Living in West Berkeley

Archived Responses: 


San Pablo Park area of Berkeley

Feb 2012

Hi folks. What do you know of the neighborhood around San Pablo park in terms of safety and friendliness? I'm looking to buy and it's the only nice looking neighborhood I can afford in Berkeley. I'm single with a 5 year old so safety is a priority but we are used to city living so don't expect perfection either. Thanks! House hunting

We've lived in the San Pablo park area for over three years and love it. It's very diverse, both ethnically and economically, which does lead to more police activity - we personally haven't had any problems, but there have been a recent rash of burglaries in the area, and crime from San Pablo or Sacramento sometimes finds its way into the neighborhood. We still love it. Within a mile there's everything you can imagine - playgrounds, markets, Bart, library, great restaurants and cafes, nurseries, even a post office. It's a quick walk to the 4th street area, and of course Berkeley Bowl is very close and wonderful. When it's time for us to get a bigger house we hope to find something in this same neighborhood.

Make sure to take a close look at your neighbors when looking at a specific house. There are some 'problem homes', so to speak (mostly the kids or grandkids of folks who have lived here for 20+ years causing the problems) and it sure would be annoying to be right next door to one of those, and there are some apartment buildings tucked here and there that I wouldn't want to be right next to, but as a whole neighborhood it's really great! l.

4th and U Apartments for family?

May 2011

In our transition to Berkeley, we are considering renting at 4th and U apartments until we find a permanent home. However, we're concerned about whether this would be an ok place to live with children, given that it would be mostly single people/couples and that some reviews have said that it is 'sketchy.' Does anyone have first-hand experience with these apartments and an opinion about whether it would be ok for around 3-6 months with children? Almost there in Berkeley!

My fifth grader, young dog, and I just started renting a large 1 bedroom (April 9th) at 4th and really like it so far. We switched from a 1200SF house in El Cerrito with a yard, so it's been a space adjustment, but we feel like we're having a great adventure, like moving to Paris for a year. We have an interior apartment, and the train noise hasn't been a problem. For fun we bike along Aquatic Park (little kid's playground about 12 minutes walk south) and over the footbridge to Sea Breeze for snacks. Forget finding space in the bike room! We haven't seen many kids, but my child's social life is at school and with sports teams. For me the pluses are: a beautiful and modern locked and safe community; an easy acceptance of dogs (mine is young and not that well-trained yet, so I had a hard time finding a place to rent); the spacious closets and w/d in the apartment; the thick walls (don't hear the neighbors except some light feet overhead once in a while); train track for squishing pennies; and a fun neighborhood with stores, parks and easy access to public transportation (we're looking forward to walking a block to the train station and taking a day-trip to Sacramento to see the state capitol). A cafe is supposed to open soon downstairs. The down side so far has been the parking; it takes 5-10 minutes to get out of the garage if you have one of those stacked parking spaces. The residents are nice, but I think it's more of a transient community with lots of people moving in and out. There are many young singles and couples, but it's not a loud party place, and there are also many middle-aged professionals as well. I would definitely recommend the apartments for short-term (although I think you need to sign a 13-month lease). We moved to get to a better middle school and don't plan to stay in Berkeley for more than 3 years. FYI: there are LOTS of dogs in the building, in case any of your kids have animal fears. I would also avoid the apartments facing the train tracks as there are supposed to be 72 trains passing by everyday. The train is okay, but the ding-ding-ding of the lowering of the crossing gates is really annoying! j

Interested in a home in West Berkeley

May 2011

We will be relocating to Berkeley this summer and are interested in a home in West Berkeley. What insight can you share about this neighborhood? Is it a good place to raise a family? My husband and I have two boys ages 5 and 7. It seems like there are a lot of family-friendly amenities within walking distance. On the other hand, some blocks and homes seem a bit run down and it is right along the freeway and the train tracks. Any thoughts would be very appreciated! living in West Berkeley?

'West Berkeley' is a large demographic area and you don't say whether you would be in southwest or northwest Berkeley. We've lived in southwest Berkeley, the San Pablo Park neighborhood, since 2003. We really like it here. More and more families with young children are moving here because it's one of the more affordable areas in Berkeley. We're a few blocks away from Berkeley Bowl West, a few blocks from San Pablo Park, the largest park in Berkeley (I think), close to freeway access, and close to the shops along San Pablo Ave near Dwight Way.

That said, we do have crime here but from what I understand, crime is not only found in the flats -- we get burglaries and car break-ins just like anywhere else in Berkeley. We have young dudes smoking pot and/or drinking at the park and prostitutes on San Pablo. It's not Lafayette. It is definitely gritty and sometimes it bums me out, to be honest. But it is affordable and we love our neighbors.

Our street has a disaster cache, an active neighborhood email list, block parties twice a year, and lots of kids. Everyone here looks out for each other. I love going to the grocery store and bumping into a neighbor -- I feel like a definite part of the community! SW Berkeley Fan

Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods

Feb 2003

Re: Seeking a friendly neighborhood w/kids
Hi, We live in the San Pablo Park area of Berkeley on Carleton Street (the 1200 block). We find the neighborhood to be very kid friendly and in the 3 years that we have lived here we have gotten to know pretty much all the families with kids around the ages of ours (2 and 4). The neighborhood is no paradise mind you, but it has a lot of very nice qualities. There is a very nice and active park near by (San Pablo Park). The area is pretty diverse ethnically (primarily a mix of African-American and Caucasion families). And it is very centrally located (perhaps too much so) close to freeways and major streets. There are a number of rentals in the area, though our street (which I am most familiar with) is mostly owner occupied. One more note, neighborhoods in this area are really different, street by street, so check them out pretty thoroughly. Good luck, Cherene