Central Berkeley, CA- Home to UC Berkeley and a Great Urban Environment

Overall, Berkeley lives up to the hype from a city planning and urbanist perspective. Central Berkeley was mostly built out by the 1920s after an explosion of growth following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. There is quality urbanism on almost every corner of the City supported by medium density typically-10-20K individuals per square mile. Central Berkeley in particular excels from an urban perspective and is in the same class of neighborhood in my opinion as the best of Manhattan, Central Philly, Boston, and Washington DC. Central Berkeley boast great density, access to several subway stops,  excellent cultural and retail amenities, bike convenience, great parks, and UC Berkeley right on its doorstep. The best parallel to Central Berkeley once you throw in a University is probably the portion of Cambridge surrounding Harvard.

Yet like even the best of urban environments, there are still areas that Central Berekely can improve upon. The most important is creating more affordable housing. 1-bedrooms apartments start at $2,000 and small for-sale condos around 500K. There is also a homeless problem in Berkeley, which may be driving the City’s higher than average crime rate.
Click here to view my full Downtown Berkeley album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great density on bar with many inner San Francisco neighborhoods.
* Central Berkeley has walkable access to a decent amount of jobs in Dwtn Berekely and Cal U. But also great access to Downtown Oakland, and solid access to downtown San Francisco via Bart. Challenging to travel to San Jose or the Silicon Valley where other major employers are concentrated.
* Central Berkeley is highly walkable with great public transit access and dense bike infrastructure.
* High percentage of affordable housing options, which helps mitigate the City’s crazy high housing costs. 
* Nice mix and distribution of small and medium parks Central Berkeley including Ohlone Greenway, MLK Central Park, People’s Park. Also convenient access to all the green space of Cal University.
* Lots of small-medium sized museums within Downtown Berkeley or University of California. Good access to museums offered in Oakland and San Francisco. 
* Great concentration of cultural amenities in Central Berkeley including an extensive range of ethnic restaurants, cafe culture, eclectic live music venues, and many community theaters and several independent movie theaters. 
* Central Berkeley is well served by walkable retail including a nice mix of independent and chain stores (dwtn targets). There are also several service grocery stores and pharmacies. Only thing really missing is a department store.
* High quality schools and walkable to almost every Berkeley resident.
* Curb cuts at all intersections almost always with modern ADA curbs.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Some less attractive modern construction from the 60s-80s but generally still good urban form.
* Great offering of rental product but very expensive here in Berkeley. Most studios start at around 2K and most 2-bedrooms start at 3 K. Most for-sale options start at 800K. Some smaller studios available in the 400K & 500K but not enough. 
* Crime is relatively low in Berkeley but the homeless situation may increase the perception of crime unfortunately. 

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