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Old 02-08-2008, 01:27 AM
 
Location: northern california
380 posts, read 2,159,001 times
Reputation: 147

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My husband and I are planning to buy a home this year and are considering Benicia (as well as Napa and Davis. We really like what we've seen and heard so far about Benicia (small town, cute main street, great schools), except:

Refineries, etc: I know the expensive new homes are near the refineries, but it seems most other residents aren't affected by them since the wind blows the other way. But I've read there's an old military arsenal and old dump that were located in other parts of the town, yet I never hear anyone mention it on the posts here. Are these just not a concern for residents? Is the water, etc ok?

Schools: The schools seem to have an excellent reputation, but I'm wondering how the budgets are holding up with so many homes on the market (and I imagine a corresponding drop in both public funding and private fundraising). Some of the reviews on greatschools.net indicate the district was cutting a lot of programs. Anyone know what was cut, and what the forecast is?

Thanks so much for any feedback.
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Northern California
3,681 posts, read 13,166,378 times
Reputation: 1835
Go to - Benicia Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center for info about the Benicia arsenal (click on "history"). The refineries are on the other side of the Carquinez Straits near Martinez and Benicia is upwind from the refineries.
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Old 02-14-2008, 11:42 AM
 
Location: northern california
380 posts, read 2,159,001 times
Reputation: 147
Thanks -- but what about the refineries in Benicia? I see the new Waters End homes are really close to them.
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Old 02-14-2008, 11:54 PM
 
226 posts, read 1,033,294 times
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You could also consider American Canyon and the Travis Unified School District attendance area in Vanden, South Vacaville, and Northeast Fairfield if Napa and Davis are being considered, respectively. As for the Travis Air Force Base, the runways do no seem to point to the the attendance area, so airplanes shouldn't be a problem from what I have seen in satellite photos. You can also get a second opinion.

The plus side to living in the Travis area is that you are only a short drive form the Capital Corridor train station, which takes you to East Bay proper and San Francisco via shuttle bus. Martinez has one that Benicia residents can utilize to take trains to the East Bay, but you need to cross the bridge.

Homes further north are less expensive and NO REFINERIES! Or at least I think so.

I forgot to say that the only school to look out for is Cambridge Elementary in the Travis Unified School District. However, I saw its API Score has gone up from the previous reporting period.

Last edited by tennis368fan; 02-15-2008 at 12:08 AM..
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:43 PM
 
Location: northern california
380 posts, read 2,159,001 times
Reputation: 147
Thanks so much for the info. We're starting to rule out Benicia now because I'm too nervous about the refineries plus the lack of diversity in town.

We like Fairfield's diversity and location, but we weren't sure about the high schools and it doesn't have the cute downtown areas like Napa or Davis. I didn't realize Travis school district served anyone outside the base. I found the distrcit boundaries map online, but it was so hard to see the actual street names. The areas we like in Fairfield are Rancho Solano and Green Valley, but those seem to be in Fairfield-Suisin school district and the high schools don't have great reviews on greatschools.net.

We rent in Napa now and like it here overall, but the commute is bad for my husband and it's not very diverse. There is a large latino population, but the city feels very segregated between richer/poor, and this seems to fall along racial lines. We really like Davis but are worried the schools might be too competititve/stressful, plus it's so hot there in summers and the homes are still pricey.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I appreciate your feedback.
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Old 02-15-2008, 07:16 PM
 
226 posts, read 1,033,294 times
Reputation: 69
Where are you and your husband commuting to work and what is your preferred price range? This information would really help us help you!

Meanwhile, I made another post on another thread regarding Benicia and the Travis USD Attendance Area. Here's a link to the post: http://www.city-data.com/forum/2841463-post14.html.

If you want to make sure a certain home is located within the Travis Unified School District, use the street directory. Here's the link: Which school...

Last edited by tennis368fan; 02-15-2008 at 07:59 PM..
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Old 02-15-2008, 08:14 PM
 
Location: northern california
380 posts, read 2,159,001 times
Reputation: 147
Thanks for the link and for your other post info. We're looking at $600-700k. My husband works in Vacaville, but is occasionally in Vallejo. Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:10 PM
 
136 posts, read 825,661 times
Reputation: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by christeen View Post
Thanks so much for the info. We're starting to rule out Benicia now because I'm too nervous about the refineries plus the lack of diversity in town.
Don't be nervous because of the refineries. There is one refinery on the Benicia side of the Straits but as people have said it is downwind. I lived there for 5 years and have friends still there that have been there for 15 years. No refinery problems. Not sure I agree with you about the lack of diversity either.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:36 AM
 
Location: northern california
380 posts, read 2,159,001 times
Reputation: 147
Thanks, Snappy. Don't worry, we haven't totally ruled out Benicia yet. My husband knows a few people who live there and love it and aren't worried about the refineries either, but they do scare me being so close.

As for diversity, the city-data stats show there should be more minorities, but I've only seen caucasians whenever we visit. It's definitely less diverse than Davis by #s and the feel of it when we visit both towns -- people walking around, ethnic restaurants/shops, etc. It's not horrendous, though, so I didn't mean to make it sound that way. Guess I was comparing it to other Bay Area cities.

Also, what's the political bent of the city? I like that Davis is more progressive, though I hear sometimes it's too in-your-face liberal. In Napa, the more long-time residents tend to be pretty conservative, while recent emigrants seem more liberal.

Re neighborhoods, we tend to like newer homes (ie built w/in last 10 yrs), but I don't want to be close to the refineries like Waters End. Do you (or others) know which neighborhoods would be best to check out?

As for schools, which elementary schools are considered best (and why)? What's the atmosphere like at the middle and high schools? The Napa schools have a poor reputation, while the Davis schools seem to have excellent academic/extracurricular programs but lots of pressure on kids to excel plus social pressures of a more affluent student body.

What about shopping? My weekly shopping is usually at Trader Joe's, Safeway and Target (it's a boring life I lead . . .). I see there's a Target in Vallejo, how about the groceries and other shopping in the city? Seems there are only a few shopping centers in town?

Thanks to you (and others here) for help w/ my never ending questions. We've been flip-flopping between Napa, Davis and Benicia. I think we're back to Davis and Benicia now.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:01 PM
 
136 posts, read 825,661 times
Reputation: 71
There is a Safeway in Benicia, a Trader Joes just over the bridge in Concord (is it still there??) and of course the ever present Target in Vallejo. You should try Raleys grocery store. It give Safeway a run for the money. I was a Safeway shopper when I moved there and ended up shopping at Raley's.

As far as schools, my son went to Matthew Turner(keep in mind he went there 14 years ago!!) - it was in the newer area and I was very pleased with the teachers. You will need to be in one of the relatively newer areas to get the best elementaries. At least I was told that when I moved there. Not sure what its like now. I think Joe Henderson was pretty good too. It's in a 15-20(ish) year old area. The homes are getting a little dated but a lot of people have updated kitchens etc.

I would still pick Benicia for its proximity to San Francisco. I loved that city and area.
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