Living in Oakland: Sequoyah Hills/Heights District
We've been looking at some gorgeous homes in the Sequoyah neighborhood of Oakland, particularly near the Country Club. The recommendations in the archives are quite old, and was wondering if we could get some more recent perspectives regarding the area. It seems perfect. Seemingly rural, but close to many amenities (by car). We have a 2 year old and one on the way, so schools matter. Any insight would be helpful! Thank you. Lorena
Hi there I live in Sequoyah near the country club and also was nervous about moving here. We have two children, aged 6 and 3. We ultimately fell in love with the ranch-style houses in the neighborhood, huge yards, affordability, and indoor/outdoor flow. We figured we wouldn't have to add on to make our home bigger or move out when we get older--so we're here for the long run and that makes us feel great. So we took the plunge, and we are so happy we did. It's not Rockridge--in terms of seeing kids and families everywhere--but there are a number of new families moving into the neighborhood. It's safe, friendly, beautiful--and I'm really excited to see how it changes over the years. As far as schools go, Grass Valley has been a good school but I think it's under administration changes. We didn't have too much trouble with the OUSD lottery system and our older daughter goes to Kaiser. Happy Sequoyah Mom
We are considering moving to the Sequoyah Hills/Heights area (up Keller Avenue, just north of the zoo) but it seems very isolated (no cafes, coffee shops, cool boutiques, or even playgrounds, and it's a huge non-walkable distance to BART) and the public elementary school is Carl B. Munck, which not only didn't meet its goals for improvement, but actually lost ground in test scores last year.
And yet there are multimillion dollar homes on Skyline Drive and lots of nice-looking condos and houses on the well-kept streets. Where do these people eat? Where do they shop? Do they all send their kids to private school? Will a nice yuppie girl go crazy in this weirdly sterile suburb and have to drive to Rockridge or Berkeley every day for her dose of energy and spirit?
I'm sure there are fabulous things there that I'm missing, please tell me if you live there: what do you love about it? (Aside from easy access to the zoo.) And what's up with the spelling of Sequoyah?
We've recently moved to Sequoyah Hill from Glenview. Yes, the down side is you can't walk to a cafe but in exchange you get great air, space and quietness. There are trails around there and if you are a true yuppie, there is the country club, which is beautiful. It is not that far to get yourself to College Ave or Montclair. The neighbors are nice and the neighborhood is great. I also teach in Oakland Public Schools and Munk is a very nice school with great teachers, which can not be known by looking at their academic performances. Go visit the school, talk to teachers and observe to get a better idea of the school and its population. And if your child is not of school age, you never know what is going to happen to a school...give it a few years...strong leadership (principal/teachers) and PTA can really change a school. Elaine
I live off of Golf Links Rd near the zoo. We moved from the heart of San Francisco where we walked or took transit everywhere to a completely car-based life. We had to compromise because we could not afford Rockridge or Berkeley or any place that was more urban (but safe). So, three years later, we're still in our little hill retreat.
The low down: we still miss having somewhere to walk to. We don't even have sidewalks. However, we like having our own home and when we look out our window, we see trees and rolling hills as opposed to another house. It feels very private.
Bottom line, you will have to drive, but don't limit yourself to Rockridge. Oakland is a wonderful, diverse city that offers a lot for community and family life. We enjoy going dowtown (we love Ratto's deli). The Keller area where you live is filled with wonderful people (some who also had to compromise the shops and restaurants within walking distance). In a pinch, there is a pizza place nearby and a little shopping center on Redwood Rd. I love my neighbors. In fact, we love our neighbors so much, it will be hard to leave them even if we could afford an overpriced bungalow in Rockridge!
That said, from Keller, you have a few options but they all require driving: Montclair has a few neat shops and restaurants, including the XoX truffles and Montclair Bistro. There's funky shopping in the Fruitvale area, including a really great hardware store. If you drive East, the old part of San Leandro is great for grocery shopping and there is one greek restaurant, Luke's, that serves good solid food, run by a family. We love it (tho, we have to say, San Leandro really needs more restaurants...that are GOOD and not overpriced). There's also a wonderful coffee shop on Bancroft in San Leandro that is filled with people from the neighborhood who visit and linger over coffee.
We also like being close to Nation's (San Leandro) and Sparky's (off of Redwood Rd).
You will not be living the same urban lifestyle. If you move to Keller, welcome to carbased living...but, I wouldn't go so far as to call it the suburbs. It's more like living in Tahoe. It's beyond the suburbs and my philosophy was if you can't live in the city, live in the country.
As for schools, as far as I know there are lot of hits and missses. I'm not familiar with the one you talk about. We're near Grass Valley which is ok. Our baby is only a year so we haven't decided if we'll go private or not, but I do know, most of those hill dwellers in their expensive houses send their kids to private school. Unfortunately, the Oakland Schools are a mess. But, I do have a friend who teaches at kaiser who has given me the lowdown on some schools. We'll have to cross that bridge later.
There are worse fates in life than living in the Oakland Hills.
OH, and we think being close to the zoo is GREAT!
An Oakland Hillbilly
We have lived in the Sequoyah area for 19 years. We absolutely love it. We have the best of both urban and surburban worlds: a wonderful neighborhood of upscale homes, upper-middle class and professional residents, spacious lawns, clean streets, diversity (a very important factor for us), neighbors that get to know each other, peace and quiet, yet only 10-15 minutes away from the city activities, restaurants, bookstores that we absolutely must have for our emotional and intellectual satisfaction. This is a *great* area to raise a family.
It is true that you can't walk to cafes, stores, etc. You must hop into your car for that (the 580 freeway is 1-2 minutes away), but the ride is so short and traffic generally is not bad. What do you get in return? All the above and more. We raised our kids here, the youngest attended private school in Oakland, but the oldest attended Skyline High and did well (UC Berkeley graduate). Bishop O'Dowd High School catholic high school is right down the street and very popular for students of all faiths. Head Royce (grades K-high school) is minutes away.
Yes, we go by car to Berkeley, Lakeshore, Downtown Oakland, Montclair, Piedmont Ave., and right next door San Leandro which has a number of new upscale restaurants and cafes. Really easy trips. But I love coming home to my quiet, serene neighborhood after our stimulating outings. We have close-by hiking and bike paths, and your dog(s) will love the natural settings for walks.Our friends closer to the heart of Oakland and Berkeley love to come and BBQ with us in the summer in our backyard, and the kids play in the cul-de-sac.
Shopping is easy. I stop by Farmer Joe's on the way home (Farmer Joe's on MacArthur and 35th Ave is a legend- family owned small store with great selection of regular and organic food and product). Safeway off Redwood Road is about 8 minutes from my house (take highway 13 from #580). For quick trips we stop at the small Keller Avenue shops around the corner (small grocery store, cleaners, our vet, women's gym) where all the owners know our names.
I would detest living in a non-diverse neighborhood, and surburban living by itself would bore me to death. Sequoyah fits my bill. (By the way, the spelling of Sequoyah is the Native American spelling).
Happy Seqouyah Resident
Saw all the great posts about Sequoyah Hills/Sequoyah Highlands neighborhoods. I have to agree that I absolutely love living here. It is a very safe, beautiful, well-maintained part of Oakland. We were surprised to notice that the Grass Valley school must be one of the least diverse around- check http://www.schools-data.com/schools/Grass-Valley-ES-Oakland.html It is 97% African American. This could be a big plus for you if you are African American, as it is also a pretty decent school, AP base score: 698. Munck, on the other hand is more diverse, with similar pretty good scores. I don't know where you get the idea that it is not a very good school, its AP base score: 670 is reasonable, http://www.schools-data.com/schools/Munck-(Carl-B-)-ES-Oakland.html. Some Oakland schools have AP scores in the 400's. You may be aware that Northern Light school recently moved to the location where St. Paschal's used to be http://www.altrue.net/site/northernlightschool/ I'd reiterate what some others said- this neighborhood is best for happy cocooners, who stay home and cook, enjoying their nice big homes, having big parties (no problem for guests to find parking!). People here are not renting tiny apartments and forced out into cafes in order to have a place to sit with friends- it is just a different lifestyle. And, relatively affordable, compared to similar hills neighborhoods. The person who said homes are priced similarly to the Berkeley Hills is way off, you can get a 3 Bdr home here starting in the $500K range. Way more affordable, and typically newer and better construction than what you find in Berkeley. As for it being a ''weirdly sterile suburb'' all I can say is that if Sequoyah Hills appears this way to you, you may be better off with a fixer on S. San Pablo or Telegraph. Happy Sequoyan
Also recommended: Berkeley Hills