San Lorenzo, generally referred to as San Lorenzo Village, is one of the more historically and culturally unique locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Considered by many architectural historians to be one of the very first planned communities in the nation, San Lorenzo was built rapidly immediately following WWII. However, despite being at the forefront of community development, San Lorenzo never incorporated as a city. In fact, many of the original homes still stand today.
Lay of the Land
San Lorenzo is a tiny parcel of land (2.7 square miles) resting in the middle of the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. One of the smaller locations in Alameda County, San Lorenzo is surrounded mostly by the city of Hayward, with smaller edges of the area bordering the cities of Ashland, Union City, and San Leandro. Despite its lack of formal municipal government, the area\’s population resides at a healthy 23,452 residents. While the area is not specifically zoned against industrial or commercial development, it has generally remained a suburban area for its entire existence. Estimated median home values for the area ($361,275) remain within the state average while the estimated median household income ($71,727) sits comfortably above the norm for the state.
Like many of the smaller cities and other census designated places within the region, San Lorenzo benefits greatly from the high quality of California\’s infrastructure and the developmental efforts of the region\’s major economic powers. Positioned near the intersection of Interstates 880 and 238, San Lorenzo ground travel is relatively quick and painless. While the city lacks a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station of its own, many of the larger cities in the area contain multiple BART stations. San Leandro and Hayward also provide bus and shuttle services from locations within their city boundaries to their respective BART stations free of charge. Finally, air travel is possible thanks to the San Francisco International Airport, the Oakland International Airport, or the San Jose International Airport.
Many of the cities in the San Francisco Bay Area have roots stretching back hundreds of years into history. These histories include numerous cycles of cultural and economic growth and upheaval. They feature philosophical conflicts with neighboring cities or even alliances in which several smaller cities incorporated to form a regional economic power. San Lorenzo is not one of those cities. Unlike many of its sprawling, chaotically organized neighbors, the city was carefully planned and built in its entirety over a short period of time. This has created a city with a unique organizational structure, both physically and philosophically.
San Lorenzo does not have a formal municipal government. In fact, the closest thing that it has to a government is the local homeowners association. While the homeowners association does work to maintain a sense of order and adherence to norms within the community, San Lorenzo has not been as historically draconian as other areas when it comes to commercial development within the town. While the area lacks any regionally recognizable shopping centers or retail locations, they have more than enough eateries, service providers, and modest shopping locations to provide for the needs of the community.
Public services in San Lorenzo are managed in large part by the community itself. This includes the San Lorenzo Unified School District and many basic public services. However, the majority of safety services, including police and fire services, are provided by Alameda County.
The park system for the city is managed locally. The Community Center Park features numerous facilities available for rental as well as organized support for local activities. Kennedy Park, a local park focused on children’s activities, even features a petting zoo, a miniature train, and playground facilities. Finally, San Lorenzo maintains a close relationship to the Parks and Recreation departments of nearby Hayward and San Leandro. This allows San Lorenzo residents to take advantage of numerous programs that they wouldn’t normally have access to.