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NOVEMBER 27, 2009 11:11AM

Best Places to Raise a Family in the San Francisco Bay Area

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I’ve always been a lover of lists, stuff like The 100 Sexiest Jobs in Elko NV, Top Five Hunks in the History of Human Civilization, and The 100 Best Places to Raise a Family.

The latter is a real list put together by the Today Show’s Best Life editors from a plethora of sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and the National Center for Educational Statistics among others.

Using these data and more, the editors ranked and rated the desirability of cities based on the congeniality of a city toward the safety, health, and education of its youth.

The thing that struck me about this particular list was the large number of California cities on it.

Based on my unofficial and hopefully accurate summary, Cal had 22, or 22% of the nationwide total. No other state came close to that proportion.

Moreover, 11 of the 22 are located in the Bay Area. That's a number still higher than the number for any other single state. If this isn’t remarkable, I don’t know what is.

However, I have serious reservations about the inclusion of some cities and towns on the list.

For example, Richmond, recent scene of a gang rape on a high school campus, came in at Number 73, high but still on Today's list. I’m familiar with the city and the surrounding area, which causes me to wonder about the family friendliness of a city that has become a gang and murder center fully worth the extra gas it takes to circle the town when heading to Tahoe.

Oakland at Number 84 is another city I would think seriously about if I were raising children. The murder rate in Oakland is astronomical and the schools leave much to be desired. There may be pockets of tranquility within the city limits, but even that is problematic as a gauge of family togetherness.

And San Francisco at Number 67 made my seriously doubt list. SF is a great place for fun and games, but is it a commendable spot to raise kids in? There are many good neighborhoods in the city, but the question is, can parents in one of those neighborhood garden spots rest comfortably knowing that their adolescent and preadolescent darlings can jump on a bus and ride or even in many instances walk to the center of the action the minute they’re out of parental sight. As much as I like San Francisco, I do realize that it's emphasis on a libertine lifestyle isn't a suitable venue for raising children in.

The remainder of the Bay Area cities on the list include some that seem quite nice. Santa Rosa at Number 10 would be my personal choice. And I always considered Number 64 Concord a real nice spot.

The balance includes the South Bay Area ranked number 22, Fremont at 38, Berkeley 40, Fairfield 50, Antioch 51, and Hayward 93. Today's inclusion of some of these may stretch the definition of "Bay Area."  Fairfield, to name one, is located about 50-plus miles Northeast of San Francisco. On reflection, I suppose it's inclusion isn't too much of a stretch given that some people living virtually in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains drive into the Bay Area to work every week day.

Worth mentioning, not a single California city made the list of the 10 Worst Places to Raise a Family (find the Worst list below the Top 100 on Today's site).

I’m surprised that Davis didn’t make the California state-wide cut. It was Number 3 on the 5 Friendliest Cities in America.

 Note: This article is a reprise or an essay previously published on another site. It should also be noted that the data in Today's report is more than a year old. I wonder if the data would hold true if the survey were updated. 

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san francisco, richmond, oakland, and hayward 93. worth mentioning, antioch 51, fairfield 50, berkeley 40, fremont 38, but is it a commendable spot to raise kids in? there are many good neighborhoods, made my seriously doubt list. sf is a great place for fun and games, san francisco at number 67, but even that is problematic as a gauge of family togetherness. one other city, high but still on the list. i’m familiar with the city and the surrounding area, came in at number 73, for example, i have serious reservations about the inclusion of some of them. richmond, i don’t know what is. however, a number still higher than the number for any other single state. if that isn’t commendable, 11 of the 22 are located in the bay area, or 22% of the nationwide total. no other state came close to that proportion. moreover, cal had 22, and education of its youth. the thing that strikes me positively about this particular list is the large number of california cities on it. based on my unofficial and hopefully accurate summary, health, the editors ranked and rated the desirability of cities based on the congeniality of a city toward the safety, and the national center for educational statistics among others. using these data and more, the fbi, and the 100 best places to raise a family. the latter is a real list put together by the today show’s best life editors from a plethora of sources such as the u.s. census bureau, top five hunks in the history of human civilization, stuff like the 100 sexiest jobs in elko nv, i’ve always been a lover of lists, television, concord, santa rosa, berkeley

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The list had me wondering a few times as well. Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family and many other exteme right wing groups which pretty much own the place, made the top 50 whereas Denver did not. Albuquerque made the top 50 list as well though its gang problems and poorly ranked schools (at least compared to Colorado) are well known.

I'm also a fan of lists for reaons I've never been able to fanthom. Still, this struck me as being odd.
Hi RL - thanks for your thoughts and rate. I am guessing that this list and others are based entirely on the interpretation of data out of reports without the additional benefit of personal experience. For example, I do not know a soul who believes that Richmond CA is suitable for human habitation, period, much less for raising a family. The inclusion of Colorado Springs is interesting. Is that the location of the Air Force Academy? That would account for the large population of conservatives in the area. Interestingly, Fairfield, CA is the home of Travis Air Force Base. Fairield is also a rather conservative community. In fact, large areas of CA are highly conservative despite widespread common belief otherwise in the heartland. The coastal areas between LA and SF tend to be progressive or liberal or whatever the current label is. Again, thanks for your usual insightful observations. cy
I absolutely agree. SF? Yuck. I lived in Concord for awhile, that would be okay. Richmond? Oakland? You're kidding me. CA 30 years ago was an American dream and right now has a lot of liabilities. These lists are not helpful, I've found. I too love lists but these kind tend to be subjective and not true to the theme of safety and family-friendly.
Hi, Deborah, you're spot on on this one. Richmond was a good place when we lived there. Even Oakland was an almost-bucolic spot in the day. And when I was a kid, Sss Fff was a great town. I used to wander all over the place, no fear. Today, no thanks? To me, the best way to get a handle on a potential place to live is to visit. Failing that, a website named city-data.com has a forum on living in every state and large town in the state. The answers from past and present residents is brutally frank sometimes. Again, thanks fpor your onservations. cy
ForeverMom happily raised her daughter in SF, but yeah, daughter is 40 now, so maybe her experience is no longer valid. We can't believe Antioch would EVER rate on any 100 best list.
~rocco and rusty
Hi, Rescuers, you're right. 40 years ago, SF was one heck of a good place. And Antioch? No way.Antioch ought to be on a 100 worst list. Thanks for your memories. cy
I've been many times and I think SF would make a wonderful place to raise a family. Nob Hill. Perfect. They could enjoy the beautiful architecture, stroll along the avenue, go to the theater.... What?
Hi, BOKO, thanks for your thoughts. You mention that you've been to SF many times. I take it you don't live there, or perhaps have enjoyed the city from the viewpoint of a visitor. Nob Hill is one small part of the city, and a rich person's part at that. The city overall is plagued by crime, drugs, gangs, illegal immigrants (it's a sanctuary city, whatever that means), booze, libertine sex where public fellatio can be seen at some street fairs (some like this), homelessness, public transportation in disarray, and a virtually non-functioning political system. In addition to that, many parts of the downtown area smell to high heaven from urine, feces, and the unwashed bodies of the homeless. Moreover, the homeless are moving into once-pristine neighborhoods and sleeping on the stoops and in the doorways of homes fronting streets overloaded with traffic. Nob Hill isn't free of homeless either. As I mentioned, SF is a great place for adult enjoyment, but as a place to raise a family with children in it, I personally would not. In fact, many people with children try their hardest to move out of the city into Marin County. I have lived in the city as a single person, and the living was great. I've also been there as a visitor, and the experience was even better. But as a family man with children, I wouldn't live there. My assessment of the overall familial environment of SF is merely my take. Opinions vary. Thanks, again. cy