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Living in Maxwell Park (Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Living in Maxwell Park (Oakland, CA)


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2008 - 2013 Recommendations


Feb 2013

Re: Mills College neighborhoods - yay or nay?
We live in Maxwell Park, moved here a couple years ago so we could have a house with a yard for our kids that was affordable. I love it. The neighborhood is very active, we love most of them (can't have it all), and the weather is great (warmer, which I think is great). On the other side, I drive a lot more, and there is more of a crime element. According to the stats, it is no more than where we used to live (by the lake), but somehow we hear about it way more, and maybe it feels different now that we are home owners. I think it depends on how much the walk ability factor bugs you. We have three kids now so I am forced to drive already, and while I do miss the easy walking, it isn't so bad. Feel free to email me with more questions!


June 2010

Our family (husband, me, and 19 mo old daughter) is looking to buy our first home. We're interested in Maxwell Park, but it seems the BPN postings on it are a bit outdated. We'd love to hear from people living there now. Is anything really walkable? Crime? Is BART an option, or really a little bit too far? Thanks! curious


Hi there, I lived in Maxwell pk for 5 years about 6 years ago. Since then the crime has risen greatly and although Maxwell pk is a fairly nice area, it's bordered by some very sketchy parts of Oakland. Bart isn't in walking distance and you would have to walk through some of the questionable areas to get there. I used to drive up to redwood road off highway 13 to go to Safeway for groceries, the closer stores are not up to par. On the positive side, Mills college is close and they have great pools that the public can use, and there are some great people who own houses there. We knew all of our neighbors well. Hope this helps Former MP mom
Lovely and safe residential area, though a bit far from the 'action.' After a year of post-graduate traveling, I moved back home to my mom's new house in Maxwell Park (fall 2009). The neighborhood was relaxing, and the neighbors were delightful-- but unfortunately not suited to a 24-year-old who enjoys walking to cafes, biking to work, and peoplewatching. It's great if you want to live a tiny driving distance outside of the city, especially since it's located moments from I-580/I-880. BART isn't walkable, but there is a bus that runs down to Fruitvale Station, or you can bike it in under 15 minutes. Lauren
Hi there,

My husband and 2 1/2 year old daughter and I moved to Maxwell Park 2 years ago. We've not had any problems and have really enjoyed living in a neighborhood that I feel has a real sense of community.

Walkability is a bit of an issue -- depending on where you're looking, there's not a ton that's in walking distance but there's a project underway (LAMMPS) that is going to redo the full walk/bikability of the Max Park to Laurel path on the Mills College side from Seminary to High St to improve the safety and beauty for walkers/bikers along the route.

I joined the elected neighborhood council (MPNC) earlier this year and have enjoyed getting to know more active members of the neighborhood as well as beat officers and OPD to call on if ever needed. We haven't had any problems here with crime (personally), though the neighborhood isn't exempt from burglaries, car theft, and other crime. We're adjacent to some rougher areas and we occasionally see overflow into our neck of the woods, but again, I've not witnessed anything or been a victim of any crime since moving here (whereas, we had our car vandalized when we lived in more upscale Grand Lake previously).

The neighborhood council is great. Meets monthly and there's a listserve used by more than 800 neighbors to communicate regularly. In addition, there's a MaxParkFamilies sub-group list that meets for regular playgroups each Monday afternoon and shares advice about child care and whatnot. There's an Annual Day in the Park event that takes place in Maxwell Park (Sept. 11 this year), block parties for Nat'l Night Out, community garage sale in May, plant swaps, adopt-a-block cleanups monthly, a group that meets to bicycle the area together, and a great mosaic project in the park.

Overall, I'm happy to be raising our daughter in the community and plan to be here for many more years to come. Hope you'll join us. Feel free to ask the moderator for my email if you'd like to meet to discuss more. Becky on Walnut in Max Park


I don't know what your reasons are for considering Maxwell Park but I imagine it is more affordable. I cannot recommend enough thinking twice about moving into that type of neighborhood. Yes, there are families in the area who make it work and pretty views on some streets, etc. The crime level is not good though. I just moved out of the area this month so I speak from recent experience. I also had two friends who had homes in the area and left in the last few years for the same reasons. They left because they both witnessed drive-by shootings. We left because of similar reasons-police activity became common, plus loud, speeding cars, trash and a general lack of community. Also, the school system leaves a lot to be desired. Walking? No, I don't think so. I could not walk except for a couple of blocks. My husband did do BART from Fruitvale station for a few years but eventually gave it up. Until I landed in a safe, clean, friendly neighborhood in Alameda this month I hadn't realized the deep effects of such an environment on our daily lives. Keep looking elsewhere! glad to be out of oakland
March 2009

Re: East Bay neighborhoods like DC Metro
We live in Maxwell Park and really like it but we aren't as close to BART. But, it does have a very neighborhoody feel to it with mostly all single-family homes that have been here since the 1920s.

Working downtown in Oakland would be a quick BART ride away or like a 10 minute drive from most of the neighborhoods I've mentioned.

Depending upon the age of your kids and whether you plan to go public or private for schooling may influence your decision as well. We only have a baby so I can't speak to the quality of the schools from experience. I'm sure others can chime in on that.

Best of luck with your move! I'm sure your family will love your move to the Bay. :) Happy to be out of DC


Sept 2008

Re: Cheaper but "safe enough" neighborhoods
Maxwell Park in Oakland, near Mills College. My family and I have lived here for four years and love it. We know all our neighbors and have made great friends. There is a great sense of community with community run, volunteered, and attended community events. We have wonderful block parties in the area and there are neighborhood yahoo groups for a variety of groups: families, school improvement, community improvement, gay and lesbian group and even one that is working on improving the neighborhood playground. The prices (like everywhere) have dropped significantly and you can now buy a great home in the 400's and 500's. Good luck! Maxwell Park Neighbor


July 2008

We're currently renters and are hoping to take advantage of this market to finally get our own home. We've been exploring neighborhoods in our price range, and thought both Maxwell Park and King Estate seemed quite nice. But what is it really like to live in these neighborhoods? The most recent postings for Maxwell Park are 2 years old (is there still loud cars and drug dealing?) and there is nothing on Kings Estates. Thanks in advance for any input! Hope to be homeowners


What are you looking for in regards to Maxwell Park vs. King Estates? In regards to purchasing a home, King Estate really varies street by street. In regards to resale value most people who are looking to buy a home in Oakland do not like to go too far east, as they want to be closer to downtown Oakland and San Francisco. If you find a home with a view in King Estates it could have better resale value over a Maxwell Park. Recently Maxwell Park has declined in value quite a bit, in fact I sold a bank owned property to a buyer earlier this year. I know many clients and friends who live in Maxwell Park and they are quite committed to the neighborhood and feel like there is a since community. Remember, Maxwell Park is only a few blocks up from Foothill... I suggest you walk around both neighborhoods, see where you feel comfortable and check with the city in regards to crime statistics. I am happy to talk with you one on one, as I am an Oakland native. Deidre
We moved to Maxwell Park about 2 years ago at the height of the market. We got a decent house at a really high price and have been disappointed at how the home values have plumeted in Maxwell Park. Many houses in the neighborhood have been on the market for a while. I am afraid that more group homes will move in. We already have 3 loud ones on our block. Prior to this month, there hadn't been a home break-in on this block since the early 70's according to some old-timers. A few weeks ago 3 houses were robbed at noon. We wish we could have afforded a nicer neighborhood, one that's quieter. We can hear gunfire, loud cars, domestic arguments, and low-flying helicopters frequently. We are making the best of it. My advice if you pick MP, buy up on the hill, not near the highway or Foothill. Good luck! Anon
We have been living in Maxwell Park for just about six years, and have found it to be a friendly, relatively quiet neighborhood. We have great neighbors--the neighborhood is a mix of older, long-time residents, and a lot of new families with young children. Regarding your specific questions about loud cars and drug dealing, the answer is ''yes,'' to a degree, but it really depends on where you live within the neighborhood, especially in regards to the latter. From what I read on the neighborhood listserv, crime, noise, etc., go up dramatically if you live below Brookdale--Fairfax Avenue is notorious for drug dealing problems in particular--or on some of the streets on the perimeter up around MacArthur. Crime levels in the neighborhood as a whole seem to be relatively high (we had one car stolen and our other car vandalized), but I have not researched how they compare with the rest of Oakland, where crime seems to be high in general. That said, I have always felt safe in the neighborhood on a day-to-day basis, taking walks, gardening, playing with my kids on the sidewalk, and the neighbors tend to look out for one another.

A few other comments:

-There is a very active and committed neighborhood group, which meets relatively regularly and has various committees for neighborhood improvement (including sprucing up the actual Maxwell Park, cleaning up the area near the freeway, etc.). You can join the Yahoo Group to read up on neighborhood topics and/or join to ask further questions.

--If you have children, or are planning to have children, and want to send them to public school, the neighborhood elementary school is currently not a strong option and very few neighborhood families send their children there. But, the school is currently undergoing an ''incubation'' into a new school, with a lot of community effort, and hopefully this will bear fruit over the next few years.

--There are a few good shopping and food options on MacArthur in Laurel, but in general, you may find yourself driving a ways for this type of service.

In a nutshell, I would recommend Maxwell Park. It certainly isn't perfect, but we have been happy here. Good luck! Happy Maxwell Parker


2004 - 2007 Recommendations


Feb 2006

I'm interested in any comments or general information regarding the Maxwell Park neighborhood of Oakland. My husband, young child and I are looking to buy our first home, and so far like what we see in the neighborhood. It seems to be in our price range and it has a very nice homey feel to it. We're kind of new to the bay area, so I'd be interested to hear any comments about the area from families that live there. Some questions I have: How is Maxwell Park Elementary - I know test scores do not tell all, but they are pretty low. If you live there, are you planning or do you send your child there, and if not, where do they go? How is crime in the area? Do you feel owning a home there is a good investment financially? Is there a shopping district/street close by that you enjoy?

Sorry if these questions seem pretty basic, we have just ''discovered'' this area for ourselves and have little prior knowledge of it. However I get a great vibe from it and it looks like a nice place to call home. Thanks for any advice.
first time homebuyer


There is a new principal at Maxwell Park Elementary this year. He was formerly my son's teacher at Kaiser Elementary and boy were we sad to lose this rising young star. I've heard he's doing great things as principal at MPE. public school mom
A couple of my best friends bought a house a year and a half ago in Maxwell Park. I live about a mile away, up the hill above the Laurel District in Redwood Heights. I've spent a lot of time at their house in Maxwell Park, at various hours, and also pet sit their dogs, so I've been dragged around the streets by a leash and have seen a lot of the neighborhood that way.

Pros of Maxwell Park: Houses are mostly kept up, streets are tree-lined and pretty, and aside from the usual break- in/burglary type crimes that can happen anywhere, it seems quite safe. People come from diverse backgrounds and age groups, and most neighbors are friendly. In Maxwell Park you are also in relatively easy walking distance to the Laurel District shopping area on/around Macarthur Blvd, which includes Farmer Joe's (a nice ''healthy type'' grocery store), an Ace hardware, 1-2 banks, a post office, and a pharmacy. There aren't a lot of great restaurants that deliver, but alas, that seems to be the norm around Oakland.

It's a great place for my friends, who have no kids. But the deal breaker for me, the mom of a toddler, is that the test scores for the public schools in Maxwell Park are very low. That's why I'm in Redwood Heights, where house values are slightly higher, but the elementary school has quite a good reputation and very high test scores by comparison. So, if a good public school is a priority, you might consider looking up the hill in Redwood Heights.
Erin in Oakland


i lived in maxwell park for 10-15 years, just moved out about 2 years ago. all i have to say is the rich people are buying up a lot of homes in this what used to be mainly working class neighborhood. the area is quiet but there are a lot of drug dealers. (mostly on high st.) the elementary school is one of the worst in oakland. my kids went elsewhere. also in my opinion the housing is over priced. we bought a house off madera 10 years ago, 3 bedroom beautiful yard etc. for 125,000! the same house today is going for over 550,000! i don't think it's fair and esp. when you could move to Berkeley or Montclair and just spend a little bit more money and have a decent neighborhood. The only good thing about Maxwell park in my opinion is the regular folks that live there. not the new people moving in. Traffic is terrible as well. please think about it before you sign that lease. you could always rent for a year to get a better fell for the neighborhood. it's not very expensive. compared to buying. good luck. Annie

2003 & Earlier


July 2003

We would like to buy a home in the Maxwell Park area of Oakland and are searching for some information such as- safety issues, parents groups (and play groups), schools (do your children go to neighborhood schools/private schools?), doing errands (where do you do grocery shopping- specifically good produce, meat, fish), any other useful information about the neighborhood. Thank you. Hope to join the neighborhood!


i lived Near Maxwell Park, and though I found nice neighbors, and some lovely resources nearby (i.e. farmer joe's at 35th st., Food Mill, the libraries at 45th and in Fruitvale etc) there were a couple of things that made it feel very hard to live there for me. I found the area excessively noisy -- with boom-box car radios, cars doing donuts in the streets day and night, lots of shouting pedestrians, a loud motorized scooter, loud music blaring from houses, barking dogs etc. Loud noise was a constant.

There was a fair amount of drug dealing nearby, with gangs fighting over the turf. While i generally felt comfortable inside the house, and going to my car, it was uncomfortable to be out after dark.

so if i were thinking of moving to MP, i'd check it out very carefully before hand to see if these or other problems are in the community, or surround the community -- and if so how closely. anon


Welcome (almost) to Maxwell Park! We have lived here for 2.5 years. As you probably know this is an ''up and coming'' neighborhood near Mills College, an affordable outpost in the East Bay with cute bungalow-style houses. You will be in good company, there are tons of families with small kids moving in. Regarding safety, I have not felt less (or more) safe here than other places we have lived in the Bay Area. Neither we nor our neighbors has ever been robbed, that I know of. This community is very diverse in all ways. There are many young families moving in, and also many older folks. The local schools are not good. Our child is not yet school age, but we plan to either go for an interdistrict transfer to Redwood Heights, or possibly do private schools. Maxwell Park itself is decent, but we tend to drive to Jordan Park or other Oakland parks. We also walk or drive to Mills a lot, it is very close and has a wonderful park- like campus and pool. They also have a great preschool. There are several good preschool options in the area. The biggest down side to the neighborhood to me is that we end up driving for most of our errands. For groceries we go to Farmer Joe's at MacArthur and 35th--a GREAT little market. There is also an Albertson's near there, video rental, etc. For dining, shopping, etc. we drive 10 minutes up 580 to Lakeshore or College. We do have a parent's group that gets together once a month for a casual dinner; we also see each other around the neighborhood and have formed friendships. Let us know when you land here and we'll tell you about our next gathering. Maxwell Park Parent
I live in Maxwell Park, and absolutely LOVE it (we've been here for over 2 years)! There really aren't any safety issues, depending on where you are looking. I'd be happy to discuss with you what are generally good areas and not--in the lower part of Maxwell Park, or closer to High Street, are a little rougher, but I've not heard of anyone having major problems here.

We usually do our shopping in Redwood Heights, or Montclair, just because the grocery stores are a little nicer. There is a great place on 35th/MacArthur called ''Joe's Market'' which is a nice little organic store.

We don't belong to any play groups, but would be happy to join in on one, if I knew it existed.

If you want to talk further, I'd be happy to, just shoot me an email.

Good Luck! And hope to see you in the neighborhood.... Denise


I used to live in Maxwell Park and really liked it. The best thing is that it's diverse and very friendly. You get to know your neighbors and kids actually play outside. I never had a safety problem- the only area I would avoid is right near Foothill Blvd.

You can get great produce (including organic), fish and meat at Farmer Joe's market, just 5 minutes away at 35th Ave and MacArthur. It's very popular (but not too busy), and the owner and workers are very friendly and get to know you. Also, a certified Farmers Market just started near Mills College/MacArthur Blvd- fresh regular and organic produce- I hear it's very popular.

Finally, it's wonderful to be near Mills College. It's a beautiful campus to ride your bikes, and you can swim in their fabulous pool at specific times for a pretty reasonable cost. Mills also has free and low cost student, faculty and guest concerts (mostly classical) and plays. It was great not to have to travel far to attend a good concert/play. Diane


Maxwell Park is a friendly neighborhood where people wave to one another and strike up conversations with new faces, where neighbors bring each other Christmas gifts, and share fruit from their trees. Halloween has a real community feel because most everyone participates in the fun.

On weekends people are outside taking care of their front yards, washing cars, etc. One thing I like is how most homes do not have fences built around them and that gives a open and welcoming feel to the houses and streets, and makes walking around more enjoyable.

The most surprising part of moving here was realizing how close Maxewell Park is to everything; 5 min. from Lincoln Square (Safeway, Citibank, Chevron), 10 min. from Piedmont/Montclair, 15 min. from Berkeley, and 5 min. from the Oakland Zoo, as well as easy access to 580 and 13. There is a Farmer's Market that is open every Saturday within walking distance.

The neighborhood is established with families that have lived here for 20-50 years, but new families with young children are moving in too. Our children won't be ready for kindergarten for a while, but for now we are planning on putting them in private schools. If you are friendly family and enjoy friendly neighbors, Maxwell Park might be the place for you.

a happy home owner


We live in Maxwell Park and have been here for a little over a year. We are about to move because we are buying a house. Overall we like Maxwell Park-its fairly centrally located, there are services on MacArthur (Farmer Joe's, Food Mill, Post Office, Dry Cleaners, the Full Stop Cafe, etc.), there are a lot of cute houses and the neighborhood is friendly. However, there aspects to the neighborhood that are not kid friendly. For example, we live on a nice street in a nice house and there is open drug dealing going on almost every day. Cars drive VERY fast, to the point that walking through the neighborhood can be a little scary. In addition, there are very loud speakers in many of the cars, many of those motorized scooters and ATVs that rip through the neighborhood. If you had kids that needed to take naps, it would be difficult. More and more families are moving into the neighborhood, and I think over time the place may change. However, for now, I would still call it somewhat borderline for family living. However, if you find a house that is on a more secluded street, up off of the street, with a back yard for kids to play, it would probably be just fine! Just some things to keep in mind as you look for the right place. Good Luck!! Departing Maxwell Parker
The activity described by one person/poster who used to live in Maxwell Park sounds like what established neighbors remember going on about 10 years ago, not now. The area has changed quite a bit. New families have moved in, contractors are renovating bungalows, and the resale value of houses seems to reflect the desirability and charm of this neighborhood.

We love it here. I walk the hills 3-4 times a week with a friend in the spring/summer, often after 8 p.m. and have never felt like I was in danger. It's been a fun way to meet the people who live here. I haven't experienced excessive loudness (other than on July 4), gangs, or anything that resembles it. Actually, for the first few months after we moved in I kept commenting to my husband how quiet it was at night. Of course, the best way to learn about a neighborhood is to walk around and ask the people who live here. angela


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