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Old 02-01-2009, 09:59 PM
373 posts, read 1,170,825 times
Reputation: 203


Name me some decent middle to upper middle class cities in the Bay Area that are socio-economically diverse, ethnically diverse, tree-lined, walkable, safe, and architecturally beautiful. I'm thinking San Mateo and Fremont might fit the bill, but I've never been to either cities. I have been to SF, Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, Daly City and parts of San Jose. I've driven through other parts, but never really got to explore to get a good feel of the areas. It seems there's always some huge compromises that one has to endure when residing in a Bay Area city. I'm thinking of cities resembling the cities in the western San Gabriel Valley of LA; cities that are high density-suburbs that are walkable blah blah blah, what I said above. A preponderance of 1950s to 1960s architecture would be a plus.

Last edited by jzt83; 02-01-2009 at 10:07 PM..
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Old 02-01-2009, 11:39 PM
Location: BK
188 posts, read 920,284 times
Reputation: 96
If it can be qualified as upper middle class, then it probably won't be exactly socio-economically diverse... Personally I would go for Alameda, Piedmont or Albany/North Berkeley, all have nice architecture, walkable streets and are safe. Houses are a bit older, (think 30s 40s 50s). If you really love old ranchers and 60s suburbia, Fremont could work I guess. I actually will say that Fremont is both ethnically and socio-economically diverse for a suburb and quite safe. I dont know the peninsula that well, but Palo Alto has nice older homes near its Downtown and is definitely an upscale community.
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Old 02-01-2009, 11:42 PM
Location: Bay Area
100 posts, read 280,898 times
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If it's socio-economic and ethnic diversity that you crave, then look to San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, or Berkeley. Beware of people on these forums (especially a few ignorant ones that aren't from the area or even the state of CA) who like to paint Oakland or San Francisco as a nightmare. They're cities just like any other; they have good and bad neighborhoods, and if you use the same common sense that you would anywhere else nothing should happen to you. Please understand, though, that the Bay Area is simply different from LA or the San Gabriel Valley; in terms of classic 1950's or 1960's architecture I'm not sure I can help you there. Yes, you'll have to compromise when living in the Bay Area, but compromise in terms of what exactly?
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:53 AM
373 posts, read 1,170,825 times
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I moved to the Bay Area a year ago. First moved to the Inner Sunset of SF then moved to Oakland for a two month stint then back to the central Sunset area. I'm thinking of relocating to the burbs to be somewhere where there's more open space and room to breath. I'm not that impressed with Oakland because the only decent walkable areas are very frou frou and the other areas are just too spread out. Berkeley is too collegiate and the nicer areas away from the campus are really pricey. Plus, I am not too fond of the architecture of Berkeley. I've been to San Leandro for the first time a few days ago and it just felt dumpy and ugly and I suppose somewhat walkable but not terribly so. Daly city is okay, but there really isn't an active downtown core except for Westlake, which is not a bad shopping center, but just doesn't have that thriving urban vibe. Plus it's very foggy there. I've only been to the downtown area of San Jose, and it seemed okay, but nothing really stuck out. Plus it seemed like it was socio-economically segregated. I've been all over SF, and it's just too pricey and a tad claustrophobic. Plus it takes forever to get around via Muni, but bicycling to get around isn't too bad. Driving in the city mostly sucks.

I don't think I'd want to live on Alameda because I'd feel too isolated on an manmade island and the land there probably isn't seismically sound. Piedmont is too exclusive and pricey. I've passed through Albany and been to the Bowling alley once. That city just feels very dead and the houses look tiny and very close together. It seems way too pricey for what you get, which is probably due to having a great public school system.

I will check out Fremont though. It seems to have a great balance of things I am looking for. How's the downtown area? What type of businesses are located downtown? What about the types of businesses in general in the city? Is it predominately big boxes and chains?? Does it have a good mix of independents? Are there any places besides Whole Foods to buy organic foods there?

The same questions for Fremont apply to San Mateo and any other cities that you may suggest.
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:02 AM
Location: yeah
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Fremont and San Mateo both have some lesser neighborhoods. They're not uniformly nice or not, as most smaller municipalities.

Also, there is no downtown Fremont.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:33 PM
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Albany, Alameda, Castro Valley, Piedmont would be my choices. I left out Walnut Creek as it is not as diverse but it is nice a place that has everything one can want in a place.
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Old 02-02-2009, 11:56 PM
Location: San Jose, CA
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Open space and room to breathe.. and yet walkable. You lost me there.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:15 AM
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I'd take another look at Oakland, too. Specifically, check out the Lower Hills neighborhoods---Dimond, Redwood Heights, Oakmore, Glenview, Montclair, and surrounds. Lots of 50s modern architecture to be had, and while much of that area isn't walkable, there are definitely parts that are---there are a bunch of neighborhood centers with grocery stores, restaurants, shops, etc. Meets the other requirements too, and because those areas developed later, they tend to have homes on larger lots (versus Rockridge, Elmwood, etc.) No BART, but there are still express buses that run along the old streetcar routes that take you into and out of the city.

If you haven't already seen WalkScore, check it out---http://www.walkscore.com/ It's pretty useful if walkability is a key factor.
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:27 AM
Location: Tijuana Exurbs
4,539 posts, read 12,403,081 times
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Alameda fits your bill of particulars completely - tree-lined, walkable, safe, and architecturally beautiful in most areas, and comfortably economically upscale without being uniformly so. Only a small portion of the city/island is man made and that is the newer part where you wouldn't be interested in living anyway. The rest of the city has been around for over 100 years, and has gone through plenty of earthquakes. Look up that statistics on City-Data. It's a perfect fit.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:16 AM
373 posts, read 1,170,825 times
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Originally Posted by sonarrat View Post
Open space and room to breathe.. and yet walkable. You lost me there.
The factors aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

To you other two other posters above, thanks for the suggestions, I'll check out Alameda and the neighborhoods in Oakland. I just looked at the USGS liquefaction map for northern Alameda county and found that the northwest part of the island of Alameda has a high risk of experiencing liquefaction while the southern shore has a moderate and the rest of the island has a low risk.
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