East Bay
Metropolitan Living Across the Bay

East Bay is the region of choice for professionals and families who want to live in the San Francisco area without actually being in the city, and thanks to its rich metropolitan culture and diverse housing options, East Bay is the ideal place for newcomers who want to live the San Francisco lifestyle without paying the San Francisco price. The coastal East Bay became prominent in the middle of the 19th century as the part of the Bay Area that was most accessible by land from the east. With the 1868 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad that terminated at the newly constructed Oakland Long Wharf, the city of Oakland rapidly developed into a significant seaport and is now the Bay Area’s largest port and the fifth largest container-shipping port in the United States.

Although East Bay is not a formally defined region, it commonly is described as including Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. As development moves generally eastward, new areas also are being described as part of the East Bay.

Alameda County is located across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge from San Francisco. It is home to several of the largest incorporated communities in the area, with several having populations that exceed 100,000. From national-level sports teams and acclaimed universities to excellent art institutions and fine-dining establishments, Alameda County offers prospective residents an unrivaled quality of life without making them break the bank.

Major Communities (2011 Population): Alameda (74,774), Albany (18,786), Berkeley (113,905), Dublin (46,572), Emeryville (10,214), Fremont (216,916), Hayward (146,069), Livermore (82,039), Newark (43,139), Oakland (395,817), Piedmont (10,809), Pleasanton (71,215), San Leandro (86,017) and Union City (70,436)

  • Population...............................................1,554,720
  • Population Growth (2010–11)..............2.9%
  • Persons Per Square Mile......................2,043.6

  • School Districts: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Dublin, Emery, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore Valley, Mountain House, New Haven, Newark, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Sunol Glen
  • Total Public School Enrollment (2011–12): 225,000
  • Educational Attainment (adult population)
    • High school diploma...........................86%
    • College degrees..................................40.8%

For more information, visit Alameda County’s website at www.acgov.org. Following are the highlights of some of the largest communities in the county.

— Alameda
Situated on an island in the East Bay, Alameda is connected to the mainland by a series of tunnels and bridges. Alameda long has been a resort destination for Bay Area residents who are attracted to its temperate climate. Today, many San Franciscans vacation there to enjoy its beaches and golf courses. Alameda Point, the site of the former Naval Air Station Alameda is being redeveloped for residential and commercial purposes. Due to its geographic isolation, Alameda has been location for many major films, including The Matrix Reloaded, Rent, What Dreams May Come and Mission: Impossible II.

Renowned for its beautifully preserved Victorian houses—reportedly the largest concentration of pre-1906 Victorians than any other city—Alameda’s estimates show that one in 10 families live in a Victorian home while other such properties have been divided into several units. Several notable cultural institutions grace the city, including the Alameda County Arts Council and the Alameda Museum.

— Berkeley
The city of Berkeley has a distinctive personality thanks to a significant student population and its diverse neighborhoods. The areas surrounding the University of California, Berkeley campus are the most densely populated parts of the city. Berkeley’s neighborhoods include Berkeley Hills, Berkeley Marina, Claremont District, Cragmont, Downtown Berkeley, Elmwood District, La Loma Park, North Berkeley (the Gourmet Ghetto), Northbrae, Northside, Ocean View, South Berkeley, Southside, Thousand Oaks and West Berkeley.

Public transportation in Berkeley is supported by several companies, including Amtrak, AC Transit and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system as well as the university itself. Traffic can become rather severe on the freeways that run along the bay’s shoreline. As a result, Berkeley has developed one of the highest bicycle- and pedestrian-commuting rates in the nation. The city also has pioneered car-sharing networks—such as City CarShare, U Car Share and Zipcar—with which groups of people share vehicles rather than owning one personally.

The city of Berkeley has many historical buildings, must-see architectural landmarks and cultural attractions. Berkeley High School, established in 1880, was designated in 2008 as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has exhibited works by acclaimed artists, such as Paul Gauguin, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The Berkeley Rose Garden features incomparable views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge alongside hundreds of varieties of roses. Others places of interest include the Berkeley Marina, the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, the Lawrence Hall of Science, Regional Park Botanic Garden at Tilden Park and the William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre. Berkeley hosts several major cultural events every year, including the Jewish Music Festival, the Berkeley Arts Festival, the Berkeley Kite Festival and the Himalayan Fair.

— Fremont
Located on the southeast side of the San Francisco Bay, Fremont covers an area of 92 square miles. With a population of nearly 217,000, it is California’s 15th largest city. With its moderate climate and its proximity to major universities, shopping areas, employment centers, major airports and the BART system, Fremont captures metropolitan living at its best. Fremont attractions include the Aqua Adventure water park, numerous art galleries and public art installations, historic attractions, museums, farmers markets and three performing arts venues.

— Hayward
Known as the Heart of the Bay, Hayward is located centrally and conveniently in Alameda County. Hayward has a pedestrian-friendly downtown with a balanced mix of housing, retail shops, offices and restaurants. The new Civic Center serves as the focal point for this revitalization, and the city hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Hayward/Russell City Blues Festival and the Hayward Zucchini Festival.

— Livermore
In California’s oldest wine region, Livermore’s arts, culture, western heritage and vibrant wine industry provide a unique blend to this special community where residents cherish a relaxed, less congested lifestyle. Home to renowned science and technology centers, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory, Livermore also is a technological hub in an academically engaged community.

— Oakland
Oakland is a major port of the Bay Area and the administrative center of Alameda County. The last decade has seen the creation of major housing developments in the downtown area thanks to a citywide initiative to attract 10,000 residents to its diverse neighborhoods. The neighborhoods can be divided into the following sectors: Central Business District, Central East Oakland, Elmhurst, Fruitvale, Lake Merritt, Lower Hills District, Northwest Hills, Oakland North, San Antonio, Southeast Hills and West Oakland.

Almost a quarter of all residents use public transportation, which includes bus service by the Alameda and Contra Costa Transit District. BART provides service to the metropolitan area from eight stations in Oakland. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge directly links the two cities, making it a car-friendly destination; an estimated 270,000 drivers use the bridge in their daily commute.

The health-care sector in Oakland also is known for its advanced research, record of service and quality health care. Medical centers in Oakland include Kaiser Permanente, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Alameda County Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland.

Oakland also is the home of three professional sports teams: the Oakland Athletics (Major League Baseball), the Oakland Raiders (National Football League) and the Golden State Warriors (National Basketball Association). Both the Athletics and the Raiders share the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as their venue while the Golden State Warriors play at the adjacent Oracle Arena.

Oakland is known for its comprehensive roster of education institutions at all levels of learning. The primary and secondary public schools are operated by the Oakland Unified District while the area’s major colleges and universities include the Peralta Community College District, California College of the Arts, Lincoln University, Patten University, Mills College and Samuel Merritt University. Also located in Oakland is the Bay Area Technology School (BayTech), which offers an inclusively technology- and science-based curriculum.

— San Leandro
San Leandro is a friendly and diverse city with a colorful heritage and amenities that include a 450-berth marina, two golf courses and a large community library. Famous for its delicious cherries, San Leandro celebrates its Cherry Festival every year. Also well known for its quiet, well-defined neighborhoods full of charming and unique older houses on tree-lined streets, San Leandro’s temperate weather makes it an excellent place for outdoor recreation.

Before this region was known as East Bay, the overall area was referred to as Contra Costa to indicate its place opposite the bay from San Francisco. Now Contra Costa specifically refers to this largely suburban county. Compared to Alameda County, Contra Costa County offers a more casual and insular lifestyle that is sure to appeal to prospective residents who want to raise their families in a more intimate suburban setting.

Major Communities (2011 Population): Antioch (104,044), Brentwood (52,326), Clayton (11,076), Concord (124,055), Danville (42,725), El Cerrito (23,549), Hercules (24,455), Lafayette (24,285), Pleasant Hill (33,689), Martinez (36,392), Moraga (16,250), Oakley (36,014), Orinda (17,932), Pinole (18,691), Pittsburg (64,294), Richmond (105,380), San Pablo (29,609), San Ramon (73,333) and Walnut Creek (65,211)

  • Population................................................1,079,597
  • Population Growth (2010–11)...............2.9%
  • Persons Per Square Mile......................1,465.2

  • School Districts: Alcanes, Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, John Swett, Knightsen, Lafayette, Liberty, Martinez, Moraga, Mt. Diablo, Oakley, Orinda, Pittsburg, San Ramon Valley, Walnut Creek and West Contra Costa
  • Total Public School Enrollment (2011–12): 169,394
  • Educational Attainment (adult population)
    • High school diploma..........................88.4%
    • College degrees.................................23.6%

For more information, visit Contra Costa County’s website at www.co.contra-costa.ca.us. Following are the highlights of some of the largest communities in the county.

— Antioch
Antioch is known as the “Gateway to the Delta” and is located on the banks of the San Joaquin River in Northern California in Contra Costa County. Antioch has become the heart of Eastern Contra Costa County with its offering of a variety of employment, shopping and recreational activities. The pace of development in Antioch has spurred activity for many types of businesses, which has increased employment in schools, hospitals and other local service sectors in the town. Plus, there’s always something to do in Antioch, such as going to the County Fair, playing a round of golf or the splashing at the Prewett Family WaterPark.

— Concord
Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County. Located less than 30 miles east of San Francisco, Concord typically serves as a commuter city for the larger Bay Area metropolis. Thus, Concord is primarily a residential city ideal for family-focused households. Since 2000, Concord has been noted as a city where “families come first.” The city’s family-friendly initiatives have led to an increase in community-oriented events, activities and organizations. In addition, Concord has a diverse local economy with large-scale offices for several major corporations, such as Chevron and Bank of America, as well as a thriving retail market thanks to its own Sunvalley Mall, one of the nation’s 50 largest malls.

— Richmond
Residents of Richmond often cite its enjoyable weather and interesting geography as key factors in their decision to make the city their home. Residents appreciate the city’s Mediterranean climate and diverse natural environment. Nearby San Pablo offers beautiful bayside views and tranquil woodland spaces for exciting outdoor adventures. Like Concord, Richmond’s economy is supported by a variety of industries, including the petrochemical, medicine, pharmaceutical, retail and manufacturing sectors. Richmond is also home to a few notable shopping centers, including the Hilltop Mall, the 23rd Street business district, Downtown Richmond and the Macdonald 80 Shopping Center.

The public education of Richmond is served by the West Contra Costa Unified District, and graduating high school seniors can attend the local community Contra Costa College before entering a four-year university. Richmond also is home to several notable media outlets, including its three local newspapers: The Richmond Post, the Richmond Globe and the West County Times. KCRT-TV is a local cable television station established in 1990 that broadcasts local news, historic documentaries and historical archives.

— San Ramon
San Ramon is a small city known for its rustic environment and for being a frequent travel destination for Bay Area residents looking for a great place to camp, hike and participate in outdoor activities. Notable parks include Crow Canyon Gardens, the Iron Horse Regional Trail, Forest Home Farms Historical Park, Old Ranch Park and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. Another significant landmark is Memorial Park, dedicated in honor of Tom Burnett, a resident of San Ramon killed in the 9/11 attacks, as well as others that died aboard Flight 93. The Chevron Corporation is headquartered in San Ramon as is the western division of AT&T and 24-Hour Fitness. In addition, the San Ramon Regional Medical Center provides a significant number of jobs in the health care field.

— Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is a popular getaway for residents of the larger nearby metropolises of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as well as Sacramento to the east due to its location on I-680 and SR-24. Recent urban-living developments have made it a perfect location for prospective residents who want a small-town atmosphere with big-city amenities.

For a smaller city, Walnut Creek has a diverse and well-established fine arts community. The California Symphony has been based here since its formation in 1986. The Center REPertory Company is a resident theater company that performs a six-show season every year, and the Lesher Center for the Arts provides the city with additional spaces for a variety of theatrical performances. In addition, the Civic Arts Education Program and the Clay Arts Guild provide the community with classes in the visual arts.

Public transportation in Walnut Creek includes service from BART at its two stations: Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. A free shuttle runs from the city’s downtown area to the Walnut Creek BART station. The Central Contra Costa Transit Authority provides further public transportation.

Of the three East Bay counties, Solano is the most rural and offers the most serene country environment, waterfront properties, rustic woodlands and charming farmlands that combine to recreate the tranquil American landscape of bygone eras. The people of Solano also are known for their commitment to community and service, which has resulted in one of the most friendly and neighborhood-conscious areas in California.

Major Communities (2011 Population): Benicia (27,207), Dixon (18,536), Fairfield (106,126), Rio Vista (7,416), Suisun City (28,330), Vacaville (93,088) and Vallejo (116,829)

  • Population................................................420,757
  • Population Growth (2010–11)..............1.8%
  • Persons Per Square Mile......................503

  • School Districts: Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis, Vacaville and Vallejo
  • Total Public School Enrollment (2011–12): 64,200
  • Educational Attainment (adult population)
    • High school diploma..........................86.2%
    • College degrees..................................24.2%

For more information, visit Solano County’s website at www.co.solano.ca.us. Following are the highlights of some of the largest communities in the county.

— Fairfield
Fairfield is centrally located between San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and Napa Valley, making it an ideal location for prospective residents who want to experience the Bay Area in its entirety. This incorporated municipality of more than 106,000 residents takes its name from Fairfield, Connecticut, the hometown of Robert H. Waterman who founded the city. The economy of Fairfield is made up of several high-profile employers, including the Jelly Bean Candy Company, a large Anheuser-Busch facility, Clorox and the Travis Air Force Base. The public school system in Fairfield is governed by the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District and the Travis Unified School District, and several universities and colleges are located in or near Fairfield, including Chapman University, St. Mary’s College, Solano Community College and a University of Phoenix location.

— Vacaville
Considered by its residents as a “small town at heart,” Vacaville is an appealing location for families because of its affordable housing. Like Fairfield, Vacaville is located near some of the region’s most ideal tourist destinations, including Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and the gorgeous beaches of the San Francisco Bay. The city itself is home to numerous family-friendly activities, including several community parks and the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Vacaville’s economy is supported by the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and the Nut Tree Airport is located two miles away. Vacaville’s primary and secondary public schools are operated by the Vacaville Unified School District and the Travis Unified School District.

— Vallejo
Founded in 1844, Vallejo originated as an important shipping and naval center. Just 35 minutes from San Francisco and 15 minutes from the Napa and Sonoma wine countries, Vallejo is considered the gateway to the wine country. West Vallejo is the oldest part of the city and includes the historical neighborhoods the Vallejo Heights, the Vallejo Old City Historic District and Saint Vincent’s Hill Historic District. The city’s newer neighborhoods are situated to the east of I-80. With the development of newer housing projects in the area, East Vallejo is now the most populous part of the city.

Of notable interest here is the Mare Island Navel Shipyard (MINS), which has been undergoing significant redevelopment for commercial and residential use since ceasing operations in 1996. Parts of the popular destination have been named a National Historic Landmark District. Vallejo is also home to the California Maritime Academy.

For fun, Vallejo has Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, an amusement park that mixes roller coasters and rides with an extensive menagerie of wildlife, including dolphins, walruses, penguins, elephants and cougars. Vallejo’s bustling downtown sector also makes it a great tourist destination, which is easily accessible by ferry service throughout the Bay Area. Local media is provided by the Times-Herald newspaper and Vallejo Community Access Television (VCAT), which gives residents the opportunity to produce their own visual content.

With such good living and great environments, it is easy to see why the communities of East Bay are high on newcomers’ lists for living and entertainment.
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