The Eden Area Community Profile 2013 was commissioned by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley to provide both a new baseline for understanding the five diverse communities in the Eden Area and to evaluate the changes since the initial profile was prepared. It is intended to support the work of Phase II of the Eden Area Livability Initiative (EALI) which commenced in 2012.

This profile gives a detailed overview of the area as a whole as well as the five communities contained within the area: Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, Fairview and San Lorenzo.

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Quick Summary

Three key themes thread through each section of this profile: growth, diversity, and disparity. These themes provide an important framework for understanding the changes over the past two decades in the Eden Area and indicate the direction that the Area is moving towards in the future.

Growth

Between 1990 and 2010, the Eden Area grew rapidly. In 2010, an additional 26,167 people resided in the Eden Area – representing a 25% increase since 1990. This growth equates to more than the current population of San Lorenzo—the second most populous community in the Eden Area. This growth can also be seen in the built environment with 5,436 housing units being constructed over the same time period; the expansion of transportation infrastructure like interstate 238; and the development of formerly open spaces like Five Canyons and along Palomares Ridge.

It is projected that Alameda County’s population will continue to grow in the coming decades. The pattern of the past two decades indicates that the Eden Area will continue to grow as well.

Diversity

Eden Area residents have become increasingly diverse in race and ethnicity. For the first time, the Area has a majority of residents who identified as people of color. This change is not only driven by the increased number of Asian and Hispanic or Latino residents, more than 20,000 people, but also by the significant decrease in the number of residents who identified as White, 15,512 people. This ethnic and racial diversity change affects several aspects of the community from the number of students who are English-learners to the composition of BART ridership.

Disparity

There are significant disparities among the different communities and neighborhoods in the Eden Area. Whether it is household incomes, the safety of neighborhoods, educational attainment or public health data there is no single description of the Eden Area. This gap between Eden Area’s communities grew in the past two decades. For example, household incomes in Castro Valley were 59% higher than those in Ashland in 2000. In 2010, the difference was 72%. Employment projections suggest that this trend will continue in the coming decade.

Full Executive Summary

Our Eden Area Livability Initiative Community Profile for 2013 provides essential community context for the planning and decision making of the EALI Phase II work and paints a broad picture of this area as well as providing detailed data on smaller communities within the larger area. Community planning processes should always be based in a firm understanding of a community’s complex reality. The support of data-driven decision making was the key driver to the structure and content of this report. Rather than long tables and dense statistics, we chose to focus on the questions that residents had been asking and portrayed the results in a way that will support a community planning process.

Urban Strategies Council gathered data from numerous state, county, and private sources, and wherever possible broke the data down to allow readers to understand how each indicator varies across the Eden Area. While we have provided many area-level statistics, we remind readers that no small neighborhood is unique and will not match the average experience of the entire area.

The Eden Area is 25.2 square miles of land in central Alameda County. This area has seen a 25% increase in population since 1990 and a great increase in diversity. The income inequality that has been increasing across the USA is also visible within the Eden Area.

While the area’s total population of 131,496 is growing and the school-age population is also growing, the proportion of school-aged children is dropping. School districts are facing increases in enrollment, unlike nearby districts in Oakland where school population has dropped this past decade. When you take into account the varying birth rates across the area, by ethnicity and by age, the school population will face further changes in the next decade. The birth rate for Latina mothers is more than double that of White mothers and the rate of births in Cherryland itself was over double the county-wide rate (67.9 compared to 26.5 births per 1,000 women aged 18-44).

The area saw increases of around 50% in the population of Asian and Latino people since 2000 and an increase in the Black population of 22% with the White population dropping by 24% in this time period. The biggest change by geography is the increase in the Asian population in the hill communities of Castro Valley and Fairview, growing from 8,721 in 2000 to 14,665 in 2010. These changes will have an impact on local school districts, likely adding to the population of 2,000 new English Learners served since 2000.

The housing crisis has made housing indictors very complicated: while housing vacancy was high in 2010 at 4.8%, the foreclosure crisis pushed many thousands of families out of homes and frequently into shared living arrangements. From 2006 to 2012, 2,879 homes (6%) were foreclosed upon within the Eden Area. At the same time, new housing units were being constructed increasing the cumulative vacancy rates. The rate of home ownership in 2010 of 53% is likely to be changing with the number of foreclosures since the Census date. Likewise, the average household size of 3.15 people per house is likely increased for the same reasons.

While estimates of poverty rates are very unreliable now due to the large margins of error in the American Community Survey, we know that one in three children in the Eden Area was enrolled in MediCal and 60% qualified for the free and reduced price lunch program. One in six children benefit from food stamps (CalFresh).

Ashland and Cherryland have mortality rates well above the county average and Ashland holds the dubious title of lowest life expectancy in the county at only 79.1 years, tied with Oakland. Cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death in the area (accounting for 23% and 22% of deaths, respectively for Ashland and Cherryland), while injury, respiratory disease and diabetes are the top three causes of emergency department visits.

Crime rates for each place vary widely, with robbery rates as low as 40 per 100,000 people in Fairview and as high as 483 in Ashland, comparing with Oakland at 851 per 100,000 people. The Sheriff’s agency took almost 20,000 crime reports in 2012, with most being informational, followed by drug crimes (1,309 reports). There is a significant reentry population in the area with approximately 1,300 people under parole or probation supervision in 2010.

To measure the levels of economic activity related to the housing sector we obtained building permit data from the county. Of the 1,335 permits for work issued or finished in 2013 by the end of May, approximately $45.5 million dollars of work was reported. Almost half of this was in Castro Valley alone. Over $6 million was for remodels and repairs to residential units with another $3.5 million for commercial remodels and repairs.

With a labor force of 64,100 residents, unemployment rates averaging around 8% across all five communities and only 22,094 jobs in the area itself, most of the area’s workers are commuting to jobs across the region. Most of them commute to Oakland (8,200 people) or Hayward (5,600 people), or San Francisco (5,000 people). Most of this commuting workforce uses single-occupant vehicles as the primary mode of transport (73%) with 10% using carpools and only 9.5% using public transit.

Health care and social assistance account for 36% of jobs located in the Eden Area, with educational services (15%) and retail trade (10%) following.

The areas of job growth in the area were educational and health care along with public administration and accommodation/food services. Given the sectors most in decline in the past decade- construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade – and the large number of adult residents with less than a high school diploma (from 9% in Fairview/Castro Valley to 31% in Cherryland), there is a clear need for stronger adult education services in the area.

According to the Employment Development Department, the two largest future growth sectors in the county are technology-related or food service-related jobs – sectors with a difference in average expected earnings of approximately $80,000 per year. The need to correct the imbalance in education levels in our community has never been more critical if we are to arrest the growing wealth gap.

There are many more valuable findings and indicators throughout this report that different groups will find of importance. As we compiled all the available data we were intimately aware that many questions remain unanswered in this profile. In many cases the data do not fully explain the complexity of a community and are at times not aligned with how the community members perceive their own community. We welcome the chance to engage with the residents to improve our joint understanding of this rich, diverse community.

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