Moving From Canada - considering Piedmont AvenueMarch 2013
My husband, our 6-year-old son and I will be moving from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to the Bay Area this summer. We've been looking at rentals and we've found what looks to be a very nice potential home between Broadway and Piedmont Avenue. On paper, the area seems to offer a lot of what we enjoy about our current home in Ottawa - pedestrian friendly neighbourhood, good access to transit and nearby public schools. We've been told that Oakland has some fantastic, family-friendly neighbourhoods but that other areas can be a bit dicey in terms of crime. We definitely want to be somewhere that feels reasonably safe for our son. I'm also going to be attending school in SF, so I'm hoping to be somewhere that I can take the BART or other transit and feel secure, especially when I have evening classes. We're very excited about living in the East Bay and this part of Oakland sounds very nice. But I'd love to hear people's thoughts about the Piedmont Avenue area - both the good and the not so good. Thanks!
We live nearby, and think it's a really great place for all of the reasons that you mentioned. We have one car but really only use it to get to work (and wouldn't even need it for that if my job were transit-accessible). The rest of the time, we walk and bike. You're also very close to the Temescal neighborhood, which has a lot of great things going on in addition to all of Piedmont Avenue's amenities. And Grand Lake and Rockridge aren't too far away either. I would say the area is not among the neighborhoods you'll hear frequently recommended the way Rockridge and Montclair are, but neither is it a dicey area. We get some crime, but it's mainly property crime (don't leave your iPhone in your car!) Violent crime is rare and gets a pretty immediate community response when it does happen. Lots of families in the area, but many send their children to private school or to other OUSD schools. Our child is not yet school-aged and I hear that Piedmont Avenue Elementary is improving by the day, but I would visit (if you can) to be sure it's a good fit for your family. I have neighbors who think it's great and others who won't send their children there. I will also say that, although the area around MacArthur BART has improved dramatically in the time we've lived here, I am still not comfortable walking home alone late at night. It's fine if you can have someone pick you up--the waiting area is well lit and often has cabbies and police hovering nearby as extra eyes. When that's not possible, I go to Rockridge BART instead and take the 51 bus down Broadway. Overall, though, we love the neighborhood. Hope that helps with the decision! A future neighbor?
I lived near Piedmont Ave until recently and really enjoyed the proximity to restaurants, shops, and services like banks and groceries. It's wonderful to be able to walk to all of that. But I understand that as you get closer to Broadway, it's less safe - try to be closer to Piedmont Avenue or maybe on the east side, up the hill. Be careful of places advertising themselves as Piedmont Ave that are really not - if it's across Broadway, that's not as nice, and not as convenient to 'the Avenue.' There are a number of Transbay Bus lines in the area, and my husband preferred the nice coach bus to BART. Good luck with your move!
The immediate neighborhood is great, as is the neighborhood called 'Temescal' near Telegraph Avenue. However MacArthur BART still has safety problems, mainly at night. We've had several friends robbed at that station in the last couple of years. Are your classes in the day or at night? It is probably ok in the daytime. If you have night classes I would look for a place near Rockridge BART, or Downtown Berkeley BART, North Berkeley BART, or perhaps Ashby BART, east of Adeline. Or you could take one of the commuter buses instead of BART and that would bring you in to Piedmont Avenue. Go to the AC Transit website to see the routes, and how close it would be to the rental. anon
The Trestle Glen and Piedmont Avenue areas are walkable to shops; I don't know much about their schools. Have fun exploring neighborhoods! Oaklander
The area around Piedmont Avenue (both in the cities of Oakland and Piedmont) are also very walkable and family friendly. In many ways I prefer Piedmont Ave over Rockridge as it feels more like a real neighborhood with a larger variety of businesses along the avenue rather than just restaurants, cafes and boutiques.