7.2 out of 10

South Berkeley

Ranked 2nd best neighborhood in Berkeley
37.8547008789702 -122.2784346337
Great for
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Childcare
  • Medical Facilities
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Safe & Sound
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+
Editors Choice

"Living in South Berkeley since 2001"

I love my neighborhood. My neighbors are a diverse bunch of humanity from pretty much everywhere on Earth. We have a great neighborhood group who like to meet for business reasons but also to socialize, pick up litter and look out for each other. I love getting a phone call reminding me that its street cleaning day!

When I moved in with my family in 2001 there was a fair amount of gang type activity right around my house. It has since moved away. Though about once a year there is an incident that we are aware of that makes us uneasy. We've seen other great changes in the neighborhood such as the opening of Casa Vino, a great place for wine and gourmet eats, the Actual Cafe, Addie's Pizza,The Shotgun Players (Theater),the Ed Roberts Campus, the Biofuel Oasis, and Spiral Gardens to name a few. Sprial gardens and the Biofuel Oasis promote urban farming and offer supplies and classes (beekeeping anyone?) for those interested in the greening of our cities. Other neighborhood amenities include the Thai Temple on Russell Street for Sunday Brunch, the Tool Lending Library at the South Branch of the Berkeley Public library on MLK (if you need a jack hammer they have them!) Ashby BART with its weekend flea markets, Berkeley Bowl(s), Sweet Adeline's Bake Shop, the Tuesday Night Farmers' Market, and the annual Juneteenth Street Festival.

The neighborhood is changing block by block with more families, artists and musicians moving in. Housing here is the most affordable in Berkeley which may account for the large numbers of new young families. Architecture is varied with lots of older Victorians and wide tree-lined streets in the Lorin and more 2 bedroom bungalows west of there.

Berkeley, as a rule, is difficult to get into or out of, but South Berkeley is very accessible. From my house I can choose whatever freeway I want and avoid the maze. I'm only 5 minutes from all that Emeryville has to offer and also a short walk to San Pablo Park or Berkeley Bowl.

Among the negatives are still too many corner liquor stores. There are some blocks where the residents don't seem to care about picking up trash. And there are areas where large boxy apartment buildings dominate.
Pros
  • Easy Access
  • Urban Farming
  • Affordable
  • Great Transportation
Cons
  • Too many corner liquor stores
  • Rundown in Spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
LC
LC Hello– Your info about S Berkeley is very helpful! We are considering a house in the area and the neighborhood really appeals to us. If you wouldn't mind emailing with me to answer a couple more specific questions, please drop me an email at lena @ threesco.com (spaces added to email to avoid spam). Thanks!
2yrs+
Add a comment...
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"Berkeley's True Residential Heart"

South Berkeley is one of the more affordable neighborhoods in the city of Berkeley. A quick survey of the website, Padmapper, shows that rents tend to hover around $700/room for most locations and there are definitely deals to be had if you are willing to share a space with other students or to devote to time to apartment hunting.

Part of the reason for these more reasonable prices is that South Berkeley simply does not hold the attractions of other Berkeley neighborhoods. It is a flat neighborhood without the winding streets of the hillier eastern portions of Berkeley. It doesn’t have the plethora of diverse shops and restaurants that the neighborhoods surrounding campus have. And, South Berkeley doesn’t have that consistently quaint neighborhood feel of some of the quieter north Berkeley neighborhoods. South Berkeley has more of a slightly rundown, old look. The pre-World War II homes feel a bit less well kept here, and the boxy apartment buildings show signs of wear. The quality of homes and the general feel vary from street to street and block to block. On some streets the cars parked out front of many of the homes are older than most Berkeley freshman. The facades are poorly painted, and faded. Exposed windows are boarded up, and rubbage can be seen between homes. Other streets, house nice lower middle class homes, with green lawns and bushy hedges. It is very hit or miss in this way.

Many of the nicer, smaller homes in the neighborhood are squatter, bungalow type homes with long low lying roofs and thick columns at the end of short walkup steps—giving that strong feeling of shelter that is the characteristic of such architecture. When renovated with modern windows and nicely painted, such homes are quite appealing. When left with old faded glass and paint they can seem more than a bit dreary.

A further characteristic of the neighborhood is that many of the residential streets don’t go straight through, forcing traffic to turn after a few blocks. This may help to increase the residential feel here since most of the traffic is pushed to the borders, where the major thoroughfares are located. Transportation is great here as it is throughout most of Berkeley with the Ashby BART station located on the eastern border and bus lines being prominent on the edges of the neighborhood. Many students like the neighborhood because it is close enough to bike to campus (or even walk from the northeastern corner) but also is far enough away where you feel as if you have a life separate from school—a positive in a university where students feel completely immersed in their studies most of the time.

The northwest corner of the neighborhood surrounding San Pablo Park is great diverse area, close to the dive bars on San Pablo but having a fairly strong neighborhood feel to it. San Pablo Park itself, is a great place to take kids or find sports fun. Kids will love the renovated play area during the weekdays. On afternoons and especially on weekends pickup soccer and b-ball games are the central activities.

The northeast portion of the neighborhood has perhaps some of the highest concentration of charity and community organizations in all of the East Bay. Berkeley Primary Care is right on the on Dwight, while organizations such Copwatch, the Wellness Center, the Clear View Project and Berkeley Food and Housing reside in this area. It is also home to Berkeley’s Spiral Gardens, a community run plant nursery whose mission is to promote sustainable local growers, they offer classes and education on how to create organic home gardens—a real community treasure. There are a plethora of churches and temples in the area too, supporting Berkeley’s diverse religious community. Bethlehem Temple, Mount Zion Church of God, Revelation Baptist Church, Berkeley United Methodist Church, Thai Buddhist Temple, and Berkeley Higashi Hoganji are just some of the holy places that make their home in the northeastern section of South Berkeley.

The northeast corner is also perhaps one of the best places to live in terms of homes. Of the area’s streets this has the greatest consistency of well-kept homes on leafy streets. As a testament to the family nature of much of the neighborhood you will also find a number of private and public schools—including Malcolm X elementary-- and daycares in the neighborhood, giving parents various choices in terms of types of educations and childcare. The Berkeley South Library, much less busy than other branches, is also in this area.

The southeastern section of the neighborhood is characterized by European style roundabouts and a greater diversity of architecture, with a series of restored buildings and slightly larger homes, giving the neighborhood an unusual urban look and feel. It’s proximity to the Ashby BART makes it a favorite neighborhood for commuters.

The southwest corner of the neighborhood, perhaps has the greatest mix of residents and the largest population of retirees who know what Berkeley was like before the 60’s transformed it. It is not unusual to see vintage automobiles outside of nicely maintained 40’s bungalows. Streets are far more hit or miss in this section however.

Though South Berkeley is not generally known for its restaurants there are some exceptions to the Domino’s Pizzas that characterize the edges of the neighborhood like Flacos ( a Mexican place) on Adelaide. There are also some dive bars on San Pablo worth mentioning like the Missouri Lounge. Black Oak Books is also by San Pablo and the neighborhood boasts at least four martial arts studios. Overall, however, restaurants and entertainment is not really the main draw of this neighborhood. It is a residential neighborhood at heart, that likes to keep much of commercial action at its borders and that still prefers the corner market to the strip mall.

Finally, crime in the area is mostly of the burglary variety with automobile break-ins being the most common. The southern part of the neighborhood has suffered the worst in terms of violent crime, averaging about one murder per year every year for the last five and accounting for about a quarter of all Berkeley murders during the time period. Overall, however, this is a safe neighborhood so long as residents use common sense and avoid dangerous situations.
Pros
  • Cool Dive Bars
  • Affordable
  • Great Transportation
Cons
  • Flat and Bland
  • Older, Smaller Homes
  • Rundown in Spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students

Travelling to South Berkeley?

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Unranked Streets in South Berkeley

Adeline St

3.5/5
"Nick's, the Mothership and the Vault"
37.8502226019157 -122.270967272201
"Fun place to be a student, but not the cleanest or safest"
37.8545821290918 -122.271203298558
"Auto Repair City and a Great Bakery"
37.8553881129555 -122.287813709215

Ward St

2.5/5
"Residential street with significant university student population"
37.8579595743966 -122.279042373921

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