Conservative Areas in the East Bay

Archived Q&A and Reviews

June 2004

Are there areas in the East Bay (or even Bay Area) that are considered conservative? My husband and I are not originally from the Bay Area, but have lived here for about 7 years and would like to make this our ''permanent'' home. We currently live near Montclair in Oakland with our 1 year old daughter. While we love the area (and all that the Bay Area and Nothern California have to offer), we have not made a great connection with anyone we have met here. We think that is because we have yet to meet people who share the same values and beliefs that we do (a few: we believe having one parent at home is best for our family, we think abortion should be illegal, we do not give money to homeless, we support being in Iraq). We are thinking about moving to a bigger house for a growing family and would like to live in a place where we feel more like our neighbors- where we aren't frowned upon for using our lawn mower, killing ants with spray, letting our daughter watch television, etc. Is the Bay Area the place for us long term? Are there more conservatives out there? There must be- Michael Savage is airing from San Francisco! By the way, we are not on a mission to change other's political/social view points- we know that everyone has the right to different opinions. We just think it would help in raising our kids to be in a community that supports our core values. Hannity and Savage listener

Alamo (near Danville) is very conservative. My relatives, who are the most conservative people I know (which is saying a lot) live there and love it. I think my uncle has his radio tuned to 560am (the conservative talk show station) non-stop. It is a very pretty, quiet nice family town, though it might be hard to find a house there for under $1,000,000. The schools are also excellent. Orinda also seems quite conservative. Good luck! Katherine

Hello, If you stay in the Oakland/Berkeley area I would suggest joining a conservative church in the area maybe? Or you could volunteer for republican canidates to meet like minded people? My brother in law is a Rush Limbaugh hard core republican from the East Coast - they live in San Mateo and he's learned to be the defender of all things republican in a land of limo liberals - but with humor and light heartedness not defensiveness which turns people off. San Mateo county though it is pretty Democrat tends to be more traditional than Berkeley and I as a liberal gay parent who grew up there know that if I lived there now I would consider it pretty conservative. We still get blank stares sometimes when we discuss attachment parenting with people from the San Mateo area. And doesn't Michael Savage live in Marin the bastion of liberal ideals :-) If you are looking for Bush/Cheney country around the east bay - I would suggest looking around Dublin Pleasanton/Dublin area and maybe closer to Walnut Creek? I am sure there are other like minded people out there in Montclair but maybe they are afraid to come out as conservative? Good luck. Liberal mama

Hi, Anecdotally, I think that the further east in the Bay Area you go, the more conservative things are. Antioch comes to mind, for example, as does Livermore, and that area. You could also consider moving to Sacto or elsewhere in the central valley, which tends to be much more conservative than the Bay Area. Finally, check out this web page: You can input any address or zip code and it will give you a list of contributions from residents of the area to presidential candidates. You can certainly use that to guage the relative liberalism or conservatism of a region. Good luck! Anon

Head east! As in the Lamorinda area, Walnut Creek, Danville. Those are all fairly conservative areas by Bay Area standards. As a life-long moderate thinking Democrat, married to a life- long Republican (who is a big time Hannity fan), we settled in Walnut Creek 6 years ago. It suits us both well for many reasons--sense of community, good neighbors, great shopping, safety. happy in the burbs

You are right, and maybe that's why you have not made a connection? I am sure there must be some conservative areas in the Bay Area SOMEWHERE as this is what makes our area great--diversity. But where? I have no idea. I think the further out you go (ie Antioch, Clayton to the east--I remember meeting someone in college from Aptos, down south, who was as Republican as they come) the more luck you will have finding what you are looking for, morally and/or poltically speaking. But will you find the same great feel in the neighborhood compared to where you are living now? I doubt it. You will have to make some sacrifices. Good luck. Berkeley born and raised


Dear Savage Listener, I think we live in a time ''and a state'' where the majority of people do not share your views. No matter where you live, you will probably not have the same views/morals as your neighbors - it's a sign of the times. However I think you can surround yourselves with those with likemindedness. It will just take time & effort. I live in a wonderful neighborhood in Pleasanton (east bay). I like my neighbors, but I don't know their political opinions. However the majority of my friends are conservatives like me. Most of these friendships were born from going to a great church. We have found that we are on the same page spiritually, morally, and politically with most of the young families who attend our church regularily. You can't pick your neighbors, but you can pick your friends. Try to think of some places you could go that would be appealing for conservatives as yourselves. Good Luck! Bush supporter, pro-life advocate...

No. You'll have to move. Just kidding. Seriously though, do you really need to have identical political views to make connections with your neighbors? My parents and I have completely opposite political views on practically everything and we're still close. In fact, it makes for interesting discussions and gives me the opportunity to understand the other point of view even if I disagree with it. I can understand being reluctant to get into big debates all the time, but if you have kids then I'm sure you'll find some common ground. anonymous

Try Concord or other cities in eastern Contra Costa. I used to canvass for an abortion clinic all over the Bay area, and we always had the toughest time raising money out there! Good luck. Jen

Lots of areas are fairly conservative politically and the further you get from Berkeley, the more likely you are to find someone who supports your views. Based on the number of complaints from my liberal friends who feel like they are the only ones in their town, I'd suggest Danville and San Ramon (if you are affluent) or El Sobrante, Concord, or Vallejo (if you are looking for a cheaper housing market). Fairfield and Suisun are also very affordable and since they are near a military base, many families have someone near and dear who is in the military and they think we're all crazy in Berkeley. anon

I think there are many conservative people in the Bay Area, but there is also an overt feeling of acceptance of others as well. I do know people who share your views, and they are very happy living in Danville. I know another family (Born Again Christians who home school their four children) who are very happy in Roseville. Perhaps you would feel more at home if you were not in the heart of the Bay Area, but in one of these cities. These families have found a community of friends there, which I don't think they could have done as easily if they lived in Berkeley, Albany, or Oakland, I imagine. There is a place for everyone

Try Contra Costa County, or parts of the Peninsula (San Mateo, Hillsborough, parts of San Jose & Santa Clara), Vacaville, Fairfield, Benicia... generally, wealthier areas and more rural areas. But the Bay Area generally is more liberal -or, as us liberals describe ourselves-more compassionate. So if that drives you nuts, you may ultimately be more happy in parts of the Central Valley, parts of LA, farther up the coastal and inland areas of Sonoma or Napa Counties, or some place like Colorado Springs. maybe you can google a search for republican neighborhoods. anon

You could move to Danville. I was raised there, by conservative republican parents. Its not far, maybe 20 minutes farther east off 680. They have American Flags all over town, and many, many manicured lawns. P

We live in Kensington and although I wouldn't call it conservative, I as a Republican do not feel out of the mainstream until I cross the border into Berkeley with its ''Redefeat Bush'' signs. My experience in Kensington has been one of tolerance for conservative views and support for family values - your requirement for a large home may send you north or east, however. Kensington Republican

I work in Pleasanton. This may be a skewed sample but I notice that many people who live in the tri-valley area SEEM to be more conservative than those of us who live in Berkeley-Oakland areas. Not sure you'd find what you're looking for out there either. anon

While I am not as conservative as you, I can understand your concerns and know how frustrating it is to be around people who do not share your beliefs. I came here from the South Bay (near Palo Alto) which is somewhat more conservative (and is certainly an easier place to find a conservative enclave) then here. I have a conservative friend who lives in Redwood City and is quite happy there. Another idea is to go east of the hills. I have a *very* conservative friend who lives happily in Dublin and know others in Walnut Creek and sprinkled throughout the various towns. Good luck finding a place that will make you happy! anon

Try your local public library. They can help you look up results from the last few elections, either by county or by city. This can give you an idea of the general political climate of an area. I did this before we moved to Orinda, since I was worried that it would be *too* conservative for me after living in Berkeley. Turns out that statistically speaking, Orinda is the most liberal city in eastern Contra Costa County! (There's another hint for you...the further east you go, the more right-wing the politics.) Signed, A Lefty over the Hill

You're not alone!! We listen to 560AM and we live in the most liberal district in SF. But I understand what you are talking about. People complain about Bush and Iraq like you already feel the same way. There is diversity in color but not ideas. We see ''matt gonzalez'' and ''kucinich'' signs on neighbors' houses, so we avoid politics. It's hard at gatherings when others bring it up but I choose to stay out of it. Sometimes it's very frustrating, like during the Davis recall when it was the only subject people talked about.

However, we're content with our lives, raising our kids, going to church, etc, so it's not a huge problem - our voice is when we vote. I like and dislike my neighbors not by politics but by who is blocking my driveway ;)

We like the Bay Area for so much that we put up with the cons as in any place. Though we know we would move if that balance shifted too much, like more taxes, rise in violence, bad schools, etc. If the state allowed city income taxes, we'd leave the state. If our kids were assigned to bad schools in SF, we'd probably move to San Mateo or Benicia. But even Benicia has violence-though rare.

Don't know if you'll find many conservatives in the Bay Area, but Peninsula, Solano, Pleasanton are less liberal. Stay away from SF, Berkeley and Marin;) We think that the Bay Area has good values for our children and hope we can give them the strength and reason to weed out questionable ones. We also believe our guidance is the most influential.

I tried to leave out my politics in this response. I'm not on a mission to change the world either. conservatives in the closet

You can email me if you want information on how Danville differs from Oakland. We lived in a little house in upper rockridge & loved it, but finally had to move to get a larger house when the family grew. We have found Danville a great place to raise a family..... roz

Some of your values don't necessarily ring as conservative vs. liberal to me (for instance lots of liberals would love one parent stays at home if they could afford it.) However, if you are looking for conservative areas, just go east through the tunnel. I was raised in Orinda; way too conservative for me. I know liberal types who have fled because of the perceived conservativism. Perhaps in the more affluent areas of the Bay Area as well, such as Piedmont and some of the cities on the Penninsula. I tend to take for granted that everyone I know thinks as I do. I rarely meet someone of your ilk in these parts. Its one reason I dont' want to leave the Bay Area, despite the outrageous cost of living. But in the end, I'm sure you'll find plenty of conservatives, and can make the life you want to here. Hilary

I am sorry you feel like outsiders in the Bay Area. However, because the Bay area is steeped in progressive thinking and is rife with universities and the free thought that can go along with them, your best bet is to move. In the Bay Area (if not the country in general), the more expensive and wealthy the demographic tends to be, the more conservative it also tends to be. Since you live near Montclair in Oakland (an expensive area), and find it not conservative enough for your liking, it really seems to me that short of moving over the hills to Walnut Creek or Danville, you probably would be happier if you lived elsewhere in the country. Furthermore, there are many people working hard to dissolve the boundaries between the haves and the have lesses, and who resent the insulated communities that conservatives have tried to form in the Bay Area, so moving to one of those areas may not solve your issue of feeling like you don't fit in in the Bay Area as a whole.

In the Bay Area we are overwhelmingly pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-social programs, and anti-war. It does not seem to be such a good fit for you, especially since you have lived here for seven years and have not made good connections with anyone. I know of some folks who moved to Atlanta for precisely these reasons, and they are much happier there. Good luck to you wherever you live, Elizabeth -

WOW! I wish you would move near me! I live in Pinole and feel the same way. I would also add that in addition to Micheal Savage, I'm an avid Dr. Laura listener! I think the problem is that the things that you believe in can cross political bounderies. Especially the SAHM issue. I haven't found an enclave of conservatives anywhere. I've lived in Oakland (that's a lost cause) and Richmond (most people didn't seem interested in discussing their opinions) and now live in Pinole (no clear cut politics). It may be that you have to move farther East. I will be interested to see other replies. If you'd like to discuss this issue, feel free to email.

If you are looking for more conservative areas, you need to go East. As you go farther in to the suburbs, you will find more conservative people. I live in Lamorinda, and there is a combination of political views, but I would say conservatives (or what would be called moderates in any other part of the USA) outnumber liberals. The bottom line in Lamorinda is living in a safe community with good schools, so frankly, nobody much cares what your political views are - they just want to know that you voted for the latest parcel tax! Everyone in Lamorinda mows their lawns (and most hire someone to do it for them!!), and most kids I know watch at least some TV.

A suggestion for you - since this is an election year, I would drive around some areas you are interested in this Fall, and see how many ''Bush/Cheney'' signs you see in people's yards! I consider myself a moderate, but am definitely considered conservative for the Bay Area. I will have my ''Bush/Cheney'' sign out this year, even though I am sure my one (!!) liberal friend in the area will give me a hard time! I would have never done that 4 years ago (I moved here from the mid-west and was still getting to know the area then), but I also think I am getting too old to care what anyone else thinks of me anymore! Good luck with your decision. This is such a beautiful place to live, I am sure you will find your place in it! Anon

On this side of the tunnel, Piedmont is a fairly conservative town, altho it has quite a few liberals as well. (I did see several Bush signs on lawns during the last election.) On the other side of the tunnel, Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga are worth investigating. Maybe you could inquire as to what percentage of the population is registered Republican... somewhere in the middle

Perhaps I'm reading between the lines a little, but you sound like you're looking for a community where LOTS of people share your view. At the risk of sounding like the Berkeley born-and-raised 41 year old I am, there are plenty of homogenous communities with republican, anti-choice pro-war folks. Danville and Blackhawk, with their gated communities, come to mind. Certain parts of the South Bay might suit you (Hillsborough), too. Some parts of the LaMorInda area. One last note: the beauty of the Bay IS its diversity. Would you perhaps be more happy in a place where there are folks who see eye to eye with you at every corner? Not that we don't want you here because we need people like your family to make the bay area the only sane place on earth. It's just, Montclair is a pretty conservative place for the bay area. If you're not happy there (and you deserve to be happy), then why force it? Diversity Mom

Alameda is a very conservative place. It is changing a bit since the Naval base is not there. But, there is a good mix of people. Lots of stay at home Moms and the views you expressed. I also hear Concord is very conservative. Keep looking you will find us! anon

I have many friends who live out in Contra Costa County and they seem to think that it is quite conservative. They send their children to Orinda schools and feel the education is very strong. The Danville and Alamo areas seem like a good place for you if you want to stay in the bay area. The houses are beautiful and there is BART access. I hope we can keep the bay area eclectic and I personally encourage you to stay here even though I do not share your values. kelsey

It sounds like you might like Fremont. When I lived there, I found:
-religious community members who were very active in schools and worked against books they considered offensive, sex ed, the gay school board president, etc.
-lots of American flags, yellow ribbons, Republican bumper stickers, etc...which I don't see much of around here. There were also plenty of liberal people who weren't afraid to express their views, but there was definitely a more conservative element in Fremont than I've found in the Oakland/Berkeley area. Now, I haven't lived there for years, but I do go back to visit...and from my conversations with friends and family it seems that the political makeup of the city has stayed much the same. Happy to Live in Oakland

Check out El Sobrante and north of there (Pinole, Hercules, etc.)'s a rather different world from Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco. elise

I spent 10 years doing political organizing for a lefty cause throughout the bay area and, trust me, there are *lots* of conservative folks in the bay area. Probably the highest concentration of conservatives would be in Contra Costa county. Danville, Lafayette, Concord etc. On the Penninsula you could try Belmont or Hillsborough or Daly City. Marin county, despite its reputation (earned in the 50s-70s) as a stronghold of progressivism has a huge number of conservative people. Try Ross or even Mill Valley (believe it or not). I'm certain you have lots of like-minded neighbors there in Montclair, however. Perhaps they are not your direct neighbors, but they're out there. And, that's just the thing, wherever you go you'll find a diversity of political leanings and strong feelings about bug sprays, war and abortion. It just depends on your neighbors. The places I've listed just tend to have higher concentrations of conservative people. MG

I live in Alameda and I would say that it is a fairly ''conservative'' town for the Bay area, since I used to live in Berkeley. Come to the 4th of July parade, it really does seem like a midwest kind of thing, a true homwtown thing. I don't know what you are looking for exactly, but there are lots of places that are not bastions of liberalness. In fact, I'd say most of the bay area. Go out in the burbs. The further away you get from SF and Berkeley the more likely you are to find like-minded people. where are all the liberals?

The East Bay 'burbs are for you! Look no farther than Orinda (where I live), Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville and San Ramon. I'm a liberal living in the burbs(left my beloved Berkeley) and I find it WAY too conservative. My neighbors spray for ants(we live near a creek, yikes!), their kids watch a lot of TV, they are very patriotic, they fought against a temporary homeless shelter for the frail elderly and families with children, they own firearms, voted for Wal-Mart and Arnie and love Bush. What more can I say, you'll feel right at home in Lamorinda! When can I move back to Berkeley?

Hi there! The place you're looking for does exist on the other side of the tunnel. Pleasant Hill would be perfect for your family. My sister-in-law lives out there and she and her huge circle of friends share your beliefs. In terms of their beliefs, I think that they are in the majority. It is quite conservative out there. The churches are quite conservative as well. Good luck in your search. EAnnis

I'll be curious to hear the tone of the responses your letter generates, and see whether such a place exists. The East Bay includes all types of people and tolerates most racial, political and social minorities -- but, as you may have found, many of those who consider this part of the country ''tolerant'' do so because they are tolerated, not because they are tolerant.
I hope that your questions help open a gentle dialog here on the concept of extending tolerance to include those of the conservative persausion.
It has been my experience that in every slice of the local culture most people here will be slightly more progressive and liberal than would be the comparable ''slice'' of people in communities in many other parts of the country. A range of opinion, behavior and expectation do exist, however. When I told a friend about your letter his response was ''Berkeley [even] has 3,000 registered Republicans''. I suspect the answer to your original question is that the farther you stray from the epicenter of Berkeley, the more likely you will be to find like minded people. Some would say Lamorinda, but I'm unconvinced that a dearth of diversity actually indicates a presence of conservative lifestyle. Heather

I lived in Berkeley for 10+ years and found it to be really a close-minded place in that there is a certain narrow set of political views one is supposed to have. About a year ago I moved to the Tri-Valley area, and have found that in addition to a greater diversity of political views here (they run the gamut), people are less rude and judgemental when you don't share their views. Its refreshing. Maybe stay in the Bay Area but move to a more accepting town? Democrat that listens to Dr. Laura

Try Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Newark, Fremont, etc. Those areas are much more conservative politically (at least the people I know in them), although there is a bit less racial and cultural diversity. The farther you go away from the Bay Area, the more that is true (in my experience). Best of luck to you!

I have been reading the replies to your question regarding finding a more conservative area in the bay area to live. Almost all the replies suggest towns east of the oakland/san leandro/hayward hills. I've lived in Oakland, and I now live in Livermore, one of the areas mentioned. You'll find more company here in the Tri-valley. People keep their lawns very manicured, there are lots of stay at home moms and people who support for the war in Iraq. We're registered democrats who bought our house from republicans; I know because we keep getting their campaign donation requests.
But politically the Tri-valley isn't the opposite of Berkeley. Everyone is not conservative. Political leanings run the spectrum. I have never felt a sense that there is a intollerant, dominant political thought process here, either liberal or conservative. None of my neighbors or aquaintances have asked me about my political leanings. Out of curiosity, I went on-line and checked out the political contributions to the presidential campaigns. They are split 50/50 between the different democrats and George Bush. There is a house on my street with a display of small American flags, and next to it, a sign for Kerry. So far, I haven't seen a George Bush sign. However, our fall mayor's race was HOT; lots of people had campaign signs up. Pombo and Taucher represent different parts of the Tri-Valley. So, if you're looking to find a consensus of conservative thought, thi! s isn't the place. But, you will find plenty of company in your political views.