El Sobrante

west contra costa map.jpgA town with a country feeling, El Sobrante is located near regional parks, the San Pablo Reservoir which is open for hiking and fishing, and wonderful Tilden Park. This scenic valley town is governed by both the city of Richmond and the county. Most of the newer developments are within Richmond, although many residents say they live in El Sobrante to avoid confusion. The newer developments are quite nice with attractive homes, many with pleasant hill views. The older, unincorporated neighborhoods range from standard ranch style homes to horse properties. The weather is usually warmer in El Sobrante than towns closer to the bay and avoids the morning and evening fog off the bay.

All the schools are in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and there are also several well-respected private schools. El Sobrante is only 14 miles from the Bay Bridge toll plaza. The San Pablo Dam Road goes directly to Orinda in East Contra Costa. Depending on where you live in El Sobrante, it can be more convenient to drive to the Orinda BART station to commute to San Francisco than to take the highway.


The town of Hercules was established as company housing by the California Powder Works in 1881 when it relocated its operations from San Francisco. Hercules was named after the company’s leading brand of explosive, in turn named after the mythical hero. Hercules was incorporated in 1900.

The city’s ethnically diverse population generally ranges from middle class to affluent. Hercules is home to a small amount of light manufacturing and high-tech industry as well as various commercial and retail activities. Most of the housing and other building stock is from the 1970s or newer. Attempts to develop mixed-use new development have begun in the waterfront district and around the intersection of I-80 and CA-4. The waterfront redevelopment includes the historic preservation and integration of a handful of buildings, some dating to Hercules’ founding as a company town.


Carquinez StraitPinole is a quiet town between El Sobrante and Hercules in the East Bay. The housing costs in Pinole are generally lower than the more central communities of Oakland, Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito. Although the commute is longer from Pinole to the city, for many people the advantages are the peaceful suburban neighborhoods and the warmer, less foggy weather. Pinole has a wide variety of housing options. Choices span from the Queen Anne cottages and bungalows of “Old Pinole” to newer townhouses by the bay and traditional ranch style homes, with some horse properties tucked further back in the canyon.

Recently, the city of Pinole has sponsored community activities such as the Farmers’ Market, “Sounds in the Park” music performances and the Pinole Fall Festival and Parade. The Pinole city web page has a calendar of community events, as well as other useful information about the town.

Richmond View

One of the last neighborhoods in the Berkeley/El Cerrito Hills Range where you can find beautiful view homes at really affordable prices, Richmond View is a genuine neighborhood.  Made up of an unusually wide diversity of people, it is a friendly place where people know each other and help each other when needed.

Downtown PinoleBecause it abuts both Wildcat Canyon Park and the El Cerrito Golf Club, many residents are people who are drawn to the natural quiet of this almost rural area.  There is an excellent corner store in the neighborhood offering fine food, much of it organic, and it is just a five-minute drive to larger stores such as Safeway, fine restaurants, and the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station. This is the kind of great neighborhood that people grow up in and then stay to raise their own kids.

Despite its name, much of Richmond View is actually in unincorporated Contra Costa County. Some people also call it East Richmond Heights.

San Pablo

San Pablo was incorporated on April 27th 1948. It is a small community that dates back to the early 1800s when the Castro Family received almost 20,000 acres in a Spanish land grant located just north of Berkeley and El Cerrito. One of the oldest Spanish settlements in the region, this city offers a diverse community with affordable homes, international shopping and great recreational opportunities.

Refugio Valley Park, HerculesSan Pablo has recently experienced significant growth in residential development and construction, and offers a mix of housing opportunities. Considering the city’s convenient and central Bay Area location, housing is surprisingly affordable, offering home buyers unique opportunities in a comfortable and active community. Two housing areas of unincorporated San Pablo are Tara Hills and Rollingwood.

Residents of San Pablo have two great recreational spots right in their own backyard. Wildcat Canyon Regional Park along San Pablo Ridge offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Peninsula, Marin County, East County and the San Francisco Bay. And San Pablo Reservoir, a family favorite, is stocked with trout and bass and offers the best fishing in the area as well as boat rentals, picnicking, and hiking.

Many forms of public transit including BART, Amtrak and the AC Transit bus line service San Pablo. During light traffic, San Francisco is within 35 minutes by car and the city of Oakland is only a 20-minute drive away.


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