Living in the Richmond Hills

Parent Q&A

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  • Mira Vista/Richmond Heights

    (6 replies)

    Hi there - my husband and I  just moved back to the Bay Area after ten long years away, and we're currently looking at homes and neighborhoods to raise our 2-year old daughter in. We found a home we like in Richmond in the Mira Vista/Richmond Heights neighborhood, and were wondering if any fellow parents could share their thoughts on living there. We're curious about Mira Vista Elementary (read some good reviews on BPN); safety; the parks; neighborhood demographics (family friendly?); and the housing market generally in that area (slowing down/holding steady? Good investment?). If you have anything to share, please do!

    Hi there. I wanted to point out that West Contra Costa School District has a newish public school near you -- the West County Mandarin School. It's a Mandarin-immersion school that currently has grades K-1 and will keep moving up a grade each year as the kids get older. To get in, you apply to your neighborhood school (Mira Vista) and then apply to transfer. I think so far, everyone in-district who applied on time has gotten in, but I imagine as word gets out, it'll be harder to get in.

    My son is a 1st grader there and we absolutely love it. We had no Mandarin experience before but he is having full conversations with Mandarin speakers now! And he's able to read signs that we see around. It's simply amazing! Plus the school community is great -- the other families, teachers, staff, and principal. And it's very diverse to boot. 

    So, just another school for you to consider. 

    In regards to buying a home in the Mira Vista area, it's a good area. I think the housing market is holding steady for now, but homes are being sold for very expensive amounts and I expect prices will go down a bit if the economy takes a downturn in the next few years. That being said, Richmond is much more affordable than El Cerrito, Berkeley or Albany.  My daughter worked for the after school program at Mira Vista Elementary in 2017. She ended up getting another job after only 3 months because some of the kindergarten students were so bad.  My daughter has 7 years of experience working with elementary school kids, and has never experienced anything like what she witnessed at the after school program at Mira Vista.  Most of the kindergarten students were good, but a few of the 5 year old's at Mira Vista kicked and punched the other kids (at least one time in the face, and one time below the belt); and a few said and did age-inappropriate things that were very concerning coming out of a 5 year old's mouth (talking about movies/TV shows that they had no business watching, mimicking body movements that no 5 year old should know).  If you end up moving to the Mira Vista area, please send your kids to a charter school, private school or home school, for their sake.

    One thing to know is a specific house in the area you refer to could be in the City of El Cerrito, City of Richmond, or unincorporated Contra Costa County. (I work in the planning dept of one of those jurisdictions.) Property tax rates are higher in El Cerrito & Richmond than in CCC. Service levels are probably highest in EC. (I guess this is arguable depending on what public services you use the most.) However, all three are served by the same school district, WCCUSD, with the same tax rates. There may be more than one elementary school in the area (not sure of the attendance boundaries) so double check that on the WCCUSD website. If you plan to run a business out of your home, review the law regarding home occupancies for all three jurisdictions to make sure you can do what you want to do. Same regarding home renovations, especially solar improvements, or ADUs.

    Hi there, Our family has lived in the Mira Vista community since 2010, first as renters and then we intentionally purchased our home here because we wanted our boys to go to Mira Vista because of all that it offers. My oldest is now in 3rd grade and my youngest will start kinder next school year. We are thrilled to be a part of the Mira Vista School, and my husband and I both agree that we found our perfect fit with the family community. We are very involved in the PTA and actually enjoy it! My son has thrived academically and has a richer learning experience precisely because of the school's racial, cultural, and economic diversity.The school's diversity is one of the school's many strength, as is the active PTA and family involvement. Principal Chilcott is fantastic and has done so much for the school since his arrival 6-7 (?) years ago. The faculty and staff are dedicated - there is very little turnover. 

    I understand education is a very personal decision, and I know there are many wonderful schools to consider in the bay area, but I'm very disheartened by DC's earlier comment disparaging our school. I disagree that a 5 year old’s behavior is indicative of an entire school and gives grounds for anyone, let alone someone without firsthand knowledge, to determine which 5-year olds are "good" or "bad" and then to judge and warn away other parents from an entire school based on those biases. When my 4-year old asks me, “am I a bad boy?” after being disciplined about something, I am quick to say “no” because he is a child and doing what children do, learning about boundaries and appropriate behavior. This applies to all children, regardless of background and potential difficulties at home.

    I have firsthand seen Mira Vista teachers have an amazingly positive impact on children who need additional support, which is a positive experience for all children in the classroom. I hope whatever schools you consider you will take the time to visit the school. Test scores are not indicative of what is happening in the classroom and in the community. Good luck in your endeavors, and please feel free to reach out if you have more questions. 

    Hi there- We bought our home in Richmond Heights in 2016 and are raising our two young children in the community. We have a 1st grader at Mira Vista and our younger will follow once she's old enough for Kindergarten. We absolutely love living in this area! It's peaceful, neighborly and we feel safe. We hear crickets and coyotes at night in Wildcat Canyon park, but we are a short drive to more densely populated areas with commerce and amenities as well. Our house value has risen considerably, and I would imagine the trend in this area will mirror the housing market at large.

    Our experiences at Mira Vista Elementary have been only positive. There's strong community spirit at the school, invested and energized teachers and leadership and a very active PTA. As a long time educator I will say that boundary testing misbehavior occurs in all school communities, and with a kid currently in 1st I've not heard of anything that flags at the level that DC referenced below. If you are exploring private options, there's also a wonderful cooperative school in the neighborhood Crestmont that people like. We happened upon Richmond Heights quite randomly in our endless East Bay housing search, and frankly, we feel like we majorly lucked out landing in this hidden gem of a community. Good luck in your search!

    Welcome back to the Bay Area! I have two daughters at Mira Vista School and we live in the Mira Vista/Richmond Heights neighborhood. My husband and I have lived up and down the West Coast but have really found a home and community here. There are some great local parks: I would recommend Tassajara Park; Pointsett Park is another great spot - that's where my kids learned to ride their bikes.  And the Mira Vista Field at the top of Sierra Ave. is a magical place. It doesn't have a playground but it is an open space with trails and lots of dog walking. This place is magical for my girls. Best time to go is after a few good rainstorms and then the kids can walk around in their rain boots (but really any day at sunset is spectacular!).

    As for the school, it's our second home. My kids have really excelled at Mira Vista. We participate in our PTA (I'm on the board), and many of our teachers are members of the PTA as well. They truly represent the "T" in PTA. Our participation in the PTA is what has really helped us put down roots in the neighborhood. We've met so many great families and made good friends here. Principal Chilcott is a collaborative administrator who really understands the vibe at the school. Check us out at the solar eclipse last year: My kids will never forget the awesomeness of that day. I think this video actually does a great job of showing what our school is all about. I don't know how the teachers pulled it off on the first day of school but they did and parents were there to help, too. And these are the kind of magic moments that happen at our school. I'm happy to talk to you more about MV and answer any specific questions you have. And please join us at our annual Fall Festival on October 27 from 11am-3pm held on the Mira Vista School grounds. It's a fun community event open to all. I'll be working at the salsa tasting contest.

    The neighborhood is close to BART with a ferry line opening up nearby, close to Catahoula, great locally owned eateries in the areas - it's a gem of a neighborhood for sure. Just don't let the secret out!

Parent Reviews

Hi! You don't say how old your kids are, but my kids go to Mira Vista in East Richmond Heights, where you would def find a beautiful 4-bedroom for that price range, and literally, literally I have a mom-friend at school who is a Spanish-speaking Muslim. Our school is diverse and has a healthy-sized Muslim population, plus a healthy-sized Latino population. I saw that someone else pointed out that some schools score lower precisely because they are more diverse, and that is true for MV. We wear that badge proudly. And the Muslim population is diverse even within itself, people are from all over, many different countries and traditions. 

We are Jewish and my kids also have that thing of feeling like the only ones in in the school, especially since we are so near Tehiyah, which eats up all the Jewish kids around here. It's painful for them! But that diversity is also valuable. When they complain about being the only ones not celebrating Christmas, I can at least say "Our Muslim friends are in the same boat." I really recommend you look around here. We are very near the Del Norte station of Bart which makes for easy commutes. And tho Richmond proper has some urban problems, honestly, I don't feel unsafe here (I lived in Brooklyn for 20 years - real Brooklyn, not hipster Brooklyn).

Also, the "hidden jewel" of Point Richmond is right near the refinery, you're much better off up in these hills. And we're zoned for El Cerrito High, though honestly I would prefer it if the local parents would just force the issue and send their kids to Richmond and JFK to make them better schools but that's another story for another day. :D You can contact me thru this site if you want to talk further. I wish I had your budget, there are some houses for sale here that I'm drooling over. 

Oh yeah, San Leandro is also a good place to look at! 

Raising my hand to recommend Richmond in the East Bay, specifically my neighborhood, East Richmond Heights. We have a Bart stop (El Cerrito del Norte) into the city and a bridge (the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge) that goes straight up to Napa. In the nabe are loads of great elementary schools: Mira Vista is the public school, there is a cooperative elementary school called Crestmont, there is a Jewish day school called Tehiyah. And we are right on top of Wildcat Canyon. Technically, you could hike from there to Tilden Park in Oakland, though I've never done it; regardless, there are tons of great trails right here. Childcare is ... not cheap. When we finally got both kids into public school we wanted to take a bath in the money we suddenly were saving. Ah, bay area, you kooky place. 

If you want affordable, forget Berkeley. Take a look at East Richmond Heights, which is gay-friendly, has homes in your price range, and doesn't have high crime rates.

I'm a little taken aback, however, that you are specifically and exclusively looking for charter schools, however. Our public schools are very, very good, and our district (West Contra County) as well as the districts in Oakland and Berkeley are suffering greatly from an influx of charter schools with poor oversight and no transparency. I would enthusiastically encourage you to look at the public schools in the area, taking tours and talking to parents, before writing them off. There is zero reason for you to reject the great schools we have for you.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Nov 2012

Re: Moving to a cheaper area now that kids are gone
The Richmond Hills neighborhood of Richmond is quite nice and property taxes are low. The neighborhood backs up against Wildcat Canyon Park (northern extension of Tilden) and Berkeley is 15 minutes away along the Arlington. -Nearby in El Cerrito Hills

Sept 2008

Re: Cheaper but safe enough neighborhoods
I grew up in the ''Richmond Hills.'' On Bernhard Ave, which borders Wild Cat Canyon. That particular area is very nice, but with many of these places, all of Richmond included, the schools are horendous. You may end up paying more for private school that living somewhere where public schools are good enough. Personally I like that area and El Sobrante/Pinole better than San Leandro, but I don't know what your commute looks like. Good luck! Richmond bred mom

March 2004

Moving to the Richmond Hills near El Sobrante

After almost a year of being outbid for homes in the El Cerrito/ Albany area, my husband and I recently purchased a home in the Richmond Hills (off of the El Portal exit, a few yards from the El Sobrante boarder). While the home is just beautiful (and about $175K less than much smaller homes in El Cerrito) and the neighborhood is quite lovely, I don't really know that much about this area of Richmond. I've already consulted the website and am hoping to learn more. We've done the police check (crime is relatively low) and our child is an infant so we're not worried about schools yet. Can anyone who lives in this area tell me a little bit more: why you love it, things you might dislike or that I should be wary of. Also, any hidden treasures (stores, restaurants, parks) in or around this area that I should know about. Thank you so much.
El Cerrito Transplant

Congratulations on purchasing a home. We too purchased a home in El Sobrante (nearly 5 years ago) because of the affordability of the homes and the semi-rural location. Kennedy Regional Park (San Pablo Ram Road as if you are going to Orinda) has a great open space for little ones to run or for the whole family to relax on a blanket. There is also a playground for older kids. Pinole Valley Park has a nice play area for younger kids. If you are a SAHM, I can put you in contact with a group of mom's who meet weekly for playdates. I am also in contact with another woman who works and has an infant. We are planning on starting a working mom's play group once our babies get alittle more mobile! Cindy

Hi I moved to richmond (same exit as you) from oakland a couple years ago. I'm still discovering the area. my main treasures are places I go to walk for exercise. There is an entrance to wild cat canyon at the end of Clark road off San Pablo Dam road. This walk is a bit steep but not too far - a mile up hill and then a mile back down or you can walk along the ridge all the way to hayward. so I hear. The other place I like to go it Point Pinole regional park. I walk all the way out to the end of the wharf and back, about 4 miles round-trip but relatively flat. both places are beautiful and not crowded.

san pablo dam road also has lots of restaurants most of which we have yet to try, but we like the mexican/salvadoran place on san pablo dam road - I forget the name.

there are also some great picnic areas right on san pablo dam further down the road on the left. lots of trees and the water...

if you're interested in company for walking I go around 2 pm on wed, thurs and fridays. let me know, we can meet. I carry my 8 month old on my back usually but strollers are an option at point pinole. ilona

We also moved to El Sobrante last year and we LOVE it. We, like many others, could not afford the Berkeley, Albany area where we were living. Now we have lots of space, a big garden and a great place to live. It is a beautiful, semi-rural area, similar to Orinda. Lots of Berkeley ex-patriots. For kids there is a kindergym program at the Hilltop YMCA and great swimming classes at Canyon Swim center on San Pablo Dam Road. For restaurants we like Uncle Sam's Chinese buffet and the Mexican restaurant next door on Valley View. There is also a hidden hole in the wall mexican place called Taquerma Rodriguez. Delicious and authentic on Appian way. Also try Biancos Delicatessen accross the road for great meets and cheeses. We hope you enjoy it here as much as we do. Liza