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Living in Dimond/Laurel District, Oakland

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Living in Dimond/Laurel District, Oakland


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2010 - 2014 Recommendations


April 2014

Re: Renaissance Int'l School: Safe neighborhood?

You asked for comments and feedback about your view of the area around Renaissance International School. Here's my feedback: I've lived in the Dimond district for 11 years and am really surprised to hear it characterized as ''in crisis.'' In fact, I had to google the school to make sure that you were referring to the one in my neighborhood! My kids and I walk, shop, eat, play, and learn here daily. So yes, in my view it's safe. But my view may be different from yours. Apparently during your visit you didn't notice the park, the library, the many small businesses and restaurants, the clean streets, the flowers, the well maintained for houses and apartments... So, what did you notice that caused you to be ''frankly quite concerned'' about the area? I can only guess that what many of us see as another of its desirable qualities (that it is home to people of many different cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic situations, family configurations, and lifestyles) caused you to react with fear and judgment. If this is the case, I can only say that this reveals much more about you than it does about the Dimond, and it may be that you will never feel safe here because of the assumptions you carry with you. If I'm wrong and you're actually concerned about something specific that you saw or heard during your visit, it might be useful to repost with a particular question about that particular concern rather than asking for feedback on a statement that disparages the whole neighborhood. Oh -- and Fruitvale BART is nowhere nearby (and much more than a ''crime mecca''!). Dimond Girl


The neighborhood you are ''frankly quite concerned about'' is the neighborhood my family, including two young children, have lived in for over a decade. We have many friends who live here too and are very happy. We all use the park (a stone's throw from the school you are considering) and the library regularly. We walk to our wonderful local public school and Farmer Joe's, get our hair cut on Fruitvale Ave, and eat at the taqueria just up the block from Renaissance. We enjoy all of the new public art that is being installed and we know our neighbors. There are many, many things to love about our neighborhood, but perhaps you have to live here to appreciate them. Dimond Mom
Neighborhood in crisis? Did La Farine run out of morning buns?!? Just kidding, but I do wonder where you live if you are so anxious about the neighborhood around the school. It is definitely busier, more urban, etc. than say, Moraga, but it is really a pretty typical residential and commercial area of Oakland. Definitely more family-friendly and safe than much of the city. I'm not sure I'd call the Fruitvale BART a crime mecca, and anyways it is a full 2+ miles away. Of course, there are car break-ins, house burgleries, etc. and those are scary and I don't mean to minimize that. But I think you need to ask the school about their safety and security plans and procedures, as that is more relevant to your child's experience than the surrounding area. I doubt your child will be wandering around by themself, so the most pertinent info will be safety at pick up and drop off, etc. For what it's worth, we shop in that neighborhood frequently- at Peet's, La Farine, Farmer Joe's, Paws and Claws, Hive, etc. and really like the area and the friendly vibe. Come get a coffee and a morning bun some Saturday morning, and maybe you'll feel more comfortable. Good luck!
Wow! I've lived in the Dimond neighborhood, less than a block from the Renaissance International School, for more than 16 years, and I'm really shocked by your question about neighborhood safety. I have safely raised a child of my own in this neighborhood. Dimond is full of involved, active people, looking out for each other and trying to improve what needs improving and enjoying the many advantages that are already present -- which include a local park and wonderful branch library. I have no direct experience with the Renaissance School, but surely it has procedures for the safety of its students. If you are unsure about what those are, I would ask school administrators. Your child will be at school during the day, not walking the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning. Also, for the record, the school is not near the Fruitvale BART station, which is more than two miles away. Neighbor

Moving from Boston, looking for modest home with young families

May 2012

We are moving to the East Bay from Boston. We have a three year old son and are looking to buy a modest home in an area with other vibrant young families and great sense of community. Safety and schools are important. Can you tell me more about the Laurel and Diamond district? What I am finding seems to be a few years old. I am interested if there are places I can walk to? How is the SF commute? Other young kids? Playgrounds? Any advice or perceptions are appreciated. Kat


I've lived in the Dimond for nearly a decade and I love so many things about it. The weather is amazing and it is perfect for gardening. The people I know are down-to-earth, friendly, and helpful and I've never felt so a part of a community. The retail area (Fruitvale/MacArthur) is just getting better and better. When I first moved here I never bought anything there. Now I spend plenty of money at Peet's, LaFarine, Farmer Joe's, Paws and Claws, and the many restaurants that are popping up. There is also a lot of new art (murals, mosaics) as well as other improvements to the area. Dimond Park is a great place to play and have a picnic. The librarians at Dimond Library are incredible. I live 5 minutes from hiking in the redwoods, when there's no traffic SF is only 15 minutes away...I could go on and on. There is a neighborhood Yahoo group just for families in the area (dimondfamilies) which is a great resource for swapping kid gear, setting up childcare, finding a house-sitter, learning about preschools, etc. The streets between Lincoln and Laguna are mostly only 1 block long and are pretty appealing because of their walkability and know-all-your-neighbors feel. The streets running up the hill are not as walkable but seem to have larger yards and good views of the bay. The neighborhood elementary school, Sequoia, is vibrant and full of great teachers and sweet kids. My children walk there every day on a 'walking school bus' as do many other kids from the neighborhood. The middle school has a new principal, who is very welcoming and smart, and more and more families are sending their kids K-12 through the OUSD schools. All in all, the Dimond is a great place to live!

The main thing I don't love about the area is the crime, which seems to come and go in waves and is a part of living in Oakland, especially during lousy economic times. Almost everyone I know has a story of a car break-in or other non-violent crime. It gets old. Dimondite


I live in upper Dimond/Lincoln highlands with my husband and young child and we are very happy here.

Pros: really lovely people, lots of young families, lots of all kinds of diversity (ethnic, racial, economic, cultural, etc.) but a very warm Feeling overall.
- I swear it is warmer and sunnier than other parts of Oakland/berkeley.
- Dimond neighborhood gems: La Farine, Farmer Joes Market, Peet's, the friendliest post office in the bay area, Dimond library, Lions pool,
- Jordan park/avenue Terrace park in Redwood Heights is also great and so close.
- I think Sequoia elementary seems like a great community and great school. We attended the science fair a few weeks ago and were really impressed by the school, the families, even by the subjects of the art projects on the walls of the kindergarten wing. I am really hoping it will be a good fit for us in a couple of years. -very close to the Redwood regional park with gorgeous hiking trails

Cons: honestly, the only con is that crime does happen, thefts and car breakins, etc. I don't think it is worse in our area than anywhere else in the urban East Bay, but it is an urban reality. In practical terms, it means we make sure our cars and house are locked up and take reasonable safety precautions. But we walk every day, at least twice a day and also ride bikes and play outside, and feel very comfortable here.

I can't speak to the commute to SF, but your access to highways is excellent from Dimond or Laurel, and are a pretty quick drive to a couple of BART stations. Good luck with your move!


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