"Typical Berkeley nonsense north of Ashby, but quieter toward Alcatraz"
Benvenue is a nice lower Elmwood/Willard street with some lovely houses. The single-family homes on this street from about Parker down are gorgeous and many of them have beautiful gardens. North of about Ashby these beautiful (and pricey) homes are interspersed with mid-20th-century apartment buildings. And through the avenue's full length there are smaller 4- or 5-plex converted rental homes that attract a mix of college kids (many of whom are surprisingly mature and neighborly), early-middle-aged trustafarians, and older Berkeley hippies. The college kids get rowdy on occasion, but their parties are predictable (big football days, after final exams, after graduation). And most of the college kids are kind people who just haven't learned yet to live in the world. The over-45-y.o. residents are great -- most of the well-kept rental buildings on the street rely on these long-time residents for gardening and upkeep and most of these folks take pride in their homes (though there are a few kooky ones like the pink flamingo lady whose creativity sort of reminds me of a childhood neighbor who had a bunch of sad looking scrap metal all over the yard and eventually killed his dog and then himself...). But anyway one thing to know about Benvenue is that there is a set of really toxic residents in this area who are between about 30 and 40, have never held a full-time job, and live in the local rental housing on/around Benvenue mostly north of Ashby because it gives them the cultural cache of living in bohemian Berkeley but affords them the comfort of an upscale neighborhood. These are the Lexus-driving 35-year-olds who work part time as "artists" and "dj's" and "musicians" and desperately want to be part of some youth movement despite their age and the imbalance between their contributions to/drain on society. These folks couldn't survive without a local gourmet coffee shop serving $8 mochas and a designer yoga-wear store in the neighborhood. Maybe you can imagine how this makes this college-kid street near an upscale shopping area a roach motel of sorts for emotionally-lost, priveleged, white "kids" with ironic facial hair and guitars whose parents still pay the rent despite the fact that these "kids" have more than a few gray hairs woven into their white-person dreadlocks. The trustafarians who infest Benvenue Ave. feel no remorse at grinding the bumper of your older but well kept vehicle with this year's luxury lease while you watch in horror at their parallel parking job. And then they'll dispute the insurance claim. And instead of the college kid twice-or-thrice-annual beer bash, these folks will fill your apartment daily with bad covers of Bob Marley, Dave Brubeck, and recent emo bands you wish you'd never been exposed to. Before work. After work. All day on weekends and your days off. Why? Because they don't have a job or homework or papers to write and they have no respect for you, you simpering pawn of the establishment. While you're working at least 8 hours in some lame office to pay for your home on this street, they are getting in touch in the universe and enhancing their karma through their (loud) musical contributions to humanity, and sometimes trying to grow some kale which they probably won't eat even if it survives the two weeks while they're away in Hawaii. So yeah, Benvenue Ave and the surrounding environs (just west of College and in the vicinity of Ashby) are great. But be careful about living by rentals because Berkeley's rental law statutes make it so that even if the landlord next door realizes his tenant is a worthless piece of "work" with no job and illegal subletters and repeated noise violations and a proliferating garden of dead kale pots and a penchant for pissing on your doorstep, they are unlikely to win an eviction case in court if said kale-killer&co pays rent on time.