—too bad that it was all too late.
But oh, we can always try. We can don our Man of La Mancha costumes and dream impossible dreams, and fight unbeatable foes.
The cause may be hopeless, but sometimes life presents us with hopeless causes, and we get a choice. And we can choose, depending on where we are in our lives. We can choose to crumble and accept the less-than-ideal, the mediocre, the soulless, the mendacious, the agent of destruction that obliterates a place and idea that brings beauty to our world – because this agent of destruction met the guidelines set down in a city’s specific plan.
Or we can put up the last good fight. That is--to, um, quote "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha --we can give it one last shot to right, the unrightable wrong and aim for the unreachable star.
For more information about this rag tag group, go to the Facebook Page Save Independent Film and the CineArts Dome in Pleasant Hill.
For more information about this rag tag group, go to the Facebook Page Save Independent Film and the CineArts Dome in Pleasant Hill.