It kills me to read real estate advertisements touting homes for sale in Concord near the “Walnut Creek border” This gives the impression that living in the largest city in Contra Costa County is somehow inferior to residing in surrounding communities. I disagree. Below are 10 things I like about our community.
As a resident of Concord since 1979, I happen to like the place. Granted, Concord has changed a lot from being a sleepy little town where one could leave your dog unattended outside Diablo Foods while shopping. In those days it seemed that the sidewalks were rolled up at Sunset and neighborhood get togethers were frequent than today.
Things naturally have changed since I immigrated from San Francisco, with increased traffic congestion, pollution, crime etc.. However, there are stll a lot of great aspects to Concord in which we can take pride:
1. Todos Santos and the business development surrounding what has become the center piece of Concord. The plaza has been tastefully redone to accommodate events ranging from Farmer’s Markets to street fairs and concerts. Non-chain restaurants have sprouted up around the square offering diverse menus ranging from Indian food to pub faire, not to mention La Sen, a brand new French Restaurant(!) on Salvio across from Skipollini’s.
The city and the local merchants have done a great job not only putting on first rate events but keeping the place clean and safe for all to enjoy.
2. Most homes still have a backyard. Despite almost 20% growth in population since 1980, the majority of people have their own little piece of paradise offering privacy and an anchor for family functions. While newer housing construction has featured shrinking lot sizes, the character of single family homes still remains. Hopefully, this will continue when the Naval Weapon’s Station land is developed.
3. New ethnic food markets offering shoppers more choices. Back when I moved to into town, there were few places which offered diversity in products compared to other locales in the Bay Area. This has changed especially in the last 10 years with the emergence of Ranch 99, Seafood City, Los Montanos, and a host of other smaller markets that offer more choices to consumers than the “Rancher’s Reserves” of the world can offer.
4. Free Parking. While this may sound trivial, but the abundance of free parking in downtown Concord and throughout the city is a blessing to residents and visitors alike. We should be especially grateful to former City Manager Ed James who had the foresight to build the parking lots in downtown Concord that has made much of this possible. In addition to convenience, free parking has been a boom for business and increasing sales tax revenues for the city.
5. An abundance of recreational facilities for children and adults for activities ranging from softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, the Blue Devils and the arts. Many fields across the city are maintained mostly by non governmental concerns such as Tesoro, Concord American, CYO, CYC, and various soccer organizations. What makes this even better is that the City of Concord pays for very little of the upkeep as activity fees are charged to those who benefit from the facilities.
6. The annual 4th of July Parade and Singing Flag. Even if these two activities occur but once a year, they comprise a bridge which links the past with the present scene. While these Independence Day events take place on city property (Todos Santos and Dave Brubeck Park) non-profits and business provide the funding and manpower to make the anniversary of American a tour de force for Concord’s residents.
7. Inexpensive, gourmet quality Mexican food all over town. While I am a great fan of El Molino, Guadalajara Tacqueria, and Salsa Verde, there are a ton of other Mexican restaurants all over the city. One of the bonuses of Concord’s rising Latino population has been the growing number of businesses featuring food, produce, and night life from South of the border. This has provided much-needed diversity for a city once known for its “white bread” cultural offerings.
8. Concord’s strategic location in the Bay Area provides both excellent public transportation with BART, but also close access to Freeways. Unlike neighbors Pittsburg and Antioch, which are isolated on Hwy 4, Concord borders this road in addition to 242, 24, and 680. This provides easy drives to Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and other destinations around the Bay Area.
9. A top-notch core of non-profits and organizations work on a daily basis to make the lives of Concord’s less fortunate better. Among the top operations are the Food Bank of Contra Costa, Monument Crisis Center, Loaves & Fishes, and the Cambridge Community Center. The list of charities extends to a wide array of faith and non-faith entities that work on a daily basis to improve the quality of life for those who are down and out.
10. Now we come to my favorite landmark which improves the quality of life…at least for me… none other than Ale Industries, which is next to Beer,Beer & More Beer on Detroit Ave. down the road from Costco.
This place, which is also a working brewery, is amazing. Outside of offering $3.00 specials each day (They are open Thursday thru Monday) Ale Industries, with its funky no-frills wine barrel decorations, has an “Alice’s Restaurant” atmosphere not to be found anywhere else. If one prefers to taste wine, there is the Sterling Albert Winery on Forni Drive, where one can sample locally vinted products, including a Grappa that is legally/commercially made according to ABC and TTB regulations.*
Life is good. Who needs to live at or near the Walnut Creek border!
~ EDITOR NOTE: The article originally suggest the Albert Winery Grappa was “home-made.” This was incorrect. We have made the following edit regarding Sterling Albert Winery Grappa: “including a Grappa tht is legally/commercially made according to ABC and TTB regulations.” We apologize to Sterling Albert and our readers for this error.