Living in Maxwell Park (Oakland, CA)
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Living in Maxwell Park (Oakland, CA)
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but it seems the BPN postings on it are a bit outdated.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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Good Luck! And hope to see you in the neighborhood....
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
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.
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.
this page was last updated: Jul 31, 2010
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