Is South Berkely a safe neighborhood?

Asked by Stephanie, Oakland, CA Wed Jun 13, 2007

Is it considered up and coming? Are there shopping areas nearby?

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Keith, , Berkeley, CA
Wed Jun 13, 2007
I live in North Berkeley and used to live in South Berkeley - For the most part, South Berkeley is a safe area. Parts of South Berkeley are in fact some of the most expensive and coveted areas in the city. For instance, the Elmwood District (College at Ashby - zip 94705) is typified by million dollar plus homes and has some great shopping & eating establishments in the 'hood. Homes in the Elmwood (where I used to live) sell quickly and for high prices; homes in the nearby Claremont district in S. Berkeley sell for even more. South Berkeley closer to the UC campus isn't as nice because there are a lot of homeless and teenage panhandlers (Telegraph Ave) - the city is taking big steps to resolve this issue and is trying to improve the experience on Telegraph Ave by courting nicer retailers like Peet's coffee. Anything above (East) of Telegraph Ave. is more highly desired than below Telegraph and anything above College is more desirable than above Telegraph. All in all, I'd highly recommend living there - as in all cases, you'll need to pay attention to the specific streets & micro-neighborhoods within the area.
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Tomi Thomas, Agent, Oakland, CA
Wed May 2, 2012
South Berkeley IS a large area, but it does NOT include the Elmwood, which is actually an Eastern part of Berkeley. Southeastern, but no one in Elmwood considers it South Berkeley and no one in South Berkeley think of themselves in the Elmwood. South Berkeley is technically that part of Berkeley south of University and West of Shattuck. I lived and owned in South Berkeley for almost 20 years, in various locations, and I love it. There are good and less good areas, and a very few areas that some might consider rough. Everything about 4 blocks south of Dwight is considered highly transitional, with some great streets and some that are more affected by various kinds of crime. Some, like the area closer to the new Berkeley Bowl, which is South west Berkeley, but very much defined as SB, are transitioning or gentrifying faster than others, where there are, say, higher density apartment buildings.

"Safe" is a highly interpretive term and it largely depends on personal threshhold. There is not a neighborhood anywhere that does not have car thefts and burglaries. My personal definition of safe means higher frequency of crimes with a component of armed robbery, or worse, and known houses where unlawful activity has been documented..

It is highly advised that for ANY property, in any neighborhood, if safety is a concern for you, that you contact the community liason officer for the area to see what types of crime have been reported for the immediate area, whether there are specific households that are known for criminal activity, and whether the neighborhood is organized for crimewatch and emergency preparedness. The CLO can give you the contact info for the crime watch group, and that person can usually give you a real sense for which direction the neighborhood is moving and how organized the neighbors are.. Meeting neighbors who are actively working to improve the community will make you feel much more comfortable with the street you are moving in.

Remember, even in the so called "best" neighborhoods there is crime and the occasional problem neighbor, If you do your homework, any neighborhood can be a good move for the right house at the right price.
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0 votes
jl, , Kalamazoo, MI
Fri Aug 3, 2007
If you are concerned about any area, you can always call the local "beat cop" for information regarding the neighborhood. I often suggest this to my buyers when they see a house they love - but are unsure of the neighborhood. And always visit a neighborhood at different hours of the day and night, before you purchase.
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HappyHome, Home Buyer, 94704
Sun Jun 24, 2007
South Berkeley is a huge area (meaning it would include Elmwood too!) so it would depend where you mean. Crime often varies block to block in a city. The police department would have records of crime in the area where you're looking.
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Roberta Murp…, Agent, Carlsbad, CA
Wed Jun 13, 2007
Stephanie: You ask a good question, and one that is shared by many potential home buyers. The following link to Neighboroo will provide some answers to your Berkeley questions as well as a link to the site:
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