If you're thinking of relocating to Oakland, you've probably done quite a bit of research about its various neighborhoods. Time and time again, East Oakland has doubtless shown up as one of the notorious areas that give Oakland its bad reputation. When you look at a map, though, it's hard not to notice that Oakland's eastern border runs along a regional park and has two golf courses – not exactly what you would expect from such a bad part of town. This confusing situation results from poor terminology.
The Eastern Part of Oakland
Skyline Boulevard runs along Redwood Regional Park on Oakland's eastern border. For most of its length, it's a gorgeous tree-lined street. The nearby neighborhoods offer some of the area's best views of San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, and Mount Tamalpais. Despite its location on the far east side of Oakland, this is not the terrifying “East Oakland” that you have heard about.
The Real 'East Oakland'
The troubled area called East Oakland is actually in the central to southern portion of the city – not in the east at all. On a map, look at the area contained by Park Boulevard on the northern end, Warren and MacArthur freeways on the east, the Nimitz Freeway on the west and 90th Avenue on the south. This is admittedly a pretty big area, and some neighborhoods within this part of Oakland are much worse than others. International Boulevard, in particular, tends to be a rough street. The precise boundaries of East Oakland are not clearly defined, but as you can see, its name is misleading.
The story doesn't stop here. East Oakland is simply a term for a large portion of Oakland. There are quite a few neighborhoods in East Oakland, including Highland, Woodland, Eastmont, Melrose, and Webster, among many others. If you ask about the name of a particular house's neighborhood, you might get one of these areas as the answer. Now that you understand the general location of East Oakland, you are in a better position to effectively research specific neighborhoods to find out whether they fall within this area.
East Oakland ZIP Codes
You can also use ZIP codes to help you figure out whether a certain house is in East Oakland. East Oakland includes all or parts of 94601, 94602, 94603, 94605, 94606, 94613, 94619, and 94621.
Confusing? Irrational? Yes – but now that you know, you're in a position to make better decisions. If a house in your price range becomes available on or near Skyline Boulevard, don't immediately dismiss it because it's on the far east edge of Oakland. After all, as you now understand, this is not the notorious area erroneously called East Oakland. Similarly, if you find a place near International Boulevard, don't accept it as safe because the map shows that it's in central (rather than eastern) Oakland.
As a general rule, if the place is east of Warren and MacArthur freeways, it's in a fairly safe area.