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Living in the Berkeley Flats/Central Berkeley
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Living in the Berkeley Flats/Central Berkeley
Re: Moving to Berkeley -- which neighborhood?
There are lots of great neighborhoods in Berkeley. If I could pick a house in the
flatlands I'd go near Monterey market (easy to walk to totland, Hopkins track and pool
and tennis courts). Not far from the gourmet ghetto, solano, downtown.
I lived off university ave for ten years and loved the accessibility. Some
neighborhoods have fewer drifters and appear to be cleaner than others. I lived south
of university avenue and it was safe, but just seemed dirtier due to more pedestrian
and car traffic. However, I'm now a hill mom and it's not bad.
Lots of parks up here (codornices is huge) and we take the bus and walk a lot.
Don't write off the hills, but stick to lower neighborhoods unless you want strong
Strong leg mo
.... we moved to Central Berkeley around high school (there's
only one, so it doesn't really matter at that point as far as schools go). I'm really
happy in central Berkeley, about 4 blocks west of downtown. Lots of stuff is
accessible on foot and the streets are pretty and quiet.
Re: Neighborhoods for car-free life with a toddler?
Check out Central Berkeley slightly east or west of MLK Ave,
perhaps between Rose and Allston. Also check out Albany and El
Cerrito, the area along Key Route/Ashbury/Central. Both of these
areas have reasonablly priced rentals and you can walk to BART,
shopping, parks, libraries.
-- Berkeley native living in El Cerrito for cleaner streets and lower rent
I think as long as you are north of Dwight, you are OK. I live
near the Sacramento St./University Ave. intersection and we can
walk to Andronico's, the stores all along University down to San
Pablo (post office, library, Mexican market, etc.) and up to
Cal, downtown (with post office, restaurants, shops, YMCA,
etc.), several parks (Ohlone, Charlie Dorr, totland, etc.), the
north Berkeley BART station, etc. I really like it here. I
know people who live south of Dwight and it's more dangerous
(drive-by shootings, etc.).
My two cents
We used to live in Central Berkeley (nr. Allston and McGee) and found it very walkable
and toddler-friendly. Downtown is 10 minutes away, also Andronico's, and the
Berkeley Bowl perhaps 20 mins. There is a nice little tot-lot on Roosevelt, one in the
UC Development at Allston & California, Ohlone park on Hearst, and of course, Totland
on McGee. We found the neighborhood safe, although there are high school students
traveling Allston and the occasional homeless. Good luck,
We are planning to move to Berkeley and are interested in the central Berkeley
neighborhood (McKinley, Grant, etc., the area between Shattuck and Sacramento,
University and Dwight). Is this a good neighborhood for kids? Is it too student
orientated with the large apartment buildings? What neighborhoods in Berkeley do people
recommend for kids? Elmwood? North Berkeley? Any information greatly appreciated .
Any place near a kids park in Berkeley is good, in my opinion.
Steeper neighborhoods are way more difficult for kids learning
how to ride bikes and scooters, also they are further away from
stores and restaurants. The part of Berkeley you are talking
about is (in my friends' opinions) great. Apparently it is
gentrifying - which has resulting pluses and minuses. You are
very near the big Saturday farmers' market that has an orgainc
focus. There are some students there but the biggest undergrad
concentration is around the College ave and Telegraph ave
corridor. If one of you will work int he City you are near
downtown berkley BART or the Sacramento Street busline for
commutes to SF. Berkeley does not have neighborhood schools,
but rather 3 zones with 3 to 4 elementary schools in each zone
(Washington is in the neighborhood you are considering).
Berkeley has 2 middle school zones (not same as elementary
zones) with Longfellow as a non-zoned magnet school. Berkeley
has one high school and it is in the neighborhood you are
considering. For more specific info on zones and school
assignment policies, call Francisco at the Parent Access Off ice
at the Berkeley Unified School District and/or look on the web.
I recommend that you get yourself to Berkeley on a weekday
(without a kid in tow) and (preferably) get out and walk around
a few neighborhoods in the morning, in mid day, at school
dismissal time, and in the evening to get a feel for the
neighborhoods. Try to be there on a typical day when both Cal
and the public schools are in session. Stop by the police dept
or check on line to get a feel for crime stats form neighborhood
to neighborhood. Stop by playgorunds in differnt neighborhoods
and chat up the parents (on weekends you'll get more
representation form the full-time working parents). Welcome to
Berkeley - it's a great town!
I live in that area and love it! It's so close to everything. I hardly
use my car, we walk everywhere! My daughter walks to Berkeley High, I
walk to work in downtown Berkeley. There are parks and playgrounds
nearby for the tots. I think it's a mixture of students and families,
maybe more families or non-student households. It doesn't feel like
southside for instance, where it's much more student-populated. It's
a fairly ethnically diverse neighborhood. Washington and Arts Magent
Elementary schools are nearby, and King or Longfellow aren't that far
either. The Farmer's Market is close on Saturdays. The catholic
church, synagogue, and police station are close, so you are safe on
all fronts! Not sure what you are looking for in a neighborhood, but
you couldn't get better than this!
happy where I'm at!
You would be most welcome to raise your kids in central
Berkeley. Please join us! Moving to central Berkeley (bounded
by Dwight, University, Sacramento, MLK) has been great for our
family. Reasons? 1) Many great families with young children.
2) Level sidewalks with 'curb cuts' means easy stroller-walking,
tricycle riding, jogging, etc. Channing is an established bike
avenue. 3)Easy access to the 'J' and 'FS' transbay bus lines and
BART. 4) 'Central zone' schools in BUSD are all good:
Washington, Oxford, Cragmont, and Arts Magnet; plus Malcom X is
great and nearby. 5) Easy weekend walks to the public library,
farmer's markets, YMCA. 6) Many houses in this area have small
front yards and big backyards, which means you have many chances
to meet and greet your neighbors coming and going. 7) Walking
distance to coffee at Trieste, breakfast at the Homemade Cafe,
brunch at Venus, dinner at several good places, services on
Shattuck. 8)A mix of ages, outlooks, and professions. 9)
Relatively easy street parking. 10)Many excellent houses of
worship are within walking distance. 11)If you contact BANANAS,
you'll find many home daycare providers in this area (esp. in
the streets immediately south of Dwight). The negatives are
few, but some worth mentioning: 1)street parking on weekdays is
overrun by Berkeley High School. Few houses here have garages,
so this can be an issue. 2)Dwight and MLK are busy streets and
can be hazardous. 3)As in any neighborhood, there are a few
eccentrics who might cause you some problems. Before you
purchase, chat with your prospective neighbors about any ongoing
neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts on your street. Actually, I would
advise that you have those conversations regardless of where you
purchase. Caveat emptor....Hope to see you on my street someday
Happy in Central Berkeley
We live in, and like the neighborhood around N. Berkeley BART --
San Pablo to Sacto; University to Cedar. Lots of families with
kids are moving in; and we have easy access to the rest of
Berkeley and to San Francisco. Great cafes at Acton and
We just bought a house in Central Berkeley on Grant St and are
looking forward to raising our two sons (3.5 and 9 months) in
the neighborhood we have decided for. We have two playgrounds
in walking distance and were told that many families with kids
live in the same/next block. Although we haven't moved and made
new friends yet, we like the quiet street we will live in. I
can see the kids playing in the front yard or on the side walk
Mother in Central Berkeley
My husband and I moved to Central Berkeley in 1998. Since then
we've had two children and plan to raise our kids in the house we
bought there. I am a transplant from the East Coast, moving here
in 1987, and I've lived in many Berkeley and near-Berkeley
neighborhoods, Albany, Berkeley Hills, North Oakland, Elmwood. I
really love Central Berkeley. It has an excellent public school,
Washington, within walking distance and because it is so
accessible there is a real community feeling there (see postings
on Washington School in the archives). We easily walk to BART and
commute to work that way. We walk to the YMCA, the Central
Library, Habitot, and there is a tot lot on Roosevelt near Dwight
Way. Teaching our kids to ride bikes is a no-brainer since it is
flat where we live, and Washington has a big flat playground to
Our closest grocery store is the Berkeley Bowl, and although I do
not ride my bike there many of my neighbors do (I need to do such
a big shop I wouldn't ride anyway). We love bumping into
neighbors and friends just walking in the street, there is a
level of activity here that makes it feel very alive.
Downsides? Kids learn street smarts early around here, which you
may see as a little sad, depending on how you look at it. This
means to be aware of safety at night, being careful where you
park your car, not allowing your kids to go to the neighbors
unaccompanied. I am more of an urban person, and I value walkable
public transit and neighborhood diversity, so I'm willing to give
some of this up.
Happy near Downtown
this page was last updated: Jul 31, 2010
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