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Updated!! We're moving :) Need opinions on California town…


Moonhawk
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Specifically Martinez, CA in the Bay area. Anyone know/have opinions on this area? Surrounding towns/cities? 

General information is awesome and fully appreciated. If you have very specific knowledge about the area and would be willing to entertain some very specific questions, I would appreciate PMs. 

Sincerely appreciate any insight! I need to come to a decision by the end of the week, probably. 

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Well, it's driving distance to San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and if you're up for a little longer drive, Sacramento. It's on the hotter/dryer side of the Bay Area. Mostly, I drove through it on the way to Sacramento from San Jose 🙂 but I did get off the freeway once and drive into town looking for antique stores. 🙂

Not much help, I'm afraid.

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The refinery there does get bad press. 
https://www.cityofmartinez.org/government/information-on-events-at-the-martinez-refinery?locale=en

“Statement from the FBI on Investigation (May 26, 2023)

The FBI, working with our federal partners at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are speaking with members of the community in Martinez, who could have been affected by the release of potentially hazardous materials at the Martinez Refining Company which occurred in November, 2022. As this investigation is ongoing, we will not be making further comment at this time.”

https://www.kqed.org/news/11952517/martinez-refinery-chemical-release-poses-no-long-term-hazard-tests-find

“Tzvieli said the soil testing and an associated risk assessment “confirms that the primary health risk from the spent catalyst release occurred in the initial hours and days after the refinery release.”

The soil-testing results were released to a community oversight committee formed after the releases, which occurred last Nov. 24–25, on Thanksgiving and the following day.

Tzvieli added during a media briefing that followed the committee meeting that because PBF failed to immediately notify officials about the release, questions remain about what health effects residents might experience because of their exposure to the toxic dust immediately after it settled on their neighborhoods.

“We weren’t able to do measurement in real time because we didn’t know this was going on until several days later,” Tzvieli said. “So had we been able to do measurement in real time, we would have been able to look at concentrations — what was in the air.”

Some of the heavy metals in the dust, such as nickel, pose health concerns, he said.

“Some of those can have effects on the immune system, some of these metals can be carcinogenic. So it is a concerning incident,” he said.

At the same time, he added, the inability to measure the November release as it was occurring makes it hard to distinguish the hazard the incident posed from the impact of ongoing refinery emissions.

“So that’s why it’s hard to give people specific information about the risks that stemmed from this particular release,” Tzvieli said.”

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Oakland (30 min. away) and San Francisco (40 min. away) are listed as 2 of the top 3 CA cities with the highest homeless population rates. From news articles, it looks like homelessness is on the rise in Martinez as well, and the small city has had increasing difficulties accommodating needs in the past few years.

Not meaning this as judgment, but there are a lot of difficult, non-family friendly issues that frequently orbit homelessness, such as unaddressed mental health issues, drug use, and crime.

Friends recently were visiting in San Rafael CA, and were going to go into San Francisco to sightsee, and were told straight out to not drive or park their car on the street, as their windows would be broken by those looking to take valuables.

Edited by Lori D.
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Speaking of the refinery, I stumbled over this review by someone who lived there and wrote about their experience, back in 2008:

"I lived in Martinez for 6 years, and I have mixed feelings about it. I liked our house and our neighborhood (Westaire), but we didn't feel like Martinez had much to offer. Yes, the downtown is kind of cute, but it's pretty much dead during non-working hours. There are also very few (good) restaurants in Martinez. We always seemed to have to go to Concord, Pleasant Hill, or Walnut Creek to eat out.

I don't know much about the schools, but I don't think they are all that great (not as good as Walnut Creek, anyway). I also don't know about the safety of the refinery, but it's an eyesore. Actually, every once in awhile, there would be a ''shelter in place'' alert. A horn would blow or you'd get a phone call to shut your windows and stay inside. I think this was due to soot being spewed out. I guess I didn't worry much about it, but maybe I should have.

Some people love Martinez, but I just didn't. We lived in Walnut Creek before moving there, so maybe I'm biased, but I wish we had stayed there, or moved to Pleasant Hill instead. That said, Martinez is more affordable than the other nearby cities, which is exactly why we moved there in the first place..."

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25 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Friends recently were visiting in San Rafael CA, and were going to go into San Francisco to sightsee, and were told straight out to not drive or park their car on the street, as their windows would be broken by those looking to take valuables.

We do drive into SF and parked our car at the Yerba Buena garage (https://www.sfmta.com/garages-lots/fifth-mission-yerba-buena-garage) a few times. Parking isn’t cheap but we didn’t have any issues.

My overseas cousin and her friends are in SF currently as tourists. They take the Muni, BART and cable cars, and mainly go to touristy areas like Fishermen’s Wharf, Lombard Street, Union Square.

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29 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

My overseas cousin and her friends are in SF currently as tourists. They take the Muni, BART and cable cars, and mainly go to touristy areas like Fishermen’s Wharf, Lombard Street, Union Square.

I would totally do that...at least once. 🙂 I love to visit SF--definitely do not want to live there, but I love to visit. Fisherman's Wharf is awesome.

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I have only been to CA once in my life (not counting a trip as an infant). We stayed in San Jose in a huge ABNB with family.  Dh and I went into SF with his 11 year old niece and did all of the tourist things.  It was an amazing time.
 

There is no way I would ever want to live there or anywhere in that area though.  The traffic, the people, the crowded neighborhoods and the prices. I was raised up in a small town in AR in the Ouachita Mountains,  so there’s that.   My Dh was born and raised in CA though and he has no desire to live there again either.  
 

I guess I could live in a less congested area if I did not have to travel into the city for work.  Oh and if I made enough to afford the COL there.

 

 

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1 hour ago, MEmama said:

Are the sea lions back?! I seem to recall they mysteriously disappeared for some time (might have been years ago now). I always loved going down there to just sit and listen to them. Incredible creatures, and experience 🙂 

They were there in 2018.  Amazing. 

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Martinez is a cute town. Our friends live there and it seems very family oriented. I didn’t notice a significant homeless population. 
 

The whole bay has been impacted by homelessness. Car break-ins are a separate issue, as those are generally not done by the homeless but by groups of people that drive around. My evaluation of the severity of the homelessness is do they reach into residential areas or are they concentrated to one general area, usually near services? AFAIK, there is not a pervasive homeless issue in Martinez (or SR for that matter). 
 

That’s my 2 cents!

Edited by sassenach
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10 hours ago, Moonhawk said:

Specifically Martinez, CA in the Bay area. Anyone know/have opinions on this area? Surrounding towns/cities? 

General information is awesome and fully appreciated. If you have very specific knowledge about the area and would be willing to entertain some very specific questions, I would appreciate PMs. 

Sincerely appreciate any insight! I need to come to a decision by the end of the week, probably. 

Feel free to PM me!

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2 hours ago, MEmama said:

Are the sea lions back?! I seem to recall they mysteriously disappeared for some time (might have been years ago now). I always loved going down there to just sit and listen to them. Incredible creatures, and experience 🙂 

Not as many as before. They used to fill up all the platforms. I was there with my cousin last Friday. They were impressed with the size of seagulls as well compared to the seagulls in Australia.

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1 hour ago, sassenach said:

That’s my city and it’s not that bad here. Windows get smashed in SF and Oakland, but I haven’t heard of a single person getting them smashed in San Rafael- even in downtown, which I frequent often...

For clarity: the person living in San Rafael said that it was almost a guarantee in SAN FRANCISCO that you'd get a car window smashed. The San Rafael resident said that had happened to them each of the last several times they had gone to San Francisco. The San Rafael person said that when they do have to go to San Francisco, they leave nothing in the car AND fold down the back seats so would-be thieves can SEE that there is nothing in the trunk. This was said by the San Rafael person this summer, so their San Francisco experiences were fairly recent.

Just passing on experiences, in case it helps. So glad to hear that others have had GOOD experiences in living near the Bay Area. 😄 

Edited by Lori D.
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9 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

 

Oh, I totally misunderstood! Yes, the city is a pit. I'm more surprised when my windows are intact when I get back to my car. It's better in lots. I like small private lots with valet when we go to SF. We really don't go in that often, though.

Edited by sassenach
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11 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Speaking of the refinery, I stumbled over this review by someone who lived there and wrote about their experience, back in 2008:

"I lived in Martinez for 6 years, and I have mixed feelings about it. I liked our house and our neighborhood (Westaire), but we didn't feel like Martinez had much to offer. Yes, the downtown is kind of cute, but it's pretty much dead during non-working hours. There are also very few (good) restaurants in Martinez. We always seemed to have to go to Concord, Pleasant Hill, or Walnut Creek to eat out.

I don't know much about the schools, but I don't think they are all that great (not as good as Walnut Creek, anyway). I also don't know about the safety of the refinery, but it's an eyesore. Actually, every once in awhile, there would be a ''shelter in place'' alert. A horn would blow or you'd get a phone call to shut your windows and stay inside. I think this was due to soot being spewed out. I guess I didn't worry much about it, but maybe I should have.

Some people love Martinez, but I just didn't. We lived in Walnut Creek before moving there, so maybe I'm biased, but I wish we had stayed there, or moved to Pleasant Hill instead. That said, Martinez is more affordable than the other nearby cities, which is exactly why we moved there in the first place..."

I was just thinking that if I was going to move to Martinez, I would probably take a look at Walnut Creek and Pleasanton, too. 

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On 9/5/2023 at 8:13 AM, Lori D. said:

For clarity: the person living in San Rafael said that it was almost a guarantee in SAN FRANCISCO that you'd get a car window smashed. The San Rafael resident said that had happened to them each of the last several times they had gone to San Francisco. The San Rafael person said that when they do have to go to San Francisco, they leave nothing in the car AND fold down the back seats so would-be thieves can SEE that there is nothing in the trunk. This was said by the San Rafael person this summer, so their San Francisco experiences were fairly recent.

Just passing on experiences, in case it helps. So glad to hear that others have had GOOD experiences in living near the Bay Area. 😄 

oh man.  I was in Golden State Park last December or Decembr 2021 and I witnessed a car break in.  🤯  We were driving around looking for a place to park and lo and behold, the car in front of us stopped, a guy came out, broke a car window and pulled out a small backpack.  Not sure if he had anything to help him break the window.  but i'm sure he did and we just didn't see it.  We were so shocked.  People were walking around and everything.  We called the police.  Unfortunately, we had to follow the car because it was only a two lane road.  and they did it again!  We honked this time.  and that person jumped back in the car without a break in. 

 

We were shocked and worried about our van the whole time we were there for a birthday party. 

Having said that, we would still go to SF.  😅  

On a separate note, I was almost car jacked at a library in a really nice city.  Can't say where as that may give away my location. 

Crime is everywhere in the bay area! 

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On 9/5/2023 at 8:19 AM, sassenach said:

I was just thinking that if I was going to move to Martinez, I would probably take a look at Walnut Creek and Pleasanton, too. 

I don't really know Martinez. Funny when you live near an area you may not actually visit the surrounding area. Walnut Creek and Pleasanton are nice though, to me they don't have a ton of diversity if you care about that. Pleasanton has a park in every housing development and it is very much a planned out town. Also Pleasanton and Pleasant Hill are two very different towns; Pleasant Hill is next to Walnut Creek, Pleasanton is several towns south of Walnut Creek. Also housing prices would be different between Martinez vs. Walnut Creek and Pleasanton. 

3 hours ago, desertflower said:

Crime is everywhere in the bay area! 

Crime has gone up everywhere in the bay area I suppose, but there still are better and worse places. Certainly Walnut Creek and Pleasanton have less crime than San Francisco and Oakland.  

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Thanks for the input! the information about other towns/cities to look at, that was helpful. It gave me more options to look at when I was weighing the feasibility of moving out there. 

Today, I accepted the job offer that prompted this post.(!!!) I wasn't really looking for a new job, as much as just browsing and applying on a bit of a whim, so I'm still in a bit of shock at how this has moved so far along.

It's going to be a big change for us, but I think it's a great opportunity for myself and our long term prospects. Very excited about this position!! More responsibility, cross training into two desirable areas but the foundation is my current skill set.

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  • Moonhawk changed the title to Updated!! We're moving :) Need opinions on California town…
On 9/5/2023 at 9:48 AM, sassenach said:


 

Martinez is a cute town. Our friends live there and it seems very family oriented. I didn’t notice a significant homeless population. 
 

 

I do wonder how "homeless" is counted. Given the sky high price of rent/housing I imagine there are a LOT of young people that are technically homeless who are couch surfing with friends, so not homeless in the sense of on the streets. Seems that would drive up the homeless stats in the Bay Area a lot. (I know there are actually people on the street as well, and that San Francisco in particular has a real problem with that, but just speculating on the whole area in general and how couch surfing 20 somethings inflate the figures, if at all)

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1 hour ago, Moonhawk said:

Thanks for the input! the information about other towns/cities to look at, that was helpful. It gave me more options to look at when I was weighing the feasibility of moving out there. 

Today, I accepted the job offer that prompted this post.(!!!) I wasn't really looking for a new job, as much as just browsing and applying on a bit of a whim, so I'm still in a bit of shock at how this has moved so far along.

It's going to be a big change for us, but I think it's a great opportunity for myself and our long term prospects. Very excited about this position!! More responsibility, cross training into two desirable areas but the foundation is my current skill set.

How exciting! I can’t remember where you are now…..is it a long move?

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17 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

How exciting! I can’t remember where you are now…..is it a long move?

I'm in rural southeast Arizona, I can see the border wall from my front door. So, a very big shift in a lot of ways. My half-sisters live in the Bay Area, so it's not a total unknown to me, but obviously my experience if very limited and there is going to be a lot of culture shock for us. 

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2 hours ago, ktgrok said:

I do wonder how "homeless" is counted. Given the sky high price of rent/housing I imagine there are a LOT of young people that are technically homeless who are couch surfing with friends, so not homeless in the sense of on the streets. Seems that would drive up the homeless stats in the Bay Area a lot. (I know there are actually people on the street as well, and that San Francisco in particular has a real problem with that, but just speculating on the whole area in general and how couch surfing 20 somethings inflate the figures, if at all)

I'm not sure there is a lot of couch surfing young adults. The issue is their friends can't afford places with enough space to let them couch surf. This isn't the situation where if you have a good job you can afford a good place to live. The situation is a low end six figure salary might get you a condo 3 years ago situation.  

Mostly young adults just stay with their families who either have a home that they purchased way back when, live multi-generationally so there are multiple incomes to pay rent or purchase a home, multiple unrelated families living in a typically single family home situation, and a lot of roommate/housemate situations.   

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On 9/5/2023 at 12:03 AM, Lori D. said:

Friends recently were visiting in San Rafael CA, and were going to go into San Francisco to sightsee, and were told straight out to not drive or park their car on the street, as their windows would be broken by those looking to take valuables.

Yeah, property crime is out of control there right now. I don't think it's really related to the homeless population, though -- I think it's more than they aren't enforcing things right now. 

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3 hours ago, Moonhawk said:

Thanks for the input! the information about other towns/cities to look at, that was helpful. It gave me more options to look at when I was weighing the feasibility of moving out there. 

Today, I accepted the job offer that prompted this post.(!!!) I wasn't really looking for a new job, as much as just browsing and applying on a bit of a whim, so I'm still in a bit of shock at how this has moved so far along.

It's going to be a big change for us, but I think it's a great opportunity for myself and our long term prospects. Very excited about this position!! More responsibility, cross training into two desirable areas but the foundation is my current skill set.

That's super exciting!!! I hope you like it :-). 

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1 hour ago, Clarita said:

I'm not sure there is a lot of couch surfing young adults. The issue is their friends can't afford places with enough space to let them couch surf.

I'm smacking myself. Duh! I should have realized that! In my defense I have a cold and so do all my kids. So....blame it on that, lol?

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2 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Yeah, property crime is out of control there right now. I don't think it's really related to the homeless population, though -- I think it's more than they aren't enforcing things right now. 

The anti-law enforcement movement has netted unsurprising consequences. It turns out that people don’t just do the right thing and live harmoniously all on their own. I do think it’s getting dire enough that the tide may eventually turn back to some moderate ground. 

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4 hours ago, ktgrok said:

I do wonder how "homeless" is counted. Given the sky high price of rent/housing I imagine there are a LOT of young people that are technically homeless who are couch surfing with friends, so not homeless in the sense of on the streets. Seems that would drive up the homeless stats in the Bay Area a lot. (I know there are actually people on the street as well, and that San Francisco in particular has a real problem with that, but just speculating on the whole area in general and how couch surfing 20 somethings inflate the figures, if at all)

The trajectory I’ve seen is kids live at home a lot longer. Basically until they have meaningful employment. I know very few people who live alone. They either live with their parents, a partner, or at least one roommate. 

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6 hours ago, Moonhawk said:

Thanks for the input! the information about other towns/cities to look at, that was helpful. It gave me more options to look at when I was weighing the feasibility of moving out there. 

Today, I accepted the job offer that prompted this post.(!!!) I wasn't really looking for a new job, as much as just browsing and applying on a bit of a whim, so I'm still in a bit of shock at how this has moved so far along.

It's going to be a big change for us, but I think it's a great opportunity for myself and our long term prospects. Very excited about this position!! More responsibility, cross training into two desirable areas but the foundation is my current skill set.

Congrats! What an exciting change! I know we’ve hit on the hard stuff (housing costs, homelessness) but I just want to say that I absolutely love it here. We’ve been in the Bay Area for 14 years now and I don’t plan on leaving. People love to hate on California but living here is not as dramatic as all that. I hope you love it, too!

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I’m a little bitter that my Dd and her Dh can “afford” their own place and aren’t living with us. I’d love a good dose of grand baby every day. Sign me up for multigenerational living! Afford is in quotes because they rent an apartment that Dbil owns at below market value. It’s tiny, but it’s in a very expensive area. I do not blame them at all. We wanted our privacy at that age too. I mean, we still do, but that baby is delicious. 

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I lived in the Bay Area for most of my life (age about 10 - 42) and there is a lot that I miss. I haven't even visited in about 20 years though, so I know things have changed a lot and I have no advice except to say - enjoy exploring! There are a lot of beautiful places. I'm particularly fond of the coast, say from Half Moon Bay to Big Sur. 

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15 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Yeah, property crime is out of control there right now. I don't think it's really related to the homeless population, though -- I think it's more than they aren't enforcing things right now. 

Was at Nordstrom ebar at Westfield SF with an ex-classmate about a month ago and a guy keep asking everyone for money. He was harassing but not mugging. Nordstrom has closed their store there 😞 SF was a lot more deserted when I was there last month and last week. It was relatively easy to social distance at tourist attractions except for the cable car ride. We took the BART and MUNI, and could easily find seats. 
My cousin and her friends are used to inner city stuff and they took the BART to and from Powell station to Dublin to go to the premium outlet at Livermore. They felt safe enough on that route.

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19 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

Was at Nordstrom ebar at Westfield SF with an ex-classmate about a month ago and a guy keep asking everyone for money. He was harassing but not mugging. Nordstrom has closed their store there 😞 SF was a lot more deserted when I was there last month and last week. It was relatively easy to social distance at tourist attractions except for the cable car ride. We took the BART and MUNI, and could easily find seats. 
My cousin and her friends are used to inner city stuff and they took the BART to and from Powell station to Dublin to go to the premium outlet at Livermore. They felt safe enough on that route.

We lived in SF for the entire fall and felt safe enough. We certainly never had our car broken into, and we even parked it on the street at Fisherman's Wharf a few times. (And parking it in other parts of the city is much less stressful -- we spent the whole term parking it in Noe Valley on the street and nothing happened.) 

That being said, it feels much less pleasant than it did before the pandemic (and before the decrease in enforcement.) 

Which is to say that it's not like you're going into some sort of crime-ridden dystopia when you head to SF and are very likely to get in trouble . . . but nor is it totally peaceful. DH did, for example, see some guys breaking into cars in broad daylight, which is NOT something you should be seeing even once on a 4-month visit, statistically, unless there's a problem. 

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7 hours ago, Clarita said:

@Moonhawkdon't worry you aren't moving to SF. SF and Oakland represent the worst. You don't have to go there if you don't want to. Most if not all that you want or need is located in and around Martinez. You would typically just go to "the cities" for special stuff that are just in that city. 

Exactly. Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events, museums (we have great ones!)...I don't hate living close to SF and I'm also happy to not live IN SF.

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