About a dozen residents said at a meeting last week with city officials that a solid masonry sound wall is necessary not only to reduce noise but to increase privacy and safety.
And they unanimously rejected a suggested alternative called a "living wall," which is essentially a soil-filled framework planted with flowering vines. City Engineer Jason Vogan said that the living wall would offer the advantages of being more attractive, more in keeping with the rural area and less expensive to build.
"With the living wall you're not going to get the graffiti like you might with a regular sound wall," he told the gathering at the Sept. 21 meeting. He admitted, however, that a living wall would require more maintenance.
"I don't know. When I drive around Brentwood I see sound walls and they look good," said Art Mijares, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee that represents Oakley at the Contra Costa Transit Authority. "They put the neighborhood behind the wall and create a sense of privacy. I think they're attractive."
"We've gotten clear direction from you now," Vogan said, following the show of hands in favor of the masonry wall. "You've made it clear what you want. We'll take that to the council and share it with them. We'll tell them, 'Yeah, they're definitely united.'"
Vogan said he would deliver the information to the council at the Oct. 9 meeting, but added that any decision by the council likely will not be made until later this year or early 2007.
"The council will have to study the issue and see how much money they're looking at and what funds are available before making any decisions," he said.
Councilman Bruce Connelley, who attended the meeting, agreed.
"We probably aren't going to discuss much at that time," Connelley said, referring to the Oct. 9 meeting. "But then again, we might, so it might be a good idea for you guys to be there. I can't speak for the rest of the council, but my guess is that it's all going to come down to cost."
Originally, a sound wall was not included in the widening project, which will move the road 32 feet closer to some of the property owners. Residents complained to the City Council and eventually hired an attorney to represent them.