Commuting from El Sobrante to San Francisco

Parent Q&A

  • Like most of the previous questions, we’re considering a move to El Sobrante from N. Berkeley. We moved to the Bay Area a little less than 2 years ago from New York and so far love it. We’re a small family of 3, with a 3 year old. We have been looking to stop renting and buy a home for a few months but it’s been a struggle. Albany has great schools but is a very small footprint with high demand and high prices. Pushing north, El Cerrito seemed like a great possibility but so far hasn’t been much better. Kensington is wonderful, but as off limits as Berkeley. Next up is Richmond and, it’s just too close to environmental hazards for our comfort. Overall we’ve been very turned off by the quality of the houses that start at what we consider a doable asking price that then is raised significantly by high offers. El Sobrante has come up a few times, and we’re not too familiar with the area other than it’s proximity to outdoor recreation—which is a high value for us. As is fresh organic food (which we’d love to grow some ourselves), progressive minded people, and a rich fabric of people from diverse backgrounds. Logistically it seems a little tricky: Our daughter is starting preschool in Berkeley soon. My husband works in San Francisco and currently commutes via the Transbay Bus. Any recent thoughts on living in El Sobrante? Any commuters to the city?

    We live next door, in Pinole.  Some parts of El Sobrante are really lovely and some parts are downright weird since it is unincorporated.  A few years ago when we moved it wasn't unheard of to see someone riding their horse to the local liquor store.  Lots of people have big gardens and raise chickens, we know one family there that also has sheep and goats.  The neighborhoods near Kennedy Grove are lovely and get a highly regarded elementary school, Olinda.  Pinole is close by, and has a Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Peet's, etc. and a bunch of other big chain names.  People seem to flow easily between El Sobrante, Pinole, and Hercules.  Pinole also has a decent weekly Farmer's Market with at least a few organic vendors.  This whole area is very diverse and we've met a lot of progressively minded people here, although we've also met a few older folks who definitely were not.  I get the feeling this used to be a very conservative area but that a lot of the old guard is aging out/moving on and younger, more progressive families are moving in.  

    If we ever win the lottery we will move to Northbrae in Berkeley, but in the meantime we just feel fortunate to have found a section of the Bay Area that is still affordable and nice.  We love being here, and the outdoor recreation availability has been more amazing than we first thought.  It's awesome to be able to walk out your front door and access the Ridge Trail.   Logistically: There is a truly excellent play based preschool in El Sobrante called Sunshine Playschool that I would highly recommend over driving to Berkeley.  Your husband can take the Lynx bus from the park and ride in Hercules to the Transbay Terminal in downtown SF.

    Consider Hercules. Great community. Family friendly and safe. Very diverse.

    We live in Carriage Hills which is small community out in the valley between El Sobrante and Pinole. (It is officially considered unincorporated Richmond with an El Sobrante zip) It is an awesome neighborhood with lots of space. The commute into the city is about an hour(my husband casual carpools into the city from Orinda or El Cerrito.) The commute into Berkeley is anout 30 min taking side streets when there is traffic. There are other parts of El Sobrante that are nice but not all areas. Pinole is another consideration for families. Hope this helps. I love living out in the valley even though we have to drive in to the city. It's always nice coming home to a quiet family friendly. neighborhood.(and the weather is always nicer in the valley)

Archived Q&A and Reviews


From El Sobrante to Market & Van Ness in less than an hour?

November 2003

How early in the morning would I have to leave my home in El Sobrante to make it to Market and Van Ness in under an hour? At noon, the trip takes only 35 minutes, but at 9am it took an hour and a half. So I am thinking of trying it between 5 and 6? Or do I need to leave even earlier to beat the traffic? PJ

I live in El Sobrante and I work in the Mission district. If I drive, it takes me 35-50 minutes at the most, leaving at around 6:40am. On Fridays (and during the summer), it'll take me about 25 minutes. Depending where you are, the best is to take Pebble from Appian, then Hill Top dr. In the city, take the 9th Street exit. You know, BART is actually the best and the least stressful, it takes about 35 min from the Del Norte station to Civic Center, which is fairly close to where you go. But to get a parking space in the BART garage, you need to be there before 7:30. The trains leave every 15 minutes to the hour (6:45, 7:00, etc.) an

Hi! I do the opposite commute every morning, and I come at various times each day. When I come across the bridge Eastbound around 6:45-7:00, the traffic has usually already started backing up about halfway to the maze to get through the tollbooth. Any later than that and you're really stuck. However, when I used to do the opposite commute (Westbound) at various times at the crack of dawn, I usually found that, if I got to the tollbooth before 6:15-6:30, I was able to cruise on through. In my experience, you shouldn't have to leave much more before 6 to make it a reasonable commute. Katie

We live in El Cerrito and we commute to and from the Financial District every day in 30-45 minutes any time of day. We take casual carpool in the mor! ning and AC Transit in the evenings. There is a designated casual carpool pick-up and drop-off spot in El Cerrito on the frontage road near the Portrero Avenue off/on ramp. We take the L or LC bus home that stops all along San Pablo Avenue. Or, a much quicker bus line is the LB which makes the first stop at the Portrero Avenue off ramp (right across the street from the casual carpool pick-up -- how convenient!). I have seen many people from Hercules, El Sobrante, Pinole, etc. drive to the casual carpool pick-up spot in the morning, park their car, hop in a car, then in the evening take the LB bus home. I think this is the quickest (and cheapest) way to travel to/from the City! swalter