Disturbing the peace. It's a crime usually associated with rowdy teens and motorcycle gangs. Increasingly, you can add dogs to the list.

Despite an Oakland ordinance that prohibits incessant barking, more and more neighbors are complaining about just that -- dogs left inside to growl, yap and whine while their owners are away.

"It used to be so quiet and peaceful, waking to the chirps of birds and the rustle of branches in the breeze," writes one hills reader. Now, her neighborhood has gone to the dogs -- literally. "Those of us (and there are many) who work from the home are so disturbed," she says, adding that some are "forced to leave the house when they can't take it anymore."

Let's be clear. Most dog owners want their pets to be happy. They would be embarrassed to learn that their pups were howling out of loneliness or yapping every time a car drove by. They would feel equally bad if they knew that an elderly neighbor (in one case, a mother in hospice) couldn't get the rest he or she needed because of the noise.

As always, the best solution in this case is to find common ground with your neighbors. Some of them may be using dogs as a crime deterrent, and that's understandable. But dogs, unlike burglar alarms, need attention. They can get lonely and depressed if they're left in the house for hours each day.

And if talking doesn't work, Oakland Animal Services has a procedure in place to deal with the issue. See the guidelines online at http://oaklandanimalservices.org/need-help/barking-dogs.

Tree topping: Chain saws have been buzzing in the trees near the Montclair Swim Club. Neighbors say PG&E has been clearing trees along Thornhill, including at least one old tree in front of a homeowner's yard. This happens frequently during the winter months, when trees are tagged as a threat to the power lines. If you have any questions or complaints about PG&E's tree trimming policy, the utility's customer hotline is 800-743-5000.

Amazing transformation: An agency known for its long lines and annoying procedures is getting buzz of a different kind these days. The Claremont DMV is the site of the Sunday Temescal Farmers Market -- a hot spot for foodies looking for emerging chefs and farm-to-fork offerings. Readers have been asking me to cover more of the restaurant scene in Oakland, so next week I'll write about the Temescal District. A new generation of hipsters is driving the economy here -- and it's worth checking out.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.